Motherhood and guilt. The two things are tied together like teenagers and cell phones. In truth, it’s as difficult for me to recall a time I wasn’t feeling guilty about some choice I made as a parent as it is to recall a time I took a shower without interruption. It seems as though we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t: I felt terrible when I was working full-time and now I feel like I don’t do enough for the kids now that I’m not. I feel guilty when I don’t get them the thing it is that they want, or I feel guilt about the message I’m sending if I do. I don’t give them enough responsibility – or maybe I give them too much. I want alone time with my husband, but then I feel badly that I’m not spending enough time with them.
I am a runner. This isn’t a running blog, but sometimes I post runner-y things – like ways to not kill me – because I think lots of you are probably drivers. I’ve run since high school. I’d like to tell you I started because I wanted to get in shape or something lofty but the truth is, I was motivated by my humongous crush on the coach’s son – Dave. (Please God, don’t be reading this.) Dave was all broody and mysterious and an artist and he loved the Cars so I loved the Cars and he ran so I swooned after him…and ran. (Please please please don’t be reading this.)
I’m a firm believer that The Universe sends signs when you most need them. Recently, I’ve been feeling a little unsettled – which I guess happens when you’ve just moved, your husband gets fired and you’ve recently gotten married. As a woman and a mom, I instinctively want to fix everything, make everything okay – get the house settled, support my husband as he searches for a new job in the field he loves, and get us into a routine that involves balanced meals and game night and all the laundry done and some kind of jar where we put notes about things we’re grateful for…or something.
In 1981, I was among 750 million other television viewers watching the wedding of Diana Spencer and Prince Charles. I was 10. Maybe you were one of those 10 year olds who could care less about an actual Prince and Princess getting married. I wasn’t. I had reserved the viewing time on our lone TV and I had made sure the antenna was positioned just so. I dragged my blanket down to the sofa and had what was the epitome of elegance in my 10-year-old mind: chocolate milk in a glass with a stem and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich cut into fourths, people. Fourths.
My baby girl turned sixteen. I have a sixteen-year-old daughter. It seems almost impossible. I remember her birth with nearly the same clarity I recall my own sixteenth birthday. How can both of these events coexist in my memory, so clearly, so closely?
Sixteen years went by in a flash, just like everyone said they would.
I’d like a do-over.
My precious baby girl, I want to do it all over. Do it all better. Spend more time soaking in the smell of your hair, the joy in your laugh and feel of your little chubby hand in mine.
The other morning, a local radio talk show briefly touched on Monica Lewinsky’s TED talk. Laughingly, they wondered at her recent entry into the cyber-bullying discussion. “If she didn’t want to be bullied, she probably shouldn’t have fooled around with the President…” was their conclusion.
Maybe they have a point. Frankly, I think they’re missing the point entirely.
If you haven’t had a chance to watch the entire talk, you should. It’s 22 minutes long, and worth watching. In it, Monica Lewinsky reminds us of the details of her particular scandal: the secretly recorded phone calls, the widely circulated photo of her embracing President Clinton in that beret and the fact that it occurred at the dawn of the “internet era” – there was no Facebook or Twitter, but there were anonymous online message boards, and as Monica mentioned, the ability to spread information – and shame – at virtually the speed of light.
I have one brother. He’s a year younger than me (except for 18 days in April, when we’re the same age). I love him to death, and we’re friends now but when we were kids, I often contemplated ways to kill him in his sleep. Okay, maybe that’s extreme. We did not get along. We were opposites in every way. He was the daredevil, I was the goody-two-shoes. I was book smart, he was street smart. We fought. All the time. Sometimes screaming, sometimes physically punching the crap out of each other.
As I’ve been documenting here and on Instagram, we recently downsized and purchased a new home in the same town. While I’m enjoying the associated time and money savings of owning a smaller home, our old house was pretty much “done” whereas the new place needs some TLC.
Our first major project was/is a kitchen renovation. We’re thisclose to finished with a few cosmetic things remaining. I promise to share all of it in a post when it’s finally done. We started right after the holidays, during the coldest winter on record in Upstate New York. And 3 weeks before we got married. Ill-advised, people, ill-advised. While a new kitchen is something to enjoy, the road to that kitchen is something to survive.
When you’re a divorced mom in a small town, it isn’t easy meeting new people. Scratch that, meeting new people isn’t tough – meeting new people to date is difficult. I wasn’t working at the time, so most of the men I knew were the husbands of my friends, so, of course – NO.
Dating is hard enough. Dating as a single mom with three kids is even harder. You’re trying to find someone that you “click” with that maybe possibly might get along with your kids someday. And frankly, even with the “free time” I had when the kids were with their dad, it’s not like I was going to spend time hanging out in a bar searching for Mr. Maybe Right.
I’m 43 and I just got married. Again. That’s probably the most optimistic thing I’ve ever done, next to buying a pair of jeans on sale in a size 2. On a related note, I have a pair of brand new jeans for sale.
In my experience, people who have had the unparalleled joy of going through a divorce (even an amicable one) generally fall into three camps: those who vow to NEVER get married again, those who can’t wait to get married again, and the moderates who still believe in the institution but are in no particular hurry. I’ve met men and women with all three points of view. You’d think their position would be directly related to the ugliness of their divorce, but that doesn’t really seem to be the case. It’s a function, in my opinion, of how comfortable one is being alone.