I’ll admit it. I don’t like bugs. If there’s one in the house and my kids are around, I’ll take a deep breath, tell them that all of nature counts, and gently put it outside. If they aren’t nearby, I’ll smash it to smithereens with the nearest large object I can find. Either way, it makes my butt pucker. So imagine how I reacted when the school nurse called. Lice. Eww. Plus a bleggh. Let me be clear. I am not the kind of parent whose children get lice. That honor is reserved for other people, and I admit it, until recently, I judged them. It must be their fault. Bad. Bad parents. Then, without any warning, I was inducted into the Nit Picking Club. Intellectually, I know that lots of kids get lice, and intellectually, I know that it has nothing to do with whether I did my dishes or what income bracket I fall in or if I let my daughter skip her bath because we got home late from gymnastics. But when I went to the school to pick up my kids, I still felt like everyone was staring at me. And that’s because they were. Apparently, one of the little boogers in my daughter’s hair lots its grip and tumbled to its death on a desk. Another student saw it. And gasped in horror. My daughter crumbled in humiliation. I dutifully picked the kids up and headed off to the grocery store for some of that shampoo. The shampoo part is the easiest. It’s the combing part that gave me the willies. I took a deep breath, calmly explained this was no big deal, and tried not to cringe as I picked nits out of my daughter’s hair like I was a chimpanzee. Then it was my son’s turn. For those of you who have yet to experience the joy of this, I would highly recommend getting some generic shower caps to keep on hand – you need them so the shampoo can sit and do its thing. I’m not sure which traumatized my son more, the lice, or the Strawberry Shortcake shower cap I forced him to wear. The sheets were washed. The stuffed animals were fumigated. Brushes were boiled. My hair was treated just in case. And I learned that this whole disgusting thing is actually pretty darn common. Did you know there’s actually something called Headlice.org? Not sure I’d ever want to brag about my association with that group, but according to them, September is Head Lice Prevention Month. Now that’s a cause I can get behind. If their efforts aren’t 100 percent successful, and you someday find yourself boiling brushes, just know that you’re in good company. Scratch. Scratch. Scratch.
OK, I admit it. I tried a dating website.
That’s the thing. When you’re a single mom working full-time and taking care of little ones at night, there aren’t a ton of options. Oh sure, I loitered in front of the produce section hoping some nice fella would comment on my Granny Smiths, but it just never happened. I probably lost some of my appeal because of my accessories – that would my kids. Don’t get me wrong, they are my life, but they do tend to dampen my sex appeal when they’re running around like maniacs in the grocery store.
So yeah, I hit the “Sign Up Now and Meet the Love of your Life!” button. After the kids were in bed, I would sneak down to the office and scroll through the pictures and the descriptions and the “I love travel and adventure” and the “I’m looking for a woman who looks just as good in a ponytail as she does in an evening gown.” An evening gown? The closest I can get to that is my flannel pajamas.
There were emails with some of the guys. Most of them were nice enough. Many of them weren’t too interested in a mom with kids. Occasionally, there’d be a guy who seemed interesting enough to actually meet, but that became tough because I have my kids more than I don’t, so arranging a date sounded something like “I’m available three Tuesdays from now, from 6 to 9 p.m.” Kinda took the spontaneity out of the experience.
But I did go on a couple of dates, and that’s when I learned the rules had changed. Did you guys know that there is a rule about who calls who after a date, or that there has to be three dates before this happens, or six dates before that happens, and that you can’t see where a person lives until some moment I never quite understood. Sheesh. I needed a handbook.
I quit using dating websites the day I realized I wouldn’t exactly be proud to say, “This is my husband. We met online.” It just lacks the romantic flavor I hope for. I want to be able to tell people some great story about how my husband accidentally ran over me in the parking lot, or stopped the thief who stole my purse. So I canceled my subscription and went back to the produce section. To buy some apples.
So I have a big announcement to make. I’m now a Mrs.
A Mrs. Me that is.
Happened not too long ago in a lovely backyard ceremony. Attended by me. And a few passing cars that couldn’t help but stare at the weird lady standing in a foot of snow, with giant boots, a parka and a halo with ribbons streaming down each side.
When I was married, the ex bought our rings at some chain that offers a lifetime exchange for any jewelry you buy there. When we divorced, I traded in my rings and decided I wanted to be be-jangled in a bunch of plain ole bands on practically every finger. So I bought my rings and well..one by one, they disappeared. One in the garden. One in my car. One in bed, I think. But I could never find em. Not one. So I figured it was energy from a bad time and figured the huge credit I had left at said store would just go to waste cause I’d lose whatever I bought. So I forgot about it.
Then, not too long ago, I got a notice that said if I didn’t use the credit, I’d lose it, and since I’m not one for wastin’ things, I headed down to the store to see what would happen. I wandered through the diamonds and sapphires and seriously ugly whatever that was, and then it dawned on me. The best way to use energy from a time that didn’t serve me was to commit to serve myself from this day forward. So I bought a wedding band. And a pair of seriously expensive earrings for the clerk who helped me, in exchange for a promise that whenever she wears them, she has to do something nice for someone else. She was, in her polyester jewelry store uniform, rather stunned. Made me smile. I think I made her nervous.
Then I hopped in my car, went home, wrote some of the best vows around, and out to the backyard I traipsed. Stood near the garden. I said a little prayer, burned a picture of my past to rid myself of the things that no longer served me, put the ring on my finger and said, “To me, I thee wed.” Then I took my picture with a self-timer camera. I was a lovely bride, if I don’t say so myself.
Now, when I have a moment of doubt, a second when that self-critic comes out to play, or just a moment when life feels too big to grab, I reach over to my left hand (and yes, I did that on purpose–kind of the anti-wedding) and I remember that my commitment is to me. And one happily ever after I do intend to have.