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.
A Blog by the PheMOMenal Gabi
So you FINALLY met Mr . Nifty. The fella you’ve been on the path for, the fella that will help you land gently. The fella that will rub your back and hem your pants and give you that tough talk just when you need to pull yourself up by the bootstraps.
You introduce your kids, cause you know it’s the forever guy. They get attached. You practically cry when he helps pack their lunch or when they ask him for a hug or when they demand that he become their daddy at your house. You imagine him in an apron handing you a martini at the end of the day,with a smile.
Then…WHAMMO…you find out your “we” ain’t all that. Kinda like when you realized that Santa Claus isn’t real. And really, why did we all get enamored with a fat guy in a red suit anyway?
You thought you did all the right things. You thought you tested the waters and the beaker came back clean. And then, for whatever reason – maybe your life is too complicated, maybe you didn’t wear enough makeup or maybe you found out he had some sort of fetish that they only talk about in strange niche magazines, maybe you found out Mr. Nifty is really Mr. Knuckledragger – for whatever reason, it’s done.
And now? You get to break your promise to your kids. It’s not forever like you thought it would be.
But ya know what? Your kids are watching and listening and paying attention. And when I had to have the “Ya know how I thought I was getting married? Well, I’m not” conversation, my kids got it. They were sad. And mad at me. But kids know when you’re not in love, and they probably aren’t as disappointed as you think. Ok, maybe they are. But it’s alright. Painful, but alright. Because they get to watch you stand up for you – or move through it after someone hurt you. And that’s a lesson worth learning.
That’s the pep talk. In reality, it all sucks rocks.
But here’s the thing: our kids are going to go through the love of their lives 8 bazillion times. And their heart will ache just like ours does. But we have value. And we do count. And the best thing we can teach our children is that we get to decide how we want to be treated. We can teach them that we are just as groovy whether we get picked or not.
Drink heavily while you mourn the loss. Cry. Call friends. Go at it with a punching bag. Get a therapist. But know that no matter what you’re doing, you matter. We just can’t control outcomes. If we could, there would be world peace, no pee around the bottom of the toilet, houses that could be cleaned through osmosis and men who understood that we are, indeed, goddesses. Men would love us at least as much as the remote control. Ok, that might be reaching a bit. But at least there wouldn’t be pee around the bottom of the toilet.