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.
Written by Gabi
So, one day, I showed up at my therapist’s office, devastated, sure I was probably the worst mother on the planet. It had been one of those mornings that sedative commercials are made of – me scrambling around trying to find two matching shoes, while trying to cook breakfast, make lunches and beg my children to get dressed. “And I’m not asking again!” Only, as we all know, I did. No success.
So I did what any terrible mother would do. I bribed them with a ding dong. Yep, that’s what they ate for breakfast. I lured their finally clothed bodies out of the house by walking backwards with the ding dongs in hand, coaxing them like wild stallions.
Worked like a charm.
I kinda always thought I would be a more perfect mom. Steamed vegetables, all organic food, lovely dinner settings and a meal ritual that would bring us all closer together. I’ve seen the studies on obesity and how dinner time at the table ensures that we will all raise geniuses.
And I gave it up. After working all day and practically tying my children to a chair in order to get them to do their homework, after returning calls and answering the new ones and cleaning up the kitchen from the meal I made last, well, I don’t always want to sit at the table with my kids. I’d like to take 20 minutes to myself while they nibble on some chemical-laden box food in front of the television. Occasionally, I announce that we have to prove we’re not barbarians, and I make them eat dinner with me at the table. It’s fine I guess, but it’s not when we have our closest moments.
Don’t get me wrong. We have a ton of one-on-one time. We talk about our days and our troubles and our joys. We just don’t do it at the table.
See, that’s the thing. I think we all have something – or lots of things – we just have to let go. Whether it’s perfectly made beds or clean living rooms, or bedtimes that really should be earlier, or more extracurricular activities, or fewer extracurricular activities. Whatever it is, I think we need to give ourselves permission to just accept that being a single mom doesn’t always allow us to give our kids the lives we first envisioned for them.
So just once, just for one day, let it go and know you’re still wonderful.
Let em’ eat ding dongs.