with Karli Larson
The transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced-and-working-full-time mom can be challenging, and sometimes very lonely. Throw in a few cats, an ancient dog and one very brave boyfriend, and life gets downright crazy. Join me as I talk through my thoughts and struggles, my miscalculations and my triumphs. We're in this together, you and I.
When I'm not writing here you can find me over at work on the TisBest Philanthropy blog.
Hi! How are you? Thanks for dropping off the toilet paper and cleaning out that really cruddy pan!
You are three blocks away now in the serenity of your apartment, no doubt reading Stargate fan fiction and chuckling. Did I chuckle once? As a kid? Is that a gene thing? I sigh heavily now. Did I do that as a kid, or is that just an almost-40something thing?
Mom, I really have to get my ass off Facebook. Yes, MOM, I said ASS. I know you don’t like a pottymouth, but I said it because sometimes only ASS will DO when you are a CURMUDGEON BEFORE YOUR TIME. I know that’s hard for you to understand, because your only daughter did not inherit your outrageously cheerful genes, the bright sunshiny ones that send even really scary, non-Mormon vampires scuttling for their coffins. I AM CRANKY, and MOM, I AM BEGINNING TO YELL OUT LOUD AT PEOPLE ON FACEBOOK.
I have a lot of friends on Facebook. I will let you put quotemarks in the air. It’s fun. You are not a sarcastic person, by nature, so I will tell you what to do with those quote marks. Hold up two fingers on each hand, index finger and naughty finger. Repeat, “I have a lot of friends on Facebook.” Dig ‘em in, those fingers, right around “friends.” Go on, Ma. I’ll wait. There you go. Yes, yes. What? Oh. Your unicorns and kittens didn’t like the quote marks, I know. Unicorns and kittens don’t like sarcasm, and they definitely don’t like cranky quote mark fingers or hooves or claws. But don’t let them shame you. It was a bonding experience for us.
Anyway, Ma, I get to read a lot of updates on Facebook, and I am thanking God that the month of giving thanks is over, because I just read one that said, “SO THANKFUL FOR MY SUPER FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND SWEETIE PIE AMAZING HUSBAND AND IT’S ALL JUST UP UP UP FROM HERE!!!!!!!!”
Mom, you were the one who taught me punctuation and grammar, so maybe the multiple exclamation marks would have peeved you too. But, God help me, I yelled. I yelled at the screen. I yelled so loud, Ma, that the dog jumped and the cat leaped off the bed. I yelled, IN ALL CAPS.
I yelled, “YOU DON’T KNOW THAT! IT COULD BE DOWN! DOWN! DOWN! IN FACT, THE LIKELIHOOD IS VERY, VERY HIGH THAT YOUR PEDESTAL WILL CRUMBLE LIKE THE ROMAN EMPIRE AND ALL THAT YOU THINK YOU KNOW IS GONE AND YOU’RE BACK TO MESOPOTAMIA, FACEBOOK FRIEND! WOMAN! BE WISE!”
Well, Ma, no, I suppose I wasn’t still yelling by the time I got to Mesopotamia. I was probably more muttering by the time I got to the metaphor of Mesopotamia, and the Tigris and the Euphrates. In my defense, I am hating the holidays and this was not helped by (get your fingers ready, Mom) “CyberMonday” at the American Girl online store, which required–are you ready?–a seven-hour all-day fortress-scaling event to snag two half-priced and still-overpriced items, the Kit Floral Dress and the Emily Two-Piece Bathing Suit, neither of which will likely be played with for more than fifteen minutes.
Maybe, truth be told, it was the brazen, triumphant hope in those multiple exclamation points that made me bug out, Mom. I’m scared for her. I’m envious too. You bet I am.
I told my therapist today that I can no longer in good faith believe in hope, because HOPE is NOT the thing with feathers, not for me. Sorry, Emily Dickinson. I could handle a plucked THING and probably even would, knowing my weakness for small to large, feathered, furred, generally stinky creatures. But I can’t keep waiting around for the traditional definition of hope to kick in: a quiet serenity and faith that all will be okay.
I haven’t felt that way in several years. That anything will be okay.
Not just for months. Haven’t felt it for years.
I wish it weren’t the case.
But as one groovy Chinese philosopher put it, “The wise man lets go of that, and chooses this.” Even if my this isn’t the stuff that fab holiday greeting cards are made of.
The fact is, it’s still my this. My true this. Ma, I know you wish I didn’t hurt so much. I know you wish a lot of things, like I kept my kitchen spotless, and I believed in the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or if I even still believed in rainbows.
I wish those things too. But I’m tired of feeling around desperately in the dark for this elusive “hope” thing when I simply don’t feel it. One more thing to add to the failure list.
When I took over this column, Ma? There’s a category that is always checked, called “Fighting the Stereotype.” I’ve tried unchecking the box for that category, but I don’t know how yet. I think the former excellent writer, K., was fighting the stereotype of single working women. But the more I think about it, the more I think, hey, anyone who writes a personal point of view here, honestly, is fighting the stereotype of single mamas by simply being real. We don’t need no stinking category for that.
I’m cranky, Ma. I’m sad. So I don’t feel hope. Okay. Maybe I don’t need it to get by. I sure love my kids. I’m a good mom with great days and crappy days, just like any other mama. I am full of fear and grief that won’t quit. I hate not knowing what I want to do with the rest of my life. I’m sorry if I let you down. I’m sorry I’m such a strain on you. I hate being divorced. I believe I’m better as part of a team, I really do. I’m pretty sure I’ve used up my Happy Quota for a lifetime.
I never want to look at a computer again. I want to live near an ocean. I want to care about a career. I want to find work. I want to be healthier again. My mind goes to dark places I wish it wouldn’t. It doesn’t always tell me to keep going, like you’d think a nice brain should. And that’s some scary stuff, Ma.
So I give myself the right to spend time with anyone who isn’t disappointed in me, anyone who doesn’t make me feel disappointed in myself. I give myself the right to change, the right to be completely alone. Sometimes, that’s less discouraging and less lonely than being in a room full of people offering advice, suggestions, no matter how well meant. I give myself the right to give up on the Books, or at least yell “uncle” for a while.
Ma, I want to get an official restraining order against hope. I would say, Hey, Hope, to get through this? I need to let go of you and choose this. I need to forget about you. Goodbye, Hope. I’m moving on.
Hope takes me out of the here and now. Empty promises. Now, contentment—contentment, we might be a good match. Contentment sounds nice, solid. Contentment only lives in the present. I like the sound of that.
I’m a Single Mom, at Work. How about that, Ma?
Mom, thanks again for the toilet paper, and the pan. I don’t know how you do it. You’re a great mom. And you’re a Single Mom, Still at Work. I need to remember that.
Fighting the stereotype in my own singular way, and loving you,
Subscribe to blog via RSS