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April Horoscopes for Single Moms

Categories: Best Practices, Hoping for Love

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Aries
You feel the urge to purge! Clutter is your worst enemy this month, Aries, and getting rid of unused items will give your home and your soul a fresh start for Spring. The second trip to Goodwill will contain a toy your child hasn’t played with in years, but which they will desperately search for three days later. Do not tell her you have given it away- this would bring much bad luck upon your household. Instead, tell her you think it might be in the car and then distract her with a cookie. 

Taurus
It’s a good month for love, Taurus! For other people, that is, not for you. You will meet two eligible bachelors this month, but when they find out you have children they will tell you that they really like you, but they’re just “not in a place to handle responsibility” right now. Your friend from work will get engaged and then her engagement video will go viral, showing up in your Facebook feed once an hour for the next three weeks. You will spitefully steal her Greek yogurt out of the work fridge and then feel bad about it and secretly purchase a replacement from the grocery store during lunch.

Gemini
Your duplicitous nature comes back to bite you when you blow off the PTA meeting because it’s your only night without kids that week and you’d rather spend it at the wine bar. A group of PTA moms will stop by for a glass of Pinot after the meeting and catch you flirting with the bartender. “I thought you said your son was sick and that’s why you didn’t make it to the meeting tonight,” they will say. “Yes… he is sick. Very sick,” you will say, trying to cover your tracks. “In fact, he’s in the hospital. The, uh, babysitter is there with him.” The moms will then look at you as if your face has suddenly turned into dog shit and you will spend the rest of the school year avoiding them.

Cancer
Great news for you at work this month, Cancer: a promotion is on the horizon! But be warned- the added responsibility will not come with a raise. Frugality is your friend! Keep buying those generic Cheerios, and you’ll have enough saved up by the end of the month to splurge on a much-needed manicure that you’ll ruin in the car on the way home.

Leo
All your hard work pays off this month, Leo, when you finally find a shade of lipstick that doesn’t make you look like an angry clown. An entire lifetime spent wearing only ChapStick leaves you unprepared for this new facet of femininity, however, and you’ll attend an important meeting at work with lipstick coating your front teeth. But remember Leo, there is a silver lining in everything: this unintentional slovenliness will prevent Icky Isaac from the office down the hall from asking you out. Phew!

Virgo
You will have sex on Wednesday (for the first time in seven months, you poor thing) so don’t forget to shave your legs tomorrow. You also need to shave your armpits and your bikini line, and you’ll need to do it with the rusty Bic you keep in the shower because you’ll forget to get a new one, so take care not to nick yourself because your tetanus shot isn’t up to date. Afterwards, when you’re laying next to each other and your partner gazes into your eyes and asks what you’re thinking, go ahead and lie. Yes, your library books are overdue, but that’s not a romantic thing to say and you don’t want to wait another seven months, do you?

Libra
An unexpected encounter with a handsome stranger will leave you dizzy this week, Libra! It may raise a few eyebrows, but just explain to the other mothers that your child is the one sitting on the bench playing games on her phone and she hasn’t let you push her on the swing for years, so you were drawn to this chubby-cheeked toddler on the tire swing like ants to a forgotten piece of popcorn under the couch. Resist the temptation to smell his hair though, Libra, because his parents won’t understand and will call the police.

Scorpio
A long-awaited package arrives this month, Scorpio, but you won’t be home when it gets there so you have to ask your boss if you can leave early the next day in order to pick it up from the post office before it closes. Your boss reminds you that you need to be there all day to train the new intern, and tells you to ask your husband to pick up the package for you. When you remind her that your divorce was final three months ago, she’ll look at you with such sickening pity that you’ll need to excuse yourself to go vomit in the restroom. But lucky you: there’s one stick of half-unwrapped gum left in your purse that will cover up the puke smell! When you dig for it you’ll also find that earring you thought that you lost last year. 

Sagittarius
You’ll finally lose those last few stubborn pounds this month when your preschooler brings home a stomach virus! It will be a rough few days, but you’ll look amazing in that pair of pre-baby jeans you’ve been waiting to fit into for the last four years. The recovery will be slow, so don’t take on too many new projects in the next few weeks. You’ll have gained back the weight by the end of the month, plus five extra pounds, so take a new Facebook profile picture between the 10th and the 14th while you can still zip up the jeans.

Capricorn
An unexpected visitor arrives this month. In fact, there will be 37 unexpected visitors and they’ll be laying eggs all over your daughter’s head! Although you’ll quickly evict these unwelcome guests, you’ll suffer psychosomatic itching for the next six weeks. Since there’s no one there to check your scalp, you take measures into your own hands and douse yourself with a chemical-laden shampoo that makes your nostrils burn. As a result, the left side of your hair inexplicably and permanently loses all of its curl, leaving you with a persistent case of bed-head. An old woman on the bus will offer unsolicited advice about how to get more “bounce”. Do not listen to her; she thinks you’re a four-foot blue rabbit named Stan and has had zero reliable training as a hairstylist.

Aquarius
Your anxiety catches up to you this month, Aquarius, and you begin waking up several times each night. Resist the temptation to research your symptoms on Web MD at 2:00 am because you will become convinced that you have SARS and then you will cry. Your best bet for relaxation will be to watch every episode of Doc Martin on Netflix. When you run out of Doc Martin you can switch to Ally McBeal. Hang in there, Aquarius! Things should start looking up in about 8 to 12 years.

Pisces
An exciting twist of fate will leave you trapped in an elevator with the adorable IT guy from downstairs! Unfortunately, you won’t have had the energy to make your own dinner the night before and the dinosaur-shaped “chicken” nuggets you wolfed down will not be sitting well. You’ll spend the entire 15 minutes concentrating on holding in the gas that rumbles like a herd of one thousand elephants every few moments, causing IT Guy to eye you with alarm. When maintenance finally frees you, you smile sweetly at IT Guy and rush for your office but your shoe will squeak just as you exit the elevator, sounding exactly like the thing you were trying to hold back. You’ll avoid IT Guy for the next eight months.

An Open Letter to My Children’s School Regarding the Excessive Amount of Papers You Send Home

Categories: Best Practices

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Dear Elementary School,

If you and I were to enter into a romantic relationship, get married under a beautiful wisteria-draped arbor in the spring and then ultimately end up in marriage counseling, our marriage therapist would be incredibly impressed with your communication skills. In fact, she would probably look at the two of us sitting in her office– you with your eager, straight-backed posture and a file folder of color-coded newsletters balanced carefully on your knees, and me slumped in the corner of the couch whispering aggressively into my phone trying to convince Siri to remind me to pick up my prescription later– and shake her head woefully, wondering just what it was that brought the two of us together in the first place.

The truth is, School, I was awed by you at first. You seemed so organized, so responsible! You seemed like the type who’d never accidentally run out of clean underwear or sandwich bags. Back then, I’ll admit, I was a little vulnerable. The divorce had really pulled the rug out from under me and I was frequently forgetting to shower, sleep, and drink water. I was a mess, and your blurrily-copied permission forms arrived at home with such reassuring regularity that I couldn’t help but be drawn in to your stolid presence. But that was then, School: it was a simpler time when accent walls seemed like a good idea and young women would definitely kiss you on the first date if you sent home an invitation to an ice cream social printed on a sherbet-colored rectangle sprinkled with Comic Sans. Things are different now.

The kids have gotten a little older, and I no longer worry that I’ll forget which day it is. Emails from my ex-husband don’t make me cry anymore, and I no longer rely on the government to keep us stocked up on bread and Life cereal. In short, I am pretty close to having my s#!$ together these days and I would really appreciate it if you could stop making me feel guilty by filling my recycle bin with a small forest each week.

I know this is confusing for you because I have two children, but one newsletter is really all I need. The second copy is unnecessary and excessive, as well as the second copy of every announcement for all of the things I’ll never go to because I work a lot and really don’t feel like spending my Wednesday night stuffed in a cafeteria with other parents planning next year’s walk-a-thon. I just want to eat dinner with my kids and fight with them about whether or not they need to use toothpaste when they brush their teeth, so please stop inviting me to stuff. Also, as I mentioned earlier, Siri pretty much runs things around here now, so your second, third and sometimes fourth reminders about wrapping paper sales and roller skating parties are redundant and if we’re being completely honest here, Siri is probably a little offended by them. She’s got this, okay? Back off.

In conclusion, I’d like to point out that while your after-school programs for K-2 students sound like a whole lot of fun, neither of my kids are eligible due to not being in those grades anymore, so we probably don’t need those lists of program costs and descriptions. And at the risk of being labeled bitter or resentful by our marriage therapist, I’d like to remind you that I’m never going to volunteer in the staff copy room because I work fifty hours a week at three different jobs, so if you could stop rubbing it in my face that some mothers have time for these things, that would be great.

Sincerely,
A Parent Who Is No Longer That Into You

5 reasons to keep birthday parties simple

Categories: Best Practices, Missing Parent

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At some point after the divorce, it became my ex’s job to plan and host the girls’ birthday parties, even if their birthdays didn’t fall on “his” weekend. Since he makes about one frillion times more money than I do, it was easier for him to bring their elaborate birthday fantasies to life and throw some truly amazing parties. I loved that he wanted to be involved in these celebrations, so this arrangement worked well for all of us for several years.

This year, however, he was going to be out of town during Eldest’s birthday week, so it fell to me to plan, host and bankroll her 11th birthday party. We decided to have a low-key sleepover party with just three friends from school, followed by a girls-only breakfast at a local crêperie and a couple of hours to explore the Seattle waterfront. Not only was the party an enormous success, but I was reminded of how much I love simple birthday parties.

Here’s why:

1. There is more than one way to show your kid that you care. While expensive party venues, designer cakes and copious amounts of presents are one way to celebrate your child on their birthday, they aren’t the only way. Spending quality time together and simply taking a day to let your kid know how glad you are that they were born doesn’t require having a big chunk of disposable income, and it can be meaningful for both of you regardless of the budget.
2. It’s important to slow down. Our day-to-day lives are fast-paced, stressful and chock full of activities, and our poor kiddos are dragged along for the ride. It’s necessary to take a step back from the craziness once in awhile and give our kids a chance to just be. Sometimes it’s the quiet moments, and not the forced excitement of activity after activity, when the best memories are made.
3. The “value” should come from the guests, not the party. I want my children to learn that it’s the people in their lives who matter, not whether or not they got to hang out at the latest trendy birthday party spot for two hours on a Saturday.
4. Getting creative together opens the door for a deeper relationship with your child. When was the last time you sat down to collaborate with your child on, well, anything? We tell them how to clear the table, when to clean their rooms, which homework questions to fix and when it’s time to leave, but we so rarely get to learn more about how they see the world. Planning a creative party together can be such a wonderful bonding experience with your growing kiddo, and gives you both an opportunity to see each other differently, even for just a few moments.
5. Everything can be an adventure. I think it’s easy to forget that our children (with their PS3s and iPhones and laptops and all the other spoils of our modern lives) are just as capable as any generation of children to turn a stick into a magic wand or a tree into an enchanted castle. Their imaginations are wonderful and powerful and aching to be given a chance to run wild.

As soon as each of Eldest’s three guests arrived home after the party, I started receiving phone calls and text messages from their mothers telling me what a fantastic time their daughters had.

“She loved visiting the gum wall!

“She can’t stop talking about watching the parrot do tricks at the market!”

“I haven’t seen her smile this much in a long time.”

The girls had a great day exploring and chatting and just having a chance to be themselves. And I was lucky enough to experience this day with them, learning more about my daughter and her beautiful friends with each perfect, unstructured moment. We’ll all remember this day fondly for a long, long time.

Farewell, my dears

Categories: Best Practices, Fighting the Stereotype

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I’ve been a lucky lady to write here at Work It, Mom for the past few years. I’ve loved swapping stories with you and hearing from you in the comments as well as in emails. Thank you for being such wonderful readers and companions in the tricky-to-navigate waters of single parenthood.

I’ll keep this short and sweet: I’m moving on from Single Mom at Work to tackle some Life Beasties that sorely need my attention, like, stat.

I’ll sure miss you. But I believe our wonderful editors here at Work It, Mom are concocting new plans for this space, so do stay tuned.

I’ll still be over at the new bot- and bug-free incarnation (yay! yay! yay!) of my longtime blog, Breed ‘Em and Weep, and I’d love to see you over there. So don’t be a stranger. Pop on by, and I’ll whip up some hot cocoa and plug in the faux woodstove.

Have a gloriously peaceful holiday season, and a divine 2013. Thank you for all of the kindness, laughter and well wishes. I’m so very grateful for you.

Jenn

On letting her be

Categories: Best Practices, Fighting the Stereotype

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Kiddo #2 is going through a rough time. Bedtime is bad. Real bad. Again.

She’s eight years old, starting third grade this week. She’ll be nine in November. But this summer was too much for her, I know it, I can see it.

I told her dad today that I thought we’d screwed up, that we should have listened better to her when she said she wasn’t ready for sleepaway camp. She’d rallied, not wanting to let anyone down, I think. But it took a toll on her. There’s just no pretending that it didn’t. It took all she had to keep it together for one week of camp, and her coping resources were maxed out. Her reserves are empty, and it may be some time before she can fill them again.
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School year resolutions?

Categories: Best Practices, Fighting the Stereotype

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Another school year is here (or almost here, in our case, but not quite). As nice as it will be to have a schedule again to fill up all that scary blank space on the calendar, I’m daunted by the time and money challenges that lie ahead for 2012-13.

Sixth and third grades: more homework, more responsibilities, more sports equipment, and more clothing to replace what they’ve outgrown. New England autumns and winters don’t help, either—this is definitely the land of at least three seasons of clothes and footwear.

So I’m trying to come up with a better game plan for this single-mama household. Chaos reigns a little too often here, and I’d like that to change. That’s tricky, of course, in a home with two dogs, two cats, two kids and one adult, so I’m looking for some wisdom from you!

What’s working for your family—small, large or in-between?
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Thank you, I’m sorry, and wow

Categories: Best Practices, Fighting the Stereotype, Missing Parent

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July has gone, and August is here, bringing with it my daughters. Back from sleepaway camp (first time around for the younger one, second time for the firstborn), the girls are twelve years older and seven feet taller and are probably already married with kids, but just haven’t told me yet.

I cannot stop hugging them. They don’t mind, not even a bit.

The older one tells me that my letters to her at camp made her laugh so hard, the other girls demanded to hear them. So every day, she would read my words out loud to the entire tipi.

This information makes me feel like the coolest mom ever. I try not to blush.

Camp was easy for the firstborn. No sweat. She stayed for two weeks, no prob, no homesickness. She is, at the age of 11, a consummate adventurer.

Camp was not as easy for the little one. She toughed it out for one week, not wanting to disappoint her dad or his parents. My letters had a different effect on her.

“I nearly cried happy tears when I read your emails,” she tells me, sitting in my lap, snuggling like the Snuggle Champ she is. “I missed you soooooo much. Then I was like, okay, Hannah, you can DO this. Just make it through another day.”

“I am so proud of you,” I tell her. “Like, I am almost passing out from proudness. You are so, so brave. The way you talked to yourself and stayed calm — that’s amazing.”

She nods, accepting the compliment. “I knew people would ask me, ‘How was camp?’ And I kept telling myself, okay, it will be better if I have an answer.”
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Exactly What Is

Categories: Best Practices, Fighting the Stereotype, Found Love

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“So you’re a novelist?”

I realize the question is for me. I turn away from the airplane window to the woman on my right, who is studying my face intently. Several hours ago, we’d exchanged pleasantries and I’d mentioned that I was a writer.

“No, not a novelist,” I say.

She and her husband both look terribly disappointed.

“What do you write, then?” she wants to know.

“Whatever people will pay me to write,” I say. “I’ve written for magazines, papers—”

The husband perks up considerably. “Anything we’ve heard of?”

“Uh, well, let’s see. I wrote for the Boston Globe, the Sunday Magazine,” I say. “And I’ve done a lot of marketing materials.”

He nods, but he is not impressed. I am seriously wishing I had ordered the gin and tonic.

“But no book?” says the wife.

“No book. I write plays, though. And poetry. But they don’t pay the mortgage.”

“No. I imagine they wouldn’t,” says the wife.

The husband clears his throat. “So…are you part of a pool? A team of writers?”

I just want to read my book, the book on my lap, the book written by a real writer. I want that gin and tonic very, very, very badly. “No, no team. I have a parenting blog, and what work I do find often comes through that. But there’s not a lot of work right now. Freelancers are in a tough spot.”

They continue staring at me, as if I am an exotic zoo specimen, and they are not quite sure they like what they see.
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In Her Wherever-There

Categories: Best Practices, Fighting the Stereotype

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I walk into my bedroom. Sitting on my bed is a short, thin, dark-haired woman. She’s hunched over one of the cats. I have no idea who she is. In the span of several milliseconds, I wonder how she got in, what she wants, and what I should say to her.

“Oh,” is what I say, finally. My daughter swivels on the bed, her fingers still buried in our tortoiseshell kitty’s fur.

“What?” she says.

“You…you just…you get taller every day,” I say.

This is not exactly what I am thinking, but I can’t find the words. Not right then.

She’s just come home from four days in Indiana, without either of her parents. AS IN, MY BABY FLEW ON A PLANE WITHOUT HER MOM OR HER DAD TO CRADLE HER TIGHTLY AS TERRIBLE THINGS HAPPENED, LIKE SCARY HIJACKERS AND DRUNK LECHEROUS BUSINESSMEN AND TURBULENCE AND AT LEAST THREE FIERY CRASHES, ALL WITH STOPOVERS IN LAS VEGAS.

She survived none and all of these things, depending on your point of view.


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Happily Unreachable

Categories: Best Practices, Business tripping, Fighting the Stereotype

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I may be a misanthrope, but occasionally, I notice when my iPhone goes missing.

The other day, I realized it had been hours since I’d thought of it or heard it buzz. I went hunting.

Green tote bag, where had I put it? Ah, yes. Got home, plopped said bag on couch. There it was.

I reached inside and came out with a wad of soaking wet tissues and receipts.

This was bad. This was very, very bad. What the hell?

I dug frantically for my phone and hit plastic: a mostly empty water bottle. Cap, still on. Yet somehow it had leaked. Effity eff eff.

I fished and came up with my phone, finally. It looked fine, just a few drops of water beading on its orange plastic case. I pushed the button. Nothing.

I pushed again. Uh-uh.

Maybe I turned it off, I thought. I pressed the top button, the one that generally is not part of my life.

A BIG EXTRA-LOUD NOTHING.
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