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Sex me up, Pa Ingalls

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype, Hoping for Love, Missing Parent

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“Oh my God,” I blurt out. “HOW DID I NEVER NOTICE? PA INGALLS IS SO SEXY!”

Two small round faces swivel from the TV and stare at me with a mix of bemusement and ewwwww.

“Seriously?” says my firstborn, a wise creature of eight, who already knows about the “sex” part of “sexy.” 

I rip my eyes away from Michael Landon’s sweaty, naked chest and his perfectly teary eyes as he prepares to shoot Jack the dog, who might have rabies—which would mean, of course, that Laura might have rabies, all because of that stupid raccoon.

I had not recalled Pa Ingalls having so many topless-with-suspenders scenes. I remember having a crush on Almanzo at some point, but Pa? Oh, my.

My children are still staring at me. This is a FAMILY SHOW, after all.

“Um. Did I say that out loud?”
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Auld acquaintance

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype, Hoping for Love, Relying on parents

39 Comments

I’m really not the gal for perky holiday posts, I’m telling you. But this one isn’t half-bad, either, if I do say so myself.

Late on Christmas Eve, what to my wondering ears should I hear but the sound of SNARLING GLADIATOR CURS UNDER THE TREE as I attempted to get my wee lassies asleep. Turns out my old red dog broke a tooth (canine tooth, natch) on my other dog’s face. Spurting blood. Exposed root. Awful pain. This was not the plan. SANTA DOES NOT TAKE THE REINDEER TO THE VET ON CHRISTMAS EVE! 

These are the times when I miss being part of a marriage, because a marriage—when it works well, as ours once did—is a triage team.
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A one-woman, not-quite-open sleigh

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype, Hoping for Love

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When I was a young’un without a care in the world and no half-completed financial statement to present to the divorce court in 2010, I used to dream happily of future Christmases.

This was before boyfriends entered the scene, as boyfriends have a way of coloring the Christmas dream, and why not? “No, Polynesia for Christmas is EXCELLENT. The challenge of decorating a palm tree! Stuffing coconuts with Grandma’s pierogies! Just you WAIT!”

Reality enters the mix. That’s okay. That’s more than okay. That’s good stuff.

But my magic, pre-serious-beaux, fabulous Christmas dreams were all situated, inexplicably, in a place that looked to my mind like Montana, even though chances were slim that this Philly girl would wind up married to a nice Montana boy. We wouldn’t be able to keep our hands off each other, I figured, so almost yearly I’d be squirting out cheesesteak-lovin’, range-ridin’ pups who had impeccable manners and called their mother “ma’am” at all times.
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Grow a pair of something and get a job

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype, Hoping for Love

58 Comments

Oh, if only everyone had the kind of holiday love and compassion that one faithful reader shared with me last week:

I’m a writer too. Grow a pair and get a job.

Now that’s an old-time, down-home Christmas carol, fo’ Santa-shizzle! Grow a pair of what? Chia pets? I already have breasts. Once, in college? A boy in my freshman tutorial? Toppled me onto a pile of coats? Kissed me passionately? And told me that they were beautiful?

My breasts. Not the woolen coats, or Chia pets. Although they can be beautiful too. A Chia pet with a good haircut? A thing of beauty.

Back to the holidays! Yay! Fun!
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Gracefully handling the exes

Categories: Hoping for Love, Sleepless in the Board Room, Tentative Steps

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My friend Lara never ceases to amaze me with her grace.  A quiet, intelligent woman with an aura of calm, she somehow manages to juggle an active social life, superior Motherly skills, and a prestigious job in pharmaceuticals.  She’s also beautiful, and a ton of fun, and I don’t think she’s going to be a single Mom for long.

Even though her husband is (in my totally biased opinion), a bit of a jerkwad - she handles him with aplomb.  In fact, she also handles his exes with deft grace: her husband had been married once before he married Lara and my friend is friends with the First Wife of her Ex. What?  I know.

This weekend Lara was telling me with her usual practical intonation that she’d gone for dinner with Cathy, the First Wife of her ex, and I was watching her with my mouth agape and my shoulders slumped a little in defeat.

“Man, I’m not nearly as good a person as you.” I thought of my ex and his ex girlfriends and though we were never married, I am certain I’ll never have any desire to eat artichoke dip on the patio with a woman he’s slept with.

That’s how it’s been, with my ex boyfriends, anyway.  I think of most of them fondly - remember Dale’s ice blue eyes, Jay’s riotous sense of adventure, the earnestness of Derek - but I don’t particularly want to be bosom buddies with any of them, and I’m not overly interested in their current conquests.

But it struck me, over my weekend conversation with Lara - that perhaps the current relationship of your ex is a little more significant when the two of you share a child together.


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When baggage is an asset

Categories: Best Practices, Fighting the Stereotype, Hoping for Love

7 Comments

I sat at the desk near the front entrance to my small, mildly dilapidated little home. The late winter sun was harsh and unrelenting and hurt my eyeballs from the outside in.  I remember: the dust on my computer monitor, the piles of tear-stained kleenexes littering the top of my desk.  Paper in disarray and files scattered, a two-day old plate of untouched toast near the monitor.

“You’re not coming home, ever, are you?”

I’d whispered it into the phone but I already knew the answer and though I had asked him to leave, though I needed time, I wasn’t sure that I was ready for the consequences of the inevitable permanent divide.

“I don’t know.  No, I don’t think so.”

I thought about our son: not even 2 years old.  I thought about the past four years: Amsterdam, concerts, beer nights and snowboarding.  I thought about the shrill fighting, alcohol, money, responsibility, pettiness.  I thought about myself: at 30 years old, a single Mom, disengaged, struggling.  A statistic.

Two years ago I’d been engaged to a beautiful man, a baby growing inside me.  Outwardly we were so happy: young, employed, laughing.  The fragility of that glass castle amazed me, and I remember putting my head down on the paper, the tissue, the hardness of the desk, to cry.

***

I worried about my son, of course, about the adjustment to a one-parent home, about a life with a half-time Dad.  But I also stressed about my future.  I foresaw in my bitter glass ball: chinchillas, maybe a few birds, a puffy pink housecoat and a grimy abode.  Maybe, I thought, I’d get lucky and one of my friends would end up solo too, in older age, and we could cook each other feta cheese and pickle sandwiches and lie about the fact that our butts had dissolved into dimpled pancakes.

At the time, I wasn’t thinking about men.  I didn’t want to feel the pain of heartbreak ever again and the thought of it being my son and I for the next 30 years was all right for me.  Painful.  But all right.

But as the years dripped on - one, two - I started to “see” men again.  I started to miss their companionship, humor, and unabashed appreciation for soft clothes and a homemade meal.   But I really believed that I was a pariah - that my son was a breathing indication of the fact that I’d had successful (not to mention unprotected) sex with another man.  What man wants to see that, every time he looks at his woman?  I understood that biologically, and intrinsically.  It made me wistful.

***

I’ve now been juggling work, dating, and my son for over a year and a half.  What I have discovered is this: a child is not necessarily “baggage” to the right man.  In fact: Nolan’s presence in my life has negated the necessity for me to weed out the bad eggs.  Men who are willing to take me on must be willing to take my son on, too - and it serves as an automatic filter, of sorts.

I am attracting a different kind of man these days than I used to - better and kinder and I think my son is the reason.  These men don’t see my son as a manifestation of another man - but rather as a sweeter, more naive extension of me.  The good ones - the awesome one I’m with now - is as eager to be liked by my son as he is by me.

It amazes me that our darkest days often represent the beginning of the pivotal climb to the brightest ones. 

When to introduce a potential new mate?

Categories: Best Practices, Hoping for Love, Tentative Steps

8 Comments

Here are a few of the gifts the last two years have bestowed:

  • A small boy with pudgy hands and an orange Popsicle streaked face, morphing astonishingly fast into a boy.
  • Innumerable walks through sloping muddy forest paths, on various quests for slugs and peet moss, the perfect sun slant through the trees.
  • Sorbet for dinner, cheese for dessert, imaginary dragons in fortresses made of sheets, my imagination ignited by the power and force of his.
  • An endless number of books, stacked in piles on our knees: hours of reading about Andrew’s Loose Tooth or Stinky Socks while we huddle under cool blue sheets, listening to the rain pelt outside and feeling our fingers inter-wrapped, contentedly.

Those are a just a small sampling of the wonder  I’ve experienced in the last two years of my life: my life spent as a single Mother.

I’m accustomed to being the only Mom at the parent/child floor hockey shinnies. I’m content to sit solo at the pool’s edge at 5:30 on Thursdays,  while my son dives for rings and emerges exuberant.  I’ve mastered the craft of cooking dinner for 1.5, and subsisting surprisingly well on wilted salad remains and mildly regurgitated avocado sandwiches.  I love being a Mom, I am astonished by how much I love my boy.  The experiences we’ve had together, me as his solo Mama and he as my affable Sidekick will stay with me forever.  These years will go down in my Life Book as the most probable reason for my life’s meaning.

But.


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dating, waiting, and hesitating

Categories: Hoping for Love, Missing Parent, Tentative Steps

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I think, much like labor and childbirth, one has to experience the blindsiding pain of kid-addled divorce (or permanent separation from a life partner) to fully fathom the pain.

I’d been through plenty of breakups before separating from my son’s father, and though each one of those hurt at the time, the sting was nothing compared to the devastating pain I felt to lose the Father of my baby: the one man I thought I would spend my entire life with, that we would spend our entire lives with.


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What Slumdog Millionaire taught me about Mommy guilt

Categories: Best Practices, Hoping for Love

21 Comments

Guilt is a common resonating theme in many of my posts pertaining to Motherhood. In fact, in three years of Motherhood, that thorny, useless emotion has reigned supreme in my conscience, in the forefront of many of my other (much more productive) emotions.

I’ve felt guilt about my career, the fact that eight hours a day are dedicated to my computer and my phone, while a little blond chunk of my soul plays quietly in the care of near-strangers, meeting childhood milestones away from the company of his Mother. I’ve felt angst about the dissolution of my relationship to my son’s father: about the way our inability to make it work might impact him in future years. I create all kinds of ugly scenarios: he will not trust, he will remember discord, and worst, he will blame me for the loss of a traditional “family” in his formative years.


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Trusting your Single Mama Instinct

Categories: Hoping for Love, Tentative Steps

12 Comments

Last week, for the first time in almost 5 years, I took a full week’s vacation.

My son was scheduled to spend the week on an island with his Dad and paternal grandparents.  I, though sorry to hug him goodbye, had a lump in my throat and permanent adrenaline coursing through my body.  A holiday!

I had a small suitcase packed with two bathing suits and white terry shorts, my iPod and three books, a bottle of perfume, and, perhaps most importantly, no Internet connection.  I did bring my Blackberry (I’m an addict, after all)  but I only read my urgent email and didn’t respond to a thing: everything could wait till Monday.  I had a vacation to inhale.

The destination shifted a few times but the company did not.  My vacation companion would be my new friend: a tall, dark man with curly black hair and a quiet manner.  We’d only been hanging out for three months, playing that odd furtive get-to-know-you-game.  In this case, it had been complicated for my intense desire to keep my son far from any semblance of a romantic life.  My feelings were bundled into a fray of exposed electronic wires: nervousness, doubt, giddiness, hesitancy.  I continually felt like something was off but I assured myself: of course it feels wrong, this is brand new, senseless territory.  Coy romance games suck even more royally when you’re not a naive twenty-something.  Go with it, I told myself, go with it.


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