Single Moms Deserve Respect — From Ourselves

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RESPECT. It’s not just a song that Aretha Franklin rocked in the ‘60s. It’s something all moms need — especially single moms.

In our society, a wedding ring is like a stamp of approval. Seriously. It says that you are respectable, you have good values, and if you have a child that you are a good mom. There may not be a scarlet “A” in our culture, but there is definitely a golden “M”. Marriage grants a halo effect to women, and it disappears the minute your divorce papers are filed. This is wrong. Plain wrong.

I felt the sting of my halo’s disappearance. When I was separated from my husband, a well meaning acquaintance expressed shock when she learned about my impending divorce. No doubt, she saw us as “that nice family”. How could she have seen anything else? We tried so hard to look good.

A dear friend of mine once told me not to compare my insides to other people’s outsides. I cannot express how much this has helped me.

I often think of this when I am on social media or receive a holiday card with a “perfect” family photo. Yes, their son or daughter may have just been accepted to that Ivy League college or received a full athletic scholarship to their alma mater. Yes, they may look like they are still honeymooners in that photo. Yes, their house may be decorated with exquisite taste.

I bet that if I curated and edited photos from my family before my divorce that you would think we lead a storybook life.

I still recall a girls’ night out that took place about four years before my divorce. I was married, miserable, and grappling with whether or not to even consider divorce. I also wasn’t telling anyone how I felt or about the problems I was facing in my marriage. Another woman who was at the girls’ night out was getting divorced. I remember her saying how lucky the rest of us were to be married and have both loving husbands and great sex lives. What she described was 180 degrees away from my reality at the time, and she had no idea.

So don’t compare your insides to anyone else’s outsides. Instead, rock that single mom status! Stand up straight. Speak your mind. Build that career. Hug those kids. Ask that handsome single man out for coffee. Know that you are wonderful and deserving of love and respect, just the way you are.

And if you happen to feel like belting out the song “Respect” along with Aretha Franklin while dancing in your living room, totally do it — and wave to the neighbors if they notice. They’re probably not having as much fun as you are.

 

 

Liz Possible is a Writer and Single Mom Extraordinaire. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. “Possible” is her attitude, not her legal name — but then you knew that. Follow Liz at her blog at www.lizpossible.com and her FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/MySingleMomLife/

 

 

 

 

Father’s Day is a Tough One

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Father’s Day is a challenge for me. Every year. I am, however, getting better at it.  In my family, I am the 24 x 7 single mom of two teens. My children’s dad moved out of state during the divorce process. This is a long story best shared with a close friend — perhaps over a glass of red wine and some dark chocolate …  but I digress. For my dear blog readers, I would like to share how I have coped with Father’s Day, and the blessings that have come from this.

For the first few years after the divorce, I made a big deal out of talking to my daughters about Father’s Day for a couple of weeks in advance. I would tell them that their dad loved them, and ask what types of handmade gifts they would like to make for him that year. Then we would go craft shopping, create personalized gifts and cards, put together a care package, and mail it off to him.

The problem with this is that I was not only telling my daughters what they should do, I was also telling them how they should feel. My daughters are different people with different life experiences and different developmental levels. Some years they both wanted to make gifts. Other years one would want to make or buy a gift, and the other one would find any excuse to avoid the whole thing.

Now that they are 13 years old and 16 years old, I wait for them to bring up Father’s Day. I think this is healthy. If either of them wants to get him a gift, I always support that and pay for it. Now that they have their own phones, they are welcome to communicate with their dad on any day however they choose, but I don’t dictate this. I no longer answer the phone and call out, “Your father loves you and wants to talk to you!” I am less stressed out, and so are they. In an attempt to be a “good mom”, I was not always authentic. I whitewashed things, and they knew it.

I’m not sure what each of them will choose to do for Father’s Day this year. My guess is that my younger daughter will want to buy her dad a carefully chosen gift from Amazon and my older daughter will take a pass. Whatever they choose is okay. Their relationships with their dad are theirs, not mine. Respecting this is a lesson that took me a long time to learn, but it has helped to make our lives better.

I will be extra sensitive to my daughters’ needs on Father’s Day, knowing that most of their friends will get to spend Father’s Day with their perfectly imperfect dads. I will also hug the stuffing out of them. I like to do this on the other 364 days out of the year, too.

 

I wish you and your children a happy and peaceful Father’s Day. I would love to hear your comments on this post.

 

Liz Possible is a Writer and Single Mom Extraordinaire. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. “Possible” is her attitude, not her legal name — but then you knew that. Follow Liz at her blog at www.lizpossible.com and her FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/MySingleMomLife/

 

Adventures in Parenting: Baby Pool Fiasco

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It started the way all of my best friend stories start — with a great idea! It  was time that my best friend’s one year old son should have a baby pool. As the two of us rode to the toy store in her minivan, we envisioned the perfect afternoon:

Her angelic one year old would splash in the pool while the sun gently shone upon him

He would love the brightly colored, developmentally correct pool toys we would buy 

We would dip our perfectly pedicured feet in the cool water (while looking like models)

We arrived at the toy store and went to the baby pool section. We chose a green plastic pool that looked like a turtle. It was perfect. We picked out some pool toys, discussing at length how fun and educational they would be, and how my best friend could pass them down to me when I had a baby (this is an old story). I teared up, envisioning my best friend playing with my baby.

While we were still beaming at each other (and not really listening), the teenage cashier asked us if we needed any help. He said he could tie the perfect turtle pool on top of our vehicle for us. This sounded like a great idea. So he brought some rope and followed us out to the parking lot. He asked if we had a long drive. We explained it was only about 20 minutes (the speed limit made it faster). He suggested putting the pool on the top of the minivan so that it would look like a green turtle shell. It would fit better that way. He tied the perfect turtle pool to the top. We thanked him and were on our way.

You can probably see where this is going.

Five minutes after we started out, I heard something from the top of the car.

“I hope one of the ropes didn’t just break”, I said.

“Don’t worry so much. They looked secure,” she replied.

Just then we saw the turtle fly off of the van and careen into the lane of oncoming traffic. Our turtle was in danger of becoming roadkill!  

My best friend jammed on the brakes and turned on her hazard lights. We were fine, but cars were dodging the turtle. Drivers were honking at us. Some were laughing and pointing. One guy yelled. We couldn’t just leave the turtle there. And we still wanted our perfect afternoon.

About the time we started to cuss out the irresponsible teenager who had put the turtle on the roof of the minivan in the first place, a man stopped his car with the turtle in front of it. He put his hazard lights on, and got out of the car. He helped us retrieve the turtle, and suggested that we try to put it in the back of the minivan. It fit. Perfectly.

That afternoon, my best friend’s son played in the pool, and he loved it. He didn’t even notice the scratch on the side. We dipped our tired feet into the cool water, sipped lemonade, and debated how two intelligent women who had both taken Physics in high school could trust a teenage cashier to tie a baby pool to the roof of a minivan in the perfect position to be blown off.

Then we splashed each other and her son laughed at us. It was a perfect afternoon.

 

 

Liz Possible is a Writer and Single Mom Extraordinaire. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. “Possible” is her attitude, not her legal name — but then you knew that. Follow Liz at her blog at www.lizpossible.com and her FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/MySingleMomLife/

 

 

 

Advantages of a Perfectly Imperfect Mom

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I am a perfectly imperfect mom. I come from a long line of women like this — women who do their best, women who make messes, women who clean up those messes, women who KEEP GOING. There are advantages of having a perfectly imperfect mom. Here are a few of them:

Perfectly Imperfect moms turn their mistakes into valuable life lessons

Around the time of my divorce, I said some vile things about my estranged husband to my children. I deeply regret having done this. I was in a great deal of pain at the time, and used poor judgement. After beating myself up about this for a (long) while, I decided to take a healthier approach. I apologized to my children. I explained to them that I was very sad and angry and should not have said those things, and that I would do my best to make amends by not doing that in the future.

Not long ago, one of my daughters called someone a nasty name. I said, “You know how I feel about name calling. That is not an acceptable word in our family.” Her retort was, “You’ve called Dad that!”  I took a deep breath and was able to say, “That’s true. I have called him that, and I apologized for it. I also have not called him that in over 5 years now.”

Will I win mother of the year for not choosing to call my ex names? No. But in the real world of making mistakes and striving to do better, I am proud of this one.

Perfectly Imperfect moms are funny

One day the toilet in my house overflowed. In the midst of grabbing towels and starting to clean up the mess, I yelled “Shit!” at the top of my lungs. My younger daughter immediately scolded me for saying a bad word. I pointed out to her that I was literally cleaning up poop when I yelled that word, therefore I was making an accurate observation.

She asked if she could yell that word, too. I thought this one over, and said that whenever a toilet overflowed in our house, it was okay for anyone to yell “shit”, but that was the only exception to the rule. My kids both laughed with me and have now explained to their friends that you are only allowed to say “shit” in our house if a toilet overflows.

This rule works for me. It also entertains our guests.

Perfectly Imperfect moms do the right thing (even if they don’t do it right away)

When my older daughter was 2 years old, I once sent her to daycare wearing a perfect outfit — adorable yellow overalls, a new floral top, perfectly coordinated socks and new shoes. She looked like she could have been a 2 year old model. I was ridiculously proud of my feat.

When I picked her up that afternoon, she came out with a painting in her hand and exclaimed that she had made it herself. In addition to the paint that was on the paper, there was paint on everything she was wearing, including the shoes. When I saw her beautiful face grinning with pride, I had the presence of mind to take a breath and exclaim, “Cool! Can you tell me about your picture?”  

After that, I sent her to daycare in appropriate play clothes, and expected them to be played in. I also said nothing about the paint to the daycare lady who made my daughter’s days safe and fun so I could earn a living. We both had more important priorities.

So the next time you start to beat yourself up for not being a perfect mom, take a breath and realize that there are no perfect moms. Think about the cool things that you and your children can both learn from your imperfections. Then hug the stuffing out of them (even if they are old enough to pretend that they don’t like it — because they really do).

 

 

Liz Possible is a Writer and Single Mom Extraordinaire. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. “Possible” is her attitude, not her legal name — but then you knew that. 

 

 

Clean Your Bedroom Like a Teenage Girl

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Six Easy Steps to Domestic Bliss

Step 1:  Organize all of your nail polish by color. This is a critical. If you don’t do this, the next time you want to impress that cute boy who won’t notice your hands, you might have to wave “hi” to him with nail polish that does not match your outfit.

Step 2:  Organize all of your jewelry. This includes double-checking to see if your sister “borrowed” any of your jewelry without asking. If she did, you will need to spend at least 30 minutes arguing with her. If you can’t find a favorite pair of earrings, the likelihood that you misplaced them in your messy room is extremely low. Make sure to accuse your sister of both stealing your favorite earrings and then lying about it.

Step 3:  Organize all of your clean clothes in your closet, hanging them up perfectly and arranging them by season, color, and occasion. Spend at least two hours on this. Then go tell your mom that you have nothing to wear and that she needs to take you shopping.

Step 4:  Scatter all of your dirty clothes across the floor of your room. This will serve the following purposes:  

  • Your sister will not want to borrow these clothes because they are dirty
  • The dirty clothes will cover the carpet, disguising the fact that you have not vacuumed
  • The clothes hanging in your closet will look even more sparse, which might make your request to go shopping seem reasonable
  • You will have privacy because your family will not want to set foot in your room

Step 5:  Make your bed and arrange the pillows and stuffed animals meticulously. Don’t bother to wash the sheets. At some point your mom will realize that you haven’t done this in ages, get disgusted, and just go ahead and do this for you.

Step 6: Plop down on your freshly arranged bed and call your best friend to complain that your mom has been making you clean all morning. Suggest that the two of you go shopping. Then ask her what color of nail polish you should wear to school on Monday.

 

Liz Possible is a Writer and Single Mom Extraordinaire. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. “Possible” is her attitude, not her legal name — but then you knew that. 

Adventures in Parenting: Dignity is Overrated

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I once read that children are like little Zen masters who push at our most fixed ideas, forcing us to grow as individuals by confronting who we really are. I prefer to think of it this way; when God gives you the incredible gift of children, He also gets a good laugh at your expense, knowing full well that you will learn a thing or two. I believe it is best to keep an open mind, laugh right along, and enjoy the ride.

Take dignity for example. I have come to the conclusion that it is highly over rated. Before I became a mom, people would have referred to me as “dignified”, “reserved”, “boring” or perhaps “stick in the mud”.  And mind you, these were my friends.

Not long ago I went to a playground with Adorable Daughter #1. As soon as we got there, she exclaimed, “Come on Mom, let’s play!” Hoping that she will have some childhood memories in addition to the 47,562 times I tell her to “WALK”, “eat your vegetables” or “brush your teeth”, I ran after her toward the jungle gym. We climbed the ladder, crawled through one of those giant hamster tunnels, and slid down the slide. About the time I was half way through the giant hamster tunnel; I couldn’t help but think:

“Should an un-athletic woman who is inching toward middle age with alarming speed be crawling on her hands and knees inside one of these things?”

“I should have checked the maximum weight capacity.”

“I don’t see any of the other adults doing this.”

About that time I heard Adorable Daughter #1 calling out, “Come on Mom! Let’s go down the slide!” I scampered to the end of the tunnel and poked my head out. She was grinning from ear to ear, her beautiful black curls flying in the wind. We plopped on to the slide together and yelled “Whee!” all the way down.

Too soon, my adorable daughters will decide that silly behavior is… well, silly. Not long after that, adolescence will arrive and they will walk into the bathroom to do their hair not to emerge for five or six years. I can only hope that by that point I will have planted the seeds so that as they grow they will value education, have a strong work ethic, and make good choices about friends and boyfriends, knowing that I will always be there to support them.

Until those fateful days arrive, we’re going to have some fun. The other day I was walking down the sidewalk with Adorable Daughter #1 by my side and Adorable Daughter #2 in her stroller. As it started to sprinkle, we began to sing “If all of the raindrops were lemon drops and lollipops”. When we got to the part where we were sticking our tongues out and singing “aahh aahh aahh aahh aahh aahh”, I noticed a couple smiling at us. I smiled back and kept singing.

 

 

Liz Possible is a Writer and Single Mom Extraordinaire. She lives in Minnesota with her two (now) teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. “Possible” is her attitude, not her legal name — but then you knew that.

First Date Flops: Alan Alda vs. Mr. Rogers

There was in fact nothing wrong with my first date with this gentleman. He was tall, lanky, and intelligent. He had a nice smile and sexy blue eyes. His views on politics and fitness meshed with my my own.  We hiked together and talked about our lives.

 

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My date reminded me a little of a fifty-something Alan Alda — this part was great. In a hypothetical world where a fifty-something Alan Alda and I were both single and unattached, I would totally f*** him.  I have always had a crush on this guy. It started when I saw him as Hawkeye Pierce in M.A.S.H. Then when I learned that he had been married to the same woman for decades, still embraced public displays of affection with her, and was a feminist dad to their three daughters, all I could think was, “I hope the universe makes another one of these guys so I can have one, too.”

But my date for this hike was like Alan Alda without the testosterone. No woman wants to go milder than Alan Alda. That would be a date with . . . Mr. Rogers.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not a hater. I am sure Mr. Rogers was a great guy (may he R.I.P.). I hope that there was a Mrs. Rogers who loved him dearly and made his eyes roll back in his head on a regular basis. But with the exception of Mrs. Rogers, none of us have ever wanted to f*** Mr. Rogers. Not this girl, anyway.

So I left this potential match at one date followed by a couple of polite texts. For a while I wondered if I had overreacted and I should see him again. After all, there was nothing wrong with him. But all I could think about him sexually was, “I wonder how many cardigans and sneakers he owns?” He deserved better, and so did I.

 

Liz Possible is a Writer and Single Mom Extraordinaire. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. “Possible” is her attitude, not her legal name — but then you knew that.