Ideal

Sometimes kids say the most profound things.

My younger son just completed two weeks of drama summer camp. He had a blast. He played the part of Prince Phillip in Sleeping Beauty. While he didn’t have the most lines he has had in a play before, he did get to dance with the princess, kill Maleficent, kiss the princess and save the day. Overall, a great show.

After the show we were cuddling on the couch talking about the show and about life. I told him that I let his dad know about the play but he didn’t make it. Instead of making excuses for him (again), I just held him and told him how proud I was of him.

He was quiet for a second, then he looked at me and said, “That’s why when I become a dad I want to be the ideal dad. Not perfect, because everyone makes mistakes, but ideal, as in trying to do the right thing and be there for my kids and their events.” We talked about how important it is to be at your kids’ events: drama productions, sports games, piano recitals, or whatever it is they like to do.

Being a single mom, I struggle with being there for everything he does. I support him in all of his events and I am always there for him, but somehow I never feel like it is enough. I am the “there parent”, the one who is there everyday so inevitably I am also the one who gets the attitude, the tears and the “blah” because I’m there. I’m not the special one; I’m the everyday one. I’m not the one he gets excited to see, but rather the one that he cries to when he is upset, scared or disappointed.

Funny how sometimes we get caught up in being the perfect parent, when all they want is the ideal parent. The one who tries their best and is there for them no matter what. At the end of the day, I would rather be the “there” parent who he relies on for everything.

After a few minutes he looked up at me and said, “Mom, you are an ideal mom. You aren’t always perfect, but you are always there fore me and you always try your best.” He cuddled back into my arms and I grinned – I may not be perfect, but I will take ideal anytime.

Sick days

sick dayThere is a commercial on TV I saw recently for Nyquil where the parent tells their son that they are taking a sick day, and the tag line says “Parents don’t take sick days, they take day-quil.”

As a single parent for most of my parenting life (even when I was married, I never had anyone to co-parent with me) I have always lived by the motto that parents don’t get sick days.

I remember once when my oldest son was little, probably 3 or 4, my cousin was spending some time with us. I was sick with the flu a couple of days and while there were people around who could have (and willingly would have) helped my son, he wanted his mom. And no matter how sick I felt, I took care of him. I did whatever he needed from me, between trips to the bathroom. My cousin just shook her head, amazed. She tried to convince my son that she could help him, but he wanted mommy. I fear we may have scarred her for life – she still doesn’t have kids.

Recently, my ex-husband texted me on a Wednesday that he was going to be too sick to see his son that upcoming Friday. He sees his son for about 24 hours every other weekend. My son, at the wise old age of 10, looked at me and said, “How does he know he will be sick on Friday, it’s only Wednesday?” I held in my snarky comments and told him to tell his dad he hoped he would be feeling better soon.

Then I put it into comparison. I have been having debilitating back pain this fall, but I’m still a mom. One night before going to bed I was having a severe flare up of back pain and had taken all of the ibuprofen I was allowed for that day and took something stronger to help me sleep. Eventually, I fell asleep, from about midnight until 3:00 AM. At 3:00, it was too soon to take the powerful meds again, but it was a new day so I started on the ibuprofen again. It didn’t touch the pain. It hurt to sit. It hurt to stand. It hurt to lie down. So as 3:30 AM I gave up trying to rest and I got everything ready for my day.

I called out sick to work.

I checked the absentee list for the day and arranged coverage for an unfilled teacher.

I emailed my secretary the plan for coverage.

I emailed my assistant principal anything he needed to cover for the day.

I emailed my superintendent to let him know I would be out.

I packed my son’s lunch.

And I waited until it was time, then I woke him up, made him breakfast, got him ready for school and waved goodbye when he left for the bus.

Then I drove myself to the emergency room.

And I made it home in time to greet my son when he got off the bus.

This mom definitely doesn’t take a sick day.

Gentle

Be gentle with yourself

Two people in the past few days have told me to be gentle with myself. That is something I am not good at. I expect perfection from myself at all times needless to say, I’m often disappointed. I am very gentle with my students, most of the time. And very gentle with my teachers, again, most of the time. But I’m very hard on myself.

Today was a tough day. Bringing my older son back to college was tough. I adore him and I love having him home with me. So having to leave him at college is heart breaking. This is his second year, so I knew what was going to happen and I knew we would all survive the year. But it was still tough.

In addition to the emotional struggles the day presented, there were also financial stumbling blocks. This past year has been hard, both emotionally and financially. A divorce is not easy, nor is it cheap. And college is definitely not cheap.

But facing the fact that I am still struggling financially makes me feel like a failure. I wish I could take care of my son’s college expenses. I wish he could graduate without debt. I wish finances weren’t an issue. But wishing doesn’t make it so.

So after tears and stress and frustration and kind words from my sister-in-law. I’m going to try to listen to her advice and be gentle with myself. I’m in a better financial place this year than I was one year ago. But it’s going to take some time to really get back on my feet. It’s going to take time, and I have to learn to be patient and gentle with myself.

As my blog title suggest, I’m still a work in progress, and being gentle with myself is something that is still in progress.

Sharing the load

The Daily Prompt: Second Opinion

One of the hardest things about being divorced is being the one responsible to make all the decisions all the time. I would love to have the opportunity to have someone in my life who will share their opinion with me. 

I’m sure some of you married people out there might be thinking “I get to make all the decisions by myself? All the time?” and you might be thinking that it would be pretty great to make all the decisions.  But it isn’t just about making the decision and getting to do what you want, it is bigger than that.

I make decisions all day long at work. Some decisions I have the opportunity to think about for a while and get other people’s opinion on, and other times I have to make decisions on the spot. I try to be thoughtful about all of the decisions I make. But in the end, the decision and the responsibility for that decision, falls to me.

Being a single mother, I make most of the decisions at home too. I try to let my sons decide some of the smaller stuff, but for the big stuff, the decision ultimately rests with me. This summer I had to make some pretty big decisions about cars. I had to get a new car for me, and I had to replace my son’s car. I don’t know a lot about cars and I would have loved to have someone else helping me make those decisions. I would have loved to have a second opinion. But in the end, the decision and the responsibility for the decision was up to me.

Making the decision isn’t really the issue, it’s the idea of having someone else to talk to about it. It’s about discussing the pros and cons and getting someone else’s opinion. It’s about having thinking it through and having someone else there to share the load with.