Girl Scout Cookies – buy them here!

feel free to order cookies through my daughter’s website. You can have them shipped to you, and shipping means you’ll get them when they are shipped to the troops, instead of waiting for your girl scout to bring them to you! YOU GET THEM BEFORE EVERYONE ELSE!!

https://digitalcookie.girlscouts.org/scout/kallisti278129

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Single Mom a la mode

its weird being single mom again. or rather I guess I should say its weird being a single mom who is *old*. No, I know 50 is not really that old but becoming a single mom is something I did in my youth- I was barely out of my 20s and it was perfectly acceptable for me to go dancing and partying and hooking up every night that my kids were gone. At my age, nobody would look sideways at me for doing the same now I suppose but it would feel different (it wouldn’t be new) and also its not what I want to do. I don’t have the same energy levels or good health that I did back then too so there’s that slowing me down.
WHat’s really different though, what really matters this time around is how I feel about everything else. WHen I was a single mom before, I cast aside the notion of companionship as some kind of luxury item I had no time or patience for. I couldn’t see much advantage to having a partner other than emotional and possibly financial. Eventually I decided to try again for both of those reasons and really not much else. I wanted certain things in life that are far easier to get when you have a decent partner. I also wanted a friend to come home to every night. It was something I had gotten used to with all my roommates and I wanted it again. My second foray into domestic bliss went even worse than my first. I suppose some of that was simply due to our different aims. I got what I wanted from teh arrangement but I had to deal with all the messy details that come with having a partner. I didn’t MIND the details themselves, but I did very much mind the person I ended up with. His version of love, partnership and commitment are very different than mine. So another attempt at partnership failed.

Looking at it now, I realize that what I want out of partnership at this point is a *very* different thing than what I wanted the first time I got married. Its very different than what I wanted the second time. Its very different than what I wanted the two times I entertained the notion but did not complete the act.

So this time around, being a single mom has a very different flavor than it did before I got married the second time. OBviously there’s a grave differnce in how parenting is for me as well: I’m a different age, in a different circumstance and have kids who are very different than they were back then. The world is somewhat different too but really not that much. Not enough that I can point to that as being part of what makes my experiencce feel so …odd.

I often wonder how odd I really am… how many other single moms are there out there who have grown kids AND a elementary age kid? How many are geeks? How many are bisexual? how many are monogamous? How many are starting a second career? How many have experience with chronic health issues?

Its not that I think I am so terribly unique (beyond the obvious) but that I wonder how this oddness keeps me from connecting.

When I was younger, it was easy for me to float through different cultures and subcultures – I was a retail store manager and wore a femme suit every day to work. I was a shooter girl in a strip club and rocked the “whore look” every night. I was a student and threw on whatever smelled reasonably fresh. I was a class mom and wore suburban blah-clothes. I was a weekend Goth and had a good collection of black dresses and boots. I was a baby butch and sometimes stepped out as a man.

Now I just want to find a group I can chat with and not worry about how I look, whether I have the right clothes or attitude. I just want to feel like I already am “there”
So every day I start over with what I’m going to present as.. am I femme? Butch? Tight-ass corporate? slightly slutty? Haphazard egghead? Wise crone? Ditzy student? know-it-all mom?

I don’t know… I wonder if all those years I drifted through groups I was wasting my time.. did nothing leave a mark on me? Why do I feel like i have no culture of my own?

I thought it would at least be parenthood… but that’s not working either… I’m older, uglier, more tired, less intense and less patient than every other parent I meet. Children are the only thing in my life that has never stopped being important to me yet I still don’t feel like I really fit in with other single moms….

…. who will I be tomorrow?

Best Memories

I remember after we started using her crib. We bought a soother for it. It was in the Playskool aquatic theme and it had some kind of weird liquid with fish in it and when you punched the main button the music or atmosphere sounds would play and teh motor would gently whir and the fish would bob around in it and soft lights would blink back and forth.

I learned quickly that the soother actually worked for her sometimes. She’d wake up crying and I’d rub her tummy then put the soother on. She calm down and watch it and drift back to sleep. It didn’t take long before she learned to punch the big button herself.

One night I remember I woke up, hearing her making wimpering noises. I was so dog-tired I lay for a moment thinking about how I needed to get up and soothe her… maybe nurse her too. Then I heard her punch the button and the soother came on. She quieted down right away. I rolled over and looked at her. She was lying there, motionless, watching her soother. So I didn’t get up. When the soother was done, she punched it again. Then again. Then again. She punched her soother each time it finished at least six times. I was so blown away with how determined she was to stay soothed and quiet. I felt like she was challenging herself to remain calm. Eventually, I got up and fetched her. I wanted her to know that the staying calm was worth it, that mommy comes eventually if you are still needing her. I felt like it was her reward. SHe was happy to see me but she was still calm and serene. It was almost eerie how that night happened. But it was one of the sweetest nights we ever spent together. Its the night I want to remember forever.

Single Mom A La Mode

its weird being single mom again. or rather I guess I should say its weird being a single mom who is *old*. No, I know 50 is not really that old but becoming a single mom is something I did in my youth- I was barely out of my 20s and it was perfectly acceptable for me to go dancing and partying and hooking up every night that my kids were gone. At my age, nobody would look sideways at me for doing the same now I suppose but it would feel different (it wouldn’t be new) and also its not what I want to do. I don’t have the same energy levels or good health that I did back then too so there’s that slowing me down.
WHat’s really different though, what really matters this time around is how I feel about everything else. WHen I was a single mom before, I cast aside the notion of companionship as some kind of luxury item I had no time or patience for. I couldn’t see much advantage to having a partner other than emotional and possibly financial. Eventually I decided to try again for both of those reasons and really not much else. I wanted certain things in life that are far easier to get when you have a decent partner. I also wanted a friend to come home to every night. It was something I had gotten used to with all my roommates and I wanted it again. My second foray into domestic bliss went even worse than my first. I suppose some of that was simply due to our different aims. I got what I wanted from teh arrangement but I had to deal with all the messy details that come with having a partner. I didn’t MIND the details themselves, but I did very much mind the person I ended up with. His version of love, partnership and commitment are very different than mine. So another attempt at partnership failed.

Looking at it now, I realize that what I want out of partnership at this point is a *very* different thing than what I wanted the first time I got married. Its very different than what I wanted the second time. Its very different than what I wanted the two times I entertained the notion but did not complete the act.

So this time around, being a single mom has a very different flavor than it did before I got married the second time. OBviously there’s a grave differnce in how parenting is for me as well: I’m a different age, in a different circumstance and have kids who are very different than they were back then. The world is somewhat different too but really not that much. Not enough that I can point to that as being part of what makes my experiencce feel so …odd.

I often wonder how odd I really am… how many other single moms are there out there who have grown kids AND a elementary age kid? How many are geeks? How many are bisexual? how many are monogamous? How many are starting a second career? How many have experience with chronic health issues?

Its not that I think I am so terribly unique (beyond the obvious) but that I wonder how this oddness keeps me from connecting.

When I was younger, it was easy for me to float through different cultures and subcultures – I was a retail store manager and wore a femme suit every day to work. I was a shooter girl in a strip club and rocked the “whore look” every night. I was a student and threw on whatever smelled reasonably fresh. I was a class mom and wore suburban blah-clothes. I was a weekend Goth and had a good collection of black dresses and boots. I was a baby butch and sometimes stepped out as a man.

Now I just want to find a group I can chat with and not worry about how I look, whether I have the right clothes or attitude. I just want to feel like I already am “there”
So every day I start over with what I’m going to present as.. am I femme? Butch? Tight-ass corporate? slightly slutty? Haphazard egghead? Wise crone? Ditzy student? know-it-all mom?

I don’t know… I wonder if all those years I drifted through groups I was wasting my time.. did nothing leave a mark on me? Why do I feel like i have no culture of my own?

I thought it would at least be parenthood… but that’s not working either… I’m older, uglier, more tired, less intense and less patient than every other parent I meet. Children are the only thing in my life that has never stopped being important to me yet I still don’t feel like I really fit in with other single moms….

…. who will I be tomorrow?

the differences are inside but important nonetheless

One thing I’ve been noticing more and more as I’ve gotten older is the divide between people who raise children and people who don’t. (This is absolutely no judgement or commentary on the value or worth of either group or their choices)

People not raising children seem to have this odd (to me) glamor attached to them and how they live. Many of them spend their free time doing fun things or romantic things or admirable things like vacations, road trips, going on dates, engaging in hobbies and charity work. It’s nice and fun to read about but its mostly a foreign thing for those of us raising children not because we can’t or don’t do those things but because we can’t or don’t structure our lives around those things. Our priorities are obviously different, as they should be. But what I’ve noticed more and more is a sort of shiny happiness that comes from the confidence of being kid-free. People who raise children are constantly questioning themselves, those around them and their purpose. People who raise children spend an enormous amount of energy just trying to believe they are “doing the right thing” which kid-free folks don’t have to spend even a nano-second worrying about. Not to say kid-free folks don’t have anxieties and worries and self-doubt, of course they do that’s the human condition, but people who raise children often mire themselves in the self-doubt of epic cultural proportions.

If you are kid-free and you feel unconfident, you worry about yourself, your image, your social standing -whatever metric you use to gauge your internal worth. You don’t spend any (or much, I guess) time worrying about any of those issues on behalf of another person. You do not wonder if people are judging you based on how you spoke to your best friend the other day. How your co-worker is dressed does not make you particularly embarrassed as a reflection upon your work ethic. Nothing that others do (with some exception for SigOths) really makes you lose sleep worrying about how YOU will be judged. Your self-doubt and recrimination revolves solely around your own actions and your own decisions on behalf of… you. Because of this, it seems as if kid-free folks spend far less time grinding away at the most mundane tasks of life with as much grim determination as people who raise children. We can both decide not ot clean our bathroom floor and it might bother you for a moment or two here or there, but you made your decision to do other things besides clean your bathroom floor and you go about your life. If I choose not to clean my bathroom floor it generally isn’t a matter of opting for something more fulfilling or interesting – it usually is a dire choice I make fully aware that I end up looking bad and will be judged by someone somewhere for being bad at a host of other aspects of my life: my parenting, my housekeeping and my dedication to being an adult in general. If a kid-free person forgets to pay the electric bill, that’s considered pretty flakey and roommates may be pretty ticked about it becuase its a huge inconvenience. If I forget to pay the electric bill, I could be investigated for being neglectful of my children’s needs.

This difference in emphasis puts the perspective of each class towards a very different schema in life. If I want to go to a party, or do some purely “grown-up fun” kind of thing, there’s planning, scheduling, and many avenues for guilt, anxiety and worry- not over the planning of the thing itself but of whether one is WORTHY of doing such a thing. Kid-free people rarely have to decide if going to do something fun is “okay” they generally have to decide if they can afford it with their time and money and maybe energy. Social standing, personal esteem do not really enter the picture.

For this reason, kid-free folks who embark on some minor event of frivolity often have a glow of absolute unfettered freedom that comes with recreational enjoyment being “the norm” rather than an unsual event one has earned the right to do. Because there is little to no social or cultural price to pay, kid-free folk seem to be enjoying life far more and more often than people raising children. This is not a bad thing, but it does create a divide between the two groups. Watching documentation of my kid-free friends traipsing off to yet another fun grown-up gathering full of adventure and self-actualization means I feel a gulf between us as basic citizens. They smile for the camera in a way I don’t think I’m even capable of without heavy planning and inebriants. The look of total immersion in their enjoyment is a look I doubt I will have for a very long time. And as a person who raises children, I do not bemoan that fact – I do raise children and thus everything I do in life, at least right now, has an impact on other people who are less capable of dealing with the ramifications of my decisions. Pictures of myself enjoying life sans kids are always more guarded, more careful and yet more desperate than pictures of kid-free folks.

Bullying through exclusion: looking for the middle ground

Imagine having your child lying in your lap sobbing because her own friends were hurting her feelings during her birthday party. That’s a special pain.

“what’s going on baby? Why are you so upset?”
[long involved tale of being excluded over and over] “…and then they told me I wasn’t their friend!”

[struggling to stay calm and sane] “oh honey… it’s your special day..”
“YES AND THEY ARE JUST MAKING ME FEEL NOT SPECIAL AT ALL”
*heart breaks and breaks and breaks*

There’s no pain quite like comforting your child when their feelings have been hurt, especially when they were hurt by people they love. It’s a unique kind of tenderness fused with white-hot rage tempered by the knowledge that your rage will ironically hurt your child even more were you to act upon it. I have spent many a night holding a sobbing son while he wondered why his dad did not show up, so this is not a new situation for me. I already know that to be comforting as a mom, all I have to do is hold my child, stroke their hair and murmur soothing words.
In order to help them heal, however, I need concrete answers to their questions and solutions to their pain… which I cannot realistically give.

This is the problem of peer exclusion.

Believe it or not, peer exclusion is part and parcel of bullying. As defined by psychologists and developmental specialists, peer exclusion (past the age of 5) is both a part of bullying and a form of bullying on its own. Some studies suggest peer exclusion and ridicule (without accompanying physical abuse) is more common among female peer groups. In any case, it is an aspect of bullying that has very little attention. Much like verbal an psychological abuse, however, peer exclusion merits attention right alongside “regular” bullying. The effects of this type of bullying are just as damaging and can have longer-lasting effects.

But how do we tackle this? How do we, as parents, approach something that straddles the line between self-formed identity and subtle cruelty?

The question is how do I give my child the respect as an individual to make her own social choices while instilling in her the values of being open-minded, tolerant and gentle with other people’s feelings? How do I teach her “include others” while teaching her “don’t be an emotional doormat”? While I want her to be loving and accepting of everyone, I don’t want her thinking that she is wrong to have preferences. I want her to see the shining light of humanity within each person while understanding that not everyone is a good person. I want her to learn love and tolerance and forgiveness, but I don’t want her thinking its her obligation to tolerate all behavior or forgive all trespassers. Just how do we define “accepting” anyway? Where do we draw the line at “other people making choices” and “other people being mean”?

In the most recent example of my child being excluded, I sat with her for a while, soothing her sobs until we could talk. She sat up and I said “maybe you need to find someone else to play with. If people aren’t letting you have your special day, then let them go”
I could tell this idea pained her: she wanted to enjoy everyone at her party, even if they refused to enjoy her. These were her friends- kids she’d grown up knowing. Some of them she’d known in the crib. These were people she had dubbed her favorites; its why they’d been invited to the party to begin with. But what I couldn’t make her see was that sometimes friendships form between your friends that you are not a part of and that soemtimes means you get left out. True, good friends will be happy to let you back in, find ways to include you, but sometimes kids just don’t want to do that… or they don’t care.

She went off to play with someone else… a relatively new friend and we continued with the party.

…until the next episode happened. It just so happened I was there for it and I was able to intervene in a way that made the whole situation very clear. I told the repeat offenders that they were guests in our house and they were there because Lil Miss wanted to spend time with them and that if they were not going to include her in playing with her toys that she got for her birthday, I’d be happy to call their parents and have them taken home. The kids in question looked at me completely stunned. One of them tried to explain why they needed to exclude her and I interrupted with no uncertainty. “I don’t care what your issue is with her, you are NOT going to take her toys, push her out of her room and not let her play. Make your choice” Suddenly all kids involved decided that perhaps playing with her was not such a bad thing after all. Ten minutes later they were all having a great time. Mind you, these are kids who, when playing with Lil Miss all alone have absolutely no problem playing with her and often ask for her company. This is how I know this isn’t just making social choices. This is about deliberate exclusion.

Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened to Lil Miss. And though similar situations have arisen at school, her teacher has assured me that she has intervened whenever possible – because its already well known that Lil Miss is easily upset by being excluded. Which makes her a prime target for bullying by peer exclusion. So this isn’t just something I talk about because I think “those uncouth kids…” this is a real problem that could dog her throughout childhood and beyond. This is an issue of self-esteem and fear of rejection. But its not something I will sit by and blame my daughter for. Yes, she needs to learn how to stand up for herself in a reasonable manner that shows she will not be manipulated. But its the other kids who are either unwittingly or cruelly choosing to exploit the biggest emotional pitfall she has right now and I won’t stand by and make her think its all on her to fix that problem. I’m not going to turn my head and make her believe that she’s overreacting to a make-believe problem. I’m not going to gas-light my own child just because other kids are being mean but not using actual violence. I’m going to speak up for her whenever I can and teach her to speak up too. Hopefully through our unified efforts, she will be ready by high school to shrug off the deliberate efforts to provoke and hurt her. Because I can see that coming a mile away. Conversely, its always possible that she may decide to go on the offensive and do the same to others to prevent it happening to her. I hope our talking and modeling together she will not go that route either. I hope I can raise her to understand the difference between being careless with someone’s feelings and being cruel.

I hope I raise her to understand how important it is to speak up, whether its for herself or for someone else.