Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Single Parents Not Supporting Each Other

I drafted the title for this a year ago and I never finished. It's sad that as I wrote this today it's still relevant. 

Recently, I contacted another single mom, @SingleMomsChi, who is trying to put together a single mom group in the Chicago area. I noticed the tweet from another single mom blog owner, @Singlemommyhood, and offered my help. I used to run the single mom meetup group in the Chicago suburbs and my friend Erich ran the Chicago single parent's group for a while. I figured I could give her a heads up on the struggles and frustrations of trying to organize single parents. 

Obviously, the biggest difficulty getting single parents to come together is time. None of us have enough of it and we're constantly stretched to breaking. What little time we have left, between work, school and kids, is used up cleaning or sleeping. It's really hard to get single parents together consistently for get togethers. I had a core group of single parents show up to almost all the events and a few new faces showed up once or twice and vanished. The online community I provided was even quieter. I assumed that starting conversations on a shared discussion board would foster communication in the group and help comfort levels at gatherings. Not so much. 

When we finally did get a large group of single parents together, boy did we talk! It helped if the kids were able to play while we talked, but we always found a way to share our struggles. The only problem was the separation of the groups within our single parent group. There was the never-married group, the divorced-with-an-active-dad group, the no-father-involvement group, and then a miscellaneous group that included dads, widows, etc. Each branch of single parents had a different experience with single parenthood, and it caused friction.

I see this online as well. For such a large group to allow itself to become so segmented is a shame. To say that a mom who gets every other weekend 'off' while the kids are at their father's is any less a single parent than someone without the other parent involved is ridiculous. To make it worse is the group splits up again when you talk about dating and not dating - for whatever reason. I had a mother's boyfriend show up at one of our gatherings to drop something off for her and the envy and ugly came out when she left. When single parents get married, they get jettisoned from the single parent tribe. They've got in-house support now and past experience doesn't count anymore. I don't understand it.

I can't believe that single parents have in-fighting that's along the lines of working moms vs. stay-at-home moms! I'm seriously shocked when I see another single mom claim they have it harder than another single mom for whatever reason. We ALL have our hardships, but we're all trying to raise our kids to be awesome adults. Whether my son is gone for two weeks with his dad this summer, or whether I have him 24/7 the rest of the year is irrelevant to my experience as a single mom as it relates to another single mom. The experiences are unique to me as an individual, but I'm still a single mom who struggles to raise my son alone. 

I admit that getting regular child support and my son going with his dad is nice, but I knew he'd be involved before I had a child with him. I still had to fight my ass off for the child support and the divorce, like any divorce, was horrible. Why would I ever say that someone who was never married to their kids' father isn't equal to me as a single parent, or had it easy, because they never had to deal with divorce court? Doesn't that sound crazy? We all struggle with something - even the rich single parents (not that I'd know).

We are all single parents and we need to come together and support each other, not tear each other apart. You never know when the single parent you judge as 'not single parent enough' has the answers or can support you when you need it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Chicago Bloggers I'd Like to Meet

So the whole time I lived in Chicago, I never met up with any of the other Chicago bloggers that I wanted to meet. I have no idea why. Oh, wait, probably because my social skills suck. Or probably because I was always working to survive in IL. Or maybe because I don't really reach out via email to most bloggers I read, which is weird when they were local and I could've easily met them (assuming they wanted to meet me). I lurk and sometimes comment, and I admit to not being super social about meeting others but I'd like to change that. Even though I've moved to WI, I still have family and friends in Chicago.

So, this summer I'd like to try and meet a few of the bloggers I've been following for years, if possible. Bloggers I'd like to meet this summer include:

Jess @ Sassafrass - A fabulous fellow single mom in Chicago w/a son who also loves Star Wars.
Amy @ Comments from the Peanut Gallery - Mom of 4 who is truly amazing, with a boy close in age to Noah.
Shannon @ Same Old Shannon - I'm often going through the same thing with Noah.
'Harriet' @ Spynotes - I've been reading about her son since he was younger than Noah is now.
Dawn @ Because I Said So - Author and now a single mom of six, she's getting ready to move to FL soon.
Melisa @ Suburban Scrawl - Also an author, to a Chicago city guide for teens & another book, she lived across town from me before I moved and I never met her! Silly me.

I have some of these ladies on my twitter feed and/or my Facebook friends list. I'll just have to figure out the rest, and hopefully this summer I'll get to share stories about meeting them!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Long Ride Home - From Dating to Divorce & How Babies are Made

Boy did we have an interesting talk on the way home! To keep him awake the last 40 minutes of our drive, which was already 10 PM, I asked him if he understood why I wouldn't be going with him to his daddy's when his brother came for the summer. I don't think I've ever explained or talked about his dad and I being divorced. He knows we were married and has seen the wedding rings in a box. He sees marriage on TV and thinks if you kiss you're married (I'll let him think that for a while). He also thinks he can marry me, which I keep telling him is impossible but is cute and funny at the same time. It wasn't an easy talk and included his brother's mom and his dad not being married and not having to get divorced. It kind of kills the "Don't have sex unless you're married" thing too. Lord help me, I hope I did it all right because it confuses me sometimes too.

I was feeling somewhat confident - until he asked what "special place" babies come out of (thanks mom! LOL). I tried to come up with descriptions he could relate to since we were in the car. He didn't understand how babies come out of your 'pee pee' and kept saying he was cutting his pee pee off to get the baby out. Oy vey. Not going well. So then we had to talk about boy and girl parts being different and only girls have babies but daddies help. I was WAY in over my head without age-appropriate books to fall back on. I'm going to the library tomorrow, but it may be too late after he goes to school and shares all his new info. Oh lord, I'm in trouble I know it. Anyway, I finally got to the point where I said a girl's uterus (hooray me using the correct terms) was like a water balloon with his big Bakugan shoved inside it and the balloon stretched to make the Bakugan fit in it. Then, when he wanted the Bakugan out, the mouth of the balloon stretched to let it out. He insisted the Bakugan was too big and I kept saying it stretched. I think his brain exploded at that point and he also asked if they had to cut the pee pee to get the baby out. How was I not ready for this?? Now he wants to see proof of all this online. I think I said, "Um, oh boy" and "we'll see." 

The last bombshell was my own fault for asking if he had any more questions and he could ask me anything. He hit me with, "What's dating?" Damn you Disney for not having cartoons on later in the day! I asked him what he thought first, as I do after almost everything he asks to see what details he wants. I clarified to see if he knew what a date was and he said taking a girl to a restaurant. Good boy. I think I then inserted something about gold diggers but he wanted to know about why boys and girls date. The answer I gave was that when he's older he will like girls and dating is a way to find someone you really like a lot so you can get married. I slyly added that you don't date other girls once you really, really like just one because it hurts the girl's feelings if you said you only liked her the most. But until he picks one, he can date whomever he wants or not go on another date if he doesn't.

He's said before he met the girl his dad used to date (but has since broken up with) and I did ask how he felt about his dad dating someone or my dating someone. He yelled at me that I can't date because I have to marry him. Again, the discussion on marrying your mom is not possible. Then he asked if his dad kissed the girl and I said yes. He said that was yucky and he was going to barf when we got home. Always hilarious. Before we reached our exit for home, I told him that it wasn't anything he had to think about now because that was all big boy stuff. I told him to enjoy being a little boy and have fun playing with his toys and the kids at school. He just kept saying he wanted to be a big boy now, but then said he wanted to be a little boy forever. What a tough age he's at now trying to figure things out and how the world works.

You know, I wish they gave out a handbook of all the fun stuff you'll get asked in every situation. I thought I was prepared for this inquisition. I really did. All the single parent blogs, the books with advice, the how to talk about sex with your kid info - none of it popped into my head while I got the third degree from a 5 year old. The thing that did come out of it is that now he knows he can ask me anything and I'll tell him. The most hilarious thing before we got in the house is he said, "It's a dumb question" to which I told him there are no dumb questions. He asked, "Do you say 'stupid'?" Easiest question of the day!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day with Birthday Parties

What a long, ridiculous weekend! My son learned about divorce, marriage, dating, how babies are made and come out, and had two birthday parties. I got to drive 3.5 hours on Mother's Day to get us home, deal with a grumpy ex and put together toys for which we have no batteries. Tomorrow, I get to do the laundry, buy batteries and clean the house. Fun times!

My son is learning early about stretching out bday celebrations. He had four parties to celebrate his birthday over the course of a week. Sunday was our special 'party', just us at the BBQ restaurant he's been begging me to take him to for months. We had a great day opening presents and then eating. Tuesday he got his school party because he was too sick on Monday to go to school. Since it was a short week at school and he had this past Friday off, I planned to take him to Chicago to see the grandparents. I didn't realize it was Mother's Day when I planned this, obviously.

The original plan was to go to a water park resort, but then I read they had a bed bugs report. Pass on that! Come to find out one of my old ex-boyfriends was there with his daughter and I totally would have run into them had I gone. Awkward, especially when I would've been in a bathing suit. Karma was nice to me that day. With the broken arm, and both of us recovering from sickness, I just headed to my mom's and she had a party planned for Saturday. For some reason my son and I don't sleep well there. I don't know why but he didn't get down until 2 AM. Yep, this single momma was beside herself and severely pissed off and tired after driving 4 hours and 2 potty stops to get there. I finally fell out asleep at 4 AM but tossed and turned.

My mom's party was nice and even though my brother only got to stop by for a minute while he was working, my son said his favorite part was playing soccer with his uncle! I love that he didn't say presents first, but he amended that quickly. He didn't even eat any cake, but I have lots in my fridge right now! I always get leftovers to take home from my mom's. Thank goodness too because tomorrow I'm going to be on the couch resting as much as I can.

While we were at my mom's I was telling her that my son's teacher is pregnant and that my son said babies shoot out of our arms. Then, apparently, the doctor tapes our arms back on! After I stopped laughing, I told him the right way women give birth, with as little detail as possible. Since I had a c-section I've always just said he was cut out of my tummy and he let that go. My mom tried to help, which was funny too, but I found out later he was more confused.

At his dad's house on Sunday, his grandparents had a small birthday party for him. Since the ex and I are having some not-getting-along issues right now and it was a little awkward with us, but I always enjoy his family and our son loves seeing everyone. I did have to explain that I wouldn't be there the next time he was visiting because he's going to stay for a few weeks. He was disappointed and I had to explain that his brother would be there so mommy would be at home while daddy brought him there. I'll be picking him up when they're done, I think. Who knows how it will work out. I think my son was a little confused by this. So I made a mental note to talk about it later on the drive home. The drive home was the true test of my parenting skills. Getting along with the ex was nothing compared to what came next. More on that tomorrow.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Happy 5th Birthday!

Five years of solo parenting this beautiful "baby" and what a wild ride it's been.
Love you son.

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