Confession #28

Around the time my daughter starts her period, I’ll be ending mine.  We’ll both be acclimating to hormonal changes while my husband stands helpless alone in a sea of fluctuating estrogen and tempers.  Now is the calm before the storm, as my daughter is only 10 and I am theoretically still in childbearing years.

From the age of 10 to the age of 14 attitude can change from sassy to downright bitchy.  I’ve seen this ascent into unpleasantness from substitute teaching for grades 4 through 8, hearing it from my friend’s kids and oh yea, I was a pubescent girl once too.

Although my daughter has not yet hit puberty physically, her attitude sometimes reminds me of what I would call teenager-ish.  No matter what I say, it’s never an acceptable answer.  For example, the other day she had a physical fitness test in P.E. class and did 12 push ups.  She was upset because earlier in the year she did 19.  I literally debated what to say to her in my mind.  If I said “Twelve is a lot of push ups, you should be proud of yourself,” she would say I was lying because it isn’t good and I was just trying to make her feel better and not taking it seriously enough.  If I said “You can do better next time,” she would say something like, “Oh, you don’t think that’s good enough?” and tell me I’m rude for making her feel bad.  By the way, rude seems to be a trending word for 10 year olds.

If I tried to be clever and simply nod and say nothing at all, she would get mad and say I was ignoring her and that is rude too.  Sometimes when I don’t answer her, she’ll tell me I have a rude look on my face.  No honey, that’s my I have to fart face.

After deliberation, I made a strong choice and said “Oooh?” which was vague enough to let her continue talking about how mad she was at her friend for not telling her she was doing her push ups the wrong way.  Shifting blame is a great evasion tactic.

It occurred to me that I now know how my husband feels.  On the occasions I tell him something and I notice it’s taking him a while to answer, I realize he’s weighing his options.  However, during the few seconds he’s considering which response will keep the peace, I’ve assumed he’s ignoring me.  Who would’ve thought my daughter is turning into…well, me.

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                               Appreciate the quiet times.

Confession #27

I am as smart as a fifth grader.  Not because I went to college, but because I am a substitute teacher.  When it comes to math, however, I am probably as smart as a fourth grader.  Jumping into lessons plans at the elementary level can be daunting for someone new to common core.  To put things into perspective, when I went to school, teachers told us to sit in politically incorrect Indian style on the carpet.  I have no idea in which year criss cross applesauce became the norm.

Of course students pushing limits and outright lying comes with the substitute territory.  There are classes though, where all hope is not lost due to a few respectful students.  I’ve encountered a multitude of students – geniuses, autistic, smart but they don’t apply themselves, and low IQ.  What frustrates me are the kids that I know have the brains but choose to misbehave.

Typically, the low achievers come from dysfunctional households.  I can spot them a mile away now.  They’ll either be the next Bill Gates or living in someone’s garage. It’s a real toss up which way they will go.   I find a lot of these types of kids in Title 1 schools.

You feel the difference walking into a Title 1 school immediately.  You see it in the classrooms, with bare bone materials, run down equipment and even the lighting.  The lighting, you ask?  Yes, I say.  The other day I subbed at a non Title 1 school and the teacher used subtle multi-color lights instead of the harsh fluorescent ceiling lights.  It created a calming atmosphere, not a harsh institutional feel.

When I sub at a Title 1 school, I need my handy whistle at times to get the kids to focus at the front of the room on me (I never could figure out how to do the finger whistle).  The whistle was intended for herding the kids when their outside recess is over.  But I’ve found it works indoors to startle the children into silence so I can tell them what to do next.

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Only in Title 1 schools have I been told by a teacher, if said child wants to walk out of the class when he feels like it just let him or he might throw a desk at you.  Only in a Title 1 school have I heard tales from a second grader who was enmeshed in subjects beyond her years such as her drug addicted father she wasn’t allowed to see.

I am not saying family dysfunction does not occur in Non Title 1 schools.  I just notice the dysfunction manifests itself more overtly within the Title 1 schools with violent and disrespectful behavior.

As a sub, my job is to educate my class according to the teacher’s wishes.  Discipline becomes a huge part of that role when students perceive you as a pushover and/or family background obstructs academic achievement.  To be perfectly honest, there are days I leave a school thinking I feel sorry for the main teacher and for those kids’ parents.  I only had to spend 8 hours with them.  I can wash my hands of it and choose to never step foot in that classroom again.  But I also feel bad for the kid who is marginalized and criticized to the point where he has lost belief in himself.

Don’t even get me started on middle school and high school.

Confession #26 (Jewish Sasha Fierce)

I picked out my white Marilyn Monroe style wedding dress, the pearl baby’s breath hair pins, and an understated cubic zirconium round cut pendant.  My choices were more limited as the wedding planner presented my fiancé and I with a small menu of options for the bouquet, the boutonniere and the celebrant.  This was a fancy elopement – vows taken on a gondola in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.  We contemplated Elvis marrying us but neither one of us were big enough fans of the Pelvis to warrant that.

I’m Jewish and my husband is agnostic and since we were getting married on a Saturday, the rabbi wasn’t available (yes, they actually will provide one at the Venetian).  We decided on a civil  ceremony, and agreed to a secular sermon complete with phrases about the joyous union of two people and a man and woman facing the world stronger together. God was not involved.

Unfortunately, when we arrived at the designated meeting spot, the pastor asked me if he could say the word God during the ceremony.  I honestly thought he would mention God only once, maybe twice.  I hesitated, and against my better judgement said yes but he could not mention Jesus.  He snidely commented “Ok, I won’t try to baptize you either.”  At that point, I should have rescheduled the wedding but the gondolier called our name to embark on our journey to marriage.

Before the wedding day, I familiarized myself with the passages he would read.  However, as we floated down the fake Venetian canal on our wedding day, my head started to spin.  The pastor not only brought up God several times, he went completely off book and referenced the Bible and the Lord.  The pastor had co-opted my wedding!

I sat there torn between looking deeply into my almost husband’s eyes and pushing the pastor overboard.  I hated the fact that I was angry during my wedding ceremony.  I hated the fact that someone else imposed his beliefs on one of the most special days of my life.   I hated the pastor at the moment I was to profess my everlasting love to my fiancé.

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My husband and I with Antonio (I actually have no idea what his name is) before being double crossed by the pastor.

I sat there wondering if I should speak up but decided not to because I did not want to cause a scene during our wedding.  My husband had no idea what was going on in my head as this was the one time I stayed quiet while deeply upset.  I didn’t want to ruin our special day, yet I let this selfish pastor ruin it for me.

You might think, “how apocalyptic to say RUIN your special day.”  My husband said later “It’s not about the ceremony, it’s about marriage.” as I cried to him how disgusted I was with the pastor and insulted by his arrogance.  While I understand these sentiments, a bride has expectations.  She is the queen for the day and an insolent pastor has no right to fuck with that.  I complained to the wedding planner and told her she should never let that man officiate for a civil or non-Christian wedding ever again.

Four months later we invited a few friends to celebrate our matrimony at a dinner party.  Before the meal, each person took a turn to read one of The Seven Blessings, a Jewish ritual from ancient rabbinic teachings.

In reality, I am not a religious Jew, however, when the pastor turned my secular wedding into a Baptist oration, I felt betrayed.  I don’t keep kosher or stop writing on the Sabbath (I am writing this on a Saturday morning) but incorporating Jesus into one of my life’s key events felt like heresy.  My Jewish Sasha Fierce had arrived.

 

Confession #25 0r Fat, Happy Women

Disclaimer: This is not a political post. Recently, my platonic wife (middle aged term for BFF) and I “starred” in a partner workout video.  We attempted exercises normally reserved for people in good shape.  Not to say we are so out of shape that we can’t get out of a chair without help, but after doing a half chin up we would most likely need an anti-inflammatory and an ice pack.

Because my daughter did not weight 35 pounds in utero, I have not been able to get rid of the baby weight after 10 years.  I know that taking in more calories than I exert has something to do with my muffin top.  However, I still blame her for making me flabby.

After age 40, you do need to accept that if you’ve never had six pack abs before you’ll probably never get them.  I tell myself though, that once I win the lottery, I will be able to afford a personal trainer and a fat melting procedure.  Although once I’m rich, will I really care about how I look?

Anyway, as some of you may know, I create and act in a variety of short films and web series videos. I am constantly aware of that my curves are more like that of a snowman than a Victoria’s Secret model when I am in front of the camera. I carefully choose my clothing to hide the extra weight in my middle aged middle (caused by my childbearing).

However, I decided for the partner workout shoot to wear biking shorts and a form fitting tank top.  After seeing myself in the playback after our first exercise called the Ab Box (a more accurate name would be the Ab Torture Chamber), I was mortified at the fact that I looked 4 1/2 months pregnant.  I almost went for a costume change, but a little voice inside of me said “Fuck it.”

Vanity halted and I decided not to cover up my mounds of me-ness.  This is what I look like.  I’m 46, I have never participated in a women’s fitness competition and I’m thinking I never will.  I continued to film the video and we had a blast.  My husband who was filming couldn’t stop laughing and I knew it wasn’t a nervous “oh my God my wife is so out of shape what did I get myself into” laugh but a “holy shit, these girls are a riot” laugh.

It was kind of a relief, really.  To just enjoy filming and not care about what I looked like. A video about getting fit is the video where I decided I don’t care if I don’t look fit.  Oh, the irony.

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check out the video, Two Girls One Carpet

Two Girls One Carpet Workout

Confession #24

Recently, I overheard two women complaining that white Christians are victims of discrimination.  I did not interrupt them or try to inject my opinion because I honestly wanted to listen to why they feel that way.  I also enjoy eavesdropping.

I don’t know these women very well but I know them well enough to discern they are law abiding, hard working, educated women in their 50’s who do not vandalize property with swastikas in their spare time.  I believe they care about people and if a black or Muslim person entered their workplace they would not treat them disrespectfully.

After listening to them for a while, it occurred to me they truly believe white Christians are targets now.  While, I do not agree with them, I respect their authentic fear that the people of their race and religion are being treated unfairly.

I don’t think they are racist.  I think they are afraid.  While they read in their history books about the civil rights movement and slavery, they don’t know the feeling of struggle and disenfranchisement people of color and minority religions have dealt with.  It’s one thing to intellectually know something – it’s virtually impossible to feel it in your core if you have not experienced it.

I know in my core I have privilege because I am white.  As a Jew, I’ve heard anti-Semitic sentiments thrown my way.  Until this Trump election, I really never took them seriously because as far as I know, being Jewish has not affected my life negatively (other than being neurotic and being made fun of for loving gefilte fish).  I say until this Trump election because the KKK and people getting on the Nazi bandwagon are brushing off the dirt after hiding under their rocks for so long.  But I digress.  As a woman and a Jew, I have a few things to complain about (just comes with the territory).  As a caucasian, not much room to complain.

What are they afraid of?  Losing privileged status?  Maybe that is an oversimplification.  A redistribution of resources? Maybe that is too complicated. I can’t speak for them.

I think a lot of people who are afraid white Christians are victims of prejudice are a lot like those two women.  They aren’t racist or hateful.  If you talk to them on a personal level, they are really nice.  Hmmm…I kind of wish I did speak with them instead of just eavesdropping.

 

 

Confessions of ANOTHER Middle Aged Woman Gone Wild

Guest blogger, Kristy Patterson, gives us the dirt on household clutter and cleaning up after the new year.

 

First Confession- My house is disorganized and I’m mad as hell! As I rang in the new year with my husband and a small group of our friends I thought about all the things I want to do in 2017. Start writing more regularly, work harder on my paintings, make new contacts to collaborate on creative projects and ultimately start my own podcast. A to-do list that I felt excited to start on January 1st, that is until I found myself standing in my kitchen looking around at the mess which is my house. Thinking of all the creative ideas I have floating around in my head and how to make them viable has always been exhilarating for me, like a pure high, perhaps like the ones runners experience, though I can’t be sure since I abhor intense exercise.

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So as my mind wandered from creative thought to present moment reality it became abundantly clear to me that my lack of organization could be hindering my creative efforts. As I glanced around my kitchen and living room with its empty Amazon shipping boxes, shoes, clothes, blankets for forts, legos, wrestling figures and their gear, my husbands work stuff and about a pound of opened and unopened mail loosely stacked on every available surface my blood began to boil and I had “one of those moments” where you want to scream, run away and just start a new life somewhere else, or maybe that’s just me. Instead of fleeing, I took the high road and turned my frustration on my husband who was sitting quietly amongst the disarray playing a video game on his iPad. “When are WE ever going to do something about this house?!” I bellowed out in the otherwise quite room. Of course my husband wasn’t ready for this level of emotion about something that we have both contributed to in our own way and expressed that he just assumed that I had grown to be “fine” with the continual clutter in our home. More unproductive words were exchanged between us before my husband skulked off to the farthest corner of our house and I stood in the kitchen crying tears of frustration. Happy freaking New Year I though to myself as I tried to lick my wounds and soothe myself back to composure.

Admittedly my living space has been disorganized my whole adult life. A stark contrast to my childhood having a mother who is an obsessive compulsive clean freak and a queen of household organization. I wish a healthy tad of that had rubbed off on me but alas all I was gifted was the depression gene and and memories of my mother kicking us out of the house to play for hours as she toiled away cleaning and organizing. I was never asked or even directed to assist, simply shoved out the door with my younger brother a cup of Kool-Aid and maybe a snack to appease us so what went on inside was truly a mystery to me. My mother was praised or rather renowned amongst family and friends for her domestic attributes. So as I stand in my own kitchen surrounded by clutter at 42 with my own family I once again feel angry with myself and cheated by my ineffectual upbringing. Damn you mom! Surely this is somehow all YOUR fault! In as much as that thought may hold some deeper merit it does little to combat all the plastic bins and piles of random items laying next to them in my spare bedroom which is designated to become our little adult escape room and future podcast/creative arts studio.

After an hour or so of “me time” I was ready to face my family again. In my deepest moments of frustration about my messy house I realized, as if for the first time THIS IS MY MESS and I have to clean it up. By that I don’t mean the physical labor of lifting and stacking heavy boxes those duties I will still leave to my husband and son, but with a new caveat. I will be directing them, you know, the this needs to go here and please stack that there and maybe let’s mark some of these bins for future reference so we don’t have to tear the house apart looking for someone’s long lost item or cherished keepsake.

The hardest part of being a disorganized mother and wife is that your family is looking to YOU to run the inner workings of the home. Whether or not you still have career aspirations, or you have Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis or depression or you are going through early menopause or have a crazy extended family to deal with. Even if aliens came down and snatched your body and beamed you back home as only a fully functional head on a stick, as a wife and mother you would STILL be looked to for answers to questions like “What did you do with my dress shoes?” “Whatever happened to that shirt I used to wear all the time?” “Where’s that letter from so and so it was really important?” “I have no idea where my backpack is, where did you put it?” “Why is the floor so sticky?” And my personal favorite question, “When was the last time the such and such was cleaned?” ….Ha! You know what they say, “If you have to ask.”

So in the spirit of living with less clutter and taking more control over things I actually have control of in life I am going to put more effort into my domestic disaster area in hopes of making my creative self and my family feel more at ease in our home. I will make no grandiose promises on how each day I will bust my butt to achieve a perfectly organized home but I do vow to stop walking past the same items over and over expecting someone to magically make them disappear into the perfect spot and start being more proactive on where in hell I want to put this stuff and getting rid of what we clearly don’t need.

Kristy Patterson was born in Saint Louis, Missouri and grew up in Ferguson, Missouri. I graduated high school in 1992 and then floundered as a bartender and sometime cocktail waitress until I was 26 and enrolled in junior college for Mass Communications. After many semesters in J.C. I transferred to a four year state school and ultimately landed at the only “Liberal Arts” university I could find in my region, Webster University. I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Public Relations in 2006 and my Masters in Marketing/Advertising in 2009. In between I moved in with my husband and we had our son in 2007. In 2010, after losing our home we moved to Southern Illinois, about 30 minutes from the Saint Louis area. I’ve written poetry and short stories, worked in freelance journalism, Ad Sales, Co Owned a small Advertising publication, volunteered for women’s rights organizations, campaigned religiously for political candidates, protested on more than one occasion and picked up painting as a means of creative outlet, always bartending in between. I also love to travel almost anywhere, pet every dog and help empower other women to be the best version of themselves

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Confession #23

With the chocolate money festival (Hanukkah) upon us, it is time to reminisce about growing up in northern Jew Jersey.  Back in the 70’s Hanukkah was a burgeoning holiday for jealous Jewish children begging their parents for presents.  My father reiterated time and again how Hanukkah was not traditionally a gift giving holiday and the rise in commercialism was merely a competition against Christmas in which our family would not participate.  I took that to mean he was cheap.

One night when I was in fourth grade, my father mumbled a prayer in what I believed to be fake Hebrew over the electric menorah in our kitchen.  He then handed me a small wrapped present.  My nagging and crying about being a deprived Jewish child had paid off!  My first Rubix cube was a testament to my relentless badgering and hopefully a sign I could guilt my father into buying me stuff.  I was wrong.  After handing me the gift he said, “Don’t expect 7 more.”  Lest you feel sorry for me, I will accept your sympathy.  At school, I had to hear the kids brag about getting a cool gift all eight nights.  Even the Maccabees, who had to clean out an entire temple, had a better experience than I.

I now have a daughter who has grown up in full blown Hanukkah = Christmas mentality when it comes to getting presents.   Now that I am a parent and realize having a child is a bottomless pit of  debt and unexpected urgent care bills, I empathize more with my father.  I was hoping living in Colorado where you actually have to look for Jews, there wouldn’t be as much pressure to dole out my cash during the holiday season.  Again, I was wrong.

During my leaner single years I conjured up my Jewish resourcefulness and found a way to get her an acceptable amount of Hanukkah gifts -the free Santa workshop at a Lutheran church.  While I preserve my  father’s tradition of twisting on the electric menorah candles in the kitchen, I put an end to his practice of robbing a Jewish child of her Christmas gifts.

 

 

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I will not sell out completely and get a Hanukkah bush, though.

Confession #22

I’m so old that I started blind dating before match.com existed. I’m not sure if blind dating is a verb but the other variations – blindly dating or dating blind – sounded worse. I used newspaper ads and a matchmaking service to try and meet my future husband. Even though I learned pretty quickly that describing oneself with brown hair and blue eyes in written form is no match for a photo, I kept doing it, hoping my wealthy, good looking, funny, preferably Jewish prince would appear.

To love, cherish and complain to, were vows I wanted to share on my wedding day and felt only a fellow Jew would understand how important the complaining part is. So I put an ad in the dating/classified section of the Jewish Standard and waited for someone good to buy me, I mean ask me out for a drink. You get a pin code to dial in to hear your messages and attempt to discern cuteness through voice. It’s even less effective than a blind person feeling someone’s face to discern cuteness.

One guy I talked to over the phone had a deep voice – the kind I expected to house a hot rugged motorcycle riding yet clean cut Jew. I just figured if he was Jewish and rode a motorcycle he would still be clean cut. We would talk late into the night for several nights before actually meeting in person. We never engaged in phone sex (that was with another guy), but there was flirting going on and I couldn’t wait to meet him.

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Pre internet dating photo when I could still wear a cut off shirt

After about a week of getting to know him and realizing we had a remarkable connection, we set a date to get together at a restaurant. I couldn’t believe it only took one response to find my Jewish hunk. I was told by friends who were experienced doing this to keep it to coffee. You don’t want to be too masochistic to put yourself in a position to have to eat an entire meal with someone with whom you have the chemistry of a failed experiment. And I guess all of these types of dates are experiments.

He described himself with brown hair, brown eyes, 5’9 and medium build. As soon as I walked through the lobby, I spotted a guy in a booth matching that description near the hostess’s station, but pretended I didn’t. I scanned the place more thoroughly to make sure I hadn’t jumped to any conclusions that he was actually the guy I was supposed to meet. My heart sank as I clearly understood my voice to hotness correlation radar was non-existent.

Then I saw him wave in my direction as he realized the girl standing alone looking lost was his date. There was no way to feign standing him up or oops I just didn’t see you! It’s not that he was horrid looking, but I knew I would need very low lights and tequila goggles on every time I was with him. It takes me about 3 seconds to know whether or not I’ll want to kiss someone – he was a not.

That sounds incredibly shallow and it pained me that I could not have a relationship with his disembodied voice but I wanted all parts of the matrix – smarts, personality and looks. Oh, and he couldn’t be broke living in his parent’s basement.

I eventually gave up on the Jewish Standard’s lack of standards and moved on to a professional Jewish matchmaker. My friend told me her mother-in-law had a track record of successful connections. At our first meeting she told me she had three candidates that she felt would suit me. I say candidates because for the most part,  blind dates are like job interviews. Hopeful yet uncomfortable.

A bald Oliver Hardy was not how I described my ideal match to her. Introverted with OCD tendencies also not included in that list. Yet that is a fair depiction of date #1. I figured I would make the most of the hour I was going to lose having lunch with him by trying to engage in interesting conversation, such as finding out what he liked to do for fun, about his family, etc… Yes, I was kidding myself that I would have a gripping dialogue with him about his hobbies and I did think of running away when he took a bathroom break but there I was, my enchilada the only redeeming factor on this date. When the waitress brought the bill, he asked if I thought I would want to see him again. I was still in my infantile stage of blind dating and so I practiced honesty and said no. He then called over the waitress and asked for separate checks. I learned honesty is not the best policy when it came to first dates/interviews.

Date #2 was definitely better looking. He was an extrovert and had a cute smile. I love unique personalities but I would say a Jewish wigger decked out with an extra large “chai” (חי) (Hebrew for Life) instead money symbol necklace went beyond my expectations. Although the date wasn’t as lifeless as #1, I knew a Jewish Vanilla Ice was not my future husband.

I told my friend’s mother-in-law I did not want to meet pick #3, thank you for the completely incompatible dates and good-bye. Yenta she was not. I would take my chances on meeting guys the old-fashioned way – drunk in a bar.

 

 

Confession #21

I wish I was a right wing conservative Christian who loved cooking meatloaf and quilting. I wish I loved ‘Murica, guns and Ann Coulter.  But alas, I am a Jewish liberal who leans far enough to the left that I might fall over.  I marched for abortion rights in Washington DC several times, I support gay marriage and I sang Kumbaya on the plane as I traveled to Bulgaria as a Peace Corps volunteer.  I don’t know if my tree hugging Bernie Sanders rooting tendencies are from DNA or my upbringing or a mixture of both.  In fact, when I was 20 years old, one of my aunts condescendingly told me when I “grew up” I would see the light and join the ranks of the right wing.

You may ask, why would you want to change the essence of who you are? It’s not that I really want to change my essence.  I just want to believe in the American dream – it seems so pleasant.  I remember in my freshman year of college telling a group of friends about the pro-choice rally I had just attended.  I mentioned a few anti-choice stragglers holding up placards of supposed fetuses pulled apart. One of the girls said she was offended by the term anti-choice and preferred I use the term pro-life.  Her boyfriend was the leader of the campus group, Young Americans for Freedom which my Women’s Issues Now group dubbed as the Young American Fascists.

As she spoke about how pro-choice activists should be respectful of her preference of the term pro-life, my mind wandered.  I thought about how lovely it would be if I could believe that corporations had people’s best interests at heart.  I wanted to share in the fantasy that benefits for the wealthy will trickle down to everyone else because with tax cuts they will use the extra money to help the poor and needy.  I wished my brain would allow me to contemplate that industries would self regulate to keep people safe and healthy.  I wanted to be confident in the idea that affirmative action was not necessary because we lived in a meritocracy. I wanted to accept that wage discrimination was a conspiracy made up by angry feminists.  In fact, I hoped that feminism was an outdated theory and the Equal Rights Amendment was not necessary.  Life just seemed easier, breezier and more fair.

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I’m not saying that girl didn’t have worries or fears.  And it wasn’t a competition in who was more depressed about that state of affairs.  She was just as upset about the (misguided) thought of babies being dismembered in utero as I was about a woman’s right to choose being more limited or (eventually but unlikely) overturned.  But I still thought she was so lucky to have blind faith in CEO’s, corporate boards and probably at some point in her life, the Koch brothers.  She loved capitalism and believed our country should be run like a corporation.  Problem is a corporation exists to make a profit, not to help people.

I still think it would be less depressing to be in the majority (as a Jew I can say I’m a minority) and trust that what is good for a corporation is good for the people.  I can’t though (think Wells Fargo, Duke Energy and Takata).  And I think this makes me the overwrought liberal Jew that I am.  My bleeding heart is part of my essence.  Sometimes my brain hurts because of it. On a lighter note, I proved my smug aunt wrong and stayed true to my integrity.

 

 

Confession #20 (really 21 but I put an actual title on my last blog post)

I miss the days when I had the luxury of having a nervous breakdown.  B.C. (Before Child), I could spend an entire weekend in bed sleeping, wallowing in misery and whining to my girlfriends on the phone.  Usually these breakdowns happened after some schmuck I thought was the love of my life dumped me.  Some of them didn’t even have the balls to dump me – they just disappeared – or as the kids say today – ghosted me.  I think that’s how they say it.

Once you become a mom, losing your shit isn’t possible.  Because even though you hardly feel like taking care of yourself, you’re responsible for someone else’s life.  It’s not like the beta fish that died after 9 months because I didn’t do a good job of cleaning it’s jar-like aquarium.  This is the life that you go to jail for if you neglect it.

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Ah, the good ol’ days

 

As a single mom, you don’t even have the back up of a partner to allow you to cry in the bathtub.  Sure, you can do that while your kid is asleep – but then you are bleary eyed and tired the next day and…guess what – you’ve gotta feed, drive around, pick up from school, go over homework, read a bedtime story and all the other mom duties.  Whatever is making you a basket case doesn’t matter.  Not only do you have to perform the routine tasks, you have to exude concern and love while you do them.

The enormity of being a single mom makes keeping your shit together during a crisis all that much harder.  If you get fired and you don’t have a kid, it sucks and you can go out with your friends and drink wine until you pass out.  If you’re a single mom, you can hire a babysitter and drink yourself silly but all the while in the back of your head you’re thinking “I gotta get up when my kid gets up and she is not gonna care about my hangover.”

I suppose one of the good things about being a single mom is that you quickly learn what is worth worrying about.  I’m not saying I don’t worry about everything anymore – I’m Jewish, it’s in my DNA.  I just mean I can more evaluate what is really a crisis and what isn’t.  The guy I dated for six weeks in my early 30’s from match.com who I convinced myself was the last man I would date and then kicked me to the curb sent me into a spiral of depression and landed me on Wellbutrin.  That would never have happened after my daughter was born.

Now that I’m married, I do get the occasional opportunity to hide in the bathroom or take a 20 minute walk around the block.  But I don’t get the extravagance of a full blown meltdown. My husband may disagree with that but that is just because he doesn’t have the flair for drama that I have.