Archive for the ‘ Single Parenting ’ Category

Correspondence

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

I would have to say that the most interesting thing about writing this blog is the email I get from my readers.

I guess it comes with the territory of revealing so much of your personal life for so long, putting it online for anyone to read.  I had a good friend tell me once that when she read my blog for the first time, a lot of it surprised her, because she had had no idea that I had felt that way (before my divorce).  I’m fully aware that this is a ridiculous statement, but for some reason I almost  find it easier to talk about things here than with people in real life.  I have a lot of people contact me and tell me they feel like they know me after they’ve read the whole thing.  I do get so personal here that I guess that in a way, they’re right. 

Enough about me.  Back to you guys.

I’ve gotten a lot of hate mail, certainly, for my more controversial posts (see here and here and here).  I mostly try to ignore that.  I’ve had people email me and ask me questions that I can’t possibly pretend to know how to answer, like “should I get divorced?” or “should I have an abortion?”  (I have to say that although I’m always glad to offer a listening ear and a sympathetic shoulder, I don’t exactly feel qualified to offer concrete advice.)  I’ve had guys email me and ask me out, women email me and ask me for advice on how to go about getting a divorce, people contact me for dental advice or to talk about going to dental school.  And of course I always love the encouraging emails, when people contact me just to say that they love reading about my life and Caroline’s, and to keep it up. 

But the kind of correspondence that really makes my day is these: the single mothers who tell me that because of things I’ve written here, they feel more inspired to go back to school for their children.  The working moms who tell me that they take comfort in knowing that there’s someone else out there going through the same struggles, and feeling like their compromises and sacrifices are worth it. 

If anything I write makes even one person out there feel less alone, then hey– I’m happy. If I get just one of those emails for every ten pieces of hate mail, it’s been more than worth it.  So, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has let me know that putting myself out there on the internet like this has made a small difference in your lives.  I can’t express how much it means to me.

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More From Wisconsin: A Ban on Divorce?

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

This just in: the state of Wisconsin is trying to make me have a stroke.

In defense of the bill that proposes a “public education” campaign maligning single parents for their alleged contributions to child abuse (previously discussed here), Wisconsin state representative Don Pridemore is saying that no one should ever be allowed to choose to get divorced– not even women abused by their husbands. Essentially, he states that these women should sit down and think about why they got married in the first place, and that should pretty much take care of the issue.

Now, I don’t generally take issue with people taking a personal stand against divorce. To each their own, and freedom of speech, and all that. Just because divorce was the right choice for me doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for everyone, and it’s certainly not a decision to be taken lightly.

But… saying that divorce shouldn’t be allowed to be an option for anyone– even for people in abusive relationships? You can’t be serious. Who are these guys, anyway? What exactly qualifies them to speak for (and give orders to) battered women?

Hey, Pridemore and Grothman? Yeah, I’m talking to you. I know you think you’re standing up for your beliefs and trying to make America a better place and defend the innocent children from all of us loose, divorced women or whatever. But listen, there’s a reason these things aren’t politically correct to say. It’s because they’re a bunch of judgmental, discriminatory bullsh*t. If children that result from abusive marriages need defending, I’m fairly certain it’s from the men who are beating their mothers and not from the women who are strong enough to stand up and walk away.

Pridemore states that children are more likely to go “astray” without the disciplinary influence of a father in the home. What is this, Little House on the F*cking Prairie? Sure, okay. Let’s just conveniently ignore all of the actual research about children and divorce and just throw around a bunch of outdated, misogynistic opinions, because that means more than science and psychology anyway, right? Forget the studies that show that it’s not divorce itself, but the way divorce is handled, that has the most influence on the psychological development of a child. Forget the common-sense truth that a child is better off in a single parent home than in a dual-parent home where they’re being abused. Actual facts are so lame and boring. Those don’t get you votes or publicity. Am I right?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe there’s an important document somewhere in this country’s history that states that we all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Well, Pridemore, I’m pretty sure “liberty” includes the right to find your way out of a failed marriage, and I wouldn’t have my happiness if I hadn’t had the right to get divorced, so how about you mind your own business and back up off it, already.

Sheesh.

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Parenthood Rites of Passage

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

We all love our kids.  That goes without saying.  Still, there are those inevitable trials that pop up every now and then and you have to suffer through them. Once they’re over, you think, Well, I’m a real mom now.  Trial by fire, so to speak.  We’ve all been there.  No?

Here’s my list of those parenthood rites of passage– have any to add to it?

Cleaning up a bed full of diarrhea and/or vomit.

Your toddler wakes you up in the middle of the night with those six dreaded words: “mommy, I pooped in my bed.”  For a split second, you consider pretending that you’re dead still sleeping, but you know that that mess sure isn’t gonna take care of itself, so you drag yourself out of bed, down the hall and get to it.  You strip down your kid and while you’re stripping the disgusting sheets, your toddler gets into God knows what in the closet and runs gleefully amok, screaming from the sheer joy of being allowed out of bed at 2am, wearing nothing but your favorite lipstick smeared across her forehead and Crocs from last summer (where did she find those?) while you’re gagging and planning six consecutive scalding hot showers and a nose amputation and I think my tubes just tied themselves, or at least I hope they did. I forget, why did we have kids again?

Defcon 5 public meltdown in the grocery store.

You’re peacefully strolling down the aisle with your kid in the front of the shopping cart, checking out the cereal selection.  You’re cool, calm, collected, and little old ladies think your kid is just criminally adorable and you’re thinking, damn straight, she is.  Then it happens.  Your child sees cookies, or fruit snacks, or something she wants.  She wants it, and all hell is gonna break loose if she doesn’t get it.  You always hated seeing those parents who give their kid whatever they want to keep them quiet, so you say no and stand your ground.  Your “criminally adorable” child flips the Crazy Switch to just plain criminal, screaming at top volume and trying to fling herself from the cart.  Everyone is staring.  Those little old ladies are now shaking their heads in disgust at your parenting skills or lack thereof. You’re trying to calm your kid down but nothing is working and finally you wave the white flag and beat a hasty retreat to the parking lot.  If you’re lucky, you have your groceries with you.  If you’re extra lucky, you paid for them.

One full night of no sleep.

None of this “I got a couple hours” business– I mean not one single minute. We’re talking none at all here, people. And then you have to go to work the next day and pretend to be a normally-functioning member of society. These nights from hell usually end with the newborn stage, but can still happen later on when kids are teething or sick or whatever. You know the drill– baby wakes up, you feed him, he takes forever to fall back asleep. By the time he’s asleep, you know he’s going to want to eat in about a half hour. You lie down. GO TO SLEEP, you tell yourself. QUICK!! Before he wakes up! He’s gonna wake up soon, just try not to think about anything and grab a few quick minutes of– WAHHH! WAHHH!!  …Damn it. (And repeat. All. Night. Long.)

So, what do you think?  How have your kids hazed you?  (Personally, I’m expecting some kind of medal to arrive in the mail.  Any day now…)

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In Which I Delegate My Personal Life

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

It has been brought to my attention that whenever I attempt to date, I turn into a magnet for The Crazy.  (See here and here.  Oh, and here.  One more…  here.)

I mean, I can’t really complain too much.  I’m moving away this summer, so there is little point in entering into an actual relationship.  (Though you’ve got to admit that it does make for entertaining blog material.)  But I do find it frustrating that no matter what I do or how I meet these guys, I always manage to end up in Crazytown.

But hold that pity party for just a minute.  I was thinking about it the other day and realized that this scenario sounded awfully familiar.  In fact, I had a friend in college with the exact same problem.  She used to sit me down in the dining hall and go on and on about how every single guy she’s ever dated has been a total nutjob, and I would smile and nod but couldn’t help but think, “obviously not every guy in the world can be crazy, my dear.  The one thing all these guys have in common is you.  Either you’re the crazy one, or you just pick all the wrong guys, and in either case, the problem is not them.  It’s you.”

So, fine.  I get it, b*tchy college me.  The problem is me.  I pick the crazy ones.  I can own it.

Based on this philosophy, my best friend decided to take matters into her own hands and scour the internet for the perfect men for me.  Whenever she finds a good one, she helpfully emails me a link so I can check out the dude.  I thought you guys might enjoy seeing the lineup.

Ready or not, here they are: my future blog subjects dates.

The more baby mamas, the better… right?

Wait, no, it’s “the more arrests, the better”.

This one loves kids!  Or just their money.  Potato, potahto.

It’s important to have similar views on parenting and discipline.

If he’s not crazy anymore, I will literally eat my shoe.

What do you guys think?  Any of them worth a shot?  I mean, all of these guys have to be at least 85% less crazy than some of the ones I’ve already dated, right?

On second thought, maybe I’d better reconsider turning over the reins of my personal life to this particular friend… (Love you, babe.)

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Wisconsin Bill Aims to Penalize Single Moms

Monday, March 5th, 2012

There is nothing that makes me go quite as postal as hearing someone equate single parenting to bad parenting.

(Prepare to hear me go postal.  Hold me back, ladies.)

This bill, introduced in Wisconsin by a man who has never been married and has no children, states that single mothers should be penalized because their unmarried status is a risk factor for child abuse and neglect.  The bill would require the funding of ad campaigns to “educate” the public regarding the ill effects of single parenthood on children.

Imagine it: you’re a single mom (from the language, this bill is clearly aimed at women).  You collapse on the couch after a long day at work and feeding and bathing and getting your kids to bed, all by yourself, as usual.  You click on the TV to relax, and some ad pops up and pompously, self-righteously, ignorantly tells you what a crappy parent and child abuser you are, just because you aren’t married.  I don’t think so, Wisconsin.

Now, I don’t know in concrete terms what the aforementioned “penalty” would be (nothing is mentioned in the text of the bill), but it doesn’t take a lawyer to figure out the real danger here: the passage of a bill like this would set a precedent for legitimizing the usage of a single parent’s marital status as a “black mark” against them as far as the best interest of their child goes, and that, my friends, is straight-up discrimination and a giant step backwards for hundreds of thousands of women and children in this country.

The senator who introduced the bill would also like to underscore “the role of fathers in the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect”.  And what role would that be, exactly?  Too often, a single mother is single because the father up and left her.  How about penalizing those deadbeats instead of the hard-working, self-sacrificing women who pick up their slack?  Watch out, Caroline.  Don’t you dare ask me for that third cookie.  I might just freak out and do something crazy with all my female hormones and emotions running rampant and no level-headed man here to stop me.

No doubt this piece of judgmental trash masquerading as a state senator is one of the Limbaugh-esque far right conservatives who don’t believe contraceptives should be a covered service for the very sector of the population which contains the vast majority of single mothers.  I try not to get political on my blog, but really people, it’s the elephant in the room and I can’t hold my tongue: you can’t get birth control, you can’t get an abortion, and you can’t keep the child because then you’d be a single mother and, apparently, an abuser… so your only option is what, adoption?  But then he goes on to say that a child should be raised by two biological parents, so adoption doesn’t work either.  What exactly are we going to do with all these children?  Perhaps they will all just conveniently disappear?

Some of my regular readers may remember that I actually wrote something along the lines of this topic months ago. Statistics don’t lie: single parenthood is a risk factor for child abuse, plain and simple, and that fact should be recognized.  But in order to truly make a difference for abused children, it is critical that we distinguish between offering guidance, support, and practical resources rather than forwarding a cruel, judgmental, and purposeless smear campaign against women who face more than enough stereotyping on a daily basis in addition to all the other challenges of raising children alone.

Honestly, I know that this bill is too ridiculous to ever have a prayer of passing, and I shouldn’t even give it the publicity of a blog post.  But I couldn’t keep silent on the topic, because discrimination and an ad campaign tantamount to slander based on marital status is not okay, in this country or anywhere else.  I hope it never is.

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