He Wants His New Girlfriend to do Visitation Drop-Offs

My son’s escort recently floated the idea that once the protective order has expired, my ex would prefer that his girlfriend do visitation drop offs. I was stunned, so I asked why. The response I got was “He doesn’t feel ready to see and interact with you yet.”

As you can image, I wasn’t too thrilled. I don’t know this woman, nor do I know if she is just another flavor of the week. My worse nightmare is that a string of women might be doing this chore, and my poor son will be confused.

Going to court over this new development would be a waste of time and money. A judge might view my request as petty and jealous. So, I’m sort of stuck.

Does anyone have advice? Have you been in this situation before? How have you handled it?

The Case Against Home Cooked Meals From A Single Mom

Yesterday I confessed my guilt that I could only manage one home cooked meal a week. In the good old days, my working mother came home to cook almost every night. My mother responded, “Well, you should make more of an effort because it builds memories.” But the memories I remember was the act of sitting together as a family, not necessarily the cordon blu we were eating.

Studies show that the act of sitting down to a meal with your children is MORE important than making a brilliant meal from scratch.

So with that in mind, all the single moms should release the pressure of making daily home cooked meals if you’re stretched to the limit and instead focus on healthy meals and spending time with you kids.

Parents’ Irregular Work Hours Psychologically Affect Kids

A new study from the Economic Policy Institute is looking at how social class characteristics effect children’s development and achievement to suggest policy changes — found that kids of all ages can suffer fallout when parents are called in for erratic work hours.

For toddlers, that can mean hampered sensory perception, learning and problem-solving skills, and verbal communication.

Young teenagers, meanwhile, are more prone to depression and risky behaviors, such as smoking or drinking, when parents work at night.

The biggest takeaway from the findings is that policy changes and new laws are needed to prevent employers from disregarding the scheduling needs of their workers, especially those who are parents. “Employers should avoid these practices,” Eisenbrey stresses. “When you change a schedule without notice, childcare plans get disrupted or are impossible to even make, especially when it comes to high quality care, which requires regular drop-off and pickup times.”

Doesn’t seem like Amazon would care about this study too much…

The Struggle Is Real: Mommy Exhaustion Sent Me To The ER!

I think to some degree, most mothers think their body is in alignment with their million+ checklists. I certainly did.

After a week of fitful sleep due to a crying toddler (probably 4 hours a night), incessant caffeine consumption, dehydration, a full time job, my weekend master’s program and a prickly sinus infection, I was standing in line at the grocery store last Thursday. As the cashier bagged my groceries, I searched my wallet for my credit card. In that moment, my vision started to narrow. I saw blotches of black and the lighting began to fade. I felt woozy, dizzy and  extremely lightheaded.

“Ma’am, are you alright?” I heard the attendant ask.

I was confused. I handed him my credit card instead of swiping it on the card reader.

“Ma’am? Do you need to sit down?”

I briefly looked up and nodded. I remember making a beeline to the wall, probably to sit down, stumbling and then crashing into the wall. My knee hit the wall, I saw a flicker of black as if the lights went off and then regained consciousness as my butt hit the tile floor.

I remember hearing the store go up in a mini uproar.

“She’s diabetic! Get her some Gatorade!”

“Look for a medical bracelet!”

“Call 911. She looks like she had a seizure!”

“I just called 911.”

I AM calling 911.”

Two cashiers swarmed, asking if I was pregnant, one asking if they could call someone. I feebly handed my cell phone to an attendant and said, “Call home.” I was unable to sit in the chair they provided.

My dad answered and the attendant tried to explain the situation. She handed the cell phone to me (which was on it’s last life) and I heard more frantic questions on the line.

“Where am I?” I asked the cashier. I knew it was a grocery store but I couldn’t articulate the name.

In a state of complete confusion, I couldn’t remember which street the grocery chain was located, so I gave the phone back to the cashier.

Before I knew it, fire fighters, EMTs and a police officer were all loading me onto a gurney asking similar questions. Drugs? No! Alcohol? No! Pregnancy? NO! Medical issues? Not that I know of.

The lovely EMTs ushered me into the ambulance, took my glucose levels (normal), vitals (rapid pulse), and hooked me up to an IV. We took a short ride to the hospital where I answered the same questions and paid my fee.

It took $125 and a few tests to tell me what I already knew: I was over taxed, exhausted, dehydrated and in need of a BREAK.

I’m okay now. I was able to complete my final during the weekend with an A+ and start work today. But I learned an invaluable lesson: Mommy exhaustion is real.

To all the single working mothers or mothers in general, take care of yourself first and foremost…

A big thanks to all emergency responders, doctors and nurses out there- you guys are true angels.

4 Truths You Must Accept When Your Ex (and Co-Parent) Finds New Love (Great Article)

It’s rare to find a Yahoo Parenting article that provides real-life co-parenting philosophy. The author takes this approach to co-parenting that I can get behind: It’s not about you!

https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/4-truths-you-must-accept-when-your-ex-and-118708041603.html

By Cris Gladly

These days, complaining about your ex-spouse is as common (and cliché) as married people making snarky comments about their “dreaded in-laws”.

Talk for five minutes with any divorced person and you’ll soon hear a gripe about their ex: “Can you believe what he/she did now?! What a self-serving assh*le!”

You likely have a few gripes of your own about YOUR ex, right?

Well, I’m in that camp, too. At least, I was.

Between skipped child support payments and his propensity for frequent, nasty, overly dramatic emails, it’s safe to say I’m not a fan of my ex. But I didn’t feel true outrage until he started a new relationship.

Was I jealous? Actually, no. Not in the least. He and I were not in love, so when we split, I felt pretty nonchalant about the idea of him meeting someone new. I truly wished him well in that department.

But, what I was NOT prepared for was how much my Mama Bear instincts would rear up and let out a primal ROAR when he introduced his new girlfriend (now wife) into our daughter’s life.

What’s crazy is that, at the start of our separation, my ex is the one who insisted on strict rules regarding how we could and could not introduce a new love interest to our daughter. Items on his “how to move on” list? Our daughter was not allowed to meet a new partner in either of our lives until we knew we were marrying that person (uhm, say what?!) and that (when that time came) the ex-spouse was to meet that “someone new” before our daughter ever did.

So, how ironic that despite all of his posturing about that agreement being necessary for the good of our daughter … my ex broke his own rules just three months after we separated when he started dating a kindergarten teacher at our daughter’s elementary school.

During the two and half years of their courtship, engagement, and subsequent marriage, I disapproved of just about EVERYTHING related to how my ex (and his new love) inserted their relationship into “my” daughter’s life.

From how I found out about them dating (the very drunk, very gossipy drama teacher ambushed me with the news at a social event in front of others). To him refusing to let me meet his girlfriend in person for a year and a half, yet allowing the girlfriend to spend time alone with our daughter (including driving our daughter around in her car). To the rather un-celebrated role our daughter played in their wedding.

And don’t even get me started on what happened to my daughter’s poor cat after my ex’s cat-allergic new bride moved in. (R.I.P. Maddie Cat.)

But, here’s the thing … even though I took HUGE issue with a lot about how my ex’s new relationship unfolded in our daughter’s life, I bit my tongue and kept quiet about 90 percent of it.

Why? Because, frustrating as it is, there are four harsh but vitally important truths we ALL must suck up and accept about handling life post-divorce:

1. If I don’t have legal grounds to complain, I need to shut up about it.

A very hard pill to swallow? Yes. But the truth is (as my lawyer explained) that unless our children are in clear physical danger (abuse, neglect, etc.) or either party “significantly or consistently” violates terms of our legal custody agreement (child support, visitation, information sharing, etc.) the court simply doesn’t give a f*ck about what upsets us personally. (Boo-hoo. Too bad. No one cares. Buh-bye!)

Our opinions and feelings on any matter outside of legally enforceable agreements are, in a word, irrelevant. So, even if I personally think my was wrong to let our daughter be alone with his girlfriend before I met her, I didn’t have one legal leg to stand on.

Like it or not, what my ex, or your ex, does and who they allows around our children during their visitation is his judgment call to make, just like the same is true when our kids are home with us. And that is perhaps the most terrifying reality a divorced parent must face. Is it not? No longer having full control over who is around our children anymore.

But the law is the law. So, if there is no legal recourse for addressing a matter that frustrates me, I’ve learned to think twice about picking a fight about it.

2. Not doing something my way does NOT make my ex wrong.

Oh, our big mommy and daddy egos — always so certain that the way we do something is the one and only right way. And, of course, our exes are vile villains if they dare to deviate from that way, right? I occasionally fall prey to this ego trip, too.

Uhm, newsflash: Our exes (and the people in their new life) don’t remotely care what we think.

So, if I think introducing a new relationship to our daughter should go differently, then the one and ONLY place I have a say in that, is in my own new love relationship. But I have no right to expect a say in my what ex does. He can court the new woman in his life, propose, and have a wedding ceremony any way he wants.

And getting over myself on this one allows wonderful benefits for our daughter. Because, as long as none of the “adults” on either side ruin it with unnecessary snarkiness, our daughter now gets to see multiple examples of how people choose to show up in relationships and show love.

3. How would I feel in his shoes?

Being a kind and gracious person is an important priority to me (yep, even when my Mama Bear temper is flaring up). So, one thing I make myself do every time I got annoyed at my ex and his new wife is imagine how I might feel in their shoes.

Sure, my ex made a big, ridiculous stink with the whole “good faith” new relationship rules that he immediately broke, but I’d like to think that occurred because he wasn’t in a new relationship yet. Our marriage was a very unhappy one. And I think when he suddenly did find new love, he just wanted to protect it. And while I certainly did not appreciate some of his choices, I understand his instinct to keep that new joy as safe as possible.

My ex has every right to move on and be happy on his own terms. Just like I have the right to do the same (and have happily done so). I mean, isn’t moving on the whole point of divorce?

4. My job is to worry about MY relationship with our daughter, not his.

What I want most in this world is for my daughter to feel valued, safe, and loved. Did some of the choices my ex made in his courtship, engagement, and new marriage negatively affect her, even if unintentionally? Yes. She says fairly often that she feels left out and less important to him.

I want that to not be so. But here’s the thing: ultimately, she is safe at her dad’s. Her dad loves her. And his new wife is actually a really nice person. Are there some kinks in their father-daughter dynamic? Yes. But, that’s his job to notice and work through. And lord knows when the teen years hit, my daughter and I will likely face kinks in our dynamic, too.

My job is to focus on making my own relationship with my daughter happy, strong, trust-filled, and wonderful. Part of doing that is teaching her the conflict resolution and communication skills she’ll need for success in any relationship in her life (with her dad and even in her relationship with me).

The bottom line is, whether I wish my ex harm or wish him well, nobody cares. My opinion of my ex and his new life just doesn’t matter. The only opinion that does actually matter is the one my daughter holds in her heart about her life and relationship with me.

So, is biting my tongue and letting ex-drama slide easy? No.

But there’s an amazing benefit of taking the high road first, as often and as consistently as you can. It sets a precedent that keeping the peace is possible and that, for everyone’s sake (but most especially for our daughter’s) the right thing to do is end the nit-picky opinionated b.s. so that we can ALL (him, me, and) our daughter) truly move on.

“Single Mom” Vocabulary: Harmful, Helpful Or Just Fact?

I started this blog with every intention on “owning” my single motherhood. I found it difficult (and still find it difficult) to label myself as a single mother because of all the social stigmas that say single mothers are women with the following attributes (some of which are based on credible and non-credible statistics, studies or outdated, but long-held beliefs):

  • Divorced (because they couldn’t keep a man), single mother-by-choice (because they couldn’t find a man during their fertile years) or unmarried/never married (because they were poor decision makers or couldn’t get the father to marry them).
  • Dependent on child support with other forms of government assistance.
  • Dependent on welfare and/or other forms of government assistance.
  • Lower socioeconomic status.
  • Uneducated, with the highest education level as some high school, a high school diploma, GED or some college credit.
  • At risk for chronic illnesses and diseases later in life.
  • Poor judge of character and poor decision makers.
  • Sufferers of mental illnesses, drug addictions or relationship addictions.
  • Chronically exhausted and prone to drama and instability.
  • Viewed as less desirable to date.
  • Other character flaws that have led to their current circumstances.
  • Contributors of the breakdown in traditional family values.
MTV's 16 & Pregnant Show- Jenelle

MTV’s 16 & Pregnant Show- Jenelle

If you Google “single mother” and click on the news element, some of the headlines look like:

  1. Single Mothers at Risk for Poorer Health Later in Life
  2. After East Village Fire, Internet Helps Single Mom Of 3 Who Lost Everything
  3. 7 Invaluable Love Lessons From Single Moms
  4. Single Mother Who Worked For Brink’s Says She Was Fired for Participating in ‘Fight for 15′ Protests
  5. Terminally Ill Single Mother From Santa Clarita Sues for Right to Die in California
  6. Single Motherhood, in Decline Over All, Rises for Women 35 and Older

I noticed a few trends:

1.) The distinction of “single mom” headlines versus the “mom” without marital status in the headlines were meant to elicit sympathy, empathy, pity, a call to action or a similar emotion.

2.) Personal stories/anecdotes of single mother’s in the news had a overcoming adversity, positive, strength-building or character-building tone.

3.) Personal stories/anecdotes of single mothers who opted to parent by choice were older, highly educated and of higher socioeconomic class and the tone was more neutral or positive than articles of single mothers by circumstance.

4.) Studies on single mothers had a subtle, negative tone that seem to reinforce social stigma. Authors make assumptions in the first article: “Single motherhood is associated with poverty in most societies, but more so in the USA than in Europe,” the authors explain. “This may lead to different mechanisms of selection into lone motherhood between countries. Particularly in Southern European countries, strong social and family networks may offset some negative effects of single motherhood.”

So here’s my conflict: Should we be talking about “motherhood” or “parenting” rather than “single motherhood”? There are obvious differences from a married mother and a single mother, but when it comes to the basic foundations of child rearing and parenting, why do we need to assign marital status?

Playing the devil’s advocate: Is it still relevant to use the term “single mother” so that we can connect with other like-minded individuals with similar experiences?

I’m not suggesting that one term is better than the others, but rather hoping other bloggers have some insights to the question:

“Single Mom” Vocabulary: Harmful, Helpful Or Just Fact?

I’m Not A Checklist

I was chatting with a guy that seemed to have a promising personality- a gentleman and interesting. We escalated to WhatsApp within a week and found shared interests. Soon, he asked me out for Friday, but not before sizing up. In rapid-fire style, this guy asked me the following questions:

1.) Do you have higher education?

My answer: Yes, I’m in grad school.

His answer: Good. I’m Yale ’03 and Harvard Business School ’13.

2.) What’s you background?

My answer: WASP-y father and Jewish mother.

His Answer: Good. Jewish on both sides.

3.) Do you want more children?

My answer: Too soon to tell.

His answer: I’m not trying to chase shiny objects on the lawn. I mean, I do want children.

My answer: Well we haven’t even gone out yet!

His answer: I like to cover things ASAP. I find that many people don’t like late disclosure of things known all along.

I refused to answer this question. The honest truth is that I don’t know, it depends. But my main point is why even date and get to know someone romantically if you are going through a list? There are TOO many variables that may change my mind or actions in the future. My current life’s path isn’t solely defined by my future life’s path- it may change. I respect that he wants biological children, however I’m just trying to get through the days as a good parent with the one I have. Also, this is a better question asked in person.

I don’t want to waste anyone’s time either, but people rarely find a partner based on a check list because a person’s character shouldn’t be defined by a set of “asks.” Unless he wants to get married tomorrow (which there are plenty of girls out there who want that) I advised him to take things slow. Dating is a risk of your time, effort and resources. If you’re not willing to take the risk, then don’t date! I have practically no time or resources to date, but I take a risk every time I do. In my mind, so should the guy who is interested.

Any thoughts?

The Half-Brothers I Never Really Knew And The Power Of “No”

My half-brothers are in town visiting my dad. After I pick up Andrew, the plan is to go have dinner with the family.

A difficult question bubbled up from my mom on Friday. She wanted me to spend the weekend with everyone after my Saturday class. She asked, “Why don’t you make you dad happy and spend some time with the guys after your class?”

I had already agreed to Sunday dinner. And to be clear, I don’t really have a relationship with my half-brothers. We don’t call on each others birthdays and we never grew up together. In fact, for ten years, my brother’s were virtually estranged from my family.

Now that I am an adult and a single mother, working full time and attending graduate school, I have very FEW moments to myself. I cherish the time I do have every other weekend to take care of my soul and pursue the things that make me happy within the 48 hours twice a month- even if it is as simple as an hour at the gym and a moment to write or decompress from the week at the nail salon. Between guilt and perceived family “obligations,” I am unapologetic with “me” time. If my brothers had picked a weekend when I had Andrew, I’m sure I would be writing a very different post.

The point I’m trying to make is that mothers, single or not, who dedicate their precious free time to make others happy or comfortable are doing a disservice to themselves. Our culture encourages the ideal that once you are a mother, you must sacrifice, sacrifice and sacrifice almost all of your time for the “good” of your children. I believe quality time, not the quantity of time is what’s important.

Sometimes, we need to embrace the power of saying “No” and make our mental and emotional well-being a priority.

New Daycare Relief!

Andrew has pink eye so I took him to the doctor on Tuesday. They prescribed him some pretty strong eye drops and said wait a day. I took off of work for 24 hours and brought him to the new daycare. Rejoice! She accepted him without a worry. She actually trusts the parents (a novel concept) to do what’s best for their children. Since Andrew is no longer contagious and 80% better, I figured going back to work today wouldn’t hurt.

I LOVE this new daycare provider! She is a joy and a professional. The only thing I regret is not moving Andrew sooner.

Now, if only my old daycare provider would call me back so I can pick up Andrew’s things…