A high school boyfriend turns fifty this weekend. He is not the first of my friends to turn fifty, but the first of my lifelong friends to turn the page marked five zero. Our daughters share the same birthday, which is tomorrow. The significance of this is that I will be fifty this year also. Forty wasn’t really a magic number: I cannot recall that it was something special. Thirty was special because my Dad had ended up with a special bottle of Dom Pérignon and gave it to me.
Fifty is going to be different.
I will go along with the jokes and the cake. I will read and smile at every card. I have a reason to celebrate. Somehow I became an entire person. I have my mommy pants, my date shoes and the ever present backpack that goes to McDonald’s to study in playland. I have a high school sweetheart who will probably become my ex husband this year. We have three wonderful children together. I have college credits, a college scholarship and an impressive pile of college textbooks that collect on the periphery of my desk.
Beyond all those things I finally have found a sense of autonomy. It is the Sunday before the next semester starts. I am sitting in bed, with a warm fuzzy blanket writing on a laptop for my blog. I live with my eight year old who is with her Dad for the weekend. I am essentially alone and might meet someone for coffee a little bit later, but I am not lonely.
At age forty I would have never imagined my life now. Sofia Grace wasn’t thought of. I was working in the public welfare office as a caseworker. I was drowning at work as budget cuts had hit our staffing. My marriage had hit the rocks once: but I had hopes that somehow in our later years we would find a sense of renewal. I lived in the sticks and had horses literally in the back yard.
The journey to being able to live in a rental house in the suburbs has been a wild ride. I own this life. I get to make the choices. In my marriage I think I picked out a microwave once, by myself or perhaps with my children looking on. I didn’t pick out my car or even the camper. Those decisions were made for me. The downside of that is that now I often oscillate even on small decisions. It took two months to figure out which vacuum cleaner to buy. The lawn mower was easier: I had a limited budget and a small yard. The main issue was if the box would fit in the trunk of my Honda. Big life issues can overwhelm me: I need to figure out if I am going to continue going to school or seriously settle into a career as a medical coder. I am still ruminating on that one.
I have identified what I call my “Deer in the headlights” reaction to things .I am working to become more decisive.
Time is ticking. I look at the next twenty years as chance to live my life. I still have a daughter who will grow up. I hope to get Grandchildren somehow, because they transcript memories to the future. I hope to find a companion who understands where I have been and can appreciate my intellect.
The man who turn fifty today will always be sacred ground. We shared amazing times: the Inauguration of Ronald Reagan, the ending of the Iran Hostage Crisis, and an attempt of President Reagan’s life. We worked together on the journalism staff in high school. In recent times we have shared an occasional breakfast or dinner as sort of a check in of types to remind ourselves of who we are. I hope for the both of us, we will be revisiting those conversations for many years to come.
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It isn’t really just Lent, it is midpoint in Lent or at least it seems so to me. Although I am not Catholic, I believe in those forty days. I don’t think I would ever sign up for a Paschal Fast or find myself giving up meat. I could give up meat or eat fish for forty days and it would not really bother me. I am a black bean and cheese sort of Gal who usually eats avocado and cheese sandwiches for lunch. To me those forty days are about changing your life. Instead I make covenant with myself to do something better for that period of time.
Last year it was soda. I worked at the den of iniquity. I was in food service. It was like a slow death. I would pass by the donuts in the morning and the cookies at lunch every day. Every morning I went to the soda machine and filled up my cup with Diet Pepsi. During the day I filled up multiple times. I topped off when I left work. I could have been called “Bubbles” from all the carbonation in my system. I had thought about just trying it for a couple of days to see if I could actually stop drinking sodas for forty days. I didn’t need the carbonization. Diet Pepsi doesn’t have anti oxidants or vitamins; instead it’s pretty much empty except for caffeine.
I did it.
I had a slight slipup. One evening I had to drop the kids off. Their Dad had been running late so we stopped at Sonic for something to drink. In the drive thru I add the usual “Large Diet Coke” to the order. I was dumbfounded at this extra beverage until I saw their Father. It was the right thing to do.
More over, I still haven’t had a diet coke. I did on occasion swirl some in my mouth to make sure the carbonation or syrup was ok in the fountain dispenser at work. I have a couple of really good root beers and Ginger Beer. To me those are specialty items which are a treat. I just don’t feel the need to have a Diet Pepsi with my meal, but life is too short to give up a decent root beer float.
In keeping with the idea of change I decided for Lent I could give up Procrastination. I have a tendency to stand back from making a decision as long as possible because I am terrified of making a mistake. I don’t feel I am a perfectionist, instead just one of Pavlov’s children who have been beaten over the head one too many times. I don’t know what to do. I haven’t a clue about taking classes at the University so I delay getting my registration in. I have a hard time stopping by the old daycare (I still like them but my daughter is doing better elsewhere) to pick up the child care tax form so I don’t do my taxes until the last minute. I can’t decide which volunteer gig I should do.
It isn’t that I just blow off things. I worry. It took me two months to buy a vacuum cleaner. In the retrospect I am not married to the vacuum cleaner. The old one was eight years old and was something my oldest purchased when I was pregnant with her sister. In the course of thirty years I had three vacuum cleaners. I let this decision roll around like a marble inside. I would look at the computer. I would look at Walmart or Kohl’s. I looked at Ebay. I could not determine if I wanted to spend the big money on a Dyson or wait for one to go on sale. In the meantime the vacuum at home wasn’t really working that well. I set up the day of reckoning. I made the decision to look at two different places and price whatever was in stock. I bought something that day. I also had my hair and nails done, plus bought a new dress. I think I can footnote that as the beginning of the change.
It is almost mid point in the Lenten season. The shelf above my desk is dotted with post it notes. They stare back at me reminding me of the promise to myself. Those things are no longer hidden within me. It’s not the mantra of “Just do it”, instead it is the self talk of “I can do this”.
I have my income tax already done. I have the software to amend last year’s return. I have ink now to print the forms to send in. I am waiting to see if the 2012 taxes process before I send anything else in. Last year I waited until the very last minute. My daughter had an ear infection so I filed an exemption. This was good as I waited until September to file. The tax refund was part of the nest egg that allowed me to walk away from my job. This year, since my income is limited to child support and my Pell Grant I need any sort of windfall I could get.
I waited to see an exhibition last year. I waited and waited and waited for the perfect day and the perfect person to come along to see it with me. I never went. I have been to the museum twice this month. My Dad and I went to see Chagall. There isn’t anyone more perfect as my Dad, when it comes to tolerating someone moving slowly though a gallery looking at everything. He did it for my years with my Mom.
There is a plane ticket I have to buy. For the first time in fifteen years I am leaving. It is true I do take time to unplug for the weekend on occasion. This time I will be unplugging in elsewhere for a couple of days. I actually came close to really hurting a friend because I wasn’t sure what would happen if I left town. We need to take some baby steps in our relationship. It isn’t like I am walking off the plane to a stranger. I have known him for almost five years and see him every week. I have been hovering on the side for so long I have forgot how to swim . I might actually enjoy it if I could only stop being so concerned about what might happen if I do something.
The Atlas Shrugged. The Cow jumped over the moon. The Pope retired. Life goes on without eating people alive. In this year of change I have to realize the way I make decisions effects the outcomes. There are post it’s I can take down and celebrate my independence from fear. Spring is around the corner.
I can do this.
Life is amazing. It sometimes really does take your breath away. I appreciate those people who have taken the time to teach me the skills I need to live again.
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Get ready ladies as you are about to be blown away. I stumbled upon Fiona's amazing cakes after she liked The Hunter Woman facebook page. Call me a snoop, but I love seeing who likes our page and I am so happy I found Fiona and her beautiful cakes.
- When and how did you get into making cakes for people?
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It is Donuts for Dads Day. That means that it is “Lunch with Mom ”day is tomorrow .
What happens when your Dad is a jerk and doesn’t realize his chance is slipping away? Or When you have two Moms? How about what if you have two Dads? Which one do you send ? What happens when your Dad lives far away? Imagine standing there in the cold parking lot with your Mom, waiting and wondering if your Dad is EVER going to show up? “Should we send Mom’s Boyfriend, even if he doesn’t live with us? How about if you have more than one because your Mom is remarried ?
Education is caught up in the warm fuzzy moments. They seem to believe that the family unit is huddled together. They want to believe those units are exactly the way society says they should be. They want to believe that the Dads are out there thinking about the best for their child.
I want to believe that. I see the single Dads in my world sometimes being both parents. They transcend past the traditional terms of Fatherhood and make the difference in their kid’s life. They hang out on the playgrounds. They go to Girl Scout events. They have navigated Build a Bear. They make a difference when Mom is too self-absorbed on her own plateau of singlehood. They can’t cook and they don’t care. It’s all about the kids.
In this world of single parents and blended families we are not always sure of the rules. My youngest does not remember when her Mother and Father lived together. She will remember me as a single Mom. With rarity do my dates become friends with my children. The ones who do are chosen carefully. We have been going slowly into that water because I realize she has never had to actually deal with another parent figure in her life.
She does get to see her Dad. Her Dad got the email for Donuts with Dad. I don’t think he read it until it was after the RSVP date . Then I got the egocentric email back that essentially blamed me and the fact he worked and lived far away. He drives 130 miles to work one way. We live in a different direction. It is a long way to his work. I know this because I drove my daughter there so she could sell Girl Scout Cookies to his work.
Being after the RSVP date it meant I could not send anyone else.
Believe it or not I am not an island. My Dad has been the volunteer “Watchdog Dad” at her school that spends a day being a male presence at the school. Her older brother has been apart of the gig before, but he lives in Austin. Maybe someday I will send a person who has settled into our lives and understands how important little people are.
Her daycare when she was in preschool told me that I could come to Donuts with Dads. It was apparent to them that I was the parent. This helped because there was no sense of disappointment. I think the other Dads knew why I was there. To me it wasn’t any different from being the Cubmaster of my son’s pack or Football Mom who had her son change to noseguard.
One of the single Dad’s posted a comment, “What screws us up is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be”. In our world we should not continue with labels that don’t work for everyone. We should strive to look for inclusion, rather than excluding the people who need those moments just as much if not more than traditional families. Instead of “Donuts with Dad “or “Muffins with Mom” consider having a once a month “Breakfast club” where family members come to the school to eat. If it sounds too crazy have it so that there is a grade level each month. I know this is a PTO sponsored event in other schools. I applaud the concept of getting families on campus to become a part of their children’s lives. For me, I will appear in the lunch room with sack in hand for the unofficial lunch with Mom. We have done this gig before, only this time she won’t be in the stroller and her brother won’t be around.
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