Single Parent Life

“Don’t be ridiculous, Charlie, people love the parents who beat their kids in department stores. It’s the ones who just let their kids wreak havoc that everybody hates.” ~ Christopher Moore, A Dirty Job

The life of a single parent is hard.  It is damn hard.  There are many days when I wonder how I can possibly do it all – wake up, make her breakfast and a lunch to bring to school, race to get her to school, race to make it to work on time, race to pick her up from afterschool, bring her to her scheduled activities, go home and make dinner, spend time with her, do household chores, exercise – and still stay somewhat sane.

On Monday night, she asks me if I am going to her spring concert.  “Sure,” I said.  “When is it?”

“Tomorrow night,” she answers.

“What?!  Tomorrow night?  Why are you just telling me about it now?”

“I forgot,” she retorted.

I told her that because I was not given ample notice and that I already had other things planned for Tuesday evening, I would not be able to attend the spring concert but that I would still drive her to school so that she could perform.  She seemed content with that.

On Tuesday, I drove her to school in the evening and I picked her up after the concert.  I asked her how it went, and she said that it went fine.  She then mentioned to me how “Ally’s mom and JJ’s mom were there and they recorded me and told me how great I was.”  I told her that I would ask them for a copy.

When we got home, she asked, “What did you do the whole time during my concert?”

I told her that I had made dinner and some other household chores.  She said, “That’s it?”

I answered, “Yes, that’s it.”  I could tell she was angry that I did not attend her spring concert, but after all the prior weeks preparing for her Communion, I really was not in the proper frame of mind to attend her Spring Concert, especially considering that she had failed to mention it to me until the prior night.

She then blurted out, “I wish you were like other moms.”

I told her that I wished that I was like other moms, too, and that I wished I could get the help that they have — a husband or a family to help them with everything since I was alone and doing all the work of bringing home an income, making sure that she gets to/from school, eats three times a day, and has activities she can do to keep her mind and body busy.

Some days are just damn hard.  Yesterday was one of them.

Foul

“When his life was ruined, his family killed, his farm destroyed, Job knelt down on the ground and yelled up to the heavens, “Why god? Why me?” and the thundering voice of God answered, ‘There’s just something about you that pisses me off.’” ~ Stephen King, Storm of the Century: An Original Screenplay

I was in a foul mood this past weekend.  I felt angry and irritable and as though nothing was going right.  To further intensify things, I had to work this weekend, giving me little to no time to decompress.  I found myself folding laundry and doing housecleaning at 9:00 p.m. last night and I was so exhausted I wanted to cry.

Somehow my thoughts wandered to negative thoughts, and I started to think to myself, “People who say ‘God is good’ clearly have never had anything bad happen to them.”

My relationship with God has not been the best, to say the least.  I do believe in God.  I just do not believe that He is necessarily in my corner.  The last time I prayed for something, He turned around and gave my dream/wish to the other woman.  Suffice it to say, I will not be asking Him for anything anytime soon, lest He give it to someone else.

The anniversary of my sister’s death is coming up soon.  I remember clearly how I prayed so hard for her not to die.  We all know how that turned out.

Then, I prayed and pleaded with God for another baby.  I even underwent fertility treatments and spent thousands of dollars and tears, only to end up watching the other woman give birth to a beautiful baby.

I realize that I sound like a whiny and annoying woman, but sometimes, I just cannot control myself.  I feel badly though when I see someone who is homeless or who has much less than I do.  It does help put things in perspective and I am humbled and realize how foolishly ungrateful I am for the things that I do have.

But I am only human, and I have to allow myself to feel these negative thoughts, let it out, and move on.

California Trip; Series of Unfortunate Events

“Why don’t you go on west to California? There’s work there, and it never gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick an orange. Why, there’s always some kind of crop to work in. Why don’t you go there?” ~ John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

So much has happened since my last entry.  The biggest event that happened was that G and I, along with my cousin, C, took a quick trip out west to California in April.  We went to visit my cousin, Ivy, and her three young sons. She was widowed last year when she came home from work one evening to find her husband dead in their bed.  It was tragic, and even more so as she was at that time twenty weeks pregnant with their third child.She was featured on The Talk.  Her tragic story can be viewed here:

She has been extremely strong in the face of extreme loss and tragedy, and her faith in God has never wavered.  I salute her, as I have crumbled in lesser challenges.Our main purpose for visiting California was of course to visit my cousin and offer whatever support we could give, even if just emotional, and despite the rather grey circumstances, we ended up having an amazing time.  It was nice to reconnect with my cousin, and it was nice for G to to spend some time with her cousins.Ivy and her sons live in what I call Central California, somewhere in between Los Angeles and San Diego. Although I lived in California when I was younger, I had never been to San Diego.  As such, we took a side trip to San Diego and met with some blog friends who I have “known” since 2003.  It was our first meeting. I already love these friends, but it was so special to finally see them in person after over a decade of online friendship.Here is a little video collage of our trip:

This month of May has been challenging.  Earlier in the month, I had made it my mission to take G to a particular park to get a view of the Manhattan skyline sunset.  While I was able to make it to that park, I was not able to leave in style.  My car got a flat tire as I was leaving the park, and it took over an hour to finally get the spare tire (donut) installed.

As I was driving home, wouldn’t you believe it, but then the spare got a flat!  Unbelievable bad luck and timing.  Fortunately, I was able to catch the favor and grace of a friend who came to my rescue.The following week, on Mother’s Day actually, I started to feel very ill.  I was at the tire place getting my brand new tire installed and my wheels aligned when I felt as though I was going to faint.  I made it home just in time before I collapsed into my bed with a high-grade fever.I was incapacitated and delirious for the next three days.  I was so weak, I could barely even sit up in my bed.  Poor G.  I couldn’t even take her to school on that Monday.  I did not make it back into my office until that Thursday.

In the middle of all that chaos, I had a falling out with a friend.  Prior to my becoming ill, she had asked me to borrow some money for another crisis she was having with her family overseas.  She has a history of constantly borrowing money, and as usual, she promised to pay me back as soon as humanly possible.  I reluctantly agreed to lend her some money, but then I had become deathly ill, and so my promise to lend her money was soon forgotten.I did not hear from her during the entire time I was sick, but I finally contacted her when I was recovered enough to make contact again with the public.  She responded with a text telling me that she was angry at me for not lending her the money when she needed it, and I told her that I had fallen very ill, and that I had totally forgotten about the issue.  She was still angry and she said that I was mean for saying yes but not following through with it.  I then reminded her that she in fact was still in debt to me for a few thousand dollars, and that she really had no right to be so angry with me.  She responded that she was tired of me hanging her debt over her head and that being my friend was “exhausting.”I was in no mood for her text rants and ended it by saying that I was done with her “friendship” as well, and that her conscience should tell her how much she should pay me back.  She owes me close to five thousand dollars.  I have a feeling I will never see that money ever again.

It is never a good feeling to end a “friendship” no matter how real or true it is, but I feel good that I am finally moving on from a relationship/friendship that was so toxic.

Afraid for our Future

“Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.” ~ Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm

G and I have been having some tough days.  She turned nine three weeks ago, but she’s already been exhibiting signs of spoiled teenager-itis.  My patience is thin when it comes to juvenile tantrums, and so she and I have been flexing our respective guns.  I was raised in a very strict Asian upbringing, and so I refuse to let her “win.”  She, by my parent’s definition, is completely American and lacks all the submissive qualities that are typical in Asian children.  In one sense, I am happy that she is headstrong and determined, but in other ways, I am disappointed that she has elected to direct her rebellious ways towards me.

Yesterday morning, she and I had a heated argument.  I feel weird calling it an argument since she is only nine years old, but there it is.  We were in the car on the way to her school, and she was upset that I had bothered her about eating breakfast.  “You are soooo strict,” she whined.  “All the other kids don’t have their mothers bothering them about breakfast.”

“I would consider myself so lucky if I had even one person bothering me to eat something,” I answered. “I could starve and no one would care to even ask me if I wanted anything to eat.  I feel sorry for those kids whose parents don’t bother them to eat.  I am sure they would be happy for a mother like me who will feed them all the time.”

In typical tweeny fashion, she just rolled her eyes in response.  I would have let it go at that, but unfortunately, she continued.  “You are soooo annoying,” she said.  “None of the other kids eat breakfast either and their parents don’t care.”

Because she continued, and because her attitude was crass and disrespectful, I got angry.  Furious, even.  I ripped into her by telling her how ungrateful and disrespectful she was to speak to me in that way, and that maybe if she was so unhappy with me, that she could go live with her drunk of a biological father as he would with all certainty not care if she ate breakfast or not.  Perhaps, in retrospect, I should not have said that, but what can I say – I was angry.  She, of course, started crying as she got out of the car to go into the school, but not before slamming the car door with all her strength. I drove away, seething, but forgot about everything as I boarded the train to head into work. A little while later, my mobile phone rings.  It is the school psychologist.  “Your daughter was very upset this morning and she was crying.  When the teacher asked her what was wrong, she said ‘my mom told me not to tell.’  Did something happen this morning?”  His tone is questioning.  Accusatory. I felt insulted.  It may not have been, but I felt as though he was judging me on my parenting skills.  “Did something happen?”  “What happened was that my daughter was being a disrespectful brat, and I verbally put her in her place.  She got upset and started crying.”

He paused before replying. “Well, when kids come to the school visibly upset, we have to ask, in case of….”  I stopped him before he could finish. “My daughter and I had a mother-daughter talk, and unfortunately, she got upset.  Nothing happened.  Thank you for your concern.”

While my parents used to smack us on the back of our heads whenever we were being bad, I cannot even talk harshly to my kid now lest I be investigated for child abuse. I am afraid for our future.  I feel as though we are raising our future generations to be wimpy, disrespectful and unafraid of authority.

Auto-Pilot

“Water that never moves.” I say to him. “It’s fine for a little while. You can drink from it and it’ll sustain you. But if it sits too long it goes bad. It grows stale. It becomes toxic.” I shake my head. “I need waves. I need waterfalls. I want rushing currents.” ~ Tahereh Mafi, Ignite Me

Water that has been left out for too long becomes foul and stale.  Similarly, people who are stagnant do not expand their horizons and can become bitter and depressed.

Such is the case for me.  The last holiday trip I took was in November of 2014 when G and I went to Costa Rica.  We are now well into 2016, and I have yet to even plan some kind of meaningful vacation.

The main issues are time and money, as it is for a lot of people. Although 2015 was a much better year financially than the prior year, I am still struggling to recover from when I lost my job at the end of 2014.  The last few months I have been juggling one full time job, and two side consulting gigs, and so time has been limited.  As for the money, there just never seems to be enough, no matter how much I work.  I always wonder how other people seem to live normally, while I work 60+ hours a week and still struggle to make every end meet.

I am on auto-pilot, and there hasn’t been much room for detour.  A typical day:  Wake up, shower, rush to drop off G at school to make the train, get to the office, work all day, rush back home in the evening to pick up G from school, spend time with G, make dinner, prepare meals for the next day, shower, go to bed, lather, rinse and repeat.

I am tired and depressed and desperately need to be thrown off this current ride.


09.02.2016 | Washington Square Park

Is Inaction an Action?

“If you place your head in a lion’s mouth, then you cannot complain one day if he happens to bite it off.” ~ Agatha Christie,  The Mysterious Affair At Styles
Do you sometimes take a step back on your life, try look at it from an outside perspective, and realize that you are not where you really want to be, or even should be, but that you feel powerless to change your course?
So many small changes have been happening, changes that seemingly do not feel so relevant, but all the changes added together are actually monumental.
I am in the midst of a very complicated situation.  I know it is complicated only because I refuse to make important decisions, and instead, am leaving everything to chance, to fate, to God’s will…

Is inaction an action?  

In Her Eyes

“All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.” ~ Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

G asked me recently, “Why do you get divorced so much?”
Her question caught me off guard.  I answered with another question.

“What do you mean?”
“Well,” she said.  “You are divorced from…” her voice trailed off.
We don’t like talking about him.  She may be biologically connected to him, but except for that one little fact, there is not much else that connects them.
“… And now you are divorced from…” her voice trailed off again.  Although GP and I never married, we were, for all intents and purposes, married in her eyes, as we were engaged and living together as a family.  
Our lives were turned upside down last summer with the news of his affair.  It was not easy news for me to take.  
It was not easy for her, either.  When he broke the news to her, she was angry.  She cried and yelled at him.  “How could you do this to mama?” she wailed.  Big, chunky tears streaked her face.
Although she is aware of the circumstances of what he did, there is a part of her that seems to blame me for the breakup, that perhaps I had a part in making him do what he did.
“All my friends in school have a dad.  But I have no dad.  Because you get divorced all the time.”

I really didn’t know how to answer her.  I felt like she stabbed me.  I don’t care so much about what others think of me.  But criticism from her – it hurts.

All I could say in response was that someday, when she is older, she will understand.  She didn’t seem convinced.

I walked away before she could see that I was struggling to keep my tears from flowing down my face.

Is My Phone Broken?

“Cherish your solitude. Take trains by yourself to places you have never been. Sleep out alone under the stars. Learn how to drive a stick shift. Go so far away that you stop being afraid of not coming back. Say no when you don’t want to do something. Say yes if your instincts are strong, even if everyone around you disagrees. Decide whether you want to be liked or admired. Decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you’re doing here. Believe in kissing.” ~ Eve Ensler, I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World 
I am going through a bit of a hermit phase. While I used to crave human interaction, I now feel bothered and annoyed by it. All I want to do after work is to go home, do chores around the house, converse with G, read books, or watch television. Whenever I feel the ringing of my mobile phone to alert me of an incoming call or text message, I start to feel the prickle of my hairs along my neckline, and I am instantly annoyed. I used to feel weighed down by the heavy silence of my non-ringing phone. I even wondered at times if my phone was actually broken since it never seemed to ring. But now, the opposite is true. Maybe my phone really is broken? Because it never seems to stop beeping or ringing. I cannot even seem to get in one chapter of reading without someone calling (texting really, because who even picks up the phone to call anymore?) to tell me about their horrible day, and I, being the good friend that I am, immediately respond, and together we brainstorm how to solve the dilemma of the moment. Or, it will be a barrage of text messages from someone who is simply bored and is using me to fill in the dead time in their evening.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
After all is said and done, it will be almost midnight, and I would have spent my valuable personal and alone time texting or on the phone with people who do not seem to care that I have a child to raise, meals to cook, a house to clean, or a brain that, on occasion, I need to nourish with a good book, and on some lesser occasions, destroy with meaningless television.  Maybe I could even be granted some time to sleep.  I feel as though I haven’t slept in ages.
Maybe I stopped caring about people’s needs because no one seems to care about mine. Maybe my need is just to be left alone for a while – to think, to dream, to cry, to heal, and to find myself again.

Batting for the Other Team?

“You would have to be half mad to dream me up.” ~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

I dreamt of you last night, although I do not even know you.  The only connection I have with you is that you were once married to J, who is a very close friend of mine.  Your relationship with J left very deep scars on him – scars so deep that the cuts are still very prominent on him.  I dreamt of you last night, and of your ethereal beauty.  I dreamt of your silky skin and your flawless features.  I touched you in my dream last night, my hand caressing your soft face.  I even kissed you, softly and fully on your cherry red lips, and as you pulled away from my kiss and walked away, I remember feeling lost and desperate.  I wanted you in my life, but you turned away from me, and you told me that you and I were never going to be.
I woke up feeling empty and depressed, and you had belonged to me only for a brief second in my dream.  I can now empathize how J must feel — loving you but not having you.  His loss of you is very real.  Mine was just a dream.
Sometimes, love does hurt.

I have been frustrated recently.  In every aspect of my life.  Professionally, in my private life, in my thoughts, in my heart, and in my body.  I feel a huge influx of stresses, and I am looking for a way to release them. Neither meditation nor exercise is enough anymore.  I was thinking of going to a bar one night, meeting a stranger, and just getting a good shagging.  I’ve never had a one night stand before.  I was thinking it might not be a bad time to start.  Who knows – it might even be liberating.

Restless

“I search for the words. Restless. As if you haven’t really met yourself yet. As if you’d passed yourself once in the fog, and your heart leapt – ‘Ah! There I Am! I’ve been missing that piece!’ But it happens too fast, and then that part of you disappears into the fog again. And you spend the rest of your days looking for it.” ~ Libba Bray, The Sweet Far Thing

February 2014.  When I sit down and think of what year it is now, I get anxious.  Where has all the time gone?  There is so much to do, and too little time to do them.  I am unsure of where to begin and what I should do next.

I miss traveling.  I miss going to foreign places and immersing myself in the culture of whatever country I am visiting.  I miss the feeling of stepping foot in a place where I have never been and anticipating what adventure awaits me next.  I want to make plans with friends to visit somewhere new and spend some time in the summer drinking cocktails under the stars in a quaint little sidewalk bar.

I miss the smell of newborn babies.  I want to have more children and watch them grow right before my eyes.  I want to experience youth again by living through my future kids.  GP and I have been trying for six months, and as yet, have had no luck with conceiving.  Although I am not yet technically “too old”, I am on the “later” spectrum of the breeding years and I have been advised by a fertility specialist that “time is of the essence.”

Travel?  Or try to have more kids?  Realistically, I cannot do both at the moment.  I have to stay focused on one thing, and my mind is racing a million miles a minute.  I am tired, but yet I feel restless and unsettled and I ache to do something.  Anything.  

What plans should I make for the rest of year?  Should I make travel plans for the summer, or should I buckle down and start fertility treatments?  I don’t know.  I have to decide first what I want to do.  But I want to do it all.