A Thank You… to the Men Who Did(n't Do) Me Wrong
Dating is funny. Dating after divorce, though, hilarious. I had no idea of the roller coaster I was on when I dipped my toe back into the water and decided to 'put myself out there'. There's the age-old thought that the universe provides what we all need at any particular moment in our lives. I try to remember this when a dating adventure becomes, well, interesting.
I've been lucky, I think, to have met men who overall have been good people. Not great, not perfect, definitely flawed. But who isn't? This book is a tribute to what they teach me without even knowing that they are doing so. The man who broke up with me on Facebook taught me something about courage and fear; the man who asked 'just how many extra pounds are we talking?' taught me something about self-worth, kindness and honesty.
Candid, transparent and brutally honest is the only way I know to genuinely say thank you and I don't hold much back here. From the man who made me run from coffee to the one who never got that divorce and broke my heart, I believe that each man crossed my path at exactly the right time, and taught me exactly what I needed to learn in order to move on in my own journey.
They are lessons I may not have wanted to face at the time, but in retrospect I am thankful for each encounter. These are my thank you notes to them.
The Single Mom's Survival Guide (tentative title)
It was February 2010 and I was driving along I35, minding my own business, going to visit a friend. No one except that friend–a new friend who didn't know anyone in my real world–knew where I was going or when I'd return home. In the blink of an eye, I had a near miss with a semi truck. A near miss that, had it been a foot closer to me, would have squished me along I35. And if I was squished, who would be left to pick up the pieces (figuratively here people)? A single mom with young kids, I don't have a partner who shares the burdens–or the joys–of the day to day raising of kids. The paperwork, the accounts, the thoughts, dreams, goals and desires are mine and mine alone. So I thought about my dad, who would probably be the one who would come in to take care of my affairs, and of how unfair it would be to him to walk into a mess. To have to dig for passwords, sift through all the papers to find the important bits and close up my accounts if I wasn't here to do it myself. I thought of my kids; how no one else could tell them the things I want them to know at various milestones of their lives. How, if I am not here, they couldn't feel my arms around them at their graduations, weddings or when they welcome their own precious babies into the world. My voice–if I don't record it now–might be gone forever if the unthinkable happens. So the idea for this book was born. An excerpt from the Intro:
Becoming a single mom is a big thing. There are the practical issues (getting kids to events when you have to be at work, making the grocery budget stretch, juggling kids/work/home lives) to worry about on what seems like a minute-to-minute basis. There’s more than the practical, though, that happens when parenthood goes from us to me; there’s also the emotional side (am I strong enough to do this?). Sometimes that emotional side is much harder to deal with than the practical.
At least with the practical, you have something tangible to show at the end of the day; dishes are done, laundry is caught up, homework is done and packed for tomorrow, and you managed to squeeze in a two minute phone call to a friend before you collapsed from exhaustion. But those things you can measure, and there’s something that feels good about quantifying our accomplishments.
With the emotional ‘stuff’ of single motherhood, though, it’s much more difficult to measure. How do you ‘successfully’ handle your first non-family holiday? How do you know when you’re ready to date and—even scarier—when you’re ready to introduce the kids to Mr. Right? Who do you have to lean on if, God forbid, the unthinkable happens? We’re at a disadvantage from our coupled counterparts who have a husband to comb through the file cabinets and find account numbers or policy information if we cannot do it ourselves. That’s the stuff that can’t really be measured and, ultimately, the stuff that keeps us up at night.
I thought of this idea when I was taking a solo trip to visit a friend—there I was, driving south on I35—when it suddenly hit me that if I had an accident and never made it home, there was no one who could relatively easily figure out the details of my life. Not that my life was in chaos—it just was mine alone nd not shared with anyone. I began to wonder how long it would take for my parents to sort through my file cabinets before they found the accounts and phone numbers they’d need to put my financial affairs to rest; how I’d have to hope that my kids remember my favorite song at Church and that I’d mentioned briefly—maybe 2 years ago—that I’d like that song played at my funeral; that I hoped no one would decide to check out the browsing history on my computer and know just how often I visit Facebook and other sites. Yes, that’s a silly thing to think of, but it’s valid nonetheless.
So this book is meant to deal with just a bit of the practical, but mostly concentrates on the emotional—the things we might not think of in our day-to-day busy lives but will really make a huge impact at the end. What you won’t find in these pages are tips about stretching your budget, fighting for child support or scheduling issues. There are great resources out there for you to use whenever a practical need arises (see the Resources section in the back of this book if you need a little nudge in the right direction).
This is how this book was born; a companion for all those ‘emotional’ thoughts that race through my mind as I think of “what if”; to take the pressure off those who are left behind and, by default, have to finish up my ‘stuff’.
It’s not all morbid, though—it’s also a bit of a self-therapy book. The exercises about what I want my children to know about life helped me crystallize what’s really important to me and what values I want to be sure I impart on them while I am here and in their lives. The exercise that encourages you to list the gifts you want to give your children at various points in their lives helps define just what resources I’ll need if I really, truly intend on making those dreams a reality. And, as always, there’s a bit of humor injected to make it all just a bit easier to handle. Using “My Best Friend’s Checklist” is something that you can use seriously but also laugh about—where else can you record what items you want your best friend to remove from your bedroom before anyone else can find them?
This book is meant to be USED—copy the pages so that as your life evolves you can update the information; mark it up and get the most you can from it. Photocopy the best friend page and make sure she has a copy! In the end, the book—just like life—is what you make of it. Grab it with both hands, dive in and really work it, girl!