Sunday, August 6, 2017

Cards for Real Life

Three Wishes
Three Wishes * Cards for Real Life
I know there are people who manage to get divorced with minimal amounts of stress, drama and antipathy toward their (soon-to-be) ex-spouse.
I wasn't one of those.
I called my older sister just about every day to vent over the idiocy, the unfairness and the misery of dealing with my ex during my divorce. Thank goodness her sense of humor runs about as black as mine — I was desperate to find something to laugh about, because I was done with crying.
She sent me a great divorce greeting card that made me laugh. It also, though, made me go "hmmm ..."
A few years later, after the divorce drama had evolved into co-parenting drama, I got the same exact card from an entirely different person.
And my "hmmm ..." turned into an "aha!"
Thus was Three Wishes born: greeting cards that pair my fairly awful sense of humor with the shitty occasions that happen all-too-often in real life: divorce, lousy exes, bad strategies for dealing with life — all the things you can cry or laugh (or do both) over.
I don't update these cards often (despite the fact that I have a backlog of inspiration), but as I see friends confronting similar situations, I revisit. And I think "hmmm ..."
So you may be seeing more "hmmm ..." in the future!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Writing Again

A long, loooong time ago, I used to write. For fun.

I think I started trying to write stories just about the time I was learning to write. It might actually be my fault we found termites in our underground house 30 years ago (they can eat through concrete walls ... who knew?). Because they made mincemeat of the stacks (and stacks) of paper that I had scrawled stories on and stuffed in the bookcase in the back of my closet. Those stories, obviously, got tossed. But I kept writing. I won my first writing competition when I was in 5th grade, and I kept going.

Writing was easy, an extension of dreaming, and it was something I was good at without much effort. So when it came time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I had an easy answer: I was going to be a writer.

Surprisingly, my family was OK with that. Probably because my previous aspiration was being a Broadway singer. Nothing like setting the bar for making a decent living reeeeally low to make things like writing seem like a solid career choice.

And it worked. I definitely wasn't making the big bucks right out of college (hello, general assignment reporter at my hometown weekly newspaper!), but I made a living. Since then, my skills as a writer have always been a part of my job regardless of where my career path has gone (and yes, it's been a pretty windy road).

But the more I wrote to work, the less I wrote for fun. And a few years ago, I pretty much stopped altogether. It happened before I had my son, so I can't completely blame it on mommy-brain (which is my excuse for pretty much everything in life).

I'm not sure what prompted me to take up writing  again. Maybe it was because I started reading again; maybe it's because I'm happy again; maybe it's because I'm to a point where I have too many dreams to keep track of in my head anymore.

But I'm writing again. And it's fun (and hard). And it's not earth-shattering or serious (except when it is) or even close to being something like done — but I'm writing again!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Inspiration in Odd Places

Mz. Mommy
This past weekend, I got the odd urge to dust. It's an odd urge, because I don't get it very often, and I indulge in it even less often. Which is probably why dusting is a swear-worthy chore in my home (of both the I'm-going-to-do-this-more-often-I-SWEAR and HOLY-GUACAMOLE-look-at-the-size-of-that-dust-bunny varieties).

This time was no different.

What was different was the AH-HA! moment I had while dusting my baseboards (closely followed by an EW moment, but that's a whole other story).

I'm going to thank a relatively new habit for my ah-ha moment: I've been making it a point to write every day. Becoming a mom, going back to work full time, becoming a single mom ... all those things made a myth of spare time, when I would previously have been writing or doodling or reading or dreaming.

Spare time isn't like spare change anymore: I don't find it lying around between moments of busy the way you might find quarters between your couch cushions. I make spare time at the expense of other things that should get done. I have more flexible priorities than spare time, I suppose.

So this year, I rearranged my priorities and wrote down the ones I want to happen daily: praying, writing, time for me ... those kinds of things. I'm not saying that these things actually happen every day, but they happen a lot more often than they did before.

And I think dedicating more time to writing has helped me notice and imagine more things worth writing about.

Which brings me back to my dust-bunny ah-ha moment: I know the next story I want to write. Mz. Mommy vs. The Dust Bunny From Hell: A Grown-Up Picture Book (which is NOT the same as an adult picture book ... 'cause that would just be weird). Or some variation of that. But it will definitely feature the Dust Bunny From Hell.

And in a teaser: there's wine. Wine for the win!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Long Road to Home

It's amazing how time flies when you're ... busy.

Last year, I bought a house. This purchase was a lot like a summer blockbuster movie: the lead up was highly anticipated, the crucial it-ain't-gonna-happen moment was hair-raising, heroes saved the day, and everyone lived happily-ever-after.

Happily-ever-after looks a lot different that I thought it would back in the day. Then, it looked like picket fences, 2.5 kids and family barbecues.

Today, it looks more like empty flower beds crying out for flowers and evergreens and new mulch. It looks like one irascible 8-year-old. It looks like Crock-Pot dinners splashed over green 1990s countertops that are equally distant from trendy and classic.

But it also looks like backyards just waiting to be dreamed in. Like empty walls crying out to be hung with memories. Like rooms waiting to echo back the laughter and love that will make this house our home.

This is MY happily ever after. It isn't the happily-ever-after I imagined for myself, but that's OK. This one is even better!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Guerrilla Snuggling

My baby boy isn't a baby any more. Earlier this month, he turned 8. 8! I'm not sure when that happened, but the truth is undeniable: the boy before me is definitely not the sweet little guy I remember toddling around in diapers.

Obviously, as he's gotten older, our challenges have changed. Some of them (walking, feeding himself, tying his own shoes, etc.), he's mastered. Others, like bedtime battles, come and go: we have months of no problems what-so-ever, and then a sudden spate of backsliding and delaying.

One of those come-and-go challenges has been the ever evolving bed war. Not bedtime battles: bed wars. As in, Mommy's bed is better than his bed, so therefore, he wants to sleep in there. He wants to go to sleep in there. He wants to wake up in the middle of the night and climb into Mom's bed and continue sleeping there. 

This battle began round about the time he moved into a big-boy bed. At that time, he was a jungle sleeper: tossing and turning, somersaulting and ninja-kicking his way through the night. It was pretty easy for me to summon the energy to carry him back to his room, because I LIKE my kidneys, and a few months of getting kicked in them while pregnant was enough to last me several lifetimes.

As he's gotten older, he's less likely to climb into my bed in the middle of the night, but his tactics for bed-takeover have gotten sneakier. He's resorted to guerrilla snuggling. This is snuggling with the intention of getting the entire bed to himself. It starts off sweet: he snuggles up to me in the middle of the bed. This gets uncomfortable, so I shift to the side. He snuggles closer. I shift again. Closer. Shift. Closer. Shift. Until I am less than half awake and clinging to a tiny sliver of bed, with a vast ocean of available real estate on the other side of the sweetly snuggling boy.

I know our snuggling days are numbered. So it's hard to complain (much) about being snuggled right out of sleep. Although that's easier to remember when the guerrilla snuggling episodes are a few weeks behind us.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Don't Be Sad

As part of the parenting arrangement my ex and I have, our son spends two weeks with each parent in the summer. Two weeks of boy-lessness took some getting used to, but I've gotten to a point where I can look forward to both of those occasions.

My son does, too, although sometimes I feel like it's getting harder on him the older he gets. I think what it really is, however, is he's better able to articulate how much he misses the other parent.

I typically get a call about halfway through his dad's time from a boy sadly telling me how much he misses me. I was hoping that this year would be different because, despite the leading-up-to-the-day assertions of how much he'd miss me, the actual drop-off was a very "see-you-later-alligator" affair. Good start, right?

But earlier this week, I got The Call. The sad little boy, telling me how much he misses me. And in trying to cheer him up and make him feel better, I told him something I now regret: "Don't be sad."

No, I don't want him to be sad. But I do want him to know it's OK to *be* sad: that sad (or mad or happy or silly) are all emotions it's OK to feel and telling someone he trusts about those feelings is good and right. I don't want him to ever think he has to hide his emotions from me. 

So now I just have to try to figure out how to work that into a conversation once he comes home!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Mom, Buy Me ...

Most of my "parenting strategies" arise out sheer frustration and a desire to not actually abandon my child on the side of the road somewhere. (Not that I ever would, but I admit to being sorely tempted ... Usually in the checkout aisle at Target.)

My latest attempt is his allowance. Because I am So. Freaking. Tired. Of "Mom, mom, mom! Buy me xxx!!! Can you buy me xxxx???" Every time we go to a store. My answer, up to now, has often been determined by my level of fatigue and irritation. The more irritated I am, the more likely I am to say no. The more tired I am, the more likely I am to say yes.

Starting now, though, my answer is going to be "No, but you may (if it's appropriate) buy it for yourself." (Yay for spending money!)

N's allowance is going to be broken into two parts: a set amount he gets paid every week, and a set amount he can earn each week for a specific set of chores. Right now, since he's 7, I'm setting his allowance at $7 a week: $3 base, with $4 that can be earned by doing chores.

I struggled with the idea of paying him for chores. In my mind, chores are simply something you do to help around the house; you shouldn't get PAID for them. In the end, though, I compromised (yes, you can compromise with yourself).

N has chores that he is expected to do (no payment involved): make his bed, put away his clean clothes, put his breakfast dishes in the sink when he's done, etc. The chores he is rewarded for are the new ones I introduce as he gets older. As he gets adept at these "premium" chores and old enough to tackle different, harder chores, the old "premium" chores will become part of the non-reward chores, and I'll introduce new chores and new rates.

I'm not entirely sure how this allowance plan is going to work out. I realize that it's going to require a lot of monitoring on my part, especially in the beginning. Making sure that the new chores are done to my satisfaction, monitoring how much money he's actually earning a week, and reinforcing what he can do with that money (yes, he can buy things, but I also want to use his allowance to teach him to save, tithe, etc.) ... This new "strategy" is going to be challenging on both of us, but I strongly believe the rewards will be worth it.

Now it's just remembering the map! :)