Thursday, May 13, 2010

What to Expect When You're Dating a Single Parent

There are a lot of misconceptions about single parents in the dating world, and it's really irritating having to dispel them over and over again. If you're considering dating a single parent, there are some things you might want to know ahead of time. Here are few, though admittedly many apply to single moms. If any of you single dads have something to add, please let me know!

Myth: single parents are "easy" or irresponsible
The truth is, we're no "easier" than the average person. Just because we've had a kid doesn't mean we don't keep our legs crossed. If anything, we tend to be a bit more reserved because we know what a HUGE responsibility children are and to many of us, sex = children (didn't we all learn that in Health Class?). Yes, there's birth control, but that's never 100%. So don't just expect us to go home with you on the first (or second, or third) date. And if the single parent is young, don't assume that they had the child illegitimately. Thanks to Tom Leykis, many times I've received notes from people on internet dating sites critisizing me and telling me there's no chance in hell they'd date someone who will open their legs for anyone and get pregnant just to get child support from the father. Yeah, thanks for that. Just because I'm 27 with a 6 year old doesn't mean I was a slut. I was married for a year before my now-ex-husband and I decided to have kids.

Myth: we love to spend hours away from our children
We had kids for a reason: to love another human being and help raise them in this crazy world. Yes, we do enjoy our time away from our children, but lengthy dates or spending the night are costly in more than one way.
1. We are either paying for a babysitter or having family watch our kids. Babysitters aren't cheap these days, so going to a dinner, a movie and then drinks can sometimes cost us a lot. And if it's family watching our kids, we have to be careful not to abuse that, otherwise they may not be willing to watch them again.
2. Spending the night before the relationship has progressed very far can have a negative effect on our children. While we may not tell our kids everything we did the night before, we will have to tell them something. And aside from the seasonal visitors (think the jolly man in winter and bouncing cotton-tail-donning animal in the spring), most of us don't like lying to our children. And having to pay for a sitter or have our family watch the kids for that length of time can make for one heck of a walk-of-shame. Personally, I can't imagine asking my mom to watch my daughter so I can spend the night with a guy. You know how moms can raise that one eyebrow up to their hairline and frown at you so hard you feel your innerds turn to sludge? Yeah, no thanks.
3. While we want to date and spend time out of the house, we need notice. Getting a text asking us to "meet me in 30" will almost always guarantee a "no" in reply. Being responsible for another human being means just that. We can't just drop everything for an impromptu date. Be respectful and plan ahead. Just as most singles have their own busy lives, so do single parents, only we have another person's schedule to consider. Sorry, but helping my daughter build her project for school takes precedence over catching a movie at the last minute.

Myth: single parents are on the hunt for the next mommy/daddy for their child
With the exception of some "hunters" out there, most of us are just looking for an adult companion for ourselves. Yes, it would be nice (sometime in the waaaaay future) for you to have a great relationship with my kid. But for now I'm just dating for myself. It's insulting to read that statment over and over in online dating profiles: "No baby-mamma drama please" or "I want my own kids, not yours." Yes, we are single parents, but we are still human beings looking for love. My daughter, as it is with many other children of single parents, has a steady relationship with her father. She's not looking for another one, and neither am I. We're all dating for the same reason: to love someone and spend our lives with them. Getting to know our kids will happen after the relationship has hit a certain milestone. Speaking of which...

Myth: single parents bring their kids on their dates/make their dates meet their kids before the first date
This is a weird one. I've heard this myth, but I've never met a single parent who actually did this. This is such a bad one on so many levels, two of which are the most important:
1. Even as a single parent, if I went on a date with another single parent and he brought his kid to the bar/coffee house/restaurant/first-date-location-of-choice, I'd be a little freaked and annoyed. So much for "grown-up" conversations, and it would make me wonder if this person has a) no support system to watch his kid (meaning I'd be his only contact to the outside world), b) is so desperate to go on a date that he brought his kid because all of their babysitters were busy, and c) would make me think he is untrustworthy because he didn't tell me he was bringing his kid, leaving me in an awkward state of mind. It's like meeting your date's mom on the first date: intimidating.
2. Kid are impressionable and very much more aware of what's going on than we'd like to admit. While I have explained the dating process to my kid, I don't tell her who I'm dating or introduce her to him until it seems it's going to last. As a matter of fact, the only person she ever knew who I was dating was someone who'd been a great friend of mine ever since my childhood, and he had been hanging out with us for years before. Most kids form instant friendships with people their parents know, and to allow a child to meet a date is just asking for trouble down the road. The child will constantly ask about that person, wanting to see them again (making it super hard for the kid to learn that you are no longer dating that person and they'll never see them again), or the child may begin to resent that person for taking up too much of their parent's time and misbehave so that mommy or daddy can't go out.
The only time I can see this might happen is if both the man and woman are single parents and they each bring along their respective children for a "play date." But even that doesn't usually happen until a few dates down the road. Most parents would want to establish a solid relationship with their date before bringing their kids together. 'Cuz what happens if Bobby accidentally kicks Suzie while he's on the swing? That could be a relationship breaker if both parents get defensive and don't know each other well enough to handle the situation.

Those are all of the myths I can think of right now. But here are some other tips:

  • Putting a statement in your online dating profile that says you're looking for single moms is kinda creepy. Yes, I love that there are people out there who are willing to accept me for the parent that I am, but telling me that you prefer dating single moms makes the alarm bells ring in my head. I will always assume the worst (I know, hypocritical, considering my opening statement to this post): that you have a thing for little kids. Just gives me the willies. Stating that you don't mind dating someone who has kids is totally fine, but saying that you prefer it is not fine. It's creepy.
  • As a single mom, I usually prefer to drive myself to our meeting place. This way you won't have to meet my daughter and I can leave on short notice if need be; kids get sick or hurt. I'm not about to make you drive me to a hospital if I get a call from the sitter saying my daughter fell and should get stitches. And (here's the paranoid girl in me speaking out) if the date's not going well, I need to be able to get away. I have a child at home I need to think about, and having to spend the next hour with a guy who creeps me out, then have him drive me home is not something I want to think about. I don't naturally assume every guy I meet is a crazy stalker/child abductor, but you can never be too careful. If you don't pick me up for our date, you don't know where I (and my child) live. As a woman, and a single mom, it's just an extra safety measure.
  • Yes, our kids come first. Welcome to parenthood. If you need to be the center of attention, you might want to avoid single parents. If our child has homework, a soccer game, dance recital, the flu or something else that impedes on our time together, the child will always win. Sorry. That's just the way it is.
  • Dating a single parent takes patience. As long as we've given you clear signals (or a flat-out statement) that we want to continue dating you, just keep asking us out, even if it seems that we say "no" everytime because of prior committments. We'll find a day that works for both of us. If you got mad at your friends because you always wanted to hang out with them while they were at work, you wouldn't be friends for very long. Same goes for single parents. If we say we can't do Thursday nights because we (or our kids) have a standing committment, don't keep asking us to go to dinner and a movie on Thursdays. It goes back to the 2nd myth: we need to plan. If you want to go out this weekend, but I'm busy, work with me to find a day next week or weekend to hang out. Yes, dating a single parent takes work, but so do most other relationships.
  • We don't always talk about our kids. Yes, they are likely to come up in the conversation because they are a major part of our lives. But we have other aspects to our personalities too. We work, we have friends and family, we listen to music other than Silly Songs, we watch "grown-up" movies, we don't have our TV tuned to Barney 24/7, and we have interests that we most likely picked up before we became parents. So don't get upset if I relate to something you said by replying with an anecdote about my kid. It's like you telling me a story about a baseball game you went to; if it's part of your life, it's something you're likely to talk about.
  • Single moms are not likely to be in the best shape of their lives. Unlike movie stars and supermodels, we didn't have personal trainers to kick our asses back into shape while our nanny watched our children 3 days after giving birth. So if you're expecting us to be a size 0, good luck. About 2% of us will be due to genetics. The rest of us have curves. Curves that our little blessings (kids) gave us. And being a single parent makes it harder to get back into shape because of the demands on our time. So, please be a bit understanding if we don't have 6-pack abs. The free time you have to exercise is the time we're spending with our children.
I think the most important thing about dating a single parent is deciding if dating a single parent is right for you. I hold nothing against men who only want to date non-parents; they know what they want. But if you know I'm a parent and we decide to meet at a bar/coffee house/bowling alley and you tell me you don't date single parents, then what gives? Why waste our time?

I hope this helps a bit. Between dating-horror-story-hearsay and movies and television shows, single parents in the dating world have been trashed a bit. And, please: feel free to ask us single parents questions if you're unsure about what we need in order to make dating easier and more enjoyable for the both of us.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Oops, I Did It Again

Somehow I went on a date with my ex-husband last night. Well, not really, but this guy might as well have been my ex. "Peter" turned out to be just like "Jake:" a salesman. When I arrived at the bar, I apologized for my being a bit late; my church meeting had run later than I expected. He told me that he could save my church money on printing. Um, what? Yeah, he runs an advertising/printing company. His first sentence to me in person was a pitch for his business. Ugh.

He also spent 30 of the 40 minutes I spent at the bar talking about himself. Yes, I know you're supposed to talk about yourself on dates, but he talked himself up so much that I could barely get an word in edgewise and when I did get a chance to speak, he didn't really seem to listen, or at least not absorb what I said.

And he had two friends with him. "Steve" who was 15 years older than me and "John" who is about 60 years older than me. Yep. "Steve" and I made some small talk while "Peter" and "John" talked business and we hit it off pretty well, but then "Peter" came back and "Steve" left for the evening.

I knew going into this date that "Peter" didn't like dating single moms. I actually challenged him on the dating site I met him on; his profile stated, "I do not date women with kids, for I do not have any of my own." Huh? His response to my question why: "For you I will make an exception!" Oh, just for me?!? Awww... Thanks Mr. Guy-I-Just-Met-Online-Today-And-Don't-Know-From-Adam!

It turns out that that line in his profile was the only truthful statement.

"Smoker? No." Liar.
"Do you have a car? Yes." Liar (I had to meet him close to his house because his car was in L.A.; he was very vague as to why it was in L.A.)
"My personality is through the roof." Yeah, in outer space! He only spoke about himself and all the good he's doing for his good friend "John" out of the goodness in his heart, all while maintaining a near-perfect monotone.
"Do not worry I know how to listen!" Yup, to the sound of your own nasal, dull voice.

I did manage to talk about my PC business, which means at least the night wasn't a total bomb; I can include my receipt in my tax write-off for next year. Yup, had to buy my own drinks last night, too.

I think I found a winner.

I wonder if I should put a disclaimer on my dating site profile: Caution - bad date experiences are subject to appearing on my blog, and though your name will be changed to protect your identity, past and future women you date may recognize your personality and/or description. Either bring your A-game or don't come at all.

Hmm... might not be too bad of an idea...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Running scared

I am scared.

Really scared.

Like, going through all of the worst scenarios that could possibly happen SCARED.

My daughter has a fever. It's been over 100 degrees for the past three days and taking Tylenol only helps a little bit. This morning and yesterday morning it was 103 without the Tylenol.

And she's not eating. Yesterday she had a granola bar. And some 7UP (trying to get her to consume some calories). This morning I gave her a bowl of dry Cheerios to munch on during the day. She took a couple bites, then turned them down, saying they tasted funny. The last time she actually ate enough food for me to consider it a meal was Friday's lunch. Every meal since then she's just picked at.

And she's tired. I knew she was coming down with something when we were at Disneyland on Saturday and before it got dark she was asking to go home. That's not like my daughter. I thought she was getting a bit better Sunday night when she smiled at a joke I made, but yesterday she pretty much slept on the couch downstairs while I was at work.

I'm going to take her to the doctor this afternoon, and I'm sure they'll say it's just a bug that's going around, but I'm so scared it's going to be something much worse. The child who's at my house right now is not my child. She has no energy, no appetite, doesn't even mind that she's napping all day (she despises naps; says they're boring). She just lays in bed or sits in her chair and stares into space or tries to read without remembering what words were on the page. And even though she knows that the Tylenol is supposed to help, she almost cries when I give it to her because she says it's too sweet.

I'm so scared that this is something she's not going to recover from. No improvement in the last 3 days, and no signs of improvement today. The selfish part of me isn't sure I can handle this as a single mom. I mean, I know I've got my family and my church, but I'm the one covering her on insurance. There's a $2400 deductible I have to meet before the majority of the costs are covered. I have it, but I was saving it for a house. I'm not saying I wouldn't take it from savings to help her, but that would be a major setback for us when she gets better. I feel like I am forced to take 3 steps back for every 1/2 step I take forward.

And if she doesn't get better, I don't know what I'm going to do. She's my angel. I know I bitch a lot about being a single parent, but she's my whole life, and I can't even imagine my life without her. And yet, that's all I can focus on today - the 'what if' she doesn't get better.

I'm just so scared for her. And I'm scared for me.

Friday, April 9, 2010


I'm in for it now. All day the bile in my stomach has been threatening to rise up and tear at my esophagus, I haven't been able to focus, I've got a monster headache,I've been dreading going home and I am having to rearrange my weekend for the worse.

I forgot to do my homework. Or rather, Em's homework. And not really forgot, but mis-read the deadline. Twice. Twice I checked the deadline and TWICE I read that it was due on the 21st. I triple checked it this morning: it's due the 12th. The assignment was given before the start of Spring Break so that we parents would have time to help our Kindergarteners with their project, since the teacher was aware that students were likely to be out of town during the break.

So tonight, Em and I get to start and likely finish buidling an El Pollo Loco. Her entire class is building their community, one business per child. I know that this is Kindergarten and they are not expecting world-class construction, but I also know that there is no way a Kindergartener can do this all alone. The parents are asked (in not so many words) to help their children. Which means I, being a perfectionist, cannot just let her hand in a cereal box with the El Pollo Loco logo stuck on the front. We need to spend some quality time on this. Quality time that we barely had.

The first week of Spring Break, Em and my mother took a road trip to see a friend up North. The second week of Spring Break, I, thinking that I had another 2 weeks, took Em to El Pollo Loco to take pictures of the building so we'd know what we were trying to make. But that was all we did. I partially (just a smidge) blame it on being a single parent; it's hard to work full time, drive home for 45 minutes, find time to relax for a bit before dinner, then work on building a restaurant before my daughter has to go to bed. And it's not fair to ask my mom to help (though I did ask) because she's home with her all day; Em is my child, not hers.

I blame myself on many levels for this major screw up, feel just awful about it, and the old panic I always felt as a child in school when I didn't do my homework on time has taken over again. I was a good kid, smart and curious. But close to the end of elementary school, things changed (that's a whole different blog/therapy session) and I began to despise school and homework. So I would put it off until the last minute, then get myself all worked up because I only had a few hours to start and finish a big report or project.

Seems nothing's changed in almost 10 years. I feel unworthy of being a parent; if I hate homework so much, how can I persuade my child to do it? And this is just Kindergarten. If she's building an El Pollo Loco in Kindergarten, what can I expect in 1st grade? I know that I'm not supposed to do her homework for her, just help her, but c'mon! Build an El Pollo Loco? I know she's smart, but she's only 5! I'm not so sure I'm cut out for this. It's like the parent who is telling their kids not to do something, even though they did it as a child/youth. I feel so hypocritical. I know homework is good for her on so many levels, but I hate it with a passion and really hope that feeling doesn't show through to her.

Like I said: I'm in for it now. Big time.

We did it! After some overnight drying, we're done! It took 4 crayons, 3 shoeboxes, 2 types of glue and a lot of patience. But we did it!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Place to Renew Your Spirit

   This weekend I attended a retreat organized by my church at our region’s camp and conference center, Loch Leven. I have been to Loch Leven as a camper many times throughout my childhood and youth, and last year I was able to be a counselor at Mini Camp for our youngest group of kids (2nd and 3rd grade). It has always been a special place for me, as well as for many other people.

This place is so special to me that I wanted to post pictures and a little (okay, BIG) advertisement on its behalf, in hopes that you might discover it and see for yourself how Loch Leven can help to renew your spirit.


Loch Leven is inside the San Bernardino National Forest, about 90 minutes away from Orange County (sometimes more than 2 hours when traffic is misbehaving). It’s not too far up the mountain, but far enough away from “normal life” that it is easy to forget how close “civilization” really is.


The first thing you’re likely to see is the main lodge, surrounded by breath-taking nature. At Loch Leven you get a little bit of everything: mountains, trees, grass, lots of dirt, a creek, trails, critters, wild animals and best of all – Peace. Though the highway is just down the road from Loch Leven, you don’t hear the traffic and noise. Just the soothing sounds of God’s creation.

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Below the main lodge is the meadow, where in the summer afternoons of church camp you’ll hear the squeal of children greeting each other and playing games. There are benches in the shade and a gazebo where small groups can get together for discussion or individuals can go for meditation or talks with God.

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The main lodge has an attached dining room, equipped with a fantastic staff who provides wholesome meals for retreats and camps. The dining room overlooks the meadow and mountains, providing a fabulous view of the sunset each night.


The gathering room, or lounge, in the main lodge is a great space for whole-group discussions, worship and fellowship.
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And of course, there are cabins and lodging for overnight, weekend and week-long retreats, all in close vicinity to the creek; no need to bring your white noise machine!
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And speaking of things you don’t need to bring: cell phones and alarm clocks! There’s hardly any cell coverage, which will help you to detach from the “real world,” and Loch Leven’s got you covered when it comes to waking you up or getting your attention:
This bell can be heard from all over the Loch Leven property and is used to wake you up in the morning, call you to meals, alert you to emergencies if any and can also be used to bring groups together for their gathering times. Little kids consider it a privilege to be allowed to ring the bell and are often given the chance as a reward for helpful behavior.

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There are many hiking opportunities at Loch Leven. Dirt trails that lead to benches and gazebos, bridges that lead to more lodging, meeting areas and the creek, and swinging bridges that just beckon you to cross to the more “woodsy” areas of the campground.

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Two favorite hiking destinations are Inspiration Point and Sam’s Peak. Both give you access to beautiful sunrises and amazing views, as well as time for personal reflection. Inspiration Point is accessible to any who enjoy a leisurely hike with minimal effort. Sam’s Peak is for those more adventurous and in good health. With the help of friends, I was able to climb up to Sam’s Peak in high school, despite having bad knees. I doubt I’ll be able to make the trek again. But it is a wonderful feeling, knowing that I was able to share that experience with my fellow campers. Being up on Inspiration Point and Sam’s Peak gives you a great view of the mountains and also reminds you of how far away (or close, depending on your perspective) you are from your normal life.
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For outdoor activities, there is a basketball court, a grass field and, of course, a pool! You’ve got to have something to help you cool off during those hot days of summer!
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My two favorite parts of Loch Leven are the nature and the fellowship.

Camp just isn’t “camp” without the laughter, tears, learning, sharing, growing and changing that happens in a group of people. The people you meet at summer and church camp can end up being your best friends. You may only see them once or twice a year, but when you do meet up again, it’s like you were never gone. They become your secret-keepers, your brothers and sisters, your teachers.
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And of course, the nature is just abundant and beautiful. Words can hardly describe, as is the same for pictures. I can hardly accomplish what a personal trip to Loch Leven will:
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I highly recommend you check out this beautiful oasis. It is a great place for company team-building retreats, church retreats, outdoor education programs, and much more. Renew your spirit. You can thank me later.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Conversation with a Kindergartener

I've already posted this on Facebook, but I had put it here.

I got this in an e-mail from my mom, who takes care of my daughter after school:

Em: Eddie taught me a new word that I didn’t know today.
Gma: (dreading answer) What word was that?
Em: Diarrhea
Gma: Do you know what that is?
Em: Loose poop.
Gma: Yup. How’d that come up in conversation?
Em: It’s “D” week!

Go letters of the week! Teaching kids the important stuff!

P.S. I love you, Em!

A Dream is a Wish

I've always wanted to believe that dreams were either your heart's desire being shown to you or true communication with God. But I find that my most vivid dreams come from eating a weird combination of foods or just dealing with stress. But wouldn't it be nice if the really good dreams were to come true?

I've had a few recurring dreams that are just so weird, they stick with me forever. I've had a few dreams "come true" in the sense that when I had a déjà vu moment, it was reminiscent of a dream I'd had before. I've had a recurring dream that I've interpreted as a psychological fear of being silenced or not being allowed to speak.

But I had a dream yesterday that was nice, fun and made me feel content. But upon reflection, I am horrified that I a) had the dream and b) enjoyed it. It is a dream that reflects a want on my part that, unless a major tragedy struck, would never come to be. And yet, I still want to go back to that dream, because it's easier to live in that fantasy than to admit to myself that it'll likely never become a reality. And there is nothing I can do to make that dream come true. It's out of my hands.

A wish is a prayer without a specific diety to whom you are directing the request. And when we wish for something, whether it's on a star, while pulling on a wishbone from a chicken, or when the clasp of a necklace has snuck to the front, it's usually something silly. Like a 5-year-old wishing for a pony even though she has nowhere to put it. But when we pray, more often than not, it's for something serious, like the strength to deal with an uncomfortable working/living situation, for healing, for comfort. Sometimes we pray just to remind ourself that God is always there for us. And I find it hard to pray for something that I know God is unlikely to give me. Because it's not God's way to give me what I want, but what God wants for me.

I do believe that God answers prayers, though we may not always hear the answer or the answer may not always reveal itself to us right away. And I believe that God does not answer every prayer in the way that we want. We will get an answer, just not always the answer we want. But when I focus on the answer that I want instead of the answer I'm likely to get, I don't hear an answer at all. And then I just keep praying for the same thing over and over again, refusing to accept the answer I'm getting. I might want 1+2 to equal 4, and I can keep insisting over and over again that 4 is the right answer, but God will always insist that 3 is the true answer, even if I'm being stubborn and choose to ignore God. The answer will always be 3.

It's easy to recite the Lord's Prayer: "Thy will be done..." but it's not always easy to truly believe that. When something isn't going the way we want it to, then it's not truly God's will we are seeking, but our own.

I wish that I could have as vivid a dream as Joseph had when God told him to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt. I wish it because I don't think that it's a serious request on my part. Upon reflection, what I'm praying for seems to be more of a wish, something not serious enough to be worthy of a prayer to God. Even though it weighs heavily on my heart, I can't bring myself to pray to God about it. Because I know what the answer will be, and I know I won't like it.

So I think I'll just go back to dreaming. For dreams are wishes, not prayers.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Silent Night/The Sound of Silence

This morning around 3:20 my kidney woke me up (had to use the restroom). When I got back in bed, I realized that it was completely quiet. My daughter was sound asleep, my parents weren't snoring, the dogs were asleep, and my cat was waiting for me to lie back down so she could get comfortable. No trains going by, no helicopters flying overhead, no noises from the scrap metal plant across the river, the heater wasn't running. Just pure silence.

I actually stayed awake for a few minutes just enjoying the silence. It's rare that we get a repreive from all the sounds that fill our world. And even my brain was quiet; no thoughts of the next day or the weekend filled my head. Just silence. It was an amazing feeling, just embracing the stillness. Even when I try to pray or meditate, there's something in the background trying to break my concentration. But not this morning.

This morning was just a perfect moment of peace. If I didn't have to disturb myself with an alarm to force myself awake at the time again tomorrow, I'd try it. Perhaps it was meant to be a once-in-a-blue-moon experience, something I'm supposed to savor.

The moment didn't last too long; I fell asleep again just a few minutes later. But it was wonderful, refreshing, calming, clarifying. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Gotta Feeling

Yesterday I broke up with my boyfriend of 9 months.

He didn't cheat, he wasn't a slob, he wasn't stupid, he wasn't cheap. He loved me. And I broke up with him.

Logical? Not at first glance. Easy to do? Not at all. Impulsive? Nope. The right decision? The jury's still out on that one.

I've known my now-ex-boyfriend for about 18 years. We dated for a few months after I graduated high school, but for reasons I can't remember, I broke up with him. Most likely because I was 18, starting college and working; and having a boyfriend in another county was just too difficult.

Since then, I've had other boyfriends, been married, had a kid, got divorced.... and he's dated a bit, but not much.

We started hanging out again about 2 years ago, but we didn't decide to actually "date" again until May of last year. We live in different counties and attend different churches, so since we started dating, we've been able to see each other, on average, once a week. If I really tried to recall all the times we went out on real "dates" without friends, family or my daughter, it would probably be less than 10 times. Suffice it to say, when two adults are living with their parents and one has a child, it makes it really hard to spend time alone.

But that's not why I broke up with him. I broke up with him for the same reason you would break up with someone after the 2nd or 3rd date: you're just not feeling it.

And that's harsh, I know. But it's honest.

I've known him for so long, it was hard to tell at first if I wasn't feeling "it" because "it" wasn't there, or if "it" was just different because we've been friends waaaay longer than we've been boyfriend/girlfriend.

He's a great guy. We get along very well, our senses of humor are so on the same track (demented, but the same nonetheless), he's great to my daughter (who also likes him very much), we like a lot of the same things, we don't care that the other isn't really interested in our favorite type of music, our parents get along well, we have a lot of the same friends, we go to the same "brand" of church, have the same political views, and we'd probably do very well living together. We're very compatible.

But still, I just wasn't feeling it.

We talked about it probably a month ago, so that if I broke it off it wouldn't be completely out-of-the-blue to him. Kinda shitty if you ask me, but I couldn't be one of those, "Sorry, it's just not working out." no explanations kinda girls. He deserved to know why. But I didn't want him to think it was an impulsive decision. I know how much he cares for me, and I told him that I love him the same as I've always loved him, but that I don't feel the same love I know he feels for me. And that's never fair, to either party. So, I told him how I was feeling and that I didn't know what to do with that just yet, but that I wanted him to know, just in case.

Well, nothing changed for me since that talk, and I can't

Can't even finish my thought without tears coming on. I care for him very much, and I love his family and I treasure his friendship, but it's just not fair to him; to be with someone who doesn't love him (friendship/Christian love is different).

So I broke up with him. And I cried the whole time. And I feel like such an asshole. Because I can't imagine how he must feel. If it were me, I'd feel angry and helpless because I can't do anything to change the way someone feels. I would hurt because just because the relationship ended doesn't mean the feelings just *poof* go away. And I would want to talk about it until we were back together.

So, I'm sorry. I understand if you hate me; I hope you don't. I understand if you want to make me out to be a bitch; I hope you don't. I hope you can forgive me.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Goodbye May Seem Forever

If you've ever met me, you probably know how much I love Disneyland. In my presentations for my second (very part-time) job, I always explain that the money I make from it supports my "Disney addiction." It was where I first held a job, it's where I've taken my daughter for the last 4 of her 5 birthdays. It's a favorite place to hang out with great friends and family. When I was in Jr. High and High School I had an Annual Passport and would frequent it with my cousin; many times when it was raining because it tends to be less crowded. I've had an Annual Passport for the last 4 years and my daughter has had hers for the last 2 years. But come this April I will not renew my daughter's pass, and in October I'll be giving mine up as well (because both of our birthdays are in April, I chose different months to buy them to avoid totally bankrupting myself when it came time to renew).

My daughter and I have been living with my parents for a little over 4 years; ever since my move back to California following my separation and impending divorce. Having not had a job since before I was pregnant with my daughter and having gone through financial trouble with my now-ex-husband, I was not able to afford my own apartment or house. So my parents took us in without any question or concerns.

Since then, most of my paychecks have gone to daycare, car payments and insurance and cell phone bills. I didn't have much left over for savings and I wasn't working enough with my second job to do much saving. And child support has been sporadic to say the least.

This fall my daughter started Kindergarten and my mom was so kind to offer to pick my daughter up from school and keep her at home in the afternoons. So when my daughter went to her dad's house in the summer, I was able to stop paying for daycare altogether. I was so excited to finally be able to save some money for our own place. But then I had two root canals (including last-minute appointments that brought the root canals to light), had to have all 4 tires on my car replaced, expenses for my daughter (she refuses to stop growing!) and then Christmas was approaching and I bought gifts for everyone in my family. Suffice it to say, the money I was supposed to be saving was finding other places to be spent.

This December, I took a look at my finances and tried to figure out better ways to save my money. I changed health insurance options at work, so instead of paying $40+ per paycheck on premiums, I'm now paying $3 per paycheck on premiums and putting $30 dollars into an HSA which my employer is also contributing to. And I no longer have money taken out pre-tax to pay for daycare, so that brings another $190+ each paycheck. With these changes, I was able to increase my direct-to-savings deposit amount from $75 per paycheck to $300! My final car payment ends in March, so there's another $300 each month I can save. My plan is to create a new 12-month CD for the amount of money I've saved each month. In about 15 months, I'll have saved enough for a down payment on a very small home. But it's just me and my daughter; we don't need much. Just our own place.

Which was hard to explain to my daughter; all she's known is living with my parents. I've not had my own place since my daughter, now-ex-husband and I had an apartment in Oceanside in the summer of 2004. When my ex-husband got out of the Marine Corps, we moved in with my folks to save up money for our own place, then ended up moving out of state to live with his folks to save up money for our own place that would be cheaper there than in Orange County. We never made it out of his parent's house; we started the divorce paperwork 5 months later. So all my daughter knows is life with me and my parents. And her dad still lives with his parents, so when she visits him, she sees another multi-generation household.

So, how to explain to a 5-year-old why Mommy wants us to live in a different house than Grandma and Grandpa? Her question of "Why?" makes me also question the reasons. Yes, I'd like to have my own living space, but why? So I don't have to do the dishes as soon as I'm done with dinner? So I can have friends over without asking first? So I can have my boyfriend over and not feel awkward because my parents are also there? So I can walk from my bedroom to my bathroom without having to cover up because my folks are awake? (ha ha) So I can do Yoga in my own living room without having to ask if it's okay if I use take over TV and not feel self-conscious about the weird positions Yoga makes me do?

My daughter got very upset at the idea of moving away from her grandparents. I think in her mind she was thinking about how far away she lives from her other grandparents and doesn't want that to be the case with my parents. She was concerned that she would miss my mom's cat (who has effectively decided that she's my cat now) and what about all of her toys and she wouldn't get to see Grandma every day (ok, just typing that is making my eyes water). Even after both my mom and I explained that Grandma would still watch her after school, so she'd be at the house every day, she was confused. Again she wondered why we would need our own house. And, to be honest, I was at a loss for words. I know in my head and heart why I want/need my own place; Grandma and Grandpa need their own space and I need my own space, but a 5-year-old still doesn't quite understand why we need to be away from each other (and we didn't explain that it's not just being away from each other, but having the chance to be alone without wondering how much time we've got alone before someone comes home. Sorry if TMI, but it's true).

After we got her to mostly-accept the idea of having our own house (it's like having a slumber party every night!), I had to explain to her that houses cost lots of money and that Mommy needs to save her money to she can get a house. And to save money, Mommy has to not spend as much money as she has been. And one way to quickly save money would be to not renew our Annual Passports to Disneyland. Yeah, not a fun conversation to have with your kid. Again, the "Why?" questions and the "I'm gonna miss it so much" statements. Grandma helped a bit by explaining that she and Grandpa can help us go to Disneyland sometimes (Grandpa works there). And my heart melted again when my daughter offered a better option: she would save all her money and let me use it to buy the house. "All her money" is made up of tooth fairy money and random loose change she finds. She hasn't had an allowance for a while, so there's not much in her piggy bank. She'd be willing to give me all her money in exchange for renewing her Disneyland pass (insert tears here).

Granted, Disney came up with a brilliant idea of not making me pay for our Annual Passports all at once; we can pay for them monthly. But still, it ends up being more than $800 a year for the two of us to go. And that's just the money for the Passport. There's the food we eat there and the pin collection my daughter adds to. It would be easy to take our own food and not buy pins for trading, but that's part of my daughter's Disneyland experience. Disneyland is her place to be. She loves all the rides and can't wait to be tall enough for more. She'll take anyone and everyone on the Tower of Terror ride, promising to hold their hands if they get scared. She loves the fireworks and even though she's seen Fantasmic! many times before, she gets genuinely frightened of the dragon. Every time. She got to experience her first rainy day at Disneyland last week, complete with jumping in puddles and getting completely soaked, all in the name of fun. To my daughter, Disneyland is a part of who she is. She's a princess (though not spoiled) and needs her kingdom.

So it's heartbreaking to have to tell her that we won't be going everytime we get the itch for a ride on Space Mountain. That we'll have to plan with Grandma or Grandpa on when they can get us in. But it's all in the name of Mommy's sanity and personal growth. And she knows that after a while, we might get our passes back. But it's gonna be awhile. So, we're saying Goodbye to Disneyland. Not for forever, but for a little while. We're going to miss it terribly, but we know it'll be waiting there for us when we're ready to come back.

My fearless child, friends and I on Tower of Terror at DCA

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