Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pity, party of one, your table is ready.

I'll warn you right now before you read any further. I'm having a pity party and you're invited, but only if you bring a gift.

Like a tube of silver lining. Or perhaps a small jar of optimism. Or maybe a side of bright to look upon. Whatever ya got - I'll take it.

Before you go all "shut the hell up and suck it up" on me, lemme just go through the motions of letting everyone know that I am well aware of how lucky I am. My kids and I are healthy. I have a job and a home. I have a great family and wonderful friends. And these are the things that honestly keep me from going postal with a sledgehammer - they really do. But really - unless you live on a white fluffy cloud with your healthy kids, house, family and friends, you know there's other shit that goes on in everyone's lives. Not the big shit like a horrible disease or tragic accident or job loss or some kind of abuse. That happens; but that's not this blog. This blog is for the mindless, insignificant shit that makes me cry in the car when no one is around, like I did tonight.

Why it gets to me only sometimes is a mystery to me. Hormones? Maybe. I hate playing that "hormonal chick" card but there's probably something to it. I think (I KNOW) I am inherently a pessimist, so for me to buck up and take life on like a champ is bound to be only a tentative game plan. I give my best attempt at being that big strong oak, but sometimes a gust of wind hits me at just the right angle and my branches break.

It's just that sometimes, life is just exhausting (don't picture me saying that in a whiny voice - I'm really not!) Single parenting is exhausting, when your ex seems to disappear for weeks on end when even though you're divorced you need that co-pilot in parenting. Single parenting means you never do anything - including parenting - at 100%. You just don't have the freaking time. Single parenting means that you are ALWAYS, ALWAYS thinking of parenting in some capacity no matter what you're doing - like trying to work a full-time job and freelance and have relationships and  make sure you touch base with family members on a regular basis all while trying to make sure you don't let on that you do NOT have it all together. Because at the end of every day, there's no one to fall back on. There's no one to pick up the slack. To tag and say "you're it". And in conjunction with that, I'm usually beating myself up over some misstep in my parenting prowess (or lack thereof) that has resulted in my child doing something inappropriate, illegal or otherwise insidious. Which happened times two this past weekend. Ugh.

Sometimes (freakin' all the time, now), life is effing expensive. At 45 years old, I somehow still feel like I am a college student, piecing together enough change to put gas in my car to last me until payday and praying the check I just put in the mail doesn't clear just quite yet. My bad for picking a career path as a writer; it will never be a lucrative one, though it still blows me away that there are non-college degreed people out there who are making four times what I'm making after I slothed through four years of it because I was convinced that was the ONLY way I would EVER make any money. HA!!!!

I'm still paying off my "wedding that didn't quite take" from a year ago that I thought I could afford to front at the time, while trying to be disciplined enough to put a chunk into savings every pay period to cover my non-escrowed property taxes, not to mention dealing with a teenage bottomless pit of a twig who grew so much in the past year that I now have to special-order his pants. To top it off, even though I downsized my house a year ago, my utilities are somehow MORE than they were before, in addition to the the astronomical prices of cable (thank you shitty cable representative who hiked my rate up after promising me a two-year special) and a cell phone (screw smart phones), to which if I weren't under contract I'd throw both right out the window.

Gas is expensive. Groceries have gone through the roof. Every time I turn around there's another expense I didn't plan for - school pictures was today's blindside, as I still try to recover from the myriad of school supplies from just a few weeks ago. And Christmas is less that four months away. Shoot me now, will ya?

I remember sitting in my OB's office shortly after the birth of my second child, feeling overwhelmed and sleep deprived and very post-partum (gee, very similar to how I feel now...). I asked him "HOW DO I DO THIS?" and his response has stuck with me to this very day. He said simply, "You do it one day at a time."

I thought of that again when I was lamenting to my good friend and the cheapest therapist money can buy. I said, "I just can't help but think, 'Where will I be five years from now? I will never be rich. I will never retire. I will never travel the world.'" Her response was, "Hey, me neither. What I want five years from now is to still have my house, still have my job, and have my healthy kids be on their way to starting their own lives."

Doesn't seem like a lofty goal - in fact, it could be considered quite meager as far as goals go. But I've been told by a few influential people that my expectations overall are "too high". I still can't come to grips with the fact that they are. I don't want to be rich, but I'm tired of living paycheck to paycheck. Though I think that my kids will hopefully learn some budgeting tactics of their own through my example, it sucks when your kid comes home from school and says, "My class is going to Space Camp in Alabama in April and it's $600, but I don't want to go because I know you can't afford it." Did I say shoot me now? Shoot me again, please. (And who the HELL takes a 5th grade to Space Camp  in Alabama for $600?????)

I don't want to keep up with the Joneses. I could give a rat's ass about the Joneses. Because every time I sit here and cry in frustration at my single parent loneliness and "brokeness" I try to remember that the Joneses have shit behind their closed doors too. Just because you're married doesn't mean you're blissfully happy - or financially stable. As much as I'd love to have a partner in crime,  it's not likely I'm going to get candidates to step-parent a tween and teenage boy anytime soon. At this point I'd be happy to have someone I can rock on my front porch with in my 80's.

So that's my tale of woe, and I tell it because I know there are those of you out there who take the same hits as I do - either on the single parent side, the financial side, or both. And again, don't think that I don't thank God for giving me two healthy kids and a roof over our heads. It's just that sometimes I wish he could make it a little teeny tiny bit easier.

So there you have it. Party's over. But if I have another one, you'll be invited. Just bring a box of coping mechanisms and maybe a bottle of wine. That might just see us through until the next bash.

1 comment:

  1. After I read this, I just took a huge breath and thought, "So I'm not the ONLY one?" I'm right there with ya, sister. Miss you Ames!


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