Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Quick and Dirty Update

So my fever continued to rise throughout most of the weekend. On Saturday, with a fever of 104, I was sort of wishing my head would explode. I'm finally almost normal again - although my aversion to coffee assures me that I'm not quite "normal" yet. At least Riley's feeling better, and Sylvia never got sick.

My first article is up at Examiner.

My Reader stands at over 1000. I'm not going to get to all those.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'm Fine, Thanks!

One of my readers/friends emailed to make sure I was okay, since my last few postings have been, well, less than positive.

Yes, I'm totally fine. Well, besides the root canal and the sore throat and the fact that both Riley and I have fevers and are home sick today...other than all that, I'm fine.

I appreciate that this blog gives me the opportunity to get stuff out of my system, and that's what I've been doing lately with it.

Still, I thought I'd share some good news. Thanks very much to WonderMom for telling us about it, I applied and am now the Los Angeles Single Parent Examiner! I'm super-excited to do this, and hope that I can provide something valuable and meaningful to some local single parents.

Also, I have a much more light-hearted rant up at LA Moms.

My Plea to the Grocery Baggers

-2 First, let me just say, I completely appreciate the assistance of the grocery baggers. Whether or not my children are with me, going to the grocery store in Los Angeles is usually a hectic experience. I like that at the end of it, someone else puts my purchases into the bags for me, and even offers to help me take it to the car. Thank you.

Unfortunately, getting it to the car is not the problem.

I'm a conscientious shopper. I bring my reusable grocery bags to the store with me. I'm quite proud of myself, frankly, for finally getting to the point where I keep them in my trunk all the time, and I now always remember to get them out of the trunk and into the store.

The reusable grocery bags are excellent, sturdy bags. They are, however, more sturdy than I am.

I don't know if you noticed, Mr/Ms Grocery Bagger, when you were placing the objects in the bags, but I'm 5'3" and weigh about 120 pounds. I am also lacking in what someone might call upper body strength.

I am as impressed as you are at the amount that my resuable bags can carry, but I want to cry when I'm taking them out of the trunk, locking the car, unlocking the door from the parking garage to the apartment building, walking through the courtyard to my apartment, unlocking the apartment and trying not to trip my cat while I heave and ho the very sturdy, very heavy grocery bags into my kitchen.

My little helpers can't do much more for me than keep the door open and the cat inside, and carry my purse for me since the bags are too heavy for them. This is not a problem we had when we used paper or plastic.

I will continue to use my sturdy bags, and take as many trips from my car to the apartment as necessary, but if I seem like I'm micromanaging you when you're bagging my groceries, I'm really not trying to strong-arm you; I'm just watching my own back! That's of course, when I can actually watch over you when you're bagging them for me. Usually, I'm still unloading my cart, paying for the groceries, and making sure my girls aren't adding any goodies to the conveyer belt!

Thank you in advance for your consideration of my reusable bags being stronger than me!

Originally posted on LA Moms.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Co-dependent? Or just in a crappy relationship?

I started thinking about this again for a few reasons involving a few friends of mine. One of them will know who she is. The other doesn't read the blog.

Anyway, all three of us have been married to addicts. All of us have been angry and hurt and felt helpless and confused and frustrated. But I would think twice before I called any of us co-dependents.

I can't speak for my friends, but they are the reason I'm writing this today.

I went to a few co-dependent meetings, and I tried to read the book, but I found it all very frustrating and it made me defensive. Of course, being on the defense means you're "in denial."

I was reminded of this when I watched Changeling. After Jolie's character gets locked up in the insane asylum, a fellow inmate explains to her how everything Jolie will try to do to prove her sanity will only have the opposite effect. This is how I felt whenever someone called me a co-dependent.

Because I lived with an addict, I must be a co-dependent. I must seek these wounded characters out, right?

I don't buy it.

Now, I fully support the idea of finding a community for people like me and my friends, for those of us who have been there, done that to be able to support each other and relate to each other. My IRL friend seemed to find hope and solace in the fact that I no longer worry about my X, and she visibly relaxed when I told her so. She has pretty much clung to everything I've said, as I'm quite a few years ahead of her in the whole process, and feels better about all her concerns and frustrations when she hears me voice the same back to her.

I know that's a huge part of what has connected Kori and I. And in that relationship, she's the comforter to me.

So, yeah, I totally get the need to find others who understand the experience. Someone who won't ask, "why did you stay so long?"

Yet, in co-dependent meetings, I still felt I was being judged. I still felt that I was being told what I should be doing or how I should be feeling about the situation. The only thing I really needed was the strength and self-confidence to leave, as I wrote about here.

I refuse to believe that attempting to help others is a defect. I tried to be the good wife, I tried to stand by my man. I don't think trying was wrong. I simply couldn't leave until I was ready.

Now, of course, the experience changed me, but it didn't make me want to stop being a friend. It's my desire to be a good friend that has led me to find Kori, FF, JC, and so many others. I don't try to control them - I just try to be there for them, and allow them to be there for me.

I joke that I'm a control freak, but I refuse to believe that's bad, either. My desire to control my destiny is what made me go back to college, and led to my promotion and my ability to care for my children.

I'm not saying the concept of co-dependents is wrong, per se. I'm sure that many have found solace and strength in being a part of the co-dependents' community. I wouldn't knock anyone for trying something and sticking with it if it works for them.

I just have a problem with the world deciding for me that I'm a co-dependent because of one bad relationship. I will not let that one relationship define me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What's This Blog About?

Singlemommyhood recently posted about bad-mouthing the ex. Some readers may not believe me, but I actually do think about what I say about X before I say it here. I have decided, and maybe it's just a rationalization, but I have decided that I have not bad mouthed my X here. I've spoken about facts, and his actions, and how those actions make me and my girls feel. I've spoken about my anger and my resentment, but I have not said anything that is untrue. It's never been libelous or slander, and if I ever needed to, I could provide evidence that proves it.

Is it pretty? No. Is it nice? No. Is that my fault? No. Do I have a responsibility, as so many experts would like me to believe, to paint a rosy picture of my X for the sake of the girls? Absolutely not. (And let me just say, I don't think the authors of the article posted above took that stance at all - but it is something that single moms hear often.)

I believe that part of my responsibility is to guide my girls in understanding their father, and his actions, and helping them sort through their feelings about it, but more importantly, helping them set realistic expectations about their father. I believe that any time I've tried to give their father the benefit of the doubt, it has caused my girls more pain.

I also believe that, particularly as I raise girls, I have a responsibility to dissuade them from falling into the fairy tale trap and expect more from men in their lives than those men are actually capable of giving. The relationship they have with their father is obviously an important one in shaping their future. To me, that means being honest and seeing him without the rose-colored glasses.

I think I will start posting movie reviews and how they perpetuate myths about women, men and relationships in unhealthy manners. So it might not always be the knight in shining armor anymore, but lately, there seems to be a rash of movies (usually by Judd Apatow and his gang) that portray guys as slacker dudes that get it together in the end. I know it happens sometimes, but not nearly as often as they would like us to believe.

So, yeah, I'm quite honest about my ex here. I'm also honest about how the girls react to it, and I know there's a lot of concern out there about how this mommy blogging phenomenon will affect our children's futures.

I do try to omit what I feel is too personal for Sylvia and/or Riley to share here in order to cut down on any embarrassment or anger they may feel towards my blogging, but I know some of it is here. It's here because it's why I blog.

I blog to not only work through it all myself, but also to let other single moms out there know that someone else gets it. Someone else has been there, and done that. I seek out other single mom bloggers for the very same reason. So, yes, it's mostly for me and the other single moms out there. But in doing so, in finding that strength through community, I come home to my girls a better person, which has to be good for them.

I hope that, if the day ever comes that the girls examine my archives, I hope what they will know is that, as many mistakes as I have made and will make, my intent was good. I hope they will know that I have spent many hours pondering these decisions I've made about them. I hope they will believe that I spoke about them not to exploit them, but to bring us closer together. I hope that they will visit some of my bloggy friends out there, and see that most moms (and dads) out here are real people facing real challenges, and facing them honestly.

I know that it could go the other way - they could resent it and say they hate me for it. If that day comes, I will have to shut down this blog. I'd hate to do it, but I would do it for the girls.

But I will never stop being honest about them about their father. They may hate that, too, but in the end, it is what's best for them.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Weekend Wrap-Up

It's 7:30 a.m. on a Monday morning, and I'm actually ready to go to work with time to spare! I'm not running around getting the girls breakfast or telling the girls to brush their hair...what's going on?

The girls are enjoying a couple of nights with my parents on Spring Break. Today, they'll be heading up to the snow. They're very excited, and I'm very content not to see snow (ever again in my life).

I'm especially appreciating the quiet after a hectic week last week. I attended both of the girls' Open Houses last week, which I wrote about at LA Moms. A quick sum-up would be that I just don't get the value of Open House.

Saturday, we kicked off Spring Break the same way with thousands and thousands of others: we went to Disneyland. Apparently, the happiest place on Earth is immune from any economic downturn. We managed to avoid most of the long lines by picking up Fast Passes for our favorite rides, and the girls had a blast. Here they are towards the end of the day:

We went with our cousin(ish - she's my cousin's daughter), which was especially nice since she knew where to find the margaritas at DCA. Also, she would go on Splash Mountain with the girls - I didn't want to get wet. We may never hit Dland without her again! The weather wasn't quite sunny, but it wasn't too cold, either.

Sunday, we took it easy before we went to my parents' for dinner and I enjoyed a quiet night to myself.

Sylvia's doing slightly better, emotionally. I realized a lot of things over the past few days that enhance my understanding of what she's going through. I think both the girls are getting more and more anxious as we near the end of the school year about whether or not they'll continue at the same schools next year. They understand all the reasons for the moves before, and hopefully, we won't have to do it again, but I won't make any guarantees to my kids about things over which my control is limited.

I didn't spend much time on the computer this weekend, so I'll be playing catch-up on my Reader. But don't count on me getting too far on that while I have the place to myself one more night!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Open House Disrupts My Home

I've attended two Open Houses two nights in a row and am particularly struck by the lack of point of both. While I'm happy to support my children and their respective Los Angeles schools, Open House seems to be an exercise in simply wasting my time.

I attended Sylvia's (my older daughter in middle school) with higher expectations. In other words, I was happy to go. I haven't spent much time at Sylvia's school this year, other than Back to School and a fundraiser "carnival" night, and there are no parent-teacher conferences at the middle school level so it certainly didn't feel like a waste of time at the out-set. The actual event, however, left me feeling tired and used.

We went to her first period classroom, where parents were crowding the sign-in sheet, and lining up to speak to the teacher. I overheard one parent asking how their child was doing, which I found surprising given that the room is filled with the child's peers and parents. It didn't seem an appropriate environment for a parent-teacher conference, which is what the teacher told this parent. I'd met the teacher before and I had no specific questions for her so I was going to skip the line. Sylvia had other ideas. So I stood in line and tried to come up with a question...and came up with nothing. When it was our turn, the teacher asked about Sylvia's lunch (which had gone missing earlier in the day).

We went to the book fair, where Sylvia had thoughtfully set aside a book she thought might be of interest to me. She was so excited about it that I spent $27 on a book that (shhh!) I didn't really want. Oh, well. Worth it to make my daughter smile, right? And then, of course, I bought more books for the girls...as soon as I could get to the head of the line and the woman before me finally moved out of my way long after she'd finished her purchase.

Then it was off to her other six classes that went the same as the first class. I wracked my brain for conversation that wasn't too deep. I oohed and aahed at projects that I've already seen since she made them at home, and glanced at projects clearly made by other students' parents.

I learned nothing about the curriculum as I had at Back-to-School Night in the fall, I learned nothing that I couldn't ask Sylvia in the comfort of my home. I'd worked all day, and I just wanted to go home. An hour and a half (and $50) later, we were able to leave.

The next night was Riley's Open House. Open House in elementary school is slightly easier since we only had to visit 2 teachers, and one garden. Riley's classroom seemed even more stifling than the night before. The kids were bouncing off the walls with excitement. Of course, I wouldn't have missed this opportunity to make my little girl so happy. At the same time, if Open House didn't exist, would either of us miss it?

The Book Fair was extremely intense. Thankfully, they were having a 2-for-1 sale so this one wasn't quite so costly financially; however, it took even more time as my social butterfly of a daughter flitted about, greeting everyone she knew (or thought she might know) - and amusing me with her genuine surprise to see them. "Yes, honey, it is amazing that one of your classmates is here for the very same reason we are!" And there were people, of all ages and sizes, everywhere! I don't enjoy large crowds so I was getting more and more tense as we were wading through it all. Riley continued to duck and skip among the throngs without focusing on picking a book. Finally, she was in my vicinity long enough for me to tell her that I was getting in line, and if she didn't have a book by the time it was my turn, she wasn't getting one. Sure enough, she found a book.

Fifteen minutes later, it was my turn to pay for the books, and the girls knew I had to get out of there.

Each night, only one of them was free from homework so we were getting home hours later than usual, with neither of them in the mood for homework. Dinner was also a challenge, given that the hours of each Open House was smack in the middle of dinner time.

I try really hard to keep our weeknights free, to maintain a routine, and get us all to bed at a decent hour with all of our responsibilities done. I also try to be an involved parent and support the schools. Open House, however, seems to be an activity designed to make our family life more difficult.

Since coming to this conclusion, I've spoken to some colleagues that have school-aged children and discovered that some have simply stopped going, and a few private schools don't have Open House. I don't think that so long as my daughters still want me to go, I could stop going. I just wish I didn't have to give up time and the sanity of our routine to make my daughters or the schools feel supported.

Originally posted on LA Moms.

Happy Single Parents' Day

I didn't even know about this until two minutes ago, but today is Single Parents' Day.

So to all my fellow single parents out there, I wish you all a day in which we can celebrate our accomplishments.

I think there's a meme out there about gratitude. So in honor of Single Parents' Day, here is my list for all the reasons I'm grateful to be a single parent:

1. I am no longer in an unhealthy relationship, which means my children are not growing up in a house full of distrust and harsh words.

2. I spent the first years of my daughters' lives so wrapped up in dealing with my husband, that I was not a good mother to my children. I am grateful that I have now spent more years of their lives being a better mother to them than I was when I was married.

3. My checkbook is my own. I no longer have fear when I hit the ATM since I know exactly how much I have, and how much I've spent.

4. I have sole legal custody. I am grateful that I don't have to fight with my ex about what is best for the girls.

5. I am no longer waiting for someone to show up and co-parent my girls. I have accepted the responsibility.

6. I have control of the remote. And I don't have to worry about the toilet seat.

7. I am grateful for my parents' help. I am grateful that this has brought us closer together.

8. I am grateful that single parenthood brought me back to Southern California. After living in several cities and a few different states, I know I am home.

9. As much as I bitch about having a deadbeat ex, I am grateful for my job and my ability to provide my children all of the necessities, and some extra.

10. I am grateful for the friendships I have made and those that have reached out to help and support not only me, but my daughters.

Okay, so this life ain't easy. There's not a day that goes by that doesn't present some new challenge. And sometimes I fail. But I'm here. I get up every day, and my first thought is about my children, and nearly everything I do - even the things I do for me - is for their benefit in the long run. Yep, I'd much rather be me, the single parent who is at least striving to meet the challenges, than my deadbeat who can't even show up for them.

Single parents, take a moment today to pat yourselves on the back. And if you're a friend of a single parent, take a moment to wish them well toady.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It Wasn't Meant to Be

I did not see Obama here:

Nor did I see this:

I was not here:

I was half-way down the block on the right, anxiously awaiting my Obama moment that never came. Because he went left instead of straight.

Oh, well. The good news is, my girls won't be jealous.

*Updated to add: I saw the motorcade! On his departure, we were able to get close enough to see that. I didn't see Obama, but I'm pretty sure he was in there somewhere!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Weekend Wrap-Up

So it's official: I've been elected the Secretary for the PTA Board at Riley's school. I seriously never thought I'd join the PTA. My sister's already making fun of me because I'm planning on going to the PTA Convention in a couple of months - she says I never do anything half-way, which is probably true. But I'm hoping to get into the more political seminars about what's happening in Sacramento and Washington, and my veteran readers know that education has always been one of my passion topics so it seems a good fit for me.

Sylvia's doing slightly better. They had therapy this week, and we'll probably be making another appointment for Sylvia and I to meet with the therapist together.

I also had the parent-teacher conference at Riley's school this week. She's doing much better - and actually passing PE now :) I'm having a bit of my old frustration with the system as the teacher explained that Riley's writing issues all sound like things which could be helped with an outline, which they discourage for testing because of the timing. The way I see it, it's worth the 5 minutes to put together an outline to keep from straying from your topic (and as evidenced by my writing, which doesn't follow an outline). So I get to teach her.

I'm toying with the idea of giving the girls their own space to blog in order to make writing fun for them, but not quite ready for them to join us here in the blogosphere. Instead, there's an app on Facebook which I may have them use, but I haven't discussed it with the girls yet. That was on my mental to-do list for yesterday, but there were school projects galore for both of them to work on yesterday for the upcoming Open Houses next week.

Yet one last school note: Riley got an award on Thursday for "Most Improved." We're trying to motivate her to go for Honor Roll next trimester.

Oh, and Riley's also joined the Boys & Girls Club soccer team - a soccer mom AND PTA? Some days, I just don't know who I am anymore!

I also was following the Jon Stewart/Jim Cramer smackdown on The Daily Show all week. I really wasn't sure what to expect from their Thursday night face-off, but I was not disappointed. It's not very funny, but I love the points that Stewart brought up - most particularly, the lack of investigative journalism not only from CNBC, but from most finance journalists.

It's worth the half-hour to watch this if you haven't seen it yet.

There's a couple of things that gall me about the feedback. First of all, I'm astounded by the amount of commenters that claim that Stewart is all about protecting Obama. Obama's name comes up once, maybe, in the un-cut version, but Stewart was talking mostly about Wall Street and finance journalism. It didn't seem to be a partisan thing to me.

The other thing that bothered me was all the talking heads on This Week w/ George claimed that Cramer should never have been taken seriously from anyone - really? Then why is he not on Comedy Central instead of CNBC, which is supposed to be a serious finance news network? As Stewart said, at least he sells his show as snake oil. I did agree with the talking head that mentioned that Stewart's greatest moment was when he said that we should recognize that the wealth in this country should be based on work.

I had a comedy of errors myself this morning. I dropped the girls off to go bike-riding with my parents and went grocery shopping...only to find while in line to check out that I had forgotten my wallet. They were very nice about it, but I was SO mortified!

After I drove home, got the wallet, paid and loaded the groceries, I went to get gas. Slid my card in, went to pump, and couldn't get the pump out. It was padlocked. The gas station was closed. Okay, maybe this happens in other parts of the country, but I've never noticed any gas station closed on a Sunday before!

In the end, got my groceries, got my gas, and decided I needed another dose of my West Wing reruns.

Last night, I watched Changeling. Any parent will be absolutely horrified to watch, but most especially mothers, as apparently, so many people decided it was okay to decide that women are too hysterical to know their own children! I couldn't sit still for most of the movie because it was so disturbing, but it was very well done.

I also watched ER this week, which I haven't watched in years. It was great to see so many of my old favorites back on. (Of course, this coming from the woman who can't get enough of West Wing.)

And I made a decision. I'm giving up my health club membership. I know, I know, I remember what I said, but it's just not working out for me. They don't offer the classes I want at a time that I can go (because of the girls), and the weight training, while it was good, simply wasn't enough for me to justify the cost. I was spending more time feeling guilty for not going, and I've decided that I have enough real worries and concerns to forgive myself this digression.

Oh, and I lunched with Jessica Gottlieb on Friday! I'd met her once before, but this time, it was like greeting an old friend. She made me laugh often, and we talked about anything and everything. I hope to be enjoying her company as much as I possibly can in the future.

And now the girls are back from their adventure in Chinatown. Hope you all had a great weekend!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Deadbeat Dads Don't Die

Because then, you might be able to get their Social Security money.

Deadbeats don't get jobs because then you'd be able to get their wages garnished.

Deadbeats don't mind going to jail because then they have food and shelter paid for by YOUR tax dollars.

Deadbeats disappear so that then the child support services can close the case for "lack of information."

Deadbeats make your kids miserable so you can spend $400 a month on therapy - ironically, the same amount you're owed in child support a month.

Deadbeats like irony.

Deadbeats lie to their kids.

Deadbeats can't die because then your kids would be grieving, and the therapy would be even more expensive than the Social Security payments.

Deadbeats will hand your 11-year-old daughter cash so that they can appear to be living up to their obligations, and then it's up to you to tell your daughter that the amount she's been carrying around is a mere hundredth of the fraction that the deadbeat actually owes.

Deadbeats make you look like the irresponsible parent when you can't pay for the supplies for the school projects because you haven't gotten your state tax refund yet. And you've shelled out all your cash for therapy.

Deadbeat dads make it nearly impossible to heed the "expert" advice of not talking negatively about your ex in front of the kids because if you say anything good about said deadbeat, you're lying to your kids.

There's a website out there called supportkids.com that basically acts as your personal agent to trying to collect the past due child support. However, even if your ex decides to hand cash to your 11-year-old daughter, they get a percentage. (Has anyone out there had success with this organization? If so, please tell me about it!)

Deadbeat dads should be forced into slave labor. It's the only possible solution that might actually lead to results.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

8800 for LA: What's Your Number?

The LAUSD Board voted to send out notices of possible lay-offs to 8,800 teachers & staff throughout the District on Monday. The Burbank District will be sending out 128 such notices. Do you know how many your district will be sending out? Even if your children are not yet of school-age, I urge you to keep an eye on what's going on in your district.

California's legislators have decided to throw out our babies' education with the bathwater. The truly ironic part, as stated in one of the above links, is that those schools that no longer meet the 20 students to 1 teacher ratio required of CA elementary schools because of the lay-offs will have to pay a fine; yet more money and resources being taken away from our children.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones because we no longer reside in the LAUSD boundaries, but in Burbank. However, I am concerned if one (or more) of Riley's teachers will be there next year, particularly her music teacher and her speech therapist. This Friday, I will be wearing pink to show my support.

The final CA budget means that we will be spending less per pupil than any other state in the union. This in the state that houses the 2nd largest district in the nation.

I know, it's not about the money solely - it's about what the money can buy. I grew up in California, and my schools had school plays, yearbooks, art classes, music classes, typing classes, civics classes. Because we don't test on these things, more and more of them are disappearing. And then we wonder why our kids drop out of high school at alarming rates.

Those "extra-curriculurs" open the world to our kids.

Now, we have parents running across town taking the kids to take their art and music classes, to get tutoring because our teachers don't have enough time per pupil, to SAT workshops (none of which I can do as the sole income provider for my daughters). And with more than 70% of us parents working full-time, we're not spending as much time with our kids. Yet when we are with our kids, we're supposed to be available to help with homework, take them to buy supplies for their latest school project ($87 at Michael's just a few days ago), and don't forget to feed them a healthy dinner. And eat dinner together. Because chances are, when dinner's over, your child will be off doing their timed reading, or the parent needs to go back to work to make up for the time they were out volunteering at their child's school to make sure the school sees them as an "involved parent."

It's completely out of control. In my children's scholastic career thus far, I've dealt with well-meaning but ineffective teachers and end up spending all of my time with my kids teaching them what they should've been learning in school, and every GREAT teacher they've had has been taken away for reasons out of my control. I've cried in a vice-principal's office because my children didn't have a place to go after school (which also prompted a letter to the President of the school board with a cc to the First Lady of California - and lo and behold, my children got in the after-school program). I've been to Board meetings, I'm now serving on a PTA Board. I've researched charter schools, magnet schools, and have sometimes even uttered "home school" to myself - even though as a single mother, I would never be able to stay home with my children.

I know I don't have all the answers. I just wish more people would admit they don't, either. And admit that taking money and teachers away from our schools will not solve a thing.

Originally posted on LA Moms.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

X Processing

I just got back from my therapy appointment. She reassured me that I've been handling everything really well, and also gave me a fresh perspective for dealing with everything.

I also got a really nice card from Kori this weekend. She reminded me that I have given X every opportunity to be there for his kids, to be a part of their lives, and dammit, I have. I have bent over backwards to allow them to have a relationship, all the while maintaining the limits and boundaries necessary to ensure their safety and well-being.

As far as the future goes, visits will be completely off the table for some time. Again, we're not using the words "never" or "ever." But it's safe to say that in the foreseeable future, it is simply not safe for the girls to see their dad. The therapist advised that, with some gentle prodding from me, we should allow Sylvia to make the decision whether or not to talk to him if/when he re-surfaces, and I'll step in as necessary. Basically, to guide her in setting the limits for herself in recognizing what is in her best interests. Which, when you get right down to it, is what parenting is about.

I have questioned and doubted nearly every moment of the "talk" that we had last week, particularly as that talk has been like an earthquake, with seemingly endless aftershocks - some of them even bigger than the event. But I just keep reminding myself that it's a process. And as much as I've doubted and questioned, I remain convinced that it was the right thing to do, that I said the right things, and that we are on the right path. It helps that my therapist (an expert in child development) has validated that.

On Friday, I was having myself a full-on pity party, but I've moved beyond it. It is what it is, and I can only cry about how unfair it is so much. Now, I'm just trying to move forward, and remain calm.

Riley is a marvel. It's not that she doesn't have any feelings on the subject, she just has an ability to compartmentalize it and hold it until she has therapy on Friday. At the age of 8, she has more emotional maturity than me. I couldn't be happier, frankly.

Sylvia is where she needs to be. It's always been different for her. She still remembers, albeit vaguely, a time when we lived together. When we moved out here without him, she put him on a pedestal. She's come a long way - he's no longer on that pedestal. She can acknowledge that I did the right thing to leave him. I have always told her that it's okay for her to still love him. He's her father. And she is learning to accept him for all that he is. In some ways, I just hope she gets more selfish. That she learns to demand more of those that say they love her. I hope that, come her time to leave home, we're both confident that she will remain the loving, compassionate soul she is now that also cherishes herself too much to allow anyone to use her. That can maintain a healthy emotional balance.

We still have a long way to go. I really do think we'll get there.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pink Friday

This seems to be an event for Californians, but I see no reason that the sentiment can't be expressed nationwide.

Wear pink on Friday to show your support for your local public schools.

From the website:

California's public schools, colleges and universities are facing more than $11 billion in state budget cuts. These cuts are going to impact an entire generation of kids and alter public education for years to come.

March 13 is the deadline for school districts to issue preliminary pink slips to California's teachers. Last year, more than 10,000 teachers got pink slips and nearly 5,000 lost their jobs. And this year could be much worse.

Please join us on Friday, March 13 and Stand Up for Schools.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Weekend Wrap-Up

Dear, dear readers, who are so kind and supportive of me, as usual, I owe you my thanks.

I'm doing much better, and this weekend (thus far) has been good for Sylvia. For most of the week, she's been quite the basketcase, and I know this will be a long healing process, but I'm more and more convinced that she deserves to go through this particular process no more. Some day I'll write a more thoughtful analysis, once I've had the time and energy to actually do a thoughtful analysis, but right now, I'm a mother lion that wants to protect my little girl from any more pain.

But enough about pain. We've had some good times lately, too. On Friday night, while Sylvia was enjoying her night with her friends, Riley and I got a much-needed, and much-enjoyed "date night" together.

She cracked me up with where she chose to eat. Wendy's. But what's funnier is the reason: she'd never seen the inside of a Wendy's. My poor deprived children: I just chauffeur them through the drive-through windows! It's a left-over habit from not wanting to shuttle infants and toddlers in and out of car seats.

So Wendy's it was. And Riley beamed. Really, how hard is it to make this kid happy?

We then went to Target to pick up some new outfits for her. Having just received my CA tax refund (at least the budget being passed is good for something), I was itching to buy something for myself, too, but could only find top that I would/might wear. We also picked Sylvia up a new bathing suit. Then we went home to play some I Spy Bingo. Riley kicked my butt. I blame the Bingo cards.

During our date, Sylvia called no less than 5 times. She called first to tell me who was coming. Then to ask what time I was picking her up. Then, to tell me that they were watching The Dark Knight. Of course, she needed to call and inform me that the guy who plays Richard Alpert on Lost is in it. Then it was who she thinks The Dark Knight is. And every time she told me she loved me.

The next day was Riley's school's field trip to the Getty Museum. We decided to skip the bus, and go on our own time. Sylvia decided to bring her sketch pad and spent the majority of her time in The Sketching Gallery. Admittedly, we didn't spend a lot of time looking at paintings, but the girls enjoyed the hands-on activities there.

I couldn't get over the beauty of the location.

Looking to my left, this was the view:

And to the right (not sure if you can see it), the ocean:

And today, we're just laying low and being mellow.

I have more to say, but I'm not quite ready to work myself up and ruin this moment.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

X Chronicles continued

I mentioned the other day that the girls' father has not called in some time. At first, Sylvia did not want me to call him and bug him about it, but the other day, it became apparent that I simply had to for her sake. I told her I would tell him it was against her wishes, but that I was doing it anyway because she's my little girl, and I don't like it when anyone hurts her.

I called X at his parents' house and found out he's no longer living there. He's done more damage to the people that love him, and he's not welcome there anymore.

Last night, I had a PTA committee meeting so I picked the girls up pretty late at my parents' house and we talked on the way home.

I've learned, through all my past experiences, that honesty is really the best way to go when it comes to talking to the girls about their father. I told them that no one really knows where he is right now, and that I don't know if there will ever be a situation where it's safe for them to see their dad.

Sylvia cried, but she didn't disagree. She's come a long way. She no longer defends her father, but it doesn't change the fact that it hurts her. She still finds it hard to admit that she's angry at him.

I asked her if she wanted to go to the feelings doctor again, and she said yes. We also talked about her going to see her counselor at school today so she may do that. Riley also wants to go to the feelings doctor, but really, I think she just likes the play therapy. Okay by me. Can't hurt.

Riley takes all of this differently than her older sister. She has no trouble getting in touch with her anger at her dad. Whether or not she ever sees or talks to him again, he long ago lost his opportunity to be the person that she would ever turn to in a time of need.

Jessica Gottlieb
found a study that states that fathers that engage in high-levels of anti-social behavior can actually cause more harm to their children the more they are around them. The abstract ends with "Marriage may not be the answer to the problems faced by some children living in single-parent families unless their fathers can become reliable sources of emotional and economic support."*

Now, we all know this is something I've been saying for a long time, but the past 24 hours have made me consider whether it's really better for the girls if they never see their father again. However, as I told Sylvia, we're not deciding forever right now. We just continue to take these things as they happen. I don't know any other way.

*Life With (or Without) Father: The Benefits of Living With Two Biological Parents Depend on the Father's Antisocial Behavior
Jaffee, Sara R.; Moffitt, Terrie E.; Caspi, Avshalom; Taylor, Alan
Child Development, v74 n1 p109-26 Jan-Feb 2003

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A George Worthy of My Thanks

While my entire immediate family has worn glasses, contacts, or gotten lasik, I've been lucky. Other than wearing glasses for driving at night (or better sight in the nosebleed section of the Ahmanson Theatre), I haven't had sight problems. For whatever reason, both of my daughters take after the rest of my family.

Sylvia's vision problems were discovered in first grade. I found out Riley would need glasses upon entering kidnergarten. And so our adventures with glasses began.

I know that I'm luckier than most since I have vision coverage. But even our higher vision plan doesn't take into account the fact that 6-year-olds aren't so careful. They only allow one pair of glasses per child per year. Thus, my ode to our optical technician.

They both broke their glasses within weeks of getting them. Being a single, working mother with a deadbeat dad for an ex doesn't allow for lots of extra funds lying around. Our optical technician, George, could most likely see the fear in my face as I came in with the "bendy" glasses that still managed to break. He fixed them without charging me a dime. When I came in a few days later with my other daughter's glasses, he laughed (to keep me from tears, I'd guess) and fixed them again without charge.

The next year came, with a new allowance for glasses. I'm not kidding you, the very day we picked them up, Riley (then in 1st grade) was hit in the face with a ball, and there went her new glasses. And there was George again, to repair them. George came to Sylvia's rescue days later. Maybe it's my rescue. Either way...

We've moved three times since the girls started wearing glasses, but I have always kept them at the optometrist where George works. I'm not crazy about their actual optometrist, but it's worth dealing with him in order to keep George in our lives.

Because the day after I scheduled their appointments for this year's set, Riley broke her glasses. And a few days before said appointment, Sylvia's broke in a cheerleading accident.

Sure, there are many other important relationships in the girls' lives, but I will forever cherish George, and any other empathetic optical technicians out there!

Originally posted on LA Moms.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Balancing Apathy and Empathy

Let me start with an apology to Jessica Gottlieb and Ms Single Mama. I totally blew them off this weekend. I have no good excuse, other than I wasn't in a place where I felt I could deal with people.

I also apologize to every blogger since I think at this point, I've not commented or not read at least a few posts by all of you. Again, just couldn't deal.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not exactly depressed. I'm not angry with anyone. It's only been in the past 36 hours that I've been aware that anything is even wrong.

And in the past 18(ish) hours, I've begun my journey to come to terms with it.

My first clue came on Saturday night, when I realized how much I'm escaping. I can pat myself on the back for getting the very basics done. I get my kids to school, make their lunches, dinners, etc., and they're almost caught up on their medical appointments. I've even started going to the dentist myself lately (which is another post altogether). We all have clean clothes to wear, there's food in the fridge, and the bills are paid.

More and more, however, that little voice in the back of my head is nagging at me about all of the things I'm not doing. And I've been doing a very good job of ignoring it, drowning it out with another episode of West Wing, or turning the music up and playing a game of FreeCell. You can only imagine all the possibilities on the many more productive things I could be doing. Heck, even keeping up with my Reader would be a step up!

Yesterday, my big effort was watching both Meet the Press and This Week with George S...but I only got through about 15 minutes of George after the full Meet the Press hour. I was hoping for at least blog fodder, but at the same time, I don't even want to go there in my political stuff.

Things are heating up again with the efforts to overturn Prop 8, and I don't even want to talk about that anymore. (Shocking, I know.)

So what the heck is wrong with me?

I just don't want to think anymore. At least, that's what I thought it was.

And then it hit me. I don't want to feel anymore. I don't want to care anymore. I don't want to fight for Obama's plans because I don't want to be let down when they all get weakened and screwed up in the legislative process. I don't want to put my heart into fighting Prop 8 to have my heart broken again.

But there are even more important things, places where I could actually have an impact. Of course, it all starts at home.

Sylvia's really been suffering lately because her father hasn't called her in weeks. I talked to her on Saturday night about it, and she was going to call him on Sunday.

At first, I didn't want to be the one to bring it up. But then, she wasn't, so I did. And she didn't want to deal. She's learning my escapism. She just didn't want to have that conversation. Because she didn't want her heart to shatter anymore than it has already by what he might say (or not say) on the other end.

So I'm left wondering just how much harm I'm doing my girls in not dealing right now. But, and this probably makes me a bad mother, it's still not enough motivation for me to do the things I don't want to do, either. I still prefer escaping.

I'm hoping it's like everything else, and it's just how I feel for now. I'm hoping that I'll wake up one morning with the passion necessary to just do things. At the same time, I'm aware that my inaction is making me pretty comfortable right now. And maybe my thoughts of just not being ready yet are just total rationalizations to continue not to deal.

But I'm also sick of having my heart broken. I'm also sick of trying and failing and feeling powerless. Maybe, so long as I continue to do the bare minimum, I'll be able to keep my emotions in check. I'm starting to think of my emotions as a liability rather than an asset.

So maybe I need this time of apathy to balance my pendulum and find a healthy, balanced emotional place. Or maybe I'm just rationalizing. Or maybe I need to suck up the extra costs and just get myself back in therapy, even if my therapist is no longer on my insurance plan. Or maybe I need to find a new therapist.

Or maybe I just need to get through today, and see what tomorrow brings.