Monday, July 30, 2012


I was 18 years old when I got Bobbie. She's seen me through every milestone of my adult life; two marriages, two children, countless moves, she was there.

She was there waiting for me when I came home. She was always so happy to see me. She was feisty, but so loving to me always.

She jumped across the room the first time she felt Sylvia kick in my stomach, but it was her favorite place to be when I was pregnant. She was so good to the girls. She loved them as much as she loved me.

She was a playful kitten, and a faithful friend. After 21 years, I kissed and held her for the last time. I told her I loved her as she found peace after a rough few days.

I could barely walk in the door to come home for the first time, knowing she wouldn't be there to greet me. I don't know when I'm going to get used to that.

She's been getting me ready for it. She stopped sleeping with me a couple of months ago. Her arthritis made it hard for her to jump on the bed. But I knew she was there, not far. She woke me up this morning with a cry. I can't imagine not waking up to the sound of her voice anymore.

As I held her for the last time, I thanked her again for being there for me. For everything, she was there. I hate that she won't be here anymore. I know she'll live on in my heart, and the girls' hearts forever. And I know I was lucky to have her as long as I did. And I was grateful to be there for her last moments.

But I am grieving right now. And I don't think I'll ever stop missing her.

Bobbie, you were the best cat ever, and I'll love you forever.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Balancing Strengths and Weaknesses

I was watching a single mom freak out at a "surprise" twist on a cooking reality show. She said she had everything timed perfectly in her head, and the twist threw her for a loop. Cut to after commercial break and she had it all figured it out again. Such is the life of a single mom.

The girls would completely agree with me that in the moment where my perfect plan falls apart, I too freak out. Yes, I am calling that a weakness, but of course, I have to defend myself!

There's a lot to think about every day. There's a lot that has to get done. There have been mornings when I get to work, I'm completely exhausted before I walk in the building; after getting up and getting the girls up and getting ready and telling the girls to get ready and finding another pair of pants for Riley because she's outgrown them overnight and getting dinner in the slow cooker and just getting in the car feels like a major accomplishment, and making my way through the hour and a half commute without an accident feels like a complete miracle.

Then there are the fire drills at work and the doctors' appointments to make, and the thing I forgot to tell Sylvia and trying to figure out how I'm going to remember to tell her, and the paying of the bills and the worry over that unexpected car repair bill, and wanting to talk to my sister and hoping to just be for a few minutes at the end of a day. So you get through it by making plans, by making a priority list and trying to knock things out only to get a phone call from the school that your kid is sick or discover that your recycling bin wasn't emptied. And it just keeps happening over and over.

Yeah, sometimes it gets to me.

The girls are kind of used to it by now. They know to just give me a minute to clear my head and revise my plan and then we'll keep going. And most of the time, what gets me through is one of my greatest strengths.

I was hoping to take the first crack at something at work, but didn't have the time, and the lawyer I was working with pointed out that it was something I had never done before. My response: "that's never stopped me before!"

While I have been lucky in many instances to have great opportunities, I do give myself credit for taking advantage of them. I plunge myself into things, and even more so when it's something new to me. Come to think of it, that must be where Riley gets her fearlessness.

It also started for me in childhood, where everything is new and the lack of expectations is part of what makes it so exciting. By now, I have a plethora of memories that I know I wouldn't have had I not tried, and that keeps me motivated to keep going for it.

Call it stubbornness or optimistic or just plain stupid, but the failures don't stop me from trying again. Because I know looking back, I will still be proud of myself for trying.

As I told Riley, I put safety & security first, but everything else is fair game. I know I'm a better parent for it, and it makes the most interesting highlights of my journey on this earth.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Life Well Lived: Dealing with Disappointment

BlogHer asks: How do you deal with disappointment, and what lessons do you have to share from those experiences?

Long-time readers will know my answer, and I don't tire of repeating it:

Every emotion has a beginning, a middle and an end. That goes for disappointment, too.

I don't believe in denying it. I don't think it helps to seek out the silver lining. I think you just have to get through it. The lessons, the silver lining, and the new opportunities will come after the feelings have subsided.

After about a year of single parenting, I knew I needed help. When I first started going to therapy, I wondered just when I would stop crying. It was draining. Even with all that I buried during the week to be there for my girls, to do my job, I took full advantage of those fifty minutes once a week to let it all out.

There were times when I felt bad about crying, as I knew there were so many people much worse off than me. My dear friend and colleague assured me that my pain was just as real, and I just needed to "empty my bucket." She was right.

It doesn't help to play the comparison game. We feel what we feel, and denying ourselves that usually just makes us feel worse. We have to feel it before we can move past it.

Eventually, I emptied my bucket and used those sessions to talk about my concerns for the girls, and get some professional insight on how to best parent them. Eventually, the weekly sessions were no longer necessary.

As often as I feel happy now, as content as I am in my life now, I know that it, too, is just one emotion that I experience every day. I know I appreciate them more than I did prior to the rose coming off the bloom, and interestingly, I smile and laugh a lot more now. I hold on to those moments for as long as I can. Knowing that nothing lasts forever helps me cherish the good, and get through the bad.

I'm sure I'm in for more disappointments. I'm also sure that I will laugh again, that I will smile again, and that I will feel happy again.

Join the discussion at BlogHer's main post on dealing with disappointment. And enter their sweepstakes to win an iPod Touch.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Having it All - Part 2

How does a single mother have it all? Because I have all that matters to me.

For the first few years of single parenthood, I tended to focus on what I didn't have. From the marriage to a house to call our own to career, I could only see what I lacked.

Eventually, as we all settled into our new lives, my perspective changed.

First, I went back to school and could advance in my career, and I found a program where I could help others and feel part of something. And then I started volunteering for the PTA. I figured out that so long as there was something else in my life besides work and kids, and included some form of community involvement, I felt fulfilled.

Then I realized, I really didn't want to be a homeowner. I figured out that it would make me feel the opposite of stable; the financial obligation was just too much. So I accepted and started enjoying being a renter.

Finally, the realization that I like being single. I like having that time at the end of the day, after the girls have gone to bed, to just be me, with no one else around. I like making the decisions for my family on my own. I like going to Disneyland, just the three of us. Our family unit is complete as we are.

This is not meant to diss anyone who wants these things, or values them most. We should all go for what we want, but we don't have to want everything.

My life is far from perfect, but for the most part, the problems come and go and we remain relatively unscathed. And I know I have the support I need to keep getting through.  

I don't have everything in the world. No one does. But I have all that I need to feel complete.

I have my girls, a job that I love, and the ability to fill my free time as I desire. I have all that I need.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Having It All - Part 1

The question of whether or not women can have it all has become a hot topic. Again. Of course, by the time I'm posting this, it may only be lukewarm, but I'll throw in my two cents anyway.

I have it all. I have it all because I have people in my life that have supported me and continue to support me.

When I left my husband, quit my job and moved cross-country back to L.A., my parents offered us their love and their home. That allowed me to grieve, to cope, and to start putting our lives back together.

My friends were there to offer their shoulders, their ears and their compassion to help me to get through it.

My colleagues offered me the job and the security when it was time for us to live on our own again. They even offered up the wares to make it a home.

My boss encouraged me to complete my college degree, which was the first step in being able to promote me later, offering me a better position to support the girls.

My friends and family continue to encourage and support me in all my endeavors; from coming to see me when I first stepped on a stage again, to writing letters of recommendation for the leadership program, reading my blog, helping me talk through my parenting dilemmas, and even helping me wade through the process to get my divorce finalized...and celebrating with me when it was done!

Having their support has been all I truly needed to accomplish anything I've wanted. And also helped me realize what I don't want.

If there are things in your life that you don't have yet but really want, look to the people in your life. And be there for the people that matter to you.

There are so many people live in my heart for making a positive difference in my life, in Sylvia's life, and Riley's. And part of my mission now is to let them know how much they mean to me and express my gratitude and my love for them as much as I can.

I also try to pay it forward. People have called or emailed and asked for my help in finding child care, in filing their divorce papers, or simply listening/reading when they need to talk. Being able to be there for others going through similar situations makes me feel like somehow my experience has been worthwhile. Not to mention, just being there for my friends and family.

We have it all when we have people in our lives that allow us to be ourselves, and when we give that kind of support right back. Or forward. And if we do that often enough, maybe, just maybe, everyone can have it all.

Part 2 to come.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Balancing a Teen's Look

To celebrate her independence, Sylvia opted to dye her hair black this 4th of July.

She did ask permission first (and thanks to my mom for applying it), and my only condition was that she couldn't go a crazy color with the performances of the musical taking place next month. Otherwise, I'm okay with it.

I remember wanting to try something different at her age. Unfortunately, my hair is so dark that it really won't take a dye job, unless I bleached it first, which I wasn't willing to do. I guess I have two conditions: I told Sylvia to never bleach her hair.

Hair changes are not permanent. I disagree with her on bangs; I think she looks better without them, but hey, it's her hair.

From the time they were little, I let them choose the length of their hair. They know that longer hair requires more care, but has greater versatility. They ask my opinion, which I give, but I always end it with, "it's your choice."

I'm not so liberal when it comes to more permanent decisions. I let them get their ears pierced, but only one hole per ear. Anything more permanent than a henna tattoo is forbidden. They may make a different decision when they're adults, but then, they'll be paying for it!

These choices help them feel like they have a say in their own bodies, but if they regret them later, they only have to live with it for so long.

Besides, Sylvia's gorgeous in any hair color! That smile makes it so.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Shouldn't be a huge surprise to anyone that I like to celebrate the 4th a little differently.

I don't find fireworks enjoyable when it means large crowds and crazy drivers, so we'll be home well before they start, and probably watch some movie musical!

However you celebrate, I hope it's doing what you want to do (within reason, of course), and that you have the freedom to do so.