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30 Days of Truth, Day 6

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Day 6: Something you hope you never have to do.

Now we’re talking!!! I was just about to throw in the towel on this 30 Days of Truth, nonsense.

I hope I never have to go on another date.

Oh… I mean it.

I can’t even fathom having a conversation that lasted long enough for a man to ask, and that feels wonderful. After the dreadful time I’ve had, trying to coexist and cohabitate with the opposite sex, I’m cutting my losses and beginning my collection of yarn and cats.

With yarn, the worst that can happen is an overabundance of hats and toys. Knitting brings me such peace… and did I mention that it utterly decimates your sex drive? It turns out that you can’t worry about blow jobs when you’re counting stitches and working cables. My ex used to threaten to hide my knitting needles.

The cats are dual purpose. They’re wonderful fluffy bits of love that will deter even the most determined man, in large enough numbers. I have three… which is definitely not enough to scare off an ardent fan. Once you get to 7, 12 or 16 cats… then you’ve attained true cat lady independence. Ever walked through a house with 16 cats?

You’d only do it once.:)

Aside from them fucking with my yarn, it’s perfectly wonderful.

Unlike dating.

I think back, (or better yet, read back) and can’t believe I had such low expectations for myself. The internet dating was a blast after I decided to do it purely for the writing material, but as a real woman, looking for love?

No.

Two thirds of the men dating online are looking for sex, only. The other third is creepy. There’s two or three guys that you’d actually want to get to know…. but they’re married.

Dating someone locally means hiding from someone locally after it doesn’t work out. I live in a small town, and that is a REAL problem.

Most importantly, my baby girl is at an age where she’s realizing she doesn’t have a daddy like the kids she sees. Her dad pays his child support and calls, but he’s not present physically. She saw him a handful of times last year. So if I were to date, she’d have to make sense of it, and I just don’t feel like it’s fair to add to her already confusing situation. Her dad is already engaged and being a dad to three other kids. She deserves to be my #1.

Is it lonely? No. I suppose it may get lonely at some point, but the animal shelter is only ten minutes away.

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Playgroup

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It’s the great American dream to raise your children in a cozy small town, especially if you grew up dreaming of Mayberry.

I grew up IN Mayberry… or the closest thing I’ve ever seen to it.

I STILL live in Mayberry, which is not my dream come true.

Don’t get me wrong, I have an incredible bunch of friends, all of whom are amazing women and men, and my children have grown up in the safe cocoon of an impossibly small and close knit town. There are great benefits that I wholeheartedly appreciate… but it’s not all rainbows and sunsets.

My sweet baby girl loves a local playgroup that is held once a week at a local church. There are a few moms I really like, but ultimately… we’re in it for the bouncy houses and free-range room full of small people. Its not religious, though you are welcomed to join their church services. We went regularly when she was a baby, and have started going again recently.

It is interesting as hell, to say the least.

I’m a lucky mom, because my baby is sweet and shares happily. She doesn’t have anyone in her life that doesn’t share with her, so it’s more a wonderful consequence of the 13 years between her big sister and her, than it is a reflection of my fantastic parenting. The downside, is that she gets a little mowed over at playgroup. It’s good for her, and she’s learning to defend her stuff these days.

She was happily marching a little hot pink double stroller around the busy room, when another little girl ran up and ripped the stroller out of her hands. She stared at me in horror, turned and stomped her tiny right foot.

B- NO! Be nice! Shaaaaaare.

The thief’s mother had appeared to return the stolen stroller. My little dumpling smiled and thanked her. Offering one of the babies to the angry little girl, who promptly threw it back at her.

Playgroup offers more than just bouncy houses. Playgroup is her first lesson that some people are just assholes.

Which is when I spot one I remember from high school. Great.

Remember that god-awful popular girl in high school who liked to call attention to people in their worst moments? Yeah her. The bad news is that she’s spawned. The worse news is that one of her little carbon copies is the same age as mine.

She has ankle boots like my teenage daughter, full hair & makeup. She’s smirking down her nose at the clusters of pajama clad moms, throughout the room. She’s eyeing up my Yoga pants, ponytail and complete lack of so much as moisturizer with more contempt than I’ve seen since 1993.

Her Irish twins are in the bouncy house with my Sugarplum and her eldest is trying to face stomp her baby while she lovingly “guides” her children with kind words.

Y-“Milwaukee, use your body with kindness towards Wenatchee. Wenatchee is small and needs you to help her learn. Milwaukee don’t use your feet for hurting. Milwaukee use your feet to jump and see how happy it makes you feel”

Milwaukee is attempting to break Wenatchee’s leg.

I am subconsciously peeing my pants in hysterical fits of laughter every time she says their names. I love uppity women who give their kids elitist white trash names. LOVE them.

I looked my daughter in the face and set the whole house straight.

J-“Don’t jump by that baby. She’s tiny and you need to be kind. Got it?”

B- “Got it!”

Miss Popularity frowned at me and I saw the recognition hit her. Uh oh.

Y- Jenni, isn’t it? We went to school together.

I smiled at her and she sort of half-sneered in my general direction. I’m easily 50 pounds heavier than her, in yoga pants and what’s left of my makeup from work last night… but she looks twenty years older than me, has bratty kids and too much patience.

Playgroup never disappoints.

I escape the high school reunion, only to run into another. A stay-at-home mom of one and only. Ugh. She wants to talk about poop and pull ups and all I can think of is signing up to be a foster parent so that we could have a built in playmate and avoid playgroup altogether.

A little singing and we’re out the door and home to the safety of the four walls that keep the familiar strangers, away.

Until next week, Mayberry.

tp

30 Days of what the hell…

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I’m back to dreading this and I was just remembering how much peace I found in clearing my head with a thousand typed words.

That 30 days of truth shit is no joke… and I’ve been in a particularly difficult head-space. With bills piling up and a surplus of coworkers during a shortage of tables, I’ve been extremely overwhelmed.

I have been at the same restaurant for nearly 4 years. Things have been rough lately and I’m in a place I never dreamed I’d be. I’m burned out, but tied inexplicably to the little old lady with an avocado allergy, who loves how I make her drink, the little kid who comes in when he gets good grades and brings his spelling test to show me, the family that drives hours to catch me up on their winter and their college kids, and the wonderful woman who made me an incredible gingerbread house this Christmas. customerloveI love the customers, and they love me right back. I get requested a lot. It would be easy to write off as me having lived in our small town forever, but I’ve met all these affectionate strangers, over their first bowl of rice with us. I always wanted a big family, and serving has given me one, because I adopt each of my favorites.

One of those customers has become a dear friend, both in appreciating my taking good care of them during their dinner, and outside of work, as a mother and friend. When I was offered a job in their restaurant, with completely different food, etc, I agreed immediately and panicked afterward.

I hate being the new girl. But.

The bills aren’t paying themselves, and as the months tick by, it isn’t getting any easier. I’m ready for a change of scenery if only to cure the cabin fever that sets in during the lengthy grey season. I had just agreed to take the job, when the phone rang with the nanny job of my dreams.

Isn’t it funny how the whole damn world stops on its axis when it realizes you’re willing to get your shit together and do something to help yourself be happier?

Ask and ye shall receive…and receive…aaaand receive.

I started the new job and it’s wonderful. A breath of fresh air with a small menu, friendly helpful staff and spectacular food. Exactly what I needed to shake off my server burnout.

Ooooh and the nanny job. Be still my heart. A 2 year old dumpling to match my own, and a squishy pink newborn gentleman. I was born to rock babies and play tea party. That’s all there is to it.

Thank you, Universe.

Now if I could just get through the remaining 25 days of excruciating truth.

30 Days of Truth, Day 5

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move

Something you hope to do in your life.

I hope to get the hell out of the small town I’ve been stuck in for my entire life.

Shared custody has determined that I continue to reside in the same damn small town I grew up in. I love my children, and it was a happy sacrifice for many years… but I’m in the home stretch. My eldest daughter is in high school and when she graduates, we are both set free.

I’m counting the days until I can throw my snow shovel in the trash along with my Idaho plates. I appreciate the childhood I was blessed with, and the safety I was able to raise children in.

But.

Who’s a girl gotta blow for an entire day of strangers? I realize that sounds a wee bit dramatic, but I would give a kidney to grocery shop, anonymously. I can’t even imagine the joy.

My Uncle recently relocated from Los Angeles, and listening to him talk about the traffic is hilarious.

F- I drove home at 9 o’clock on a Saturday night and didn’t see another fucking soul. Not a headlight from here to Canada. That’s when I realized I really did move to a quiet town.

He’s not exaggerating, and it wont be his last quiet drive home.

People complain aloud that I wouldn’t like Oregon because “it rains too much”, but its grey here from about December 1st- March 20th, which marks the beginning of mud season. I can’t plant safely outdoors, until May 15th at the earliest, and my garden has never frosted later than October 15th. It’s beautiful for a very small amount of time, and during the many cold, grey months… everyone has far too much time on their hands to discuss everyone elses business.

Seasonal restaurant business means half of the year, I live paycheck to paycheck. More like shift to shift, as a server, since the federal tipped minimum wage has not increased in 25 years. The closest college is further than I’m willing to risk driving in the winter as a single parent, but the second we escape this educational vacuum, I’m enrolling in school. I’m very good at what I do, but I count the seconds until I never have to take another drink order or hear about someone’s gluten intolerance.

History isn’t always helpful. Imagine how bad it sucks to constantly run into the same perverted creep you’ve been avoiding since high school, only to realize he has sons your daughters age. That’s my reality, and one I will not miss.

I want a museum, a college, a city library and a sea of unfamiliar faces. A fresh start in a strange place full of strangers. Ahhh.

I hope we are home sweet home somewhere else, in 3 years.

30 Days of Truth, Day 4

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Something you have to forgive someone for.

When I realized my relationship was imploding, I was also hit with the stark realization that I would be giving birth without a partner. I tried to get around my feelings every which way, because I felt like he deserved to be there… but there was so much hurt and disappointment between us, that I knew I had to prepare for the possibility that he would not.

My best friend, assured me that I was not alone, and insisted it would be just fine either way. I asked her if she’d be my coach and she agreed with a hug.

The blessed event was a short one, with my sweet baby born in the space of an hour. I realized I was having light contractions around 7 pm, called everyone to tell them I thought I was in labor at 9 and she was born at 10:50. It was a walk in the park compared to the 24 hours it took me to deliver my firstborn, but it they don’t call it labor for nothing.

Adjusting to life with a newborn, as a single parent, is something else. I wish I could go into detail, but sleep deprivation has a way of erasing your memories. Sadly enough, it took the same toll on my friendship with my best friend. She told me she was traumatized from the birth, which is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard. I treasure each of my children’s births and the last was the easiest.

It ruined our friendship. She stopped coming around, and I removed her from my social media because it annoyed me to see her enjoy the pictures but be otherwise missing in action. I miss her still, and can’t say I understand any more today than I did then.

I’m ashamed to admit how hard it is to forgive her. I suppose I held her to a higher standard than my baby’s father. I knew it would be hard, but I knew I could raise the baby alone. I didn’t know if I could do it without her, and I never dreamed I would have to.

I’m doing alright, if I do say so myself, and I learned something really important in the process of flying solo. I wasn’t just picking the wrong guy to date- I was allowing people into my life that didn’t respect or appreciate me. My picker was broken and I was accepting what life dropped at my door, because I didn’t have the courage to ask for what I wanted.

I forgive her for being a shitty friend when I needed her the most, I wish her all the happiness I’ve always wished for her… and a nice long labor.:)

fairweather

30 Days of Truth, Day 3.

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forgiveness

Something you have to forgive yourself for.

I’ve wracked my brain for days because I have a million somethings, with the most significant being intensely private. I can think of a few dozen, but here are two of the most significant.

*For not being the perfect mother my children deserve.

It’s the least they deserve, seeing as they have been the children I always dreamed of. I’ve come a long way in the nearly 21 years I’ve been a mother, but will always feel the worst for my firstborn, who had to learn alongside me. He was born a few months shy of my 19th birthday and I had all the bullheaded stubbornness of any girl that age, exacerbated by 38 weeks of judgmental glances at my naked ring finger. I wanted to be a mother more than anything else, and I would set out to raise a superhero. I read to him day and night, and he was writing his own name and learning to read by the time he was 3 1/2. People raved about his perfect behavior, extensive vocabulary and sweet disposition. Poor kid… he deserves a week with the soft & easygoing mom I’ve learned to be. I’ve learned to buy the silly unhealthy cereal they really want, because nobody dies and nobody gives you a medal for eating that fruit-juice-sweetened cardboard. Also, nobody enjoys that shit. Lucky Charms may be unhealthy, but they are also magically delicious.

*For not being the fabulous wife of a happy man.

I too, thought I’d live happily ever after, +1. I’m grateful for my single life, but I also know that I’m a wonderful partner, and happiest when I have someone to care for & love. It’s the human condition and I am just as vulnerable as anyone else. Maybe I should be in a loving relationship, but I’m pretty damn satisfied watching what I want to watch on Netflix, while knitting in yoga pants and my favorite ugly sweatshirt.

I’ve made a million mistakes in my life, but the experience I gleaned from those failures is what enabled me to survive. Without having learned the hard way, I would never have known I was capable of thriving under the harshest circumstances.

I forgive myself for not always having all the answers, and for the moments I didn’t have a clue. I’m still learning.:)

30 Days of Truth, Day 2

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settle

Something you love about yourself.

I love that I refuse to settle for less than I want, need and deserve. Finally.

Going through a breakup during the last month of my pregnancy and the subsequent battle that followed, changed me irrevocably. I think in the early days of our relationship falling apart, I was exhausted, still gardening an acre and overdue with an 8 1/2 pound baby. He hadn’t called once over the winter and the distance had grown between us while we fought about parenting philosophy and vaccines via text message. I was uncomfortable, hot and irritated by everything. Most of all: his lack of effort.

We went from crazy in love, to always at odds and completely disconnected. We both realized that we didn’t really know each other at all, and that we weren’t really excited about the facts on the ground. I’d quit smoking and he hadn’t. The smell of his cigars drove me nuts. I broke up with him and figured he’d take it seriously, quit for good and beg me to change my mind.

Not quite.

He accepted my decision & began dating, and we went to war over the baby. It was a bad time for all of us and I’m relieved every single day that it’s not like it used to be.

Most of all, I’m thankful every day that we didn’t settle for each other.

It’s been wonderfully hard and terrifying at times, but I didn’t walk through all those fires or slay all those damn dragons, to sit on the couch next to an unhappy stranger and watch my life trudge by.

I did not survive, just to settle.

Neither of us had survived unhappy relationships to land in the unhappily ever after that our relationship had become. I will accept the blame for the breakup if I’m simultaneously credited with the second chance at happiness that it provided.

I love that I had the strength to walk away for all of us; regardless of the fallout, and that I have learned to make my happiness as much a priority as anyone else’s.Finally.

It’s only taken 40 years.

compromise

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