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Stop.

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I was working a busy dinner shift this summer, when the man I’d been serving at the bar, decided to help himself to a lakeside table on the patio. He sat himself outside of my section, and I let him know that I had a full section and would do my best to remember him. I helped him walk through the menu and make a complimentary beverage choice. I delivered it all to him, or sent someone in my place so that he did not wait. After he ate and was nursing a glass of wine, I dropped his check and forgot he existed.

He fell off my radar, as his needs had been met. I remembered he existed when my least favorite coworker smugly told me he told her it was the worst service of his life, as he angrily wrote on the comment card, behind her. I approached him immediately and asked him what was wrong. He wouldn’t speak to me.

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I saw him the next day at the grocery store and introduced myself. He still had nothing to say. It was monumental in ways he didn’t know or care about. The manager took it as a green light to joke about what a shitty job I did. Tables that requested me were warned about my recent comment card.

In some strange way, he ruined the last shreds of a job I used to adore with some angry words scratched on a card, left in a fit of drunk entitlement. I’m sure he would have appreciated more attention as he was a moderately tipsy older man, dining alone. I’m afraid I just don’t give a fuck as much as I used to.

Then my dog died. The dog I’d helped be born into our home, 9 years earlier. 

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I wish so much that I could rewind the clock and have her back. She was hit at the end of our driveway, and it played out as horribly as you can imagine. A dear friend of mine just happened to be there and my eldest daughter carried me through grief I’d never experienced before in the following weeks. Losing Peapod was worse than losing my father. I still look for her. I imagine I always will.

When my best friend died, I got divorced. When my grandmother died years later, I broke up with my loser boyfriend of 8 years. Death is a catalyst for me, and this was no exception.

So I quit my job.

No backup plan. No safety net. No savings. Not the smartest thing I’ve ever done, that’s for sure…. but I couldn’t do anything else. It’d been nearly 7 years to the day since I started serving, and knew if I waited until something else came along, I might be serving indefinitely. My eldest daughter told me she had absolute faith in me, and that  she thought I’d be happier doing anything else.

My first table at the beginning of my last two weeks in the apron, brought two of my favorite faces. Every restaurant worker knows the favorite tables. The folks that make the job worthwhile. Their happy faces turned sad when I told them I had put in my notice and would not be serving anymore. I told them I wholeheartedly appreciated their kindness & support the past few years, but that it was time to do something new.

👩🏼- Too bad you don’t sew.

💁🏼- I love to sew.

As they say… the rest is history. I hung up my apron and now spend my days sewing to my hearts content, earning a living wage. That dream job I had lost sight of or had given up hope existed, is mine.

I never would have had the opportunity, if I hadn’t had the faith to stop doing what made me miserable, and if I hadn’t just leapt… I would never have known how much happier our lives could be. At 40, it’s really nice to be reminded how important it is to have faith.

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Tula Love

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When I found out I was expecting my last child, I bought myself the Baby Bjorn of my dreams. It wasn’t easy to spend $80 on a baby carrier, but I remember how helpful it’d been the first few months.
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I’d had the original navy blue wonder with my second child, and had loved carrying her until she was around 7 months old and it became painfully uncomfortable.

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When she grew so big the Baby Bjorn felt like it was splitting my spine in two, we transitioned to the Kelty backpack carrier. A little much for vacuuming, but what can you do. It gave me a few more months, but getting her into the pack was cumbersome and not terribly comfortable for her. She wasn’t content for long.

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My last two are 13 years apart, and a lot had changed. Someone told me I needed to buy a Moby. I bought black, because most of my clothes are black. My sweet babe was born the first week of July. Consequently, I feel like we were both lucky to come out of the Moby without only a heat rash, and not full blown heat stroke. Getting her in felt like a live origami experiment and I was never completely confident that she wouldn’t fall out through a hole in the 18 yards of fabric I was drowning in. Oy.

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I found an Ergo at my local consignment store, and figured it was worth $60 if I loved it like some of my friends love theirs. It wasn’t bad. She loved it and I liked that I could throw some cash and keys in the pocket and leave the stroller behind. This was the carrier that made our stroller move from the back of the car, to the garage. The straps weren’t terribly comfortable, but I could carry her and everything else, simultaneously.

It seemed like I’d found one that worked. I missed her being able to face out, but after everything I’d read, I knew it was bad for her hips- so I was happy to forgo that feature.

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Which is when my dear friend loaned me a Tula. I had heard her ramble on about her DISO and WC’s and thought she’d lost her mind a little. I love her- crazy or sane- so I agreed to try out her beloved carrier. I was surprised she’d want to loan it out, when she explained she had 6. She was trading her way to the Tula of her dreams, with a market value of $1500. Again, I thought she’d lost her mind.

But.

Nothing fit like the Tula did. My sweet girl was asleep in minutes, and had never fallen asleep in any carrier. It was warm, while breathable- so a light jacket kept us both warm on a brisk fall walk. In a matter of days, I would find my little lady trying to buckle herself in. She asked to be “up” and picking the green beans had never been easier.

I decided I needed one, and hopped online to find a deal.

Ha… I had the misfortune of falling in love with Tula at the same time as everyone else in the free world. Deals were nonexistent in Tula-land. These days they have done a lot to keep up with the demand, and with the recent purchase of Baby Tula by Ergo, hopefully supply will increase without losing quality. Ergos are great, but they are definitely not Tulas.

I decided I’d try to “score”. Scoring means being online at precisely 3 PM PST every other Sunday, when Tula releases its highly sought after wrap-conversion Tulas, and managing to purchase one in the 3 split seconds you have before they sell out. These are considerably more expensive, but also increase in value over time. The preview of the Tulas that will be for sale is posted on Friday. I fell in love with a brilliant magenta full wrap conversion, and told my friend I was going to bite the bullet and buy it.

She had a good laugh, and told me she’d been trying to “score” for 8 months, with no luck.

Sunday came around and I’d saved my $330 the carrier cost. I was sick to my stomach spending so much, but this is Tula and common sense is the first to go. My alarm went off and I began following the “scoring” instructions.

Hit refresh, hit refresh, hit refresh… Oh MY GOD… The pictures start to load and I see mine. Blind click, add to cart, submit payment, done.

I scored. I didn’t even know what I bought, I just knew I saw pink and said yes.

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I don’t know where my stroller is. Somewhere collecting dust. We hike, walk, pick beans…and dance in the Tula. As a single mother, I don’t know that I could have done it without it. I know I wouldn’t have been able to hold her as much, or as often as I have. I know the sleepless nights would have been harder and at nearly 40… I’ll take all the help I can get in snuggling her close while she grows at the speed of light.

We own three Tulas now. One for the car, one for home and one to share with other mamas who have no idea what they’re missing until they try one on.

Don’t even get me started on the http://http://www.tulababycarriers.com/collections/blankets….

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.

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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

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