Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Finding a partner

I've been thinking about dating recently. For several reasons I guess; 1) I get quizzed on my love life by a few of my family more than I'd like; 2) I'm getting older, and K is getting a tiny bit more independent of me, which means I could potentially go out more often than before; 3) some of the moms in my group talk about dating or relationships they're in - while being solo moms by choice. And it's triggered some of the longing I have hidden pretty deep down, that someday I will find someone to share my life with, but now along with the most important consideration - who will also be great to share my child's life.

No matter how hard I try, and I do sometimes, I can't figure out how I would incorporate dating into my current world. My time with my son and his well-being are paramount for me, meaning, really, that as a full-time working mom, I don't have extra time yet to spend with someone just to get to know them, in the hopes that they might be eventually deemed good enough (a VERY HIGH BAR to clear) to ever even be introduced to my son. The people I spend time with away from my son already have to be very well worth it, and even they get put on the backburner if I haven't had enough 1:1 time with him recently.

The other part of this is I was never very good at "dating" before, either. I struggle with superficial contact and conversation. I jump pretty quickly from, You like me? to Let's have a relationship, forever!Truly, it's unintentional, but I get ahead of myself and also duped a lot. So the trust I may once have had in the process and others, is pretty much nil at this point. There are things I'm doing to build it back, but it's a pretty tall order.

I'm paying attention to friends who are on a similar path, other solo moms who have the courage, or crazies, to get out there even against all odds. And, keeping myself open for the possibility of meeting someone just by, you know, meeting them. Not by forced circumstances. At least not yet. We'll see...

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Lonely, or lost?

I am both an extro- and intro-vert. Very extroverted in situations where I am working, in charge, or have some comfort, control and/or knowledge. Very introverted when I don't. Even though I struggled for a performance career for 20 years, I have never been very comfortable in the spotlight or as the center of attention. So when I made the decision to have a baby, I struggled with the attention around my decision, and then the attention while pregnant, and ultimately when I had the cutest baby on the planet. But while I struggled with too much then, I find I am frustrated with too little now. And maybe it's not so much attention, in the "Look at me!" sense, but more in that I just don't feel very visible to those around me. Maybe it's more that time is just passing, that my boy, while still adorable, isn't a baby anymore; that I am getting older, am frequently frazzled, and am not performing in a way that is impressive to anyone, any longer. I seem to have lost any shine I once had, and capture no one's attention. This is not to say that the people I see everyday aren't a little curious about or interested in my boy, mostly they are. But he's just getting more independent every day, and when babies turn into somewhat self-sufficient preschoolers, the world's interest shifts.

All of this to say, quite inelegantly, that I am struggling with my loss of self and career and artistry, and my lack of true and near friendships. Until recently, I believed this huge family of mine, many of whom live nearby, would replace my need for external friendships. I have been expecting more friendship and togetherness from them for most of my life, but realize now that isn't exactly what has evolved. We are family, and love each other of course, and we do a lot of family things together - mostly birthdays and holidays. My sisters and nearby (girl) cousin are all married with families, and have pretty solid groups of local friends, and my brother is pretty independent with his own friends. While it's disappointing that things have turned out this way, at least I'm finally starting to be free from that expectation. But because of my introvert self, I still am unable to figure out what to do to build my own community. Other than having a really beautiful, smart, funny little boy, I don't have much to offer or bring to the table, or at least it feels that way right now.

So, hobbies? meetup groups? mom clubs? I am told by mom friends, that once my child gets into school there will be playdates and from playdates often come parental friendships. I hold out some hope there, and that sometime soon I'll figure out what makes me creatively tick, now that singing and performing are no longer a part of my regular equation. And the current season brings lots of family events, so we'll fill our time with those. Lots to consider.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Getting back on track

About 8 years ago, in a period of about 6 months, I lost 3 people incredibly dear to me. Right after that, I was laid off from my job of 5 years. For much of that time, I was a wreck, and I found myself crying randomly and a lot. I've always dealt with some level of depression and social anxiety, but with the skills I learned in therapy, could usually find my way back to the surface. This time though, I was so deep into my sadness that I could find no way out on my own, and I knew it was time to get help - so I went on an anti-depression/anxiety medication for the first time in my life. My plan was always short-term, a year or so, along with therapy, to get back on track. I did get back on track. But for sure 1 year turned into about 3. Then I decided I wanted to have a baby, and figured with the odds already stacked pretty high against me I needed to try to get as healthy as I could and part of that was to go off the meds if possible. All of this I did with medical and therapeutic support, and it worked, and I felt fine.

Now, 3.5 years into being a mom, I've faced some of those feelings again - for a few months now - and have been considering going back on the meds. Until recently, I've been able to bring myself out of the deep, so I reconsidered. But in the last couple of months it's gotten increasingly worse, and deeper, and is much harder to bring myself back to the surface. So, again with the guidance and support of my therapist and doctor, I have made the decision to go back on the meds.

I write all of this here not for any reason other than this is part of me and my life, and as a mom now, I am responsible for so much more than just me. I need to be the best possible version of myself for my family, and to be clear, that is not who I've been over the past few months. I do not want my son to remember his childhood with an impatient, angry, shrew of a mother, and I've slowly devolved into just that. Part of it is that he is living his crazy 3's, but my responses have been far more reactive than he deserves or than I want. Another thing I am becoming increasingly aware of is that as an adoptee, I have lived much of my life unknowing certain things about my genetic history. I know a lot more now than I used to, but I think I have always felt that my depression and anxiety have been fixable, and self-induced rather than being genetically predisposed. I have a different idea now, after having had some kind of contact with various members of my bio family for the last 16 years. I am looking at things differently this time, and possibly considering the longterm. We'll see.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


On Friday night last week, after a seemingly normal pick up from preschool and dinner, my son came limping out of his bedroom and told me his "foot wrist" (ankle) hurt. I didn't really give it much thought and sort of figured he was making more of it to get a bit more of his cupcake. By the next morning we were headed to the ER, where they determined he has a broken ankle. No obvious trauma, and I have no idea how it happened, or when. And, apparently it's typical for the x-ray to not really show much in kids his age, because the foot isn't totally formed yet. But that since he refused to put any weight on it, they consider it a high likelihood of a break. He charmed the staff at Children's, got a boot to immobilize his foot - and some stickers - and away we went. 4 weeks of boot wear ahead of us, and by day 2 I was already exhausted. He has enormous amounts of energy normally and I keep him really active to burn it all off by bedtime. Now, however, he is overwrought by the end of the day and all that extra energy is keeping him from sleeping well (and me too, as it turns out).

I have an elevated sense of stress and anxiety about him right now, partly because my baby is broken, and that's just no good; and partly because it throws a wrench into our already fairly precarious routine. He's ornery and not sleeping well, which always makes me the same. I am hopeful that he'll get used to the boot, and I'll get used to him in the boot and we'll move through the next few weeks with ease.

Monday, June 27, 2016

No more shame

Yesterday I took my son swimming at a local indoor pool. The one half-hour weekly swim lesson has just hardly seemed sufficient time in the water for my boy, especially noting that in the last couple of lessons he has started to have fear of the water, which was a new development - and I attribute it to not enough exposure. I have relied on my brother to take him a few times, and he's always had the best time. My brother is a swimmer and a great teacher, and just very patient. I'm not really. And most of that has to do with feeling absolutely body-ashamed in a swimsuit. I actually love to be in the pool, and have missed out for years. Because, again, I am ashamed of my body. In the past few months, however, I promised myself that I would do everything I could to both love my baby-producing body (when it was 41 even) and gain the courage to try again, at least for my kid and maybe also eventually, for myself. It wasn't easy, in fact it was terrifying. But other than the chaos that comes with managing a 3 year old through a locker room to a swimming pool, it was okay. Sometimes having this active child to focus on and no time for personal care, is a bonus. I literally had only the presence of mind to keep him safe, not hold in my stomach. The world didn't end. No one pointed or made fun of me (at least not out loud) and we had fun. Only for the hour-long family swim, and thankfully, not very many people were there because it was a stunningly beautiful day outside. But still, I did it. And I'll do it again.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Finding Balance

When I was trying to get pregnant, I would think of all the things my child and I would do and experience together, and all the opportunities and activities I would make sure he/she had access to, just as soon as he was old enough. Then when he was an infant, I was excited for when he was old enough to start lessons for sports and music, when he'd be reading, when he could count. And now that he is starting to be at that point, I am finding myself pulling up those reins and trying to slow it all down. Of course. Now, when I fill up our weekends with activities and visits and events, we get to Sunday night exhausted and I wish I'd taken the time to just be together, to rest, and recuperate from the long week before. Striking the right balance is hard. And because he's an only child, anytime we have the opportunity to sustain or build our village, I just feel we have to take it. I actually get anxious about missing out on time with friends and family, and mostly on his behalf. But as we approach summer and all the fun things that come with it, I am trying to strike a better balance, and to advocate for it for him - and even with myself for me. It's a challenge. I'm learning that 30 minutes of play by himself, with his toys, in his room, is absolutely critical for him to decompress; that he still digs a stroller walk at 3.5 because it's just the two of us and it's relatively quiet and relaxing; that popcorn and a movie from the couch is another form of quiet time together; reading stories on his bed helps him learn but also helps him concentrate. All of these things are equally critical to exercise and activity and social interaction. So now I strive for balance, for us both. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Single Mom? Are you really?

My little boy and I had a playdate with a recently divorced girlfriend and her two kids the other day. We actually had some time to talk (thankful for cafe with the tables of toys) and the conversation got around to dating. Or rather, the conversation got around to getting around to dating. As she finds herself single again, but this time with children and an ex who is still frequently present because of the kids, she's trying to figure out how dating works now - how to find the time and capacity to date. She in turn has a girlfriend under similar circumstances with kids who seems to find no problem dating, but who also declares that she's now a struggling, single mom. And as she starts to navigate the world of divorced moms, she has become totally aware of the differences between single moms - by choice, and single moms - by divorce or separation. It's something choice moms often struggle with when trying to relate to other moms.

Most of the time when having a child with someone else, the natural (and often legal) result is co-parenting and shared finances, a divvying up of responsibilities to each for the household and care of the children. There are obviously some for whom this doesn't happen - some parents are left behind to shoulder it all. But mostly, even if contentiously, there are 2 parents and each is involved to a degree. When you choose to become a mom (or dad) on your own, you are literally on your own. Even with promises of, and actual, help and advice from family and friends, every single decision and responsibility are yours. All of them, all of the time. There is literally no break from being the solely responsible person for your child's life, ever. And that is a lot to shoulder. So it's understandably frustrating to hear a divorced, co-parenting mom say that she is now a single mom, or even more frustrating to hear from a parent who's partner is, say, traveling for work, suddenly announce on Monday how tired they are because they're a single parent for the week, or from the mom who's husband is physically present but emotionally checked out of the marriage say she is doing it all on her own. Parenting is hard all of the time, regardless of partner status, but it is a very different thing to choose to solo parent with zero financial, emotional or 'parenting' back-up from another.

I hear this kind of thing a lot, but I got over correcting folks a while ago, probably because of my own lack of capacity. So it was really heartening to have my friend acknowledge that she knows the difference. She sees it and understands it. And in turn, I understand she has her own set of mama struggles. Some similar, some different. We all do.