Monday, March 3, 2014

Small Miracles in the Hardware Store

Did I ever tell you how I met my plunger?

I know, right?  Not many people have memorable stories about how they "met" their plunger.  And yes, I am talking about the one that fixes uh...jams...in the toilet.  I think I told y'all what I did with that plunger here, but I never told you how we met.

So, one of the characteristics of a woman who lives on her own is that she has to fix/do things that men typically do.  Oh I know, all the women's lib groups say that women can do everything a man can do and I agree with that totally.  I just believe there are things that women shouldn't have to do.  Taking out the garbage and changing the oil in the car are two such things.  I think that women are beautiful, delicate flowers and shouldn't have to smell nor touch such nastiness.

Unfortunately these thing still have to get done and so I have to do them (although since Q has become of  chore age, taking out the garbage is so his.)  I put together an elliptical machine and then took it apart after a year and a half when I gave it away - near new condition too.  I fixed the vacuum cleaner when it stopped sucking.  I try to remember to get my oil changed on time, but don't actually do it myself.  

Experience has taught me that when your toilet is jammed up, wait a while and it'll sort itself out.  But this one was snug.  It was not going anywhere any time soon.  

After work, I stop off at the closest hardware store.  And this place is huge.  Huge.  And it smells like plastic, like I just walked into a Payless Shoes.  I start to feel dizzy and disoriented.  I'm almost starting to sweat, but like a true lady, I don't sweat, so...

I take a deep breath.

"God," I say. "I'm going to need your help.  How on earth am I going to find a plunger??"

Well, listen to this.  

First aisle I stroll down is a father with his young son.  The father is distracted, talking on his cell phone.  His son has made a mess...

...of plungers.

Probably about 10 plungers, strewn all down the aisle.  Different types, sizes, even colours, all lined up just for me.  

Who says that God doesn't have a sense of humor?  That he doesn't answer prayers?

Thank God for small miracles!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I Judge People

Welcome to my bi-monthly special where I dissect my character flaws for all to see.

I think it’s important to say that I don’t have a really low self esteem, and I’m not doing this to beat myself down. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I thought I was pretty near perfect for a really long time. I was really nice to people (who were really nice to me), I only gossiped to a few trusted sources who would NEVER repeat a word of it to anyone, and I was so fricken funny, I made myself laugh all the time.

But when you’re near perfect, there’s nothing to work on. There’s no way to grow. So, I started really breaking it down. And I found that I’m judgmental. Not just a little judgmental, I’m like super judgmental.

It might surprise you (as it did me) that I don’t judge the prostitute on the street corner, or the drug addict/alcoholic begging for money. I’ve seen how tough life can be. I get how it can break you and beat you down. I’m actually surprised more of us aren’t out there trying to forget all the horrible things that have happened. If a bottle of vodka takes away the memories of being beaten to near death as a child or drowns the sadness from never being loved, then that seems like a pretty simple way to forget. And way cheaper than therapy. My heart actually aches for their broken souls. I’m sure I would be shocked by what many of them have seen and experienced.

No. I don’t judge them.

I judge rich people.

I judge smug Christians.

I judge rich, smug Christian people.

People who should know better.

People who’ve been given a second chance (and a third and a fourth, because let’s face it – God’s grace is never ending) and refuse to give others even a second glance, let alone a second chance.

I judge the people who say “Look at me, look at me! I’m such a wonderful Christian. It’s all about MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! I’m so ¬¬¬¬_________ (insert conceit…talented, pretty, rich, smart, nice)” People who forget they’re part of something bigger than them, forgetting that it’s not actually about them at all. If you have to tell people you’re talented, you’re probably not that talented (hate to break it to you).

I judge the rich Christian people who hoard their money for a rainy day, while other people all over the world are dying from simple ailments because they cannot afford medicine or clean water. I judge them for driving their rich cars, wearing their rich flashy watches while children are orphans and growing up without parents, without love, without chances to become better people. I judge them for living in huge mansions while others live in leaky huts, or door ways, or sidewalks.

The thing is – judging them doesn’t make me a better person. Judging me doesn’t make me better than them. It makes me the same as them. It makes me angry inside.

And judging others really isn’t about them. It’s about me. By choosing to judge them, I choose to see the worst in the world, instead of looking at all the miracles and blessings that surround me.

Everyone has their brokenness, for some it’s their conceit. Because believing you’re something better than you are might be the only way you can get through the day. Because loving money might be the only thing you’ve ever loved that hasn’t disappointed you. Or hurt you.

So this month, I guess I’ll work on being less judgmental.

And then next month, I’ll be perfect for sure.

For sure.

Perfect…

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Self Improvement (a.k.a I'm Not Perfect...)

I often think that I'm pretty perfect.  I mean, for me.  I'm pretty perfect for me.  I'm not like the perfect person.  And I'm not like a huge ego-maniac or anything.  I just think that after 36 years, I've pretty much learned everything about about myself that there is to learn.  I don't often seen much room for self improvement.

Maybe I'm too close to the situation.

One thing I pride myself in is my kindness.  I strive to be kind to people.  I think it's a lost art, simple kindness.

Stay with me here...it's not all self praise.  I'm almost making myself gag.

I've recently changed positions at my job.  It's been a rough two weeks to say the least.

As you'd expect with any change, I learned something about myself.

Something to improve on...

I'm only really nice to people who are...

wait for it...

nice to me.

So, I'm not actually nice everyone.  It's super easy to be kind to people who are kind in turn.  It's even easy to be kind to people who are neutral.  You know, neither nice or mean.  But whoooooo, have you tried to be nice to someone who makes you feel like you just crawled out from underneath a rock?  Have you tried smiling when someone is insulting your intelligence or questioning your ethics?

It's a whole lot harder.

So this is something I'm going to actively work on. So I can be an even more perfect version of myself.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Q-isms: The Enterprising Adolescent

Q: My friend at school is going to buy one of my Skylanders for $4.00

Me: Uh. What? No. You cannot just sell your toys. Especially for $4.00. Those things are like $15.00. They're expensive. Is it one of the Skylanders you have two of?

Q: No. It’s not actually a Skylander.

Me: What do you mean? You just said it was.

Q: Well, it’s more of an idea.

Me: An idea? You’re selling someone an idea?

Q: Okay, well it’s more of a prototype….

Me: A prototype? What does that even mean Q?

Q: I have this mechanical pencil that I stuck some things on the end of it. I’m calling it a Skylander and this kid wants to buy it. For $4.00. It’s like free money.

Me: Q. You can’t do that. Seriously. You cannot start selling your school supplies to other kids, calling them *prototypes*. You’ll get in trouble.

Q: Mommy. What would you do if you found $20 on the ground? Would you pick it up? You sure would. That’s kind of like what I’m doing.

Me: Nooooooo, that’s not what you’re doing…

Q: But the kid is okay with it…

Me: I would venture to guess that his parents are not. Unless I have a signed document from his parents stating that this child can spend $4.00 on a mechanical pencil that you have disguised as a Skylander, you'll have to save this idea for The Shark Tank, my friend...

Can you even believe it? He’s selling ideas? To nine year olds? What is next?

I am in so much trouble.

I mean, I admire his enterprising spirit...but this kid sure keeps me on my toes. I'm going to have to check his back pack every morning before he leaves for school!!


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ode to 2013 - A Great Year in Review

Well it's been a while since I've been here...I wonder if I remember how to do this...

Life has been crazy these last few months, and finding time to pour out my heart is difficult.  I mean, there's that, and I'm also addicted to Candy Crush.  Seriously.  Addicted.  It's not just blogging, I haven't read a book in months.  I remember really liking books.  Reading them, smelling them, spending the evening with them.  I miss books. 

I thought it was really important to chronicle 2013.  Probably way more important to me than you, but hopefully you'll enjoy the read regardless.  

2013 was a year of new beginnings. My momma got married (!) and my brother and his wife had a beautiful baby girl, their first (of many??) and my first niece.  I know that I'm a tad biased, but folks, I am telling you this is the most beautiful baby girl in the world.  One of the many benefits of being an introvert is the immense joy that I receive living vicariously through others.  No joke.  I couldn't have been any happier in these situations if they had actually happened to me.  

So Q and I downsized from a four bedroom, 3 bathroom house to a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom suite.  I thought I would feel claustrophobic in our new digs, but I actually found that I love the smaller space.  First and foremost, the cleaning takes me roughly 1/4 of the time to clean and secondly, it is just so cozy.  It's also encouraged me to purge and put less emphasis on *things* (and gives me so much more time to play Candy Crush...kidding...sort of...)

I started a new job.  It was such a great opportunity and I was in sooooo far over my head.  But you know what?  I made it through.  I learned that my capacity to learn new things is great, and this gave me so much confidence in myself.  I had a great year and enjoyed every second of it.  Then I got an even better job and had to decide between two awesome job opportunities.  Seriously.  Would you like this completely awesome job that you know you love, or would you like this new one that has the potential to be even more amazing?  How do you make a decision like that without thinking you might be missing out on something no matter which choice you make?

And those were just the physical life changing events.

I know, right?

All that, and some personal growth too?  What?!?!?!?!  Who gets that lucky?? 

2013 was a year of calm for me.  As a natural born anxiety case, this is really saying something.  There was no insane drama.  There was no unnecessary stress.  There was only calm.  

I spent a lot of time alone and came to terms with my introvert qualities.  I never really though of myself as an introvert, but the older I get, the more I enjoy quality time with myself.  Nothing delights me more than an evening alone.  I used to feel guilty about this - like I should be out with *people* doing *things*.  But spending time by myself has given me a deeper insight to me...and there can't be anything wrong with that.  I'd rather be alone than in a room full of people I can't relate to or having nothing in common with.  

I got to spend another year getting to know and getting to teach this wonderful child I'm blessed enough to call my son.  I can think of no greater reward or blessing in my life than my child.  Sometimes it's the smallest thing that gives me the greatest surge of pride, like when I give him something inconsequential and he says, "Thank you".  Nothing sounds better than "Mommy" and "I love you" and "Sweet dreams".  Just recently, over Christmas, Q was super sick with the stomach flu.  Amidst cancelled Christmas plans, I'm running around cleaning up his puke, and washing bedding and clothes, and checking his temperature, and bringing him ginger ale and I think to myself, "I freaking love being a mom".  Seriously, there is no greater gift than being able to take care of my child.  Gah, his whole life is ahead of him and I just know he is destined for great things and I want to give him the best beginning ever.  I just want to have a million kids and give them all the best start ever.  I just don't want to give birth to all these kids and there are sooooooo many kids out there that need someone to give them their best start.  I know that this is what I'm here on earth to do.  I don't want anyone to waste their potential because someone says they can't, or they're not worth it, or they're not wanted.  I want to WANT all those children in our foster care system, and give them love.

Oh....so corny, right?  I wish more people felt that way though.  You know, share the blessings around.  

But, C, what about the boyfriend....there must be one of those, right???

Nope.  Nope, there isn't.  And for the first time in my whole life, I can honestly and certainly say that I am TOTALLY okay with that.  Totally.  It's funny because this is a pretty significant life situation for most people - easily 2/3 of my friends are married or dating.  I mean, what would life be without romantic comedies?  What would Pinterest be without a "One Day" board?  What would Martha Stewart be without "Weddings" magazine?  Our whole society has placed a fair importance on being married, being doubled up, having a better half.  And don't get me wrong, I am so not opposed to it happening to me should that be the case, but I am so content with my life the way it is.  I am okay with me the way I am.  I don't need anyone else to complete me or my life.  I've been able to spend this time with my son.  Watching him grow and learn and be.  We have a really unique bond and connection to each other because it's just the two of us.  I remember falling asleep to the fantasy of finding the perfect man and having the perfect wedding and the perfect marriage.  Or looking at every man I passed, wondering, "Is he the one?"  And there's nothing wrong with having an active imagination, but wishing your life away is more of a waste than playing Candy Crush, in my opinion.  And I see God providing for me in a million other ways that make me so happy to be me. It's kind of like He's saying, "It's not time yet for you to have a husband, but in the meantime, would you like this blessing that will help provide for your needs??"  Uh. Ya.  Totally

I've become so much more spiritual.  And I don't mean yoga and feng shui.  Christians these days get such a bad (somewhat well deserved, though) rap about being these judgmental, self righteous, pious individuals whose belief is something so out there/naive/supernatural that makes them better than anyone else.  I don't want to be that person.  Ever.  I would agree that believing in a God who lovingly created each one of us in his image, then sent his one and only Son to die for our sins (because ugh, we are not perfect and we screw up soooo much) so that we could have eternal life in heaven where the streets are made of gold is pretty crazy.  On an almost a daily basis, I ask myself if I'm sure that's me.  And each time, I cannot find anything else that seems plausible to me.  I'm not stupid.  I've heard the big bang theory.  But at the end of the day, I choose to believe this instead.  Loving, well thought out, bigger plan, grace and mercy sounds so much more wonderful to me than BOOM!!! here we are, this organism reacted with this blob that became that blob and then millions of years later, here I am...a blob.  I try to live life like this:  Before I do anything, I ask myself two things, "How would Jesus react to this situation?" and "Will this right now matter when I'm in heaven?"  And then I try to do likewise.  At the end of the day, an eternity in heaven when I die sounds a whole lot more comforting than just ceasing to exist.

Okay, so what does that mean?  That means that when the Landlord fails to shovel my walk after a (relative to Vancouver) snow storm, I don't rant and rave about how careless and irresponsible he is for a home owner with a paying tenant (because this whole event won't matter when I'm in heaven).  Instead, I get the shovel and shovel my walk and his (because this is what I imagine Jesus would do, and while the snow pile won't matter in heaven, my reaction to it certainly will.)  I try to meet every situation with this formula.  Homeless person on the street asks for money, I go into to coffee shop and buy him a hot coffee and some chili.  He gets a full belly of food, and I know he's not buying booze (which, in my experience, don't really go well on an empty tummy).  

I don't want to judge.  I want to love.  I want my love to be contagious.  I want my love to be inspirational.  I want to be the example of someone who has been saved by grace.  If that makes me silly or naive, well I'm okay with that.  Totally.  At the end of the world, if I'm wrong, I will not regret my choice to live life the way I did.  And in the meantime, no one will (hopefully) be affected negatively by my decision.  And, I know from experience that living this way is so much more fulfilling than drinking myself into a coma or sleeping with another man who tells me, "It's just sex."

* Please note:  This does not mean I will not drop the occasional f bomb while sitting in rush hour traffic.

Phew...see what happens when you don't write for a while??  A novel comes out.

It almost seems like the end to Single Dating Mommy, because that's not what defines me anymore.  Not just the end of the chapter, but the end of this book.  Unfortunately, "Mommy" doesn't really have the same ring to it.  It's a little short for a blog title.  So I might keep the name, but I assure you, the content will not be the same.  

Will you join me in my new journey?  I sure hope so!!

And...here's to 2014!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Parenting - Actions Speak Louder

I learn so much from parenting.  

Sometimes, it's humbling.

Sometimes, it's downright embarrassing.

Since forever, Q has had a difficult time reading and writing.  He hates reading.  He hates writing.  And he has to work really hard at both.  Last year, we had the school do some testing, because I was really concerned that he has dyslexia.  Studying for spelling tests were a daily struggle and I felt like I was waaaaay out of my league.  I needed help in helping him.  The testing revealed that he was reading and writing at a grade level lower than he is in.  This spiked my anxiety.  Reading and writing at a grade level lower can be an indication of a learning disability.

Q is always so good at everything he does.  He's awesome at sports, he can do math in his head, he beats me at board and card games all the time.  Everything comes so easy for him.  I knew it must be so frustrating for him to have such a difficult time with spelling.

So I did everything I could do to help.  We studied those 20 words for hours every week.  Hours.  Like, I'm talking hours.  On average, we were spending 30 minutes to an hour every night practicing the words.  I would have him stare at the word, write the letters, say the letters - all in an attempt to help him succeed on the spelling test every Friday.  And then I would stress that it didn't matter what the mark was, as long as he did his best, I was super proud of him for doing his best.

We finally hit out breaking point.  

I called the principal.  

She reviewed his file.

She called his teacher, a learning specialist, and me into her office so we could discuss how best to help my child with his learning disability.

So you know when you take your kid to the doctor because he's super sick and the second the doctor walks into the room, your kid is fine.  Totally fine.  And you look like the paranoid, overprotected mother??

Ya.  

This meeting was kind of like that.  

It was Friday, so Q had a spelling test.  He got 26/30.  Twenty six out of thirty words that have* ie* and *ei* (and don't follow the rules).  Words like receive and believe.  And he got 26 of them right.

Pretty fricken awesome, right?

Then the learning specialist had him read...where he read perfectly at a grade 4 level.

He's in grade 4.

The LST says, "So where's the problem?"

The principal says, "Does he have a lot of pressure from home to do well?"

The teacher says, "I've brought his journal.  It's very well written."

I started to sweat.  

What was going on here???

"Yes, but we had to study an hour every night for him to get 26/30..."  As the words are coming out of my mouth, I'm trying to grab them and put them back.

The principal says, "Does he enjoy sitting and practicing for an hour every day?"

Uh, no.

The teacher says, "He should be practicing for no more than 20 minutes per night."

They all just stare at me.  

As I'm sitting there, it finally hit me.

I'm telling Q that it doesn't matter what he gets on his test as long as he tries his best, but my actions are telling Q that he needs to try harder, do better, and sit in that chair until he gets every single word right. Because as long as your best is perfect, we're all happy.  

I wanted to crawl under the table, slink my way to the door, and then run for my life.  

Suffice it to say, my son does not have a learning disability.  He has an insane mother with outrageous expectations.  We're going to practice spelling for 20 minutes a day.  We're going to read for 20 minutes a day.  We're going to celebrate (one of his spelling words, btw) no matter the results.  We're going to practice what we preach.  As long as we do our best, we're super proud of ourselves.

I'm also going to stop reading Harry Potter to him while he cries that he's soooooooooo bored and hates Harry Potter.  I'm going to stop telling him I'm doing this for his own good - to inspire his reading and if he would just listen, he would love it, and he would love reading, and he will feel passion for reading.

Like I do...

Oh...and one more thing....

Momma, you were right.

Friday, October 4, 2013

What's Pissing me off This Week - UPDATE

I was frustrated recently at the amount of angst I still have towards my ex. The problem is I really want to forgive him for being an ass so that I can be free. Seriously, folks - nothing makes me a raging b**** more than my ex. And I was thinking ‘c’mon, it’s been almost 10 years, just let that stuff go. What’s the hold up? It doesn’t matter, free yourself from the hold he has on you.’

It was then I realized I have let it all go. I’m no longer angry that he called his ex-girlfriend 10 minutes after our son was born (because they’re still friends…). It truly doesn’t matter that I was in the hospital for 10 days and he didn’t visit me once (yes, we were still together). I have even forgiven the naked pictures of another woman I found in his briefcase when I was 8 months pregnant (what…those pics? They’ve been there forever…)

I have forgiven it all.

For me.

No. I’m still mad at my ex because he continues to do totally idiotic things all. The. Time. to piss me off. I am continually trying to forgive him for the most recent act of stupidity.

Like…

1. Q’s been having a rough time with reading and spelling. It’s super frustrating for all of us. I don’t understand it, because I’ve been reading for like 30 years and it seems so simple to me. But it’s a huge deal. We’re getting help for him, but in the meantime, Mr. Ex tells Q that if he doesn’t try harder he will be kept back a year. This is horrible, because #1, they don’t hold kids back anymore and #2 Mr. Ex knows that. He was just trying to scare Q. I said, “Well, I don’t think it makes sense to lie to him. He’s stressed out enough about this without a false threat looming over his head.” Mr. Ex says, “I was trying to show him what’s at stake.” Uh, nothing then…nothing’s at stake….because you told him a lie. How about not knowing how to read a driver’s exam or a job application?!?!?!?! Those are all valid and true. But how about ENCOURAGING him instead????? I mention dropping a sport and doing tutoring instead, and Mr. Ex gets all antsy. Sure, let’s stick with the idle threats. Those are working so well.

2. Mr. Ex brings the girlfriend to Q’s hockey practice. They sit on the opposite side of the arena (away from everyone…), and he has his arm around her the whole time. They were practically sitting on top of each other. Ewww. She also came to Q’s soccer game on Saturday morning. Mr. Ex thought I didn’t see her sitting in the car, so kept making excuses for leaving the game to ‘get something from the trunk’ throughout the game. Then he had to leave the soccer game early, so he could get Q’s hockey stuff ready. The soccer game was at 11am. Hockey was at 6pm. What are we? 15??? If you want to leave the game so you can go have some *alone* time with your girlfriend, say that. Don’t treat me like an idiot and lie. Oh, wait….see point #1. Even Q says…”C goes everywhere daddy goes. It’s getting annoying.”

3. On Wednesday, Mr. Ex drops off Q at the wrong babysitter’s house. Apparently, this is my fault because I did not remind him the night before (evidently, a text the week before, and the night before was not enough). It’s also my fault because I send emails to the babysitters, and then do not tell him what we discuss. I’m going behind his back. Right. That’s right. I spend hours of my time organizing a babysitting schedule for my child and then do not tell you what I’ve organized. That makes sense. Why wouldn’t I tell you? What possible joy to I have to gain from not telling you what I’ve organized? Who would that really affect? Me??? No. You???? Nope. Q???? Yes. So why would I do that??? Why? I’m not out to sabotage my son. I organize a schedule specifically for my son’s well being. How about Mr. Ex spends his time organizing Q’s schedule and then send it back to me. Riiiiiiiight. That would happen. So now, apparently I have to remind him by phone, text, and e-mail because he gets confused by all my back handed dealings.

And I feel like I’m going to explode because in an attempt to be the bigger person….I did not say ANY of this to Mr. Ex. Nope. I kept it alllllllll inside. Deep breathing techniques have been my best friend today. And to top it off, I have at least another 9 years of this.

What am I going to do?

UPDATE: okayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, probably waaaaaaaaay too much information there. And instead of feeling better for the release, I actually feel worse. Most days are tickety boo for me, and others (like today) feel insurmountable...like I'm climbing up a mountain backwards in a hurricane. Yup. That's kind of how I feel today.