The Parting Gift

She tried. She gave it her best effort. If you know her or if you’ve heard of her then you know her best effort contained thought, action, love, maybe even a few tears and lot of her emotions as well as time. He tried. He gave her his time, shared his space, and fed her body and spirit. It just didn’t work out. That’s the thing about relationships sometimes they don’t work out. 

Where did things go wrong? They never went wrong. Things just never went completely right. They laughed, held hands, had inside jokes and shared special moments. She prayed for him. He encouraged her. All the stars seemed to have lined up. Maybe it was her insecurities or could it have been his inability to let go of the past? Perhaps she wanted more than he was willing to give. It could have been as simple as they both lost interest. Either way, whatever the reason it was over. Neither of them had verbalized their unwillingness to move forward. Their actions told the story. The time between phone calls and dates became fewer reminiscent of a couple who had been married for decades. Text messages were scattered throughout the week like the first fallen leaves in autumn.

He was kind enough to provide her with a parting gift. He did not refer to it as such but in her mind that’s what it was. For him it was a well thought out gift that she would enjoy for years to come. A gift that would bring a smile to her face and create gratitude to her heart. For her it was a parting gift which is never to be confused with a consolation prize. Neither of them were losers who needed consoling but winners who would separately celebrate the opportunity they had to get to know each other. One last hug. One last look into each other’s eyes. One last goodbye. No broken hearts. No tears to shed. No sad songs or movies. No dramatic ending. They were two people who shared a moment in time that they may or may not fully recall in a few years. 

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Are you hormonal?

How often are hormones blamed for a woman’s “attitudes”? How often do others mutter under their breathe, “she must be hormonal”? Depending on the stage of life our moods are attributed to PMS or the various stages of menopause. 

How often are men approach and asked if they’re hormonal? How often do you walk away from a conversation with them thinking, I’ll just avoid him for the next couple of days until the coast is clear? Never?!?! 

When a friend of mine decided we needed to have a heart to heart in which she danced around my new found freedom to speak my mind, her questions came back to, are you hormonally balanced? As I rolled my eyes and threw out some random justifications I reviewed the last five years of my life.

Divorced
Began working full-time after 10 years of being a stay at home mom
Moved twice
A year long custody battle
Incurred legal fees out of the wazoo
Although I’ve been working for the same company for five years I am in my third department
I have four active kids
Attended grad school for two years
I have a teenaged son (enough said)
My ex has been unemployed for about two of those five years (no financial support during that time)
I made some commitments to myself to become a better leader, mom and eventually partner. You see, I typically avoid confrontation but a few years ago I decided to stand my ground and express my opinions.

The answer to the question is maybe but why is that the first thing that comes to mind rather than reviewing my circumstances or just patting me on the back and saying, “congratulations on your personal growth and for not only surviving the last five years but excelling in school as well as work and coparenting four amazing children who are well rounded, funny, and intelligent, all while maintaining a healthy lifestyle and being a great friend to many”? 

I still wonder if I were a man would we have had the conversation at all?

I Am Not a Single Mother

I feel better already. Just typing that and saying that makes me feel great. I typed those words long ago and a couple of ladies were immediately offended. They were single moms. I can’t join their club. I don’t live the same life. I don’t have the same struggles. I would be a member of a group to whom I’m not paying dues. 

I grew up in a single parent household. My mother worked a mid shift and we ran amuck. She would get home around midnight after working long hours. When she arrived home we were snug in our beds, self tucked. Oh but the adventures we or rather they, my two older brothers, sought and enjoyed. My adventures were mild in comparison. 

There were no breaks for my mom. No weekend visitations. It was us all the time. We were always there but she wasn’t. Her days off? Sunday and Monday. There were no dinners around the table talking about our day. My alarm clock woke me up and my books put me to sleep. 

I’m not a single mom. To say so would negate the weeks, days and hours my children spend with their father. They see him weekly. He picks them up for youth, coaches their teams, attends concerts, recitals, school parties, field trips and even joined the PTA. They have extended visitation. From Thursday to Monday I’m child free on his weekends. It’s a great time of refreshing for me. 

We are coparenting. We live in different houses, cities and counties. We don’t always agree but who does? We approach life differently but who doesn’t. What we do agree on is raising our children to the best of our abilities. We’ve also agreed on mediation instead of court should we come to an impass. It happens. 

I’m not a single parent. I don’t fit in that category. My struggle is not the same. To say otherwise is a disservice to real single moms and dads who are doing life with their kids without the assistance of another parent. 

If I may be perfectly honest with you, the biggest difference from being a stay at home mom and now is I get every other weekends to myself whereas before I only had three hour breaks about once a month. 

What is a mom?

The answer to the question depends on who you ask. The answer is created in the mind and woven in the heart and is based upon perception, experience, comparisons, actions and words. When we hear the word mom some want to bow down and worship and others begin to cry for the heartache the word envokes. 

What is a mom? It could be the person who birthed you or it could be the person who paid thousands of dollars, jumped through legal hoops, answered the social study questions correctly and attended parenting classes before bringing you home. It could also be the one who agreed to take you when you were abandoned and had no place to go. 

A mom is not defined by activities such as homemade cookies, homeschooler, biggest fan, protector, supporter, chef, chauffeur, admirer, worshiper, or spoiler.

So, what is a mom? She’s you, she’s me, she’s a coworker, she’s a friend, she’s your neighbor, a teacher, a bus driver, a clerk, an addict, a CEO, a homeless person, broken, healed, she’s any female and she’s imperfect. 

She shaped you and molded you in action or lack thereof. She’s a person not a goddess. She’s real not imagined. She has hurts and challenges. She has triumphs and victories. 

Well, what is a mom? She the person you choose to honor one day a year. 

The Crutch

Lean on me til you can walk on your own
I am a temporary solution to a broken situation
Depend on me cause I am here
I will hold you up until you can stand by yourself
Let me help you
Cause it’s what I do
I will remind you that you are weak
And without me you may fall
I am your crutch
I am the thing you despise
I am the thing you need
I am a constant reminder that you are imperfect
When you heal let me go
Keep me in a closet
You never know when you will need me again
I am not your walking stick
That’s seems permanent
I am a here for now not the long run
I can never be your friend
You can trust me but my goal is to leave you one day
I am your crutch
I am meant to become a part of your past
Don’t idolize me
Don’t immortalize me
Don’t pretend I am anything more than your crutch
Lean on me
Only because you are not strong
But the thing about being a crutch is that I can’t stand alone
I need you to give me value and worth
Without you or someone like you, I am useless
I am a constant reminder of what was
I am a useless tool when you are healed
I can only hope to find another to need me
I am a crutch

Decoding women speak

I’m not willing to speak for all women everywhere. I will, however, speak for some women somewhere. Communication is the key to good relationships. We keep hearing this over and over and over again. If communicating was that easy, we would have it down by now. There are books, and videos, seminars and webinars degrees and professions all focused on communicating effectively.

I’m not charging for this. I am providing free advice on decoding how some women speak and what she means when she says some things.

First and foremost, if she asks you to do something she wants it done right now. More than likely she thought it should have been done days ago but she was waiting on you to take the initiative and get it done. But you walked past the overflowing trash can, the pile of clothes, the sink full of dishes and the dirty car among a long list of other things. Since it appears that you can’t see the obvious, she has no choice but to ask you. Highlight this part, she wants you to do it now. Right now! Not later, definitely not tomorrow and if you wait until next week expect to sleep next to flannels. The exceptions to this are if she gives you a specific date, “will you do this tomorrow?”

If asked what you are doing later, this can be interpreted in one of two ways depending on if you are single or married. If you are single, it means she is free and you should ask her out on a date. If you are married, there is probably a honey do list coming next.

I don’t feel the need to address the, “do I look fat” or “does this make me look fat”, the answer is always an immediate no. Not to quick because then she will think you are lying but without too long of a pause cause that makes it seem as though you are contemplating. You never contemplate the fat questions.

If you are having a discussion and she says, “fine”, just know it’s not fine but she’s just tired of talking about it right now. She is putting a pin in it and will bring it back up later. Trust me on that one.

When she says she’s tired and has had a long day, that means I’m not cooking or preparing a meal. You are on your own. If you want to earn some points, have a meal prepared and rub her back. Do not rub her back with any ulterior motives. Just rub her back because you care.

If she says anything that ends in again then you should rethink what you just said. Are we going there again? Are you watching football again? Are we eating there again? Are you wearing that again?

Here is a pop quiz. What does she mean when she says she has nothing to wear?
If you guessed all of her friends or the group you are hanging with have already seen the clothes she is considering, you are correct. It doesn’t matter if she has a closet full of clothes and some with the tags on them. She wants something new. You can get away with wearing the same khakis and white shirt. She cannot wear the same dress over and over again. She just can’t. It’s in the women’s handbook that you don’t know exists.

If you take my advice on one thing, let it be the one about doing what she asks immediately. She will appreciate you for the next 5 hours. You know you need to renew her gratefulness on a regular basis. If you do several things at one time, they all expire at the same time. They do not roll over nor can you use them in succession.

Consider yourself in the know.

The Enabler vs The Supporter

What is the difference between a person who enables and one who supports? Can they be one in the same? When I think of an enabler, I immediately have a negative connotation. I haven’t done any official research but in my mind and experience, enabler goes hand in hand with someone who helps another person with bad habits. Supporter is someone who is there for you and assists with getting you through a tough time. But again I ask, can they be one in the same at the same time?

Push through, ride it out the other side is victory
Let it ride, take a break, what difference will one more make
You can do it! I believe in you
I understand you don’t have it in your right now
You have been through a lot, keep your head up, you can do this
You have been through a lot, nobody expects you to exceed at everything
Life is hard but tomorrow is a new day
I know it’s not easy why don’t you take a break

It seems we need both in our lives depending on the situation. Sometimes we need someone to hold our hands and look the other way when we are not at our best and cannot find the energy to go on. Other times we need a relentless person in our lives that will push or pullĀ us towards the goal.