Single Mom Life: “Let’s get you skinny!”

The above quote was said to me by my eight-year-old son.  My son is eight going on eighty-five, and he loves his lists.  After hearing me gripe about not being able to go running because of the 22 degree wind chill, he decided to come up with an indoor workout we could both do.  Apparently, the workout involved his own hand-crafted moves including, but not limited to, the whale, the turtle, and the anchor.

I was intrigued and also a wee bit flattered that he would go to such lengths to help me out, so I agreed immediately.

“Great,” he said as he started to bolt down the steps.  “I will go get everything ready.  Let’s get you skinny!”

The words hit me as I heard him jump to the final step.  Does he think I’m fat? Has my terrible body image infiltrated our lives to the point that my youngest son feels he needs to help keep me on track?  All of these thoughts started to run through my mind all at once.  I wasn’t sure if I should address it or just let it go because I was not really sure what to say. I did not want to discourage his momentum, but I also had to know where that statement came from.  I am certainly not getting “Mom of the Year” if  I have made my son feel that is all I care about.

I walk downstairs and he has taken all of the pillows off of both couches and is piling them around the room.

“Hey, buddy,” I said as I approached.

“Hey, Mom,” he said as he continued his work, putting my arm weights in the corner of the room.  “That’s going to be the Arm Station.”  I smiled.

“That’s really great,” I said, “but can I talk to you for a second?”

“Sure, Mom.” He stopped working and looked at me.

“Buddy, I was just wondering why you think you have to help me get skinny.”

“Because that’s what everyone wants,” he said.  “I want to get skinny, too.”  I laughed.  My son was a rail.  Despite how much I feed him, he continues to grow taller but no fuller.  You can see his ribs.

“You don’t need to get any skinnier,” I answer.

“Ok, well, we will just get you skinnier, then,” he said.

“Buddy, no,” I replied. “I don’t want to get any skinnier. Mommy just wants to get healthier and stronger.” I felt like this was a profound revelation for me.  Yes, I thought, this is really all I want.

“Oh, okay,” he said.

“Does that make sense? ”

“Sure,” he answered.  “Can we start Jonah’s Spectacular Workout Program now, Mom?”  I nod my head and tell Alexa to set the timer for 20 minutes.

Like so many, I battle every day with how I feel about my body.  I have worried that my negative views of my own body would affect my children.  At 42, I think I am finally ready to live in this world of just being healthy and strong, but I am still afraid that the damage has been done.  In all fairness, I am not the only one to blame.  You cannot turn on the television or tune into the radio without a constant barrage of ways to get skinny.  Living in a country where over half the population is obese, weight loss has become a money making machine.  Whatever the cause, the symptom is my eight-year-old is concerned with getting skinny whatever he thinks that means.

 

 

Single Mom Life: Pimples & Pubic Hair

My son Cole is only 11, and I recently saw two emerging pimples on the left side of his nose.

“Oh,” I said, “You’re getting pimples.”  I said it lovingly because I realized that this is his ascent into puberty. “Can I pop them?”

“No,” he said with shock.  “Why would you do that?”

“Come on, Cole,” I said chasing him around the kitchen.  He ran to his room and shut the door.  “I can at least put stuff on them.”

I was less tactful when I saw that he is starting to get pubic hair.  He was getting ready to get into the tub.

“What the heck is that?” I ask as I squinted my aging eyes at his nether region.  He covered himself quickly. I had inadvertently shamed him.  “Cole,” I continued ignorantly, “You have pubic hair.”  Since then Cole has been locking the doors of the bathroom and won’t even let his brother near him when he is changing.

“Mom, what’s wrong with Cole?”  Jonah asked as he pushed against the locked door.

“Nothing is wrong with him,” I responded.  “He’s just growing up.”  My eyes filled with tears as I stare at the locked door, too.

When did my little boy’s body start to morph into one I did not recognize?  When did his body become completely off limits to me?  I knew I was no longer allowed to comb his hair or straighten his shirt, and come to think of it, he hasn’t needed me to do those things in a long while, but when did this begin?

He still sleeps with his stuffed puppy. How can this be congruent with a growing boy’s body?  Tears ran down my face and I wiped them away knowing that this was a train that could not be stopped…should in no way be stopped.  This was going to be a painful growing experience for the three of us.

As I started to rise from my seat, the bathroom door lock popped open and Cole peeked his head out.

“Mommy?”  He called.

“Yes,” I answered.

“Can you help me? I tried to pop my own pimples because they are getting so big, but I couldn’t do it.  Do you have that stuff you were talking about?”  I nodded my head and went over to help him.  In his fragile state, he let me kiss his forehead like I have done since he was a baby.

“Okay, so you have to be really careful when you do this,” I began…

woman carrying baby at beach during sunset

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Single Mom Life: A Little Poem for This Cold Morning

My Son

Sometimes my son squeaks

He points and gesticulates wildly

trying to get his point across

He can speak

But, at that moment, he chooses not to

For an entire day

I go back and forth–worrying–maybe this is the time he stops talking altogether

Do I force words from his lips, from his heart

Or do I let him continue to purse his tiny lips and emit a high-pitched, squeaky sound, like a large mouse?

But I like it…I like the way his blue eyes shine when he is trying to tell me something but his self-imposed edict does not allow him to do more than squeak.

Please—he seems to say with only a look–Please see me

silhouette photo of man leaning on heart shaped tree

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

 

 

Single Mom Life: For Whom the Bell Tolls

I set the mousetrap and it worked.

I knew it would be effective. I never doubted it’s ability.

My mind teethes on pride and sadness.

The trap was flipped upside down.  The body laid beneath.

I asked/begged the boys to join me as I took the thin plastic bag, which was going to act as a final resting place.  I wondered it the sealed bag would stop a smell from forming.

I told them not to look.

“Why are we standing here?” My oldest asked.

“Because I need your emotional, physical, and spiritual support right now,” I answered.

“I’m here for you, Mommy,” my youngest sang out from behind his forearm that covered his eyes.

“Thank you, baby, I really need you guys right now.”

“We are still talking about a mouse, right?” My oldest asked again.

I turned my head and opened the cabinet door, peeking in the through the crack. I slid my arm through and grabbed the back of the trap.

I double bagged the corpse, just in case.

I threw it away in the garbage container in the garage.

Jonah hugged my waist as I walked back inside.  “I love you, Mommy,” he whispered. I kissed the top of his head.

“Are we done here?” Cole asked before he headed back upstairs.  I nodded.  “It’s okay, Mom,” he said seeing the sadness on my face.  “You had to do it.”  I nodded again and went back to the kitchen to set another trap.

Everyone says where there is one there are more, and I found more droppings in the second drawer.

hanging christmas bells decors

Photo by Ilya Bessonov on Pexels.com

Single Mom Life: Mousetrap

When I was a kid, Hasboro created a game called Mousetrap.  I begged my parents to get it for me, and I promised that it was something I needed to survive.  The picture on the box showed a complex construction that promised fun for hours.  In theory, it looked like a great time.  Your character was a mouse who traveled through various pitfalls to collect more cheese than your opponent without getting caught in one of the many constructed “mousetraps”.  In execution, things did not turn out exactly as planned.  The large plastic constructs were almost too tall to be supported properly by the thin cardboard base.  Your plastic mouse character would get caught by the traps, but often they did not fall as planned and the other player would have to slide the cups over in a less than dramatic way to catch your mouse because the plastic did not spring into action the way it was supposed to.  The game I could not live without quickly gained dust in the corner of our bookshelf never to be opened again.

brown rodent on gray fence beside green leaved plants under sunny sky

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Last night I finally figured out the very real mousetrap and placed it under my sink.  I returned home yesterday only to find my new sponge chewed, a pile of plastic chewings from a bag of dish detergent pods, and poop all over my clean wash clothes.  My patience gone, I grabbed the peanut butter and a single trap.  I carefully smeared the “attractor” on the fake plastic cheese, then I pulled the heavy metal back with a determination I lacked yesterday.  In one fluid movement the bar was set and the mousetrap was placed carefully on the floor of the cabinet.

“What are you doing, Mommy?”  Jonah asked as he walked into the kitchen and saw me sitting on the floor with an open jar of peanut butter.

“I am setting the mousetrap,” I answered.

“Oh, so it’s going to kill her?”

“Yeah, I think so,” I said.  He nodded and looked at down at the trap.

“When she tries to eat the peanut butter?”  He continued.

“Yeah,” I said shutting the cabinet door.  I took the ball of baking twine out of the drawer to tie the doors to the sink shut.

“Is it going to make a noise?”

“Yeah, I think so,” I said.  I wrapped the twine around the white handles of the kitchen cabinets and tied it in a neat little bow.

“Is that so she can’t get out?”  He asked.

“No, it’s so neither of you will open the cabinet before I do.”

“Oh, I don’t like this, Mommy,” he said.  I kissed him on the top of the head.

“Me either, buddy.”  And I really don’t like this.  Unlike the game, I know that this mousetrap is going to work and by work I mean that is going to catch and capture a living thing as she tries to eat the peanut butter I laid out for her.  It is not a broad expanse of twists and turns with little cups falling from the sky.  It is a simple metal bar that will crash down on her neck because she has been lured by the smell of peanuts.

No child’s play here, Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

Single Mom Life: Ode to a Mouse cont…

I don’t think I can do it.  Last night Cole and I tried setting the traps.  It went badly.  First, the peanut butter is much more greasy than I originally thought.  Second, the metal part of the trap that is supposed to swing down unto the mouse’s neck is tricky.  I pinched my fingers twice and almost caught Cole’s pinkie when it came swinging down unexpectedly as we placed it in the lower cabinet.

“Okay, I can’t do this,” I said as I threw the trap into the sink.

“Let’s try one more time, Mom” Cole said as he pulled it out.

“I still think it’s the Universe,” Jonah said as he pulled himself up unto the counter to retrieve a glass for his milk.

“You know what, Jonah?  I really don’t think that’s it,” I replied.  He shrugged and went about his business.

“Okay, Cole, one more time,” I took the trap out of his hand.  I cleaned up the smeared peanut butter and lifted the heavy metal strap.  Cole picked up the fake yellow cheese and I pushed the metal bar into place.  It stayed.  As I held it in my hand, Cole smiled and I started to place it on the counter.  As I did, it snapped, jumping up and hitting me the chest.  Peanut butter smeared across my shirt.  I screamed a child-like scream that made Cole smile.

“That’s it. I’m done,” I yelled.  “I can’t do this!”  Cole shrugged again and walked away, his grit extending only so far.  I couldn’t blame him for walking away.  He tried.

As of this morning, I threw the traps into a beautiful Christmas gift bag under the sink.

One more day…

flatlay photography of gift and baubles

Photo by George Dolgikh on Pexels.com

Single Mom Life: Marvel & DC Comics

I grew up with super heroes. When I was younger, I ran around in Wonder Woman underwear and pretended to have a lasso of truth and an invisible plane.  He-Man and She-Ra  were on the television every day after school.  It was during my childhood that I first heard the Joker say, “You ever dance with the Devil in the pale moonlight?”

That is how I met my BF.  I looked at him and said, “You look like Clark Kent.”  At the time, I did not realize that he, too, was a fan.  We flirted over a discussion about the new Batman versus Superman movie.  I loved it.  He didn’t.

For me, it is all about the story.  Give me a great plot full of bad guy versus good guy with a few moral themes and you had me at “with great power comes great responsibility.”

This past week, we took the boys to see the new Spiderman movie.  It is an animated story about a dimension much like ours that starts to suck in other dimensions and steals the Spiderman character from alternate Universes.  Like I said, I love a good story.

This one makes Miles Morales ( I love how the word MORAL is in there) the hero:  a teenage boy growing up in Brooklyn who gets bit by a radio active spider.  The messages are amazing.

“Our family never gives up.”

“You are not alone.”

“Take a leap of faith and trust yourself.”

“We can all wear the mask.”

I think it was this last one that made my oldest son particularly reflective on the ride home from the movie.  We had gone to see the movie at a theatre in New York City.  The streets are dotted with homeless.  As we were getting to the train, one woman who was covered in newspapers reached out her arm and begged us for a blanket.  Frightened for my family, I pushed them by and ignored the woman.  I was worried about the effect this would have on them.

“Why did you do that, Mom?” Cole asked as the train hummed out of the station.

“Do what, baby?” I asked.

“You just walked by that woman who was asking for help.  We just ignored her.  Why did we do that?”

“Oh, Cole, I don’t know. I was just scared.  I wasn’t sure…” I trailed off when I saw his face.  He looked so sad and upset.

“We could have helped her, Mom,” he said.  I nodded my head.

“You’re right, Cole, we could have.”  He turned away and looked out the window.  I knew the story had made an impact on the way my son was starting to view this world around him.  I wonder what this will spark him to do or think.

Like I said, I love a good story.