When Your Son Gets Caught Stealing…

Storm    My ten-year-old son stole money the other day from his father.  He was spending the weekend with his dad, and he was playing Fortnight.  His dad put his credit card in to allow him to buy more supplies.  My ex did not log off, and our son, seeing he still had access, charged another $60.  When asked why he did it, he answered that he wanted to get the same things he friends had.  He saw an opportunity and he took it.  My ex was devastated. They had always been buddies, pals.  My ex called me right away, and he confessed that my son’s behavior was getting out of control there.  He was being disrespectful to him and to my ex’s girlfriend.  I tried to be sympathetic and part of me just wanted to say, “Well, this was on your watch…”, but I know none of those things will help our son.

“I just feel like he doesn’t respect me,” he said sadly. Again, I tried to feel bad, but here is a man who stole money from me, refused to get a job, secretly ran up $30,000 in credit card debt, does not provide me with child support, foreclosed on a home that was still in my name, and just recently told me that spending every weekend with the boys was just too much for him.  It took every fiber of my being to stay silent.  Now is not the time for finger pointing and name calling, I thought.

This is such a tough job, and it is even more difficult to co-parent with an ex, his girlfriend, and my boyfriend.  No one ever talks about that.  Divorces happen all of the time, and I never read anything about the trials and tribulations of trying to meld a new family together.  As a child of divorce, I try not to do what my parents did.  My dad remarried and had two more children.  My brother and I were the step-kids from a previous marriage and we were treated as outsiders.  We did chores every week, while my two new brothers did nothing.  We had strict rules and regulations, while they were allowed to do more.  We felt unloved and we watched through a fishbowl while my father moved on with his new life.  Our mom, on the other had, married a man who did not have children. They also chose to not have children of their own.  Instead they saw us when it was convenient as they traveled throughout the world.  We were secondary in their lives, the thing they did one weekend a month or that special week down the shore every year.  We did not belong there either.

Now I am trying to navigate through these same waters and I don’t want to make the same mistakes.  My ex’s girlfriend has two children from a previous marriage.  My boyfriend does not have any children.  I have a great relationship with my ex’s girlfriend, so as soon as I was told about my son’s behavior, I called a team meeting.  I sent out a text to her, my boyfriend, and my ex saying that we needed to meet to discuss these recent events.  My ex’s girlfriend is totally on board and so is my boyfriend.  Radio silence from my ex.  We are all meeting for dinner on Wednesday to talk about how we are going to proceed as a blended family.  We are going to have to discuss how we are going to co-parent these boys through these trying times, and we are on on board except for him. His silence in all of this is deafening to me.  I am not sure how Wednesday will go, but it should be interesting to say the least…

The Single Mom Life

happy-2681243_960_720I want to change the stigma that goes hand-in-hand with being a single mom.  I want to lift off the caked in belief that a single mom is always struggling.  Yes, we work hard, but I don’t think we work any harder than some women who are married.  Let’s be honest.  Even when I was married, I did everything.  This is not an understatement.  The transition from living with my ex-husband to being completely on my own was nominal, so I know that many men do not carry their weight, especially when you have an amazingly competent wife.  My struggles to make sure that the laundry was done, dinner was on the table, and the house was not a mess were all the same.  So people need to stop assuming that single moms struggle any more than married ones.

I am also doing well financially even though my ex-husband does not contribute one cent towards raising our children. I am completely self-sufficient. I also do not rely on any boyfriend to help me financially. I have an amazing job in a great district as an English teacher. I have the equivalent of two Master’s Degrees.

I am happy and I am not remarried. I did not rush quickly into another relationship. I did not bring a torrent of men around my children as I secretly interviewed them for the job of step-father.  I did not even date for the first two years after my divorce, and my boys only met my current after five months of dating.

My words here are so defensive. My wounds are so apparent as I sit and type them, but I am not going to delete this vulnerability from the page because someone might need to see this.  Perhaps there is a single mom out there who also feels judged.  Maybe she too feels like no matter how hard she tries, she feels that others are secretly grading her or assuming that she is not enough.  There is the constant striving to be the worth of two adult parents in one. The constant motion forward to make sure that nothing is forgotten , no experience is missed, no lesson goes unlearned because that will mean she failed. And this is what I do not want to do, what I cannot do. I cannot screw up because it may cost one of my sons in some unseen way that has yet to transpire.

Let me know your thoughts, advice and fears.  Would like to know that I am also not alone.

Mortality and the Empath

Last night I had a really difficult conversation with my two little boys. I told them that I was going to another funeral.  This is my third funeral in just one month’s time, and I have to be honest, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the thin line that separates us from life and death.  As an Empath, I feel so many things, and the one thing I know deep within myself is that we are all connected. I know that when I die, the part of me that connects with this Universe will go back to its metaphysical state.  It is only my physical self that will be gone, but my physical self is doing a really big job right now: taking care of my boys.

Flowers-Wallpaper-HD-Photos

When I told them that I was going to another funeral, my seven-year-old looked at me with melancholy eyes, “I don’t want you to ever die, Momma.”  I put my hand on his cheek, and I wanted to tell him that will never, ever happen, but there was something in me that stopped the words from forming.  It was the piece of me that knows the stories of children who lose parents and they never recover, they never move on.  The death of the parental figure scars them for life, and they become stagnant and filled with fear.  My ex-husband was one of these people.  His father died suddenly in his sleep after his 42nd birthday.  My ex-husband was only 14 years old at the time.  He was damaged by this loss and also from the reaction of his mother.  She shut down and went into herself.  She convinced her boys that their lives had changed for the worse and there was no climbing out.  She taught my ex-husband that life is unfair and it needlessly takes the ones we love.  She taught him that the death was the end of everything and needed to be feared and fought.  She raised a man who was negative, dark and afraid.  I was scared that if something did happen to me, the boys would not be able to see the world in the right way again.  I felt that this was one of those moments that I could teach them something they could use if the worst happened.

“Well,” I answered, “I do not think that is going to happen for a long, long time, but here is what you can do if it does.”  My ten year old looked up from his Pokemon cards.  “You can know that you are not alone and that I am always with you.  You can know that all you have to do is say my name, and I will find a way to be with you, even if you can’t see me.”

“But how will we know you are there if we can’t see you?” One of them asked.  It was a good question.

“You will feel me there,” I answered.  They both raised an eyebrow.

“No, really, Mom.  How can we know?”  They both asked at once.  I had to really think and then it came to me.

“I will send you a sign,” I said.  “What should it be?  If you call for me, I will be there and you will know you because I’ll give you this sign.”

“Hmmm,” my oldest started.  “You mean like a street sign?  How about a stop sign?”

“No,” I said.  “It has to be something like a bird or a penny in the street. ”

“Oh, ok, how about a butterfly?”  He pointed to the butterfly tattoo on my ankle.  “Whenever I see a butterfly, I will know it is you.”  I nodded in agreement, and we all determined that this would be the sign.

“So this way you can know that I will always be with you and looking out for you no matter what.” The boys seemed okay with this idea and we moved on to talk about simpler things. The next day was a play date with my son’s friend, Jake. Ellen’s 60th birthday special was on again today.

The conversation moved on, but I am still stuck in my head.  Is it wrong to discuss these types of things with two young boys?  Does it do more harm than good to have conversations about morbid what if scenarios?  Will I truly have the ability to send a sign when I am gone?  I still don’t have the answers, but I hope that I in some way made a tough situation a bit better for them.  Perhaps someday, many years in the future, when they are grown and old and I pass on, they will be sitting somewhere sunny and a small butterfly will land next to them and they will think of me.

What’s Your Language?

Yesterday I took the Love Languages Test.  I found it really interesting and truly accurate.

I few years ago, I read the book and made my best guess as to which language was my top one.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, here is description I took from the Love Languages website:

  1. Words of affirmation: These are things you say that are encouraging and affirming. I imagine that they are complimentary in nature as well.  Things like, ” I am so proud of you.”
  2. Acts of Service: These are things one can do for other people: cutting the lawn, taking out the trash, making dinner.  These acts service help the other person in some way with seemingly mundane tasks.
  3. Quality Time: This is time spent with another person where each person is actively listening and engaged with the other.
  4. Gift Giving or Receiving: This involves a tangible object that is given as a gift. It does have to be something big and expensive, but it shows thought.
  5. Physical Intimacy: The site was clear to state that this does not have necessarily involve sex, but it could include hand holding, hugging, cuddling.

Before I took the test, I already knew that a big one for me was Words of Affirmation.  A score in any one area can go as high as 12.  Words of Affirmation scored a 9.  This was followed by Acts of Service which scored an 8.  The final of the big three was Physical Intimacy with a score of 7.  Gift Giving/Receiving ended it all with a 1.

Again, I was not surprised by the way my scores played out, but it did start to give me additional clarity.  Some of my miscommunications with my boyfriend and children may stem from the fact that Gift Giving/Receiving is probably a much higher number for them.  My boyfriend gives me gifts all of the time, but he often finds it difficult to verbalize his feelings.  It’s important for me to put my feelings in check after I write him a detailed message about the reasons I find him so amazing and all I get is a t-shirt.  It also helps me to explain to him why he may feel like he is doing everything he can to help me feel loved, but I am being needy and distant all at the same time.

The other part of this text that I absolutely loved is the idea of a Love Tank.  We all have one and it is on various levels of filled and empty through the course of any given day.  My son running up to me just to kiss and hug me “hello”- Love Tank full.  My other son complains about the dinner I just made for our family- Love Tank empty.  It is not only important to know which language makes you feel like your tank is full, but also the language of your partner and children so they can feel full.

Overall, when we look at love as a reciprocal thing that has pre-conceived conditions for each person, it can give us more control over how we feel in our relationships.  Perhaps my not feeling loved is merely a matter of perception.  Or when I see how my son feels love simply by a small gift I procured at the store, I can know that his Love Tank is full.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?  Giving and receiving love…what could be simpler?

Click on the link below to find out what your love language.

http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

Additional Resource from fiercemarriage.com:

Sometimes- A Break for Some Poetry

Sometimes I realize how close I am to the ground.

So close that I can see very small stones and pieces of dirt that I know taller people can’t see.

Sometimes I become very dissatisfied with myself and the fact that I often wear jeans twice in a row without washing them.

Sometimes I see people talk.

Their lips are moving in a fish-like motion.

They even look like fish…

large Angel fish, the kind that always rip the other fish to shreds and pluck out their eyes.

Then in the tank, you have these eyeless fish floating through the water.

They lack any real direction until they bump into glass walls.

Sometimes when people talk to me

I watch their teeth and their tongue moving back and forth, up and down.

Their words are soundless. Their eyes are bright.

There are no Angel fish to pluck them out.

Promposals

Prom2As a high school teacher, I am privy to many strange adolescent activities, but there is nothing like the fluttering of prom season.  Every year students wait for it, plan for it, dream of it, and every year it comes and it goes with a sea of limousines and multi-colored fabrics and flowers.

Though all of this is perennial and one grows accustomed to the excitement and whirlwind the prom creates, there is nothing to compare with the newest of adolescent incantations: the Promposal.   Teenage boys are now required to ask females to the prom with a pomp and circumstance that rivals a wedding proposal.  January through February now brings carefully lined up flowers that spell “Prom,” tea lights surrounding large posters that ask the question: “Will you go with me?”, and lockers filled with chocolate candies with wrappers instructing the young lady to go out to her car where she will find her boyfriend waiting with a dozen roses.  This entire practice makes me sick to my stomach.

“I love it,” my coworker says as she opens her laptop.  “These girls have power and they’re using it.”  She smiles as I shake my head.  She starts to type.

“I am not seeing how this shows strength at all,” I answer. I have now turned my body in her direction.  My coworker is a strong woman.  She speaks her mind, she stands her ground, she never backs down from a fight, so if she sees this as a power move, I am curious to know why.

“It shows that the boys have to jump through hoops to get them. If they want them to go, they have to do something special, to win them,” she adds.

“I still don’t see it,” I answer.  “This jumping through of hoops just seems prissy and archaic.”Prom3.jpg

“No,” she answers. “It’s power.  We have it and these girls are using it.”

At this moment, I am still questioning this.  A woman’s right to make men do certain tasks to get what they want could be seen as power. It could also be seen as a chance to encourage the male/female hunt.  Could Promposals be a great equalizer or just another way for girls to act like a prize to be won as opposed to a person in a relationship?  Do we want to encourage our males to be with females who need to be put on a pedestal and jumped for instead of just asked and appreciated?  Do we want to encourage our girls to be a product instead of a person who also wants to attend the same social event without all of the social conventions?

 

 

Single Mom Life Part 2

In his novel The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom writes, “All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.”

When I first read this, I was in my early 20s, savagely blaming both of my parents for my myriad of hurts.  I felt as if I were the final description, the shattered glass on the floor, broken beyond repair.  I have since learned that this damage is reversible.  I have painstakingly tried to glue the pieces back together in a pattern of my own.  I choose to look at the glued pieces or scars in a positive way, knowing that the light would refract differently off of me if I were still one piece.  Perhaps the repaired cracks are stopgaps.  I am more caring and empathetic to those who are also looking at their scattered remains.  If my glass was clear, I might not be so open.

Now that I am an adult with two little boys, I read this quote differently.  I wonder with each misspoken word what my smudges will look like. I can only pray that I have not nor will I crack a part of them.  Despite my eloquent twistings above about my repair job, I hope to leave this life without causing such damage.  I want only for my imprints to be easily cleaned away with some Windex and a fresh paper towel.  The rest of the world can leave its mark on my little guys, and I know that it will.  Their glass will be bumped and jarred and marked up by a multiple of hands that I may never even meet. Their first love, their bosses, their teachers, their friends…all of these individuals will have a chance and when they do, I want my sons’ glass to be as intact as possible.  There is a strength that can be had in the cracking of the glass.  There is a benefit to knowing how hard you can be hit before you crack.  Both of these things are true, but I believe that my job is to help them through the hits, not be the one who is doing the breaking.

I am sure that I will continue to make my fair share of mistakes.  Greasy, peanut buttery fingerprints will be streaked down their glass from my fingers. I am sure of it.  At the end of the day, I still want to be able to say that the damage I did was wipeable, washable, dissolvable.  I only want them to truly know that they are loved.