Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Thanks But I've Got My Own Cape

If we relied on the media to feed us our opinions - we would hate single parents. And maybe we do. But based on the stories we see in news headlines or stories streamed to us on our favorite channels, have we ever seen what it really means to be a single parent?

According to headlines and opinion pieces, single parents are either rooted in the breakdown of American moral fiber (says Jeb Bush, one big voice for the right wing moral majority) or an example of why we need better sex ed and access to birth control (Charles M. Blow of the NY Times). Oversimplified  and opportunistic at best.

If you look at movies, single moms are:

  • Well resourced, but bitter (Panic Room with Jodie Foster)
  • Women of color eligible for uplift. She is both redeemed by rich white folks who show her what opportunity looks like as well as redeemer, by providing the down to earth perspective required for rich white folks to get grateful. (Spanglish, Tea Leoni, Adam Sandler and Paz Vega) 
  • Ambitious woman of color whose career decision forsakes her fish out of water child (in this case, out of the country too) whose only chance to learn how to swim (e.g. learn self-respect and self-defense) is a working class man. (Karate Kid remake with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith). 
  • Not doing as well as they could be, if only they had a man around. Thank goodness their meddling kids can manipulate them to make it happen. (Countless titles: About a Boy, Maid in Manhattan, Jerry Maguire, the list goes on...) 
Though moms are generally met with disdain for going to work, single dads can do anything,  whether it's Alan Arkin moving his kids from one apartment to another in Slums of Beverly Hills or Interstellar with Matthew McConaughey who runs off into space to find a better planet.... 

I will give Tyler Perry credit for saying he wants to lift up single moms and what it takes to raise kids without sacrificing your values and sanity. But damn if he didn't do the opposite, right along with most other attempts I've seen on every screen.  

The trouble is, single moms don't need another movie or episode of TV to show that a man is the solution to whichever single dimension characterization you want to fill in. Yes, we know it's hard and yes it might be different with a partner, but until the right one comes along and I happen to be interested, BUGGER OFF. 

You don't see many consistent examples (though there are a few exceptions) of single moms making it happen. This strikes me as odd considering how many damn single parents are out there. That's going to change. Stay tuned, the bonus is it's going to be fun and you'll probably learn something too.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dispatch From A Velveteen Lined Rut

The stories I tell, and they're true mind you, would have any old body singing my praises as a woman who has cracked the code on the good life. And I would chuckle, nod and whole-heartedly agree. Except I don't really live in adverbs. And when I take the time to sit all by my lonesome, it is better described as hole-hearted.

Yes, I earn a semi-competitive salary, doing work that is creative and mostly dictated by me on a schedule that is flexible with a community of family and friends that make sure I can travel.

But any story is only worth the subtext. The secrets lining the vivid panorama are that I am often lonely for adult companionship. No, I don't mean getting laid. I mean a real partner in crime so I don't have to have exclusive rights and responsibilities to having my back. Or covering the costs required to make now and then happen. Being a single parent means you attend lots the family mandatory events but generally are not included in the extra curricular social stuff- the weekend outings, the summer fun. The good news is that my Dare Devil Daughter is a magical human being, so she tends to be included. The not so good news is that the feeling you remember from being excluded when you were 14 years old and couldn't help but internalize as a fatal flaw? It comes out of hiding when your favorite social media timeline reveals that you were not included in the most recent fill-in-the-fun activity.

And now our house is small so we won't really be hosting any get togethers. I get the feeling that the local moms (Dad's won't come within 10 feet unless their S.O. is in tow) find me amusing (I would) but don't consider ours a friendship worth pursuing beyond pick-up and drop-off overlap.

I get it. We are all taken up with having our lives and there aren't many resources for accommodating the skill of bringing on a third wheel. People like even numbers. Truth be told, it simply doesn't feel good. Then it gets overwhelming when I want to dream of a time when I am eligible for such camaraderie, or even the option to do it on my own and it occurs to me that raising a child on my own in the Bay Area working for a non-profit...means that we are just getting by and that sailboat or weekend cabin or mortgage are not likely.

Unless I work my ass off on the MIRACLE. Yes, I am an optimist and I believe. Except I'm exhausted and I'm suffering from short-sightitis and dog-ass-tired more often than not. I'll get over it. I'll get fit. I'll get the pages written. I'll get out there. My unicorn is looking for me just like i'm looking for him. Just not tonight.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Courage, Confidence or Crap

Tonight I am awarding myself with the Mediocre Mom award. It's the prize you give yourself when:
  • your kid has been home sick and plugged into an electronic device instead of being given any real loving attention.  
  • you've been on the phone most of the day, mostly catching up with friends about the confusion you are suffering under after a magical whirlwind weekend that your to-do list couldn't accommodate. 
  • You impatiently sprinkle lavender on the pillow and sent the poor kiddo to sleep with a YouTube meditation
  • Barely make it to your laptop, glass of grapes in hand, only to find out the Internet is broken because EVERYBODY is trying to stream the season premiere of SCANDAL.
I try not to down the wine like it's last call and give up on the streaming. The soft frustrated teary sniffles of the kiddo summon me. Off of the elliptical (everybody streams TV with wine and a workout, right?), and I report for duty. She cries it out, I suck it up and before you know it, she is super snoozing.

I've got a Godzillion things I could do and be productive or creative or both. But I don't wanna. Getting shit done is not compelling to me tonight. I'm fucking drained. I'm spread thin and flavorless like ketchup and water passing as soup. Long story short- I have to admit that I am keeping myself busy, engaging in fabulous, rewarding, smart-as-shit activities and adventures to be a good mom, a good steward, a good daughter, a good friend, a good employee, while building a handful of careers and feeding my soul with creative pursuits and magic as often as possible- to avoid the potential for finding myself lonely. The rub is that given the opportunity to connect on an adult level, let alone an an intimate sense - I'm burnt. I'm running on cheap fuel and it's low at that. My energy is being rationed.  
Like most red blooded humans with more social media accounts than fingers,  I consume the prayerful, grateful, motivating media so I know what to do: eat organic, run, surf, pray, ask the universe for whatever you want and get over yourself and get out of the way. Guess what? That shit takes time, more than that it requires focus and attention. I'll get to it, just not today.

Thanks for reading all the way through this excuse to feed two birds with one worm - writing and whining with wine.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Things I Said... Things I'll Do

When Mama was still a new name for me, I planned (based on how awesome my nephew was as a 2nd grader) to take a year off and travel the world with my daughter. I would have the money saved, we would put lie as lived it day to day on ice and hit the road!

This wasn't an original idea for me, this plan to go east in order to land west. I had first laid the ground work for it in the months before I found myself pregnant...I'd had it all worked out: I would buy a Ducati Monster (I was really hot for the Uma Thurman in Kill Bill II look), haul ass across the lower 48 then grow wings with an around the world airfare from JFK. I would globe-trot across Europe, the Middle East and Asia before I landed in Sydney where I had visions riding off into the sunset as an expat adventurer. Oh no, no, no... Apparently the Fates had other plans...

For me, taking on the title of Mama included potentially rearranging my dreams, not abandoning them. So world travel would require additional funding to cover the cost of my traveling companion. The good news is that my Daredevil Daughter adores traveling and has a talent for it.  At 17 months old she was a champ when a code red terrorist alert cancelled our transatlantic flight, forcing me to strong arm (verbally, of course) an airline employee into rescheduling us on another airline flying into a Heathrow that was closed save for the tents and toilets accommodating thousands of stranded travelers. Still not 10 years old and she's weathered multiple long hauls, red eyes, rushed transfers and the self-righteous with the aplomb of one far older. Next month she will take her first flight as an unaccompanied minor. She was shining star when I gave her Street Cred 101 as we walked through Hell's Kitchen at dusk, so I am sure she won't have any problems.
The best news is that she is every but as awesome as my nephew when he was a kiddo. This eliminates the first obstacle to my double top not so secret plan for us to touch as many spots on the globe as possible. How much it really cost? How many places can we land and not have to spend on accommodation? How do we manage in undeveloped areas as a single mom with a girl?

What do you think? Where would you go? Where would you stay?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Real Talk- It's Your Vagina Honey

This article touches on topics that are near and dear to me. They always have been, whether I was aware of it or not. Decades later I have funny stories to share that get a giggle to relieve the pain. It's optional suffering that went along with it that I want to spare my daughter. Reading articles like these both give me hope that we are making some progress and give me pause - to take catch the breath taken away by the reports of how women continue to be treated the whole world 'round.

and then you read articles like this...

what i call Cop out with yore cock out! 5 points that could be summed up with- the very essence driving my entire gender is something outside my control, removed from my influence. My response- WHAAA! Not so great explanation- no excuse. Step aside and go spank it out among yourselves while the fairer sex you so revile cleans up your effing mess.

My daughter (and your son or daughter) is receiving her resilience training in this mess- it's her childhood. The folks I was surrounded by were barely aware, let alone mindful. I'm sure I've got quite a few friends who love me but really wish can't wait until the soapbox caves under the weight of my incessant ranting. Unlikely. I am the only parent my incredible and capable and clever and beautiful daughter will ever have so I'm going to do everything at my disposal to ensure she is responsible, resilient and ready to handle whatever the ride brings her- from the great to the hate. If I have anything to do with it, she will not going to wonder if she is good enough or lovable. And she certainly won't be engaging, let alone entertaining, the thought that she deserves even a fraction of the bullshit I've endured due to low levels of the vital mineral self-esteem. Only the privileged few know of my intermittent low self esteem- so let's keep moving.

I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I do know that what I see and what we are made to suffer is NOT OKAY. So let's help our kids and our friends and our families have a better experience with their bodies so they can have half a gnat's ass of a chance at deciphering their feelings so they won't be even one of a few kinds of asshole. And if you don't have the cajones to have these kinds of candid conversations and own your place in the world - call me. I do and I'm happy to help.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Taking Words Back: Diet

When did the word diet lose its intended meaning? When did food stop being something we all have free access to? When did doctors stop healing?

Is it the chemical companies? Is it marketing? Was it when the pursuit of happiness was rerouted and the detour has become the primary route?

What do you think when you hear the word diet? Do you connect food to how your body feels and functions?  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Discounts Don't Count

"discounting their contribution to the economy"

"production for sustenance is counted as "non-production"

"An economics of commodification creates a culture of commodification, where everything has a price and nothing has value."

Now that the Violence Against Women Act has expired - the excuse of provisions for women on reservations and in the military - two groups who are the very embodiment of the American Woman - the parity between women in the so-called evolved USA and developing nations. Sexism and misogyny are institutionally ingrained and socially acceptable, where racism is generally kept under wraps and even homophobia is on the wane. One look at how our bodies are eligible for legislation and rape eludes standard definition in the courts across the USA.We are far from universally progressive by a long shot - but there are still too few willing to admit the disparities and the fact that in the USA men are "free" and women are "discounted".  

Having spent the better part of the past 20+ years creating media and at least the last 15 years in PR, marketing and advertising working with some of the largest and most influential global brands.The contradiction is striking: women are known the world over to make the majority of financial determinations in household economics. I have had to correct many quasi-feminist friends, albeit mostly male, that this does NOT mean that they have the control to determine their own financial course. In general, it means that they are tasked with spending someone else's money in order to ensure the survival of themselves and their children. 

The gap between east and west is not so great...the only difference is tone - our voice is one if you listen closely.