SHINY STUFF ON YOUR FACE

“Why do you put all that pretty shiny stuff on your face every day?” Spense asked as I smeared oils, creams, illuminators and shimmers into my skin. “Is it so you don’t get old?”

“Yes,” I said, amazed that this was in his awareness. Then I thought better of the word choice. “Actually, it’s so my skin stays healthy. There is nothing wrong with looking or or being old. Everyone get older and everyone looks older. Our job is to stay healthy.”

I was thrilled that he agreed with me.

I’m overly conscious about commenting on the physical appearances of others. I shudder at the word “hot” being used to describe attractiveness in front of my son. I cringe at the word “fat” used in a pejorative way rather than just as a descriptive adjective.

Spense has already formed opinions about physical attributes he likes or doesn’t like – we all do that. But do we need to talk about them in such a way that we hurt peoples feelings? That we set standards that make people throw up their dinner rather than nourish their bodies?

Parents can start this thinking early.  Words judging people’s appearance should be treated like swear words.

Can’t we love people for who they are, not what they look like?

 

 

 

 

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INTO THE WOODS

Spense has seen the movie Into The Woods 3 times in the last year. We love it. I mean, it’s brilliant – the show is truly brilliant. I’ve seen it many times – many productions. Spense even saw a great production of it last year in the theater.

Watching it again today I realized what a love letter it is to parenthood… the parent/child relationships are so full here- the wanting a baby to not wanting your child to grow up.  What it means to be a parent. What it means to love a parent….

PI used to relate to the Baker’s wife character – who desperately wants a baby. Now I listen to it, aching for the witch who sings “Stay with Me” to her child – the witch is the mother who doesn’t want her child to grow up and leave – yes, already, I can relate. Did you know kindergarten is from 8-3???

In the car we were listening to the soundtrack. Spense listens closely, memorizing the words, singing to himself. His favorite song is Jack and the Beanstalk’s There are Giants in the Sky, but he likes them all.

Towards the beginning of the show, the Baker and his wife have a song in which they are arguing. Spense said to me:

“Mom, aren’t they married?”

“Yes,” I replied.

He was confused and asked, “Then why are they fighting?”

#singlemom #singlemombychoice

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DAVID BOWIE TALK

I wanted to teach Spense about the legend we’ve lost. I wanted my 4 year old to understand that sometimes, people touch the world in ways that change it for everyone.

I turned on Pandora and punched in “David Bowie.” Major Tom began to play.

“When I was in school, this song was very popular,” I said.  Spense came over to the computer and sat on my lap. “This is a song about an astronaut.”

Spense seemed interested. I pointed to the small square on the screen, “and this is the singer. His name is David Bowie.” Should I have said was? His name was David Bowie? “I listened to his music a lot – mostly in high school and college. But his music is still all around. All the time.”

“Oh,” he said, starting to slide off my lap.

“He died today,” I said.

“WHAT?!?!” he said, reignited.  “Today?!?”

“Yeah.” I had his attention again. “He wrote beautiful, poetic songs. He changed his looks a lot and wore dramatic costumes and wigs and make up. And here he is with an eye patch!” I scrolled through some photos on Google Images.

bowie

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“WHAT?!?” he cried again. “And he died?”

“Yup. Here he is as an older man.”

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“But when you were little he was alive?” he asked.

“Yup. Actually he’s been alive all this time, but he died today.”

“WHAT?!?” he screamed. “TODAY?”

That wasn’t supposed to be the amazing part.

The Pandora song changed. Queen.

“This is another great band I liked in college called Queen. It was my college boyfriend’s favorite band.” I told him. “And that’s a picture of Freddy Mercury.” I pointed to the new picture in the box.

“Is he dead too?” he asked.

“Uh, well yes, actually.”

We danced a little to Bohemian Rhapsody. The song changed. The Beatles.

“This is The Beatles. You know The Beatles. They sing Yellow-”

“Are they dead?” he asked.

“Uhhh, two of them are. But two aren’t.”

Next up on Pandora –  Pink Floyd.

“Is he dead?”

Then Jimi Hendrix.

“Is he dead?”

After my informative (and slightly depressing) music history lesson and the 4 year old was sleeping, I felt strangely nostalgic for the late 1970’s. I wept a little for my tinted, frame-less glasses, my Pierrot collection, my dolphin shorts collection, my comforter with big yellow and orange poppies, my teal velour lined jewelry box that smelled like Easter candy, my eraser collection, my silver dollar collection… the simple days of no computers, cell phones or texting. Using a calendar. I ached for being a young girl in OP shirts just beginning to notice boys and waiting all week for the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys shows on Sunday nights. I  could smell the chlorine and mildew in the YMCA women’s locker room. I felt the chalk and mats and beam from my gymnastics classes. I remember spending a good hour in a hot shower with my precious three step Vidal Shampoo set- shampoo, conditioner AND finishing rinse. I remember how I treasured my lemon Love’s Baby Soft body spray, with it’s chemically lemon sting.  I remember stashing my Halloween pumpkin in my bedroom closet. I’d stick my nose in that big plastic pumpkin – the smell of the candy growing more and more plasticy through the weeks and how I savored each bite, trying to make it all last. I especially remember the snickers bars. And how sometimes I’d lick the bitter wrapper, by mistake.

I read a lot. I had a dollhouse. I had records. I made fake radio shows on a tape recorder, playing the DJ. I wasn’t allowed to drink soda, which I thought was unfair.

My dreams were big. My hopes were huge. My world was small. I was safe and secure. I was feeling and learning and scared, but also excited. It was good.

I want Spense to have this. I want him to have music that sends him back to good feelings. I want him to have a strong grasp on his childhood; to feel it to smell it, taste it, remember it. I want him to have some simplicity too. The world seems so big and so complicated. We are connected all the time. I remember staring out my window at the green leafy hedges, wondering what kind of plant it was, as spring brought apricot like bulbs and purple flowers with yellow corkscrew twisty stamens. What were they? No way to Google it back then. Do I give Spense enough time to stare out windows, uninterrupted?

I am missing my childhood so much right now. I miss my mom. I miss her so much.

Spense has been asking to go to my mom’s grave.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I want to dig her up and see her,” he said.

I tried to explain that it wouldn’t be like that. We’d just be looking at a marker with her name.

Before he fell asleep Spense said, “When we go visit Grandma’s grave can we also go see Davey Bowie?”

“Sure,” I said.

I wondered what he thought it was going to be like at the graves of these two legends…. I imagined that he was picturing the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland – with Major Tom playing loudly as translucent holograms dance around.

 

His world is magical. His own journey unfolding…

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I CAN’T WAIT

“I can’t wait till I’m a grown up,” Spense says on a pretty regular basis.

I know he doesn’t mean to say I can’t wait to get away from you, Mom.… but that’s what it feels like. I’ve spent years planning for this guy to be in my life, I devote my waking hours to him and yet….

“I can’t wait to be a man,” Spense said today. Again.

“Why?” I asked, trying not to take it personally again.

“So I can have a girlfriend,” he whispers, excitedly.

Oh, okay, so you want to get away from me so some other woman can tell you what to do. How can I not take that personally?

“What will you do with a girlfriend that you think will be fun? I ask.

“Kiss!” he whispers, shyly.

I wonder what makes some 4 year old boys dream of having a girlfriend, rather than dream of whatever else kids think about. Seriously though, this must be because I’m a single mom, right? This has to be why he’s fixated on having a girlfriend, right?!?!

“But….” I know I should just leave it alone, but I can’t… “I kiss you!”

“No!” he says, “A girlfriend will kiss better.”

And then I leave it alone.

When I tell people that he dreams of having a girlfriend, they think it’s adorable. But, it seems so strange to me – like that his unconventional family is pushing him into this unnaturally advanced direction – towards the normalcy he will choose as a grownup. OR, maybe this is normal. After all, lots of girls in his preschool play bride and have pretend weddings. Maybe he’s so secure with me that he wants to continue having relationships.

There’s the double standard; if I had a daughter, would this be less upsetting? Girls are expected to play bride; a game that I never played, actually. As you can imagine, I’m not a fan. When I see children playing marriage or wedding, I cringe. To me, it feels so gross. But I try to relax and remind myself – this is the world we live in. I am the one with the different opinion. Kind of like how my boy has a different view than I…. kid of like how he came out of the womb loving swords and sticks and weapons.

I’m working on nodding and smiling, when Spense talks about how he can’t wait to grow up and get married and leave me for another woman. I’m reminding myself that children always talk about what they will do when they grow up and just because he’s focused on a relationship instead of a career, doesn’t mean I’m a horrible mom. 😉

I wonder if this will last – will he be the boy trying to date early? Will he ever go through the phase  where he thinks kissing is gross?

Is this just who he is and will be? Or will he change? It’s quite incredible.

If he lived in a conventional home would he be so fixated?

Maybe.

Can’t know.

Whatever it is, it’s fascinating.

Nature vs Nurture. Amazing.

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ZEV…. A DATE STORY

I’d been writing with Zev, from Jdate for about a week. He was pretty flirty in our exchanges and we decided to meet in person.

“Can you meet me at The 17th Street Bar in Santa Monica?” he wrote.

“That’s kind of far from me,” I wrote back.

“But it’s a great bar,” he insisted.

So… was this a red flag that he didn’t want to meet me where I wanted or was he being a fun date planner; choosing an exciting location for our meeting?

I decided to go with the flow – that was always my philosophy. I’d let the guy choose the date (as long as I was comfortable with it) and I get to know his taste that much better.

On his dating profile, Zev said he was a talent agent. As an actress, it was an interesting thought to date an agent – though not really the most inviting. I know talent agents work very hard – round the clock. Some of them are the loveliest people in the world and some are tough and ruthless. And it’s not like it would do anything for my career to have a date with an agent…. if anything, the agents I’d met socially just told me how hard it was to make it and implied that I was most likely doomed..

I trecked across town to a Santa Monica, to meet Zev. The bar was… nice, in a dirty floors/sticky tables kinda way.

When I got there, we hugged. He was really tall and charming. He had that confidant swagger that makes guys instantly attractive; the kind you need to be wary of.

This date happened to fall under a very special time of my JDate history; the time when, on my dating profile I misunderstood the What Are You Looking For? question and instead of selecting A Relationship or Marriage and Children, I selected A Date. My logic was: how was I supposed to know if I was going to want a relationship or marriage, if I didn’t meet the right guy… like if I didn’t find the guy of my dreams, I’d just have a baby without a partner. So I’d start with a date. What I didn’t realize was, in guy code, A Date means a one night stand. This might be why I have a lot of weird date stories….

but anyway…..

Zev and I got some beers and after a few minutes of chatting, he grinned like either a half drunk idiot or a sober devil. “I’m not really an agent.”

“You’re not?” I asked. “Why did you say you were on JDate?”

“Because that’s how you get dates with actresses.” He chugged his beer and smirked.

I was a little pissed off, but mostly confused. “You would probably do better to say you are a producer.”

He nodded, appreciating the tip.

“So what do you really do?” I asked.

“I’m a teacher at a Jewish elementary school,” he said.

Didn’t see that one coming. He was kind of a jerk, but somehow still compelling.

We had another beer and for some reason, Zev mentioned he was lactose intolerant. You probably think that’s strange, but you’d be surprised how many many first dates mention their gaseous reactions to dairy. Lucky for Zev, it probably helped him keep kosher.

“I just made a batch of dairy free cupcakes,” he told me. “Seriously.”

“Ok, I believe you,” I said. I hadn’t really decided if I liked him or not. Maybe he was one of those Jewish bad boys, I seemed to be meeting on JDate so often.

If only I could send myself a text to myself back then and say “Hey! Change your dating status! A Date isn’t working for you.” But…. time travel texting hasn’t been invented, yet.

Zev and I chatted a bit more and finished our beers. After a while he said, “So, do you want to come over to my place for a dairy free cupcake? I live right down the street.”

It should have been more obvious to me why Zev had picked this location. But I was naive. All right, I wasn’t naive.  I said yes.

“Great, I’ll meet you there,” he said. “I have my vespa.”

Vespa Granturismo 200L

I reparked my car a block from the bar and went over to Zev’s.  The first thing he did was show me that he really had the dairy free cupcakes. “You want one?”

“No thanks,” I told him. And then, we started making out.

After a few minutes, Zev said, out of the blue, “You know, you will make out with a lot more guys.”

I looked at him for a minute. “What???”

He kissed me again and then said, “And I will make out with a lot more girls.”

I moved away from him. “Um, Ok. I’m not really understanding why you are saying this right now. Do you want me to leave?”

“No no!” he said. “I’m just saying you will make out with a lot more guys and I will make out with a lot more girls. That’s all.”

I looked at him for a second. What the hell,  fake-agent guy? “Why are you saying this right now? Do you need to tell me that this isn’t going to lead to anything? Because I already know that!”

He shrugged it off. “No, no… do you want to move this into the bedroom?” he was grinning again.

“No!” I said, moving away from him. “I’m going to leave now.”

He seemed amused. “Ok.”

As I moved to the door he said, “Would you like a dairy free cupcake?”

I looked at him for a second. “Yes.”

I walked back into his small kitchen and grabbed a cupcake and left.

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POST NOTE:

I was recently on a kindergarten tour for a new school for Spense.  Yeah, KINDERGARTEN! I know, crazy!

As I signed in at the front desk, I saw a name the name Zev on the list. I flashed to my date from ten years ago and…. I looked up to see dairy free cupcake Zev next to me!!!! I looked away, but knew he’d seen me.

Our tour walked to halls of the school and I tried not to make eye contact. But, of course, I did look at him at one point and he was looking at me and our eyes met then darted away. I don’t know if he actually remembered that night or the making out or the weird/rude things he said or the cupcakes. Or maybe he just thought I looked familiar, but there was some recognition.

Zev looked a lot older. He didn’t look charming or like a Jew player anymore. He looked like… a dad; old, slightly pleated faded jeans, thinning hair, lined face. I wondered how different I looked, as my pants dug into my waist.

Just funny where worlds lead us; how our pathes end up crossing, or not. He was married and his wife was with him. I was pretty sure he hadn’t used the same lines on her, that he’d used on me.

I was very aware of being the only one in the room without a wedding band. It’s always the new situations that remind me, though I’m not bothered by it. All these years later, I don’t regret categorizing myself as looking for A Date. Whatever I did to get where I am now… was the right choice.

So… will we end up at the same kindergarten as Zev and his family? I don’t know! Stay tuned!!!

 

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December Chat with a Mom: Mom Solo

Just remembering this interview… 2 years ago! I remember my sweet life with a 2 year old.
xox

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“GOODBYE, I’M LEAVING”

We were at a birthday party and a 5 year old named Kaden jumped happily in the bounce house. “Do you see my mom and dad?” he asked me and another mom, Liz.

“Yes,” Liz said, “they are over there under the tree talking to some other parents.”

Kaden nodded and resumed his jumping. A few minutes later, he asked again, “do you see my parents? Are they still there?”

“They are still by the tree, do you need them?” I asked.

“No,” Kaden said, “it’s just sometimes when I don’t want to leave they say they are leaving without me. So I just wanted to make sure they didn’t leave without me.”

You know how it goes… your child won’t leave a party, gym class, the house – whatever. And nothing you do or say works so you say…. “OK, goodbye, I’m leaving.” You don’t really mean it. You’d never leave your child at the park overnight. You just need him to come when he’s called. You need him to listen. So… you threaten to leave him. And, because he’s a small child (or a big child) he’s scared you might really leave him. So he comes.

We want our children to feel safe. We want them to know that in this crazy world, at least they can count on their parents to be there, right?

I’ve noticed a lot of parents choosing the goodbye I’m leaving method. Even parents who have chosen to never to yell at their child, feel that it’s okay to threaten to abandon them. Every word we say as parents has an impact. Why wouldn’t a child believe that their parent might leave them, if we say it?

I felt really sorry for Kaden that day. He didn’t know it was an empty threat and he didn’t trust his parents were always going to be there. That is scary to a child.

Liz certainly hadn’t thought about it this way, but seeing Kaden’s fear made her rethink everything. “I’m never going to make that threat again,” she said.

“I will never leave you behind,” I tell Spense.

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“Even if I get angry or frustrated, I will never leave you somewhere.”

 

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WHAT TIME IS IT?

I’ve lived through a lot of years and day light savings times and I sill can’t figure out how to adjust. Maybe it’s harder now that I am a mom because I’m trying to calculate how many hours we are sleeping….

Al I know is that this morning we went from waking up at 8, to waking up at 6:30.

I don’t like it.

Hope you all had a great Halloween!

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THE ULTIMATE IRONY; MY SON GOT MARRIED WHEN HE WAS 3

A four year old girl stood on the street outside of my son’s preschool, her plump cheeks splashed with tears. Spense casually held my hand as the girl bellowed, “You are breaking my heart Spense! My heart is broken!” She continued sobbing as her mom whisked her into the car and buckled her into her car seat. “I love you, Spense…” she screamed as the car door slammed. The mom gave me a feeble shrug before she drove away.

I looked at my boy. He seemed only slightly concerned with his forlorn suitor. “She just wants to marry me, but I’m ALREADY MARRIED! I am married to Georgina!”

“But you are three years old,” I reminded him.  “It’s okay to have more than one wife when you are in pre school.”

“NO!” he screamed back at me, his fists clenched and his face scrunched up hard. “I am only married to Georgina! I only have one wife!”

The majority of my adult life has involved writing about my bad dates or writing about choosing to be a single mom.

As soon as my son turned 3 he got married. Not the preschool pretending to be married thing – no. This was a passionately all encompassing obsession. Georgina was a year older. When people asked her if she and my son had a wedding she’d answer “yes, and it was magical.”

Yeah, it’s cute and sweet.  But also infuriating. I know I’m in the minority but I don’t love when girls dress as brides or kids play wedding. I feel like it’s inappropriate. It just creeps me out to see little girls dressed in white with veils. Will we ever escape from the old fashioned gender roles? I just keep thinking about how white is supposed to represent virginity and the veil represents the father giving the bride to the groom or the new groom lifting the veil in order to kiss her, which symbolizes the groom’s right to enter into conjugal relations with his bride.

It’s all sexual! It’s male possessive! You all think I’m crazy??!! 🙂

Why didn’t he learn (from me) that sometimes women aren’t married and no one has to bring them flowers. And this loyalty thing… why is he insisting that his one wife is his only wife? He was three. He doesn’t argue that he can only have one best friend.

Of course, I worry that this marriage obsession is a compensation for something he feels is lacking in his world. (me) And I ask him about it.

“Do you feel like you want to be married because I’m not married?” I ask.

“No!” He laughs. “I just love Georgina. And we are married! And we will be married forever.” Then he thinks and asks, “Do you want to get married, Mom?”

“I’m happy not being married,” I tell him. “I’m very happy with our family just the way it is.”

“You should get, married,” he tells me.

“Why?” I ask.

“You just should,” he says.

I want him to know I’m okay. I want him to see that I’m strong and independent. I want him to know we all make choices in life and we don’t HAVE to follow the conventional road.

But, I feel conflicted about his marriage.

On one hand, I admire his fierce loyalty. Aren’t faithfulness and devotion wonderful qualities? Shouldn’t I be praising him for only wanting one wife, preschool or not? Am I going to mess him up if I keep encouraging him to be more inclusive with his commitments to spare the feelings of the others who love him?  I mean, I don’t want him to grown up and be a player, right?  (Ugh, I dated too many of those. Not fun.)  The other parents of boys in preschool shake their heads and say their boys have no clue or interest in anything like being married.

On the other hand… he’s in preschool. Shouldn’t I down play romantic love as a necessity in his life? Shouldn’t I be focusing on friendship?

     Georgina is the answer to every question.

What do you want for dinner?

     Quesadilla. That’s Georgina’s favorite.

     Can I help you brush your teeth now?

Georgina and I have the same toothpaste.

For over a year, S has held strong on his role as husband.

He asks about my old boyfriends and why I broke up with them. He makes me think about my life….  I don’t want to date again. I really don’t. I’m not angry or bitter about it. I just can’t imagine being with anyone who would make me happier than I am right now. Is being married really the goal of life – to find someone to grow old with? Do I have to share my life with someone other than my friends, family and son?

I know it will all play out with S as he learns and experiences and grows. I try to emphasize friendship, without taking away his ideas and his persona. I embrace Georgina as my 4 year old daughter in law and hug her and make plans with her and try not to wonder why I have to deal with my son having a wife a few decades early. Though I do think he has selected a quite adorable bride…. (it’s even hard for me to write that, as a joke. Feels wrong.)

Also, it feels like he’s trying to leave the nest too soon. He talks about growing up and being a man…. But I’ve spent the last 7 years planning on having a baby – and he’s already planning his departure.  It’s hard. He picks flowers and hands them to me saying “save this for Georgina.”  I smile but inside, I cry. I thought I was going to be his world for a while longer.

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THE SOUND OF MUSIC

I’ve been singing songs from The Sound of Music to my 4 year old, and decided to tell him the story of the show.

Me: Maria wanted to become a nun, but it wasn’t a good fit for her…

S: What’s a nun?

Me: (trying not to get religious) A nun is a woman who doesn’t want to get married and lives with other women and says a lot of prayers of gratitude and devotes her life to helping others.

S: Ooooh. So are you a nun?

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