Parenthood & Life
We became parents in 2010, and now we're old and drive a minivan (not!). But seriously, what a ride!
Becoming a mother transformed me. It turned me into a more patient person. A selfless person.
Motherhood is the reason I left my marriage: I wanted to create a better life for my child than I had created for myself. She is a perfect, tiny little being, and she deserves nothing but the best of everything.
Divorce, too, has transformed me. Where I once was a public person, I am now relatively private. Some of this relates to motherhood—I don't want C reading the unraveling of her parents online—but it's also deeply personal.
Divorce has simultaneously made me unapologetic and sort of fragile. I no longer apologize for who I am and no longer feel guilt about my decisions (after all, I'm doing the very best that I can, truly). But I also feel like I've been through a war in the past year. I never used to be particularly kind to myself: I was my own harshest critic, and I spent a significant amount of my time picking apart my actions in the name of "becoming a better person."
I no longer do that. Of course I am introspective, always looking to improve. That's part of my nature, and it will never change. But I am done making my own life harder by constantly second-guessing myself. I am being kinder to myself, out of necessity. The truth is, I am a fragile being—we all are—and I am deserving of kindness. And part of that kindness meant being more private online and no longer putting myself in a position to receive others' judgment. While I know I can handle it—after all, I've been through far worse than a critical comment here or there—I don't want it.
I am lucky to have the community of readers and friends on this blog that I do. Since I quit Weddingbee, I haven't received a single harsh comment here. By contrast, there has been nothing but an outpouring of love and support at every turn. And for that, I am immensely thankful. I miss you guys, I really do.
I've been thinking a lot lately about where I see my life going. What the future of this blog and this business are. This was a cocoon of safety, friendship and self-esteem for more than five years. When my life exploded, I wasn't sure what role Stinkerpants would have in helping me rebuild. While the friendships and relationships I formed through the business were completely positive, the actual business of, well, running a business, was a source of extreme stress for me. This business was also an integral part of my marriage—the two felt tied together inextricably. After all, the business itself began with our Save the Dates. Where would it end? Does it have a place in the "new" life I have created for C and I?
The answer, I believe, is yes. But possibly in a different form.
Randomly, I came across something the other day:
Know the impact you want to have...Be the guy glowing with passion. Let the people around you feel your fire for the impact you want to have on the world. Prompt others to share what makes them come alive. Share in their excitement. There is no more empowering, genuine way to connect. If you don’t know the impact you dream of making, how will you know who you want in your corner to make it happen?
This spoke to me—not so much in the context of creating connections, but more in the existential-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life kind of way. In my quiet moments, I meditate on this question: what impact do I want to have on the world?
I am coming to some answers, but they're not fully formed yet. I know that they revolve around creating a better world for my daughter and children like her (more on that soon, I promise). As far as my business? I hope to use it as a catalyst for whatever the new-and-improved will be. My artistic style will evolve—I am moving away from my computer and more toward actual, real, tangible things. It may look different—in fact, it probably will—but I hope it will make people smile in the same way.
And I hope you will stick around as I re-enter this world, in whatever form I decide to. I am thankful for each and every one of you. Thank you for your patience, love and understanding.
This weekend, I went to a meetup group for newly single moms. You know, trying to meet people in my same situation and all.
While I was there, I realized three things:
1) I do not feel emotionally damaged;
2) I have no doubt that, with the exception of things I cannot control, my future is very bright;
3) being a single mom is hard and people judge you.
One of the moms at the group confessed that she judged single moms before she became one. She said to herself, "wow, you couldn't make it work, huh?" and "just didn't try hard enough, did ya? Couldn't keep your man?" At first I was a little shocked, as I have never judged single mothers. People who voted for Prop 8, yes, but single moms? Never.
By contrast, I always had a deep respect for single mothers. I felt that their lives must be extremely hard, and always visualized a woman who had to work two jobs for her child(ren). Sacrifice. That's what I thought of.
But then I started thinking about some of the comments I've heard from strangers: "well, it always takes two to tango," and "XYZ probably happened because he was feeling ABC," and "well, isn't that true of ALL men?" The answer, strangers-who-think-they-know-
So yes, people judge single moms. Why, I'm not sure. In some ways, this goes back to my last post -- perhaps people are insecure or hold a strong opinion about the effects of divorce. As I've gotten older (and ostensibly more mature), I've come to realize that most people have a good reason for being in the situation they're in. It's never as black and white as it may appear, and there are always parts to the story that you haven't heard. I just don't think it's wise to judge others.
I don't spend a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. I try not to consume myself with thoughts of who might be judging me. And I don't tell people how hard it is to be a single mom, which it is (what I wouldn't give for a dishwasher! And I would be willing to give up many things for a cleaning lady. And could someone please tell C that she can go ahead and like daycare already, so I don't cry every morning before work?). I simply don't see a point in dwelling on all the negatives.
Instead, let's focus on the positives: I have a comfortable apartment in a nice neighborhood. My baby sleeps with me every night. And I feel free.
What about you? Do you or have you judged single moms? How do you feel about being judged yourself?Comment
When sharing the news of my divorce with people, I feel very awkward. People usually have the same look of shock on their faces, and I can tell it makes them uncomfortable – especially if we aren’t very close. They want to ask what happened. They want to ask what happened really, really badly. But they don’t, because they don’t want to be nosy. And I appreciate not having to talk about it in detail – but I still feel awkward: should I tell them? Should I keep it to myself? What is the protocol in this situation?
In the very beginning, I really didn’t want to tell people I was getting a divorce at all, let alone the reasons why. My emotional state was a super healthy combination of fear, shame, and embarrassment. When you get married, you check off a certain box on the Success Worksheet, and unchecking that box feels like a huge step backward. And announcing it? It’s like saying to the world, "hey world! I have failed! Look at me!"
It’s especially difficult when you don't know many other divorced people. From the outside, everyone else’s "Marriage" box is checked off in permanent marker. It remains to be seen how many of my friends are actually happy in their marriages, and how many are serving themselves up a big ole plate of denial for breakfast every morning. In short, I’m the first one to get a divorce, and being first sucks. It’s embarrassing.
But, as my mom predicted, I got over the embarrassment pretty quickly. Now I’m just sort of matter-of-fact about it: “Yep, I’m getting a divorce. No, no one cheated.”
People have different reactions. Mostly they want to know what happened, because they never saw us having any problems. Sometimes they want to know simply because they’re curious…but mostly I think they want reassurances: did you always know it wouldn't work out? Did you guys mean "forever" when you said, "I do"? Marriages are hard – are you just quitters? Basically, they want to hear that our relationship was fundamentally different than theirs is. They want to know that nothing is lurking in their marriages, ready to jump out and cause the D-word. They want to know that divorce isn’t contagious.
I can’t give them any of those reassurances, though, because I have no idea what is lurking inside their marriages, just like they didn’t know Divorce was lurking in mine. All we see of one another’s lives is what we choose to share – and most people only share the good stuff. After all, marriages are made up of good, bad, and mundane, and it’s hard to paint an accurate picture of what your marriage really looks like when you can’t share every little detail. I think people are afraid to talk about anything negative because they worry they’ll regret it the next day when the fight is over. Or they’re afraid their friends will judge them. Or that everyone else’s relationship actually is as perfect as it seems, and they’re the only one with major (or not-so-major) problems.
Plus, talking about marital problems can ruin friendships - everyone has a different opinion about what’s acceptable and what isn’t, and you might get a whole lot of unsolicited advice that you don’t agree with if you do choose to open up. And of course, most people only want to hear what they’re willing to confront – and some people will get angry if they hear anything beyond that.
I wasn’t ready to confront the issues that led to the end of our marriage, so I didn’t tell a single soul about them. Sometimes I worry that my friends and family feel betrayed because I was so silent.
I could end this post with a call to action: “let’s not be quiet anymore! Let’s tell the world every little detail, in the name of empowerment! Let’s blog about it!” But I’m not going to. I actually think it’s a good thing that people aren’t sharing every single detail of their married lives on the Internet. In an online world where people can tweet faster than it takes to second-guess themselves, it’s good to know that some things are still sacred. Or if not sacred – at least private. Because too much honesty can come back and bite you in the butt.
I may have taken a very long time to get back to you. Here’s why.
I’m not one for airing my dirty laundry in public, so I am going to be short & sweet about this:
- I won’t be talking in great detail about what happened here. I don’t think it’s particularly mature and it’s not good for C. But no, no one cheated.
- C and I have moved into a small apartment and are sharing a room. I bought a twin bed for the first time ever. I’m not sure whether I’ll be sharing photos of our space or not, as I am feeling much more private about my life right now. I’m trying to create as relaxing a space as possible for us.
- Being a single mom is harder than I ever thought it would be, but not in the way I thought it would be. I feel such an intense need to protect C from this awful situation, and the knowledge that she is now from a “broken home” kills me. But it is better than the alternative, so that brings me some solace. She is doing well and seems relaxed (despite FOUR MOLARS coming in at once, people!).
Please be patient with me as I try to get the details of my new life worked out in the coming months - I will be slower to respond to emails than usual. Thank you.
Well hello, all! Fancy meeting you here in 2012!
Who else is ready for a fresh new year?! I am. I spent the last three weeks of 2011 binging on chocolate cake, cheese and chicken pot pies, and now I’m ready to give up dairy, for realsies.
I also spent those last three weeks assembling a bunch of recipes and meal ideas so that we have a higher chance of eating in instead of eating out. I’m hoping that these meals will be good enough to share with you guys. In the meantime, I'm going to share how I've prepped with you!
Just as a refresher, all of our meals are:
- Fast. 30 minutes or less, better yet 15 minutes or less.
- Completely dairy-free and usually gluten-free as well. If it’s not completely gluten-free, it’s something like falafel that can be served to C without the pita. The meals are also low in soy content because C is sensitive to soy. I am not a huge fan of meat, so some of the meals are completely vegan – but those have been harder to find. Our diet most closely resembles the paleo diet.
- Contain whole foods – I really try not to cook with any processed foods, which I find is common with vegan meals. We aren't cooking with meat or dairy alternatives.
I must say, figuring out ideas for meals has not been easy. Most “fast” recipes contain dairy and gluten, and most vegan recipes aren’t fast (and sometimes contain gluten or soy). Thank god for the paleo nuts out there (love you guys), because I've gotten a lot of inspiration from them.
Here's what I've done to prep.
Step 1: Find New Recipes (and hide my old favorites)
In doing research for this endeavor, I realized I needed to split my recipes into three parts: 1) Regular meals (which take some preparation, like veggie chopping or marinating), 2) Insanely fast meals (made from stuff on hand), and 3) Freezer meals (which may take a lot of time, but make enough for many meals). My plan is to make a different freezer meal every couple of weeks. Most of our nightly meals will be from the "Insanely Fast" category, and maybe one or two will be regular meals.
I found most of our new recipes by googling incessantly. I still haven't tried a lot of the meals I've found, so if there are especially good ones, I'll point y'all toward them as we try them.
In the meantime, here are a few resources I found very helpful:
- Go Dairy Free (I've had the book for months - at first I didn't read it, because there are a lot of words for a not particularly interesting subject - but once I actually started reading it, it was by far the most helpful resource!).
- This list of 101 Quick Meals is awesome. Quite a few are dairy/gluten-free, vegetarian, etc. It's worth a glance, whatever your restrictions (or lack thereof).
- Cooking for Isaiah was recommended by one of my readers (thanks Caryn!)
- This gluten-free, dairy-free bread recipe is delish. It's the first bread C's ever had and she loves it!
Step 2: Organize Recipes
I printed out all of the recipes I found online, plus photocopied recipes from books. I know myself, and I know I won't look in those cookbooks! Then I took some file folders and sorted them: Insanely Fast, Regular Meals, and Freezer meals. I stored them in an acrylic recipe book holder (pictured below are actually my old folders - I've been using this method for awhile):
Step 3: Print Out a Quick Guide to Each Section
I created a new Word doc for each section, then simply listed the contents of each folder. This way, I can see at a glance what's in each folder without having to search through it. I also created a list of quick snacks (tortilla chips & salsa, hummus, carrot sticks, etc) for when I'm hungry and don't know what to eat. I don't do well with keeping stuff in my head these days - everything must be written down.
As an aside: the other thing I realized is that, once I start acquiring freezer meals, I'm going to need a white board that says what's in the freezer, or we'll never see it again (let alone eat it). This will also be useful for snacks. The less remembering/thinking, the better, I say. Let's reserve the thinking for world peace (or at least for remembering where we left our keys).
Step 4: Plan the Meals
Next, I printed out three months worth of calendars (I did this using iCal, but I'm sure you could figure out a way to do this another way). At this point, I was surprised how easy it was! I just filled in recipes for 5 days each week. At the beginning of each week, I'll compile a shopping list for the items I've listed, and I'm done! So far, so good!
One day, I'd really like to get good at the whole "I cooked a pot of beans on Sunday, and I made 5 meals from them!" thing. But for now, I'm just going to try cooking anything, and go from there!
What do you think? Is this method sustainable?Comment
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