Sooo when last we talked I suggested that my failure to acknowledge the fruit of my loins was going to be a problem. See, What Have I Done? The problem was that I had recently broken one of my rules — that is — I promised myself that I would never directly deny that I had children. Well I kind of did that, and I did it in front of someone who knew better.
But I have to go back a year and a half to explain.
Although when I began this experiment and this job I was with a large group of lawyers, we were later broken up into small groups and sent to different places. I worked closely with the people in my room, but rarely talked to people at other locations –until the holiday party.
I went to the party alone because that’s what I do. Once there, the only people I recognized were a couple of women from my project who worked in different locations.
But it was a party. There was alcohol. Things happen. You understand.
So I’m making small talk with virtual strangers. These were two younger child free women. They were nice. One was drunk. I’d had maybe a half a drink. My half a drink on meds is like three for a normal person. So I felt suddenly close to these women. They were my new work party best friends.
Twin talk began because one of the women brought her twin brother. I was way too talkative and knowlegable about twin stuff. And apparently alcohol is Goddamn truth serum delivered by the morality police, and I felt sooo bad for not revealing the source of my expertise. I confessed.
“I feel like I’m lying to you guys. I have to tell you. I have kids, twins. Two sets plus a singleton.”
And then the whole story came out. I begged my new work party best friends not to tell anyone about my — experiment. They promised.
This was the Christmas before last. Almost a year and a half ago. Fun fact: The drunk one has since had a baby of her own. But God love ’em they kept my secret – easy, though, because we didn’t work in the same room.
Then we were all relocated. I found myself sharing space with a new set of attorneys, including Cheryl, the twin. The one who knew.
That was fifteen months ago. People have come and gone since then. Currently in this space it’s me, Cheryl, another woman I’ll call Sophie, and two guys. One of the guys has never mentioned a wife, girlfriend or children. Let’s call him Bill. The other is married and has one daughter who is, reportedly — repeatedly reportedly — a certified genius. Yeah, he’s that guy. We’ll call him Ross.
Ross explained to the room that he feels comfortable bragging about his daughter at work because NO ONE ELSE HERE HAS CHILDREN. Consequently, he reasoned, we can’t get jealous or feel bad because our kids do not and can not possibly measure up. Then he stood and asked the room,
“Wait, no one here has kids, right?”
Sophie is a talker. We know all about her life. No kids.
The other guy, Bill, said nothing.
I opened my mouth briefly and closed it.
In that moment my silence felt dangerously close to denying my kids — and Cheryl knew it. She murmured, “Well, not little kids.”
Guilt showed up and took a seat.
I must endure Ross brag brag bragging about his academic superstar daughter to us childless folks. Side note, child free folks don’t want to hear that shit either, not all the time. Well, except Cheryl. She encourages him. She’s in that holy trinity love bubble of just got engaged, planning a destination wedding and can’t wait to have babies!
Bless her heart.
But I have condemned myself to silence while Ross talks as if he is the only person to ever have had a child, a golden child.
Listening to Ross actually confirmed my decision. It is possible to talk about kids too much. Parents of high achieving teens are much worse than parents of adorable babies in my opinion. There are awards involved.
It is important (to me) to note that my original observation that started all this, that the guys do not talk about their kids as much as the women, still holds true. Ross doesn’t talk about her in meetings. And when he leaves early because of her he only says, “Well that’s it for me today,” as opposed to “Oh I’m on carpool duty this week because soccer started and I have to pick up the snack etc.” You know, Facebook detail. Ross shares no day to day kid stuff, he merely announces her many, many awards.
Plus, what’s the harm in my nondisclosure? It’s not like I’m dating any of these people. I have been enjoying being me without reference to kids or my ex-husband. I won’t ask Cheryl to lie, though. I figured I’d just continue to opt out of kid talk. I’ll just be cool.
But Sophie . . . Sophie was NOT at the Christmas party.
Today, Sophie was talking about some estate law issues and asked me if I had siblings with young children. Then she casually added,
“Well, you have kids.”
“Wait! What? How do you know that? Who told you that? WHO TOLD YOU????? GODDAMMIT WOMAN, WHO TOLD YOU???!!”
But I didn’t say that.
But I didn’t say that either.
I didn’t say anything. Sophie went on to discuss something else. The guys weren’t around.
I tweeted about it because I was like what the F— ??
I never ever told Sophie about my kids. It must have been Cheryl.
Then when Cheryl left for the day, she said, “Happy Mother’s Day” to me, albeit a little under her breath.
Happy MOTHER’S Day???????
I’m not entirely sure I formed any actual words in response.
Happy MOTHER’S Day?
Twice in one day. Two different people acknowledged my motherhood. Out loud.
Soooo there ya go. Cheryl must have told Sophie, the talker, and Sophie let it slip. I’m sure Cheryl was just being nice by wishing me Happy Mother’s Day. It’s just that Ross was there and it freaked me out. Thank God for earbuds. He missed it.
I don’t think either of the guys know. That’s all I have to hang on to. But Sophie, as I said, is a talker. My days are numbered.
Just Me With . . . children.
This is so silly, I know. But you must understand. First, the number of kids I have, coupled with the twin thing and my slender physique tends to be a big deal and dominate the discussion. And second, I married my high school sweetheart (and that, as you may have read, did not end well). I never got a chance to be single with no kids. Never. It’s certainly not the same now because I’m of a certain age (something else I never acknowledge) but it’s the closest I can get.
So when I leave my former hoarders house to go to work, I’m just a single girl on the train.
I danced around it on my Angela Jolie Post, my Adultery Diet Post and I described some of the effects of it with We Thought You Were Dead, Mommy — Almost F*cked to Death and the Twilight Zone posts but I never really say it. Even here and now within the constraints of a blog post I’m not going into great detail, not in one post anyway. Plus, posts are supposed to be short, right? I can only write so much here. (Thank goodness.)
There have probably been seeds of it implanted in me from my childhood, and in young adult life when I did a miniscule about of modeling. Years later I lost a lot of weight after my children were born, initially as a result of breastfeeding multiples and later from sheer exhaustion. See Fertile Myrtle.
But somewhere in my mind I have had this fear of “getting fat.”
Then there was the negative reinforcement of the world, it seems, when people said,
“You don’t look like you have five kids . . . “
It is meant as a compliment. But it probably got my psyche thinking, “What if I didn’t look like this?“
So, after the children, I kept busy (as if I had a choice with all those kids), watched how much I ate, and stayed slim. And I’d pretty much given my body to my husband, “Sex On Demand“.
Maybe I was still feeling vulnerable from my his stupid brief affair with a much younger woman.
“Maybe,” I thought, “I can’t get younger, but I can make sure I don’t get fat.” I don’t know.
Maybe I felt out of control because I suddenly had so many children and was completely overwhelmed yet somehow needed to make it look effortless. The Superwoman Syndrome.
So I stayed slim, but not yet dangerously so. I got some new clothes, highlights in my hair and was trying to give myself a home makeover — the new me — still fabulous after five kids, who were finally out of the diaper, toddler, and preschool grind. I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe we’d be able to leave the house soon?
But then . . . my husband left me . . .
. . . and I pretty much stopped eating.
Ironically his love interest at that time was younger and significantly heavier than me. My being thin and sexually available was ultimately unsuccessful. Maybe I just should have become an incredible cook . . . but I digress . . .
At first I was too devastated to eat, and that, simply, continued.
I never used laxatives, or induced vomiting. (I absolutely hate throwing up). I just stopped eating, or really ate just enough to keep from falling over. I had a lot of other “behaviors” — they call them. Whatever, I don’t want to think about it now. Though it never got as bad as those horrifying pictures one sees on the internet, I admit it makes me uncomfortable to look at pictures of myself during my worst times . . . and I have destroyed most of them.
I was a bit like Emily in The Devil Wears Prada, except not nearly as glamorous.
I was in the throes of a deep, deep depression. But I had children, so I continued doing what I had to do for the most part, except . . . I failed to nourish myself. Or, I nourished myself just enough to continue to take care of the children, short-term.
Was it a cry for help or a form of suicide when suicide was not an option?
Funny thing happens when you don’t eat much or often,when you do eat you are rewarded with pain and nausea. Hardly incentive for a person who was crying all day long anyway. So I ate just enough to function, but my resistance was down, physical strength drained and when I started having dizziness and heart palpitations and losing my hair and a couple of hospitalizations and a blood transfusion later? Well, perhaps there was a problem. (Ya think?) Not to mention my historically unhealthy relationship with my estranged husband, see My High School Self, and the crap I was dealing with when he left. It was a rough time. Call me Forrest Gump, but that’s all I have to say about that — now, anyway.
They say I suffer(ed) from Anorexia.
I actually don’t feel like talking about this stuff. I mean, I’m hardly the face of —- gulp — an eating disorder. I’m an adult woman of color who has been diagnosed with a disease whose poster child is the face of a 14-year-old white girl. The stereotype for me is either the big mama in the kitchen or the strong, sassy and proud single mother. Well, I was/am neither. Food and cooking holds no interest for me and I did not choose, nor do I wave the banner of my suddenly single mother situation, it’s just something I have to deal with.
No matter, “Anorexia” is in my medical charts, I have been referred to and evaluated by a facility for eating disorders who determined that because of my family obligations, I should be treated privately. Whatever. I don’t feel like discussing it right now. Wait, did I already say that? It’s too much for a blog post, anyway, right? (Thank goodness).
Long, painful, story short, I’m so much better now. Therapy, medications for depression and medications for my chronic stomach ailments caused by my poor eating habits have helped tremendously. Though I’m off the daily anti-depressants now, see Getting Off The Meds, I’ve found that changing my lifestyle and removing triggers — as much as I can — have helped tremendously also. So I eat now, not always well and not with enjoyment, but regularly. I’m at a good weight, or so I’m told — I never look. People tell me I look great. (People in the know are careful not to exclaim that I’ve gained weight.) To look at me now, no one would know of my “issues.” Still, when I am down or stressed, I don’t eat. And sometimes, I just forget. It’s probably something I have to watch for a long time, maybe forever. But whatever. I am much healthier than I was, which is the most important.
Just Me With . . . well, they say it was anorexia. They say.
P.S. This may be the first post I delete.
Before I get beat up in the comments because I’m a mom and have to take care of myself for my kids, etc. , know that this just skims the surface (I mean people write whole books on this stuff), that I love my children and have worked my behind off for them, have tried to protect them and have provided a good home (a good part of which I built myself), that even mothers can go through a bad time, having children does not make one immune. I’ve learned that I have to feel good about me. Period. The rest will/has to come from that.
I’ve made a conscious decision not to attempt online dating right now, or any kind of dating. It’s not that I’m afraid of getting hurt or afraid of the crazies. It’s just that, well, I hate all the boxes I have to check that define me. It becomes an exercise in self-examination (humiliation) that is just no fun. As in “How did this happen to me!!!!!”
I’m not so good on paper online. I have been married before; it ended in divorce. Of course, that’s not uncommon, but I have a whole bunch of children (five, yes, five children) from that marriage, who live with me. My career and net worth are, at least at present, not what they had the potential to be, for many reasons, some of which are related to the fact that I was married, had a lot of children in a very short period of time, got dumped and flipped out.
I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be so good in person, either. I’ve got nothing to talk about. The course of my life and accomplishments have in no small part been influenced by my prior relationship, which, I know, is not appropriate casual dating conversation. For the last few years I have been dealing with the end of that relationship, recovery from that relationship, and depression. Again, not topics of casual coffee talk with a stranger. And talking about kids is also a dating no-no. Plus, I don’t have a list of exciting hobbies and activities I’d like to discuss and share with a potential mate, except for the music stuff which I don’t feel the need to bring a man into. And no, I don’t go to the gym, unless, of course, you count the physical therapy I’m still attending to recover from the injuries I received from the dangerous and stupid combination of starting an exercise regimen and fighting with my daughter (she won, by the way). My Aching Back. So I’m not a lot of fun in person, I fear. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot to offer, but I don’t have the energy or inclination or time to peddle my potential to a stranger.
I realize how negative I sound. I’m depressed. I should be dating Eeyore. Now Eeyore and I, yeah, we could hang out . . . but I digress.
Regardless of all the reasons not to do it, I could put myself out there anyway and pretend to be a good date. But here’s part two of the problem. What (oh I’m sorry) Who would I get in response to my online profiles? I’d get guys who are attracted to what I appear to be on paper online. Well, that’s just scary. I’m a little scary. I know that. Damn, I wouldn’t even respond to my own profile. Still, when I create these profiles (and never pay), I do get poked or pinged or prodded or winked at or whatever from men –men who apparently can tolerate the boxes that I’ve checked (oh the boxes, I check too many and too few). When I see these connections, I just want to scratch my head and say, “Dude, really, you’re into this?” I mean, I can barely tolerate the boxes I check. And if he checks the same boxes? Oh what a motley crew we would make.
My checked boxes may accurately describe my situation, but they don’t define me. Really, they don’t.
Wait, do they?
Do they? !!!!! (Singing: “Excuse me, while I start to cry . . . ” Playing air guitar.)
Perhaps it comes down to the fact that I don’t want someone to share this current on paper online profile life with, I’d like some company in a very different life that I have yet to create, or failed to create in the past (Shut up, Eeyore). So, no, I’m not ready online or otherwise to force a dating life. I need to take care of me, manage or overcome this depression, work to get out of this financial hole my divorce left me in. Yada yada yada . . .
That is the reasoned, socially correct conclusion.
That’s not me, either.
To be continued . . .
Just Me With . . . a decision not to force a dating situation.
See, Undateable, Part II.
Okay, it’s been years now since he moved out. It’s a different bed. Hell, it’s a different house. And he’s married now, for goodness sake. So why am I still sleeping on my side of the bed?
It’s amazing how old movies take on such different meanings after you’ve changed. This scene in When Harry Met Sally when they discuss their post break up sleeping habits went right over my head for years until my recent history brought it to the forefront.
Harry: Ok, fine. Do you still sleep on the same side of the bed?
Sally: I did for a while but now I’m pretty much using the whole bed.
Harry: God, that’s great. I feel weird when just my leg wanders over. I miss her.
I actually enjoy sleeping alone; I don’t miss sleeping with him. But unlike Sally, I don’t use the whole bed, either. What is it? There’s the practical considerations, namely that my phone and alarm clock are on one side. But really that would explain why I get up on that side not my entire sleeping geography.
My ambien is on that side too. Now I’m talking. Once ingested I tend to sleep in whatever position I was in when I took a sleep aid. I realized this fact when I woke up very sore two weeks ago, in the same position I lay my head down in.
But I don’t take a sleep aid every night.
So why stay on one side of the bed?
It’s like I’m saving a place for someone.
Am I waiting for Prince Charming? Or am I still programmed to be part of a couple? Or is it just a force of habit?
Like Harry, I was married a long time, longer than I’ve been separated or divorced. And though I’ve had visitors to my bed on occasion, I’ve never had anyone stay more than one night (and, honestly, those single nights were too damn long). Harry stayed on his side of the bed. Was it the marriage thing? Does my body still think it’s a marital bed?
Maybe being curled up on my side of the bed is just my way of snuggling — with myself.
I remember when just days after my then husband moved out one of my daughters asked me,
“Who’s going to sleep with you now?”
Damn, still waiting for an answer to that.
In the meantime, there is a product I accidentally found online. I swear I wasn’t looking for this.
This is the pillow that holds you when your partner cannot. Shaped like a man’s torso, the pillow has a flexible arm that wraps around you as you lie on its burly, comforting chest. Made from fiber-fill, the pillow contours to your body and provides a soft sleeping surface that’s both physically and emotionally supportive. The pillow is dressed in a soft polyester button-down dress shirt, and unlike the real thing, the pillow won’t keep you awake with incessant snoring. Cover is removable and machine-washable. 24″ L x 17″ W x 7″ H. (2 lbs.)
Just Me With . . . no one on his side of the bed.
Last night I went to a jam session. I took my kids and one of their friends. I have hopes that someday my kids will participate. They take lessons, they have some chops, but they don’t have the confidence or drive to get up there. So last night they were there to listen. Still, something beautiful happened. They clapped . . . for me.
I played multiple times, I took solos, and after each, they clapped . . . for me. (In case you’re wondering, they weren’t the only ones.) But as I look back on it today, the fact that I got applause from “those people I made” is something I really needed. They were there, in my element, watching/listening and clapping at the appropriate times. They showed genuine appreciation for the music, for me, and for the other musicians. They may never get up there. But they know their mom can, does and loves it. They know I have credibility with other musicians — something which has nothing to do with them or being their mom.
I’ve had a hard time with my particular situation, the demands on me, my current place in life and the journey that brought me here. I’d been feeling a bit beat-down lately. Periodically, or sometimes consistently, leaving the “me” behind to meet the needs of my children and be there for them had been taking a toll. I’m a sensitive person, but you gotta have a thick skin to raise people, and sometimes, it’s well . . . hard. But last night, things were different, so different things were almost upside down. I wasn’t one of the many supportive parents taking pictures and cheering my kids on at a school performance or sporting event. They were there watching, clapping for and taking pictures of — me. And it was good — to play music, it was good to have a respectful audience, it was good to back burner the “mom” nameplate yet still have the children with me. In short, it was good to be Just Me.
After a while it was getting late, and they were ready to go, as was I. As we got up to leave I was asked to play one more set. The kids didn’t seem to mind that much. I played. They clapped. No complaints. At the end of he night I thanked them for coming. (Mind you they did get some food out of the deal.) But the lack of eye-rolling, whining, fighting and squirming — and their applause . . . they don’t even know how much I needed that.
Sometimes a girl just needs a little applause. I may call my mom and just clap for her.
Just Me With . . . my music and my kids . . . . just being me.