Thursday, September 18, 2014

I'll Take the Bat

I saw this grammatical monstrosity on Facebook the other day in the form of a badly made meme:

“It takes a strong man to accept somebody else’s children and step up to the plate another man left on the table.”

There are so many things wrong with this sentiment, for one, the idioms are totally mixed up.  I hope whoever wrote it was joking, but I haven’t seen it used in a joking way.  Dudes, stepping up to the plate is a baseball analogy.  It’s not about eating your dinner.  Any idiot can eat what’s on their plate.  (Your mom probably cooked it for you anyway.)   If you want to portray yourself as a strong man, being able to form a coherent sentence is a good place to start.

Secondly, it’s not a heroic act for a man to be involved in raising a child, let's stop pretending that it is.  Raising a child can be pretty damn rewarding with all the no strings attached love children readily give to those that care for them.  Yes, there are people who cannot handle it, but I think most of those people have some other things wrong with them or their circumstances if they completely abandon their children or can’t possibly love a child who didn’t originate from their own reproductive system.  Anyway, the whole thing has a disturbing victim/savior flavor to it that isn’t particularly healthy.  Dammit...I lost count of my points while I was ranting.  Where was I?  Um, seventhly(?), I can raise my own damn kids, thank you very much.  I’ll elaborate on that last point later.

Also, let’s not forget that most children of single moms have fathers out there somewhere.  Many of them are around at least every other week or on weekends.  Just because the relationship with mom did not work out does not mean that the child’s relationship with dad is null and void.  That dad might not be the perfect dad, but the child still needs to come to grips with whatever their relationship with their father may be.  You are not a replacement for dad.   You are step-dad, or mom’s boyfriend, or Bob.  You can just be Bob.  Be the best Bob you can be.

This brings me around to how pissed off I get when I see a single mom try desperately to find a replacement for dad because she feels her family is no longer complete after a divorce or break up.  I think that broken feeling may be a pretty natural feeling right after the break up, but it still makes me irrationally angry.  Ladies, I promise that feeling won’t last forever.  Adding another person to the family does not immediately fix everything anyway.  Your feelings need to be dealt with separately, and the solution is not immediately throwing Bob into the mix.

Here’s the biggest secret I’ve learned after being a single mom for a decade, your family can be complete with just one adult in the main residence.  You can be a complete role model for your children all on your own.  Having one healthy, functional caretaker is better than having two in a dysfunctional relationship.  Being a complete person and a complete role model is a great place to start teaching your kids to be whole people who do not need another half to thrive.  It’s a nice side effect of having to pull off parenting on your own.  I think this is an especially important concept to get across to our girls…you do not need a Prince Charming to save you.  Be your own Princess Charming, although you don’t have to be charming about it, just go kick some ass.

When I was growing up my parents both had their individual strengths.  My dad worked long hours so my mom could stay home.  I saw my dad go off to work every day whether he was happy about it or not.  The man drove over an hour each way to work so we could live in a nice town with good schools.  That instilled a work ethic in me that lasted through adulthood.  It also instilled a responsibility to provide a good home for my children whether I like my livelihood or not (and no matter how far I have to drive).  This is also the entire reason I laugh at people when they tell me to chuck my career and follow my dreams.  Grow up and spout your nonsense elsewhere you silly ninnies, I have children to feed and educate.  But I digress…

My dad was also great at helping us with sports and music.  I coach my kids’ sports teams and help them with their instruments because I learned those things from my father.  I also talk to them about the importance of making a living for yourself…and lo and behold!  I don’t even have a penis!  I can still do all of those things!  It’s a weird concept, I know, but get used to it kids, the look of the modern family is changing and it is here to stay.  Speaking of modern family, just watch Modern Family for a bunch of hilarious but effective examples if you need further education on the subject.

Some people have separated, single parents, some lose a parent at a young age, some have adoptive parents, some have two moms, and some have two dads.  That doesn’t mean the family unit is forever damaged.  When the adults in charge of raising children put a lot of love and effort into raising those children things tend to turn out just fine.  (By the way, if you didn’t know this already, plenty of people with a mom and a dad in the same household had horribly dysfunctional upbringings.)  The most important thing my dad taught me was that I can do anything, and do it well, if I put enough effort, practice, and research into it.  I am here to tell you that you can do it too, and you don’t need to set another plate at the table.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

...and We're Swimming

Have any of you ever been swimming in the middle of a vast ocean for ten years, alone, with two kids hanging on your back, along with a backpack full of textbooks?  Don't get me wrong, it's fine, because you're a pretty good swimmer, you're heading towards the most beautiful island, and you know with your strong back and dogged persistence you'll get there eventually.  Plus you have an understanding with the local sharks.  Then, all of a sudden, a lifeboat comes along and you think someone is going to give you a hand with your load.  Finally!  But that's not what actually happens, you optimistic twat.

Instead there is a crowd of people on the boat making a lot of noise in your direction.  The closest person throws his five kids at you because he has not had a date night in THE LONGEST time.  As he's tossing his last colicky kid in, he reminds you to feed his pet whale while he's out because she'll start eating the neighbors if she gets too hungry.  Besides, if you had warned him how hard this would be before he had five kids and bought a whale maybe he wouldn't have done all this.  Also, you're the most talented swimmer he knows so it shouldn't be an inconvenience.

The lady beside him pushes her middle schooler down at the water and asks you to carry her too because you're going that way anyway and well, she is too busy fishing on her yacht to take her own kid places, plus if you can't do it her kid will never get to go anywhere ever again, because, you know, fishing, and that child will be so disappointed.  You wouldn't want to let her little sweetie down, would you?

Then you see your friend on the boat and you think, "Oh wonderful!  My friend will stop all this nonsense!"  But alas, he yells at you for not IM'ing him back after he IM'd you 400 times yesterday.  He really needed you to tell him which socks to wear and you let him down, you selfish bitch.  You only ever think about yourself!  You turn away from him, because you can't bring yourself to care which socks he wears when you’re battling giant squid and hellfire storms, only to see another friend glaring in your direction.  She proceeds to admonish you for forgetting her birthday and wants to know when you're going to treat her to a birthday dinner?! You wonder if your wallet is even waterproof and start contemplating whether having friends has any value at all.  Maybe you should just get some new, shiny friends when you get to the island.

Another passenger on the boat wants you to find a lacrosse program for her kid even though you've never played lacrosse before, and a cross-looking administrator tosses a pile of paperwork at you demanding that it be filled out ASAP but your arms are full and you can't even hold onto all those papers while you're looking for your pen.  The papers drift away in the wake of the boat.

Your coworker is along for the ride and invites you to dinner but asks that you make a dish or two which of course would be the polite thing to do, but it's hard to cook when you're carrying this load around and you're in the middle of the ocean.  You're thinking about making up an excuse to stay home when your cat jumps off the boat and gloms on to your face with all 18 claws plus a couple he borrowed from his friend and you remember you forgot to order his special food made from the souls of space pirates and he's going to act like this until it gets here.

Unfortunately, you see your boss near the stern.  He asks you why you're spending all your time lazing around in the ocean when you should be spending more time at work so you can take on extra projects.  I mean did you really expect to be able to come in, do your job, and then go back to your ocean?  No one is going to let you keep your position with that sort of attitude, you fucking loser.

While you're thinking of finding another job, the nearest jamoke dunks you, holding your head under the water because knowing that the water is seeping into your lungs makes him feel powerful.  He's the type of guy who gets his rocks off by kicking puppies on the weekends.  As soon as you resurface your oldest female relative leans over the side and whispers that you're a terrible person who doesn't deserve to live because all of your dishes don't match.  You wonder why you need matching dishes when you're in the middle of the ocean and you should be concentrating on swimming.  When there's a gorgeous island you're trying to get to, matching dishes aren't going to help you.  Plus you think you lent them to a kraken last week for his dinner party and you're not sure he's going to want to give them back.

All the while your kids are asking how many minutes until we get to the island, and is there even an island because they can't see it, and why haven't you made them a snack yet when they asked you 3.2 seconds ago.  You've done NOTHING at all but swim with that dumbfounded look on your face, MOM.

The captain finally comes out and you think she's going to restore order to this unruly crowd, when she starts explaining to you that she just read the latest issue of Swimming for Morons and you are going to drown your whole family if you don't put a yellow hat on and swim backwards in a circle on the next full moon!

Well, maybe that hasn't ever happened to anyone, but that is the way life feels to me a lot of days.  If you're one of the people hanging out on that boat getting a tan and drinking a six pack, look for another swimmer to throw your empty beer cans at.  If you're a fellow swimmer, drift over by me and I'll hold your hand when you get tired.  You can watch out for killer jellyfish when I'm taking a ten minute break, just don't text your warning because I may not catch up on all the alerts on my phone until I get to that island and both my kids turn 102.