11 is the new 15.

My daughter is going to be 11 this month.  However she both looks and acts 15.  I blame much of this on the YouTube videos she is obsessed with.  See for yourself at  JuicyStar07 .  Now these aren’t harmful by any stretch.  They just involve make-up and a young fashionista.  My daughter is not allowed to wear make-up out in public.  It’s just something she is playing with and having fun doing in her spare time.  But she spends a tremendous amount of time organizing her lovely new vanity and jewelry box.  I will have to take photos of this and add them in later (since I am at work).

She is particulary obsessed with M.A.C. cosmetics.  Something she will get to indulge a bit on our trip to NYC for her birthday.  It is fun and I can understand the “collecting” aspect of this newfound fascination.  And I will admit, I love that she’s so about organizing her room…so thank you to Blair Fowler (Miss JuicyStar07 herself) for that.

But I must admit, it makes me really happy when her friend comes over and they play with their dolls.  After all, those American Girl dolls need some love too.  And I need to see my baby acting like…well, like a little girl.  At least once in awhile.

Friendship=True Love.

Have any of you seen this movie?  Especially any of you with daughters?  My nine year old daughter has liked this movie for a few years now.  It stars Emma Roberts (Julia Robert’s niece, who plays Addy on Nickolodeon’s Unfabulous) and JoJo (teen pop star) as two young girls whose strengths combine to make each one’s individual weaknesses more bearable.  They stumble upon a young mermaid and give her advice on how to win the affections of a lifeguard that all three admire.  Aquamarine has to find true love in the next few days, or her father will make her remain a mermaid, although she so desperately wants to be human.  The ensuing drama is oddly reminiscent of “Mean Girls”, with a bit of “The Little Mermaid”.  

But the ending, well this is one that you mamas are going to LOVE.  I won’t spoil it for you, but let’s just say, it’s not your typical Disney-fied movie where you don’t find happiness unless you get the prince.

And one of the lead characters has a strong, powerful single mom, struggling with her willful teenage daughter.  Granted, the other character lost both of her parents previously, but is being raised by BOTH grandparents.  Read this post for a great discussion of how mothers are underrepresented in Disney movies.  

Mamas, watch this with your girls.  It sends the right message.  The one we all talk about all the time.  And definitely a message about how much your friends can mean to you.  (Your virtual support groups too.  😉  ).

Job changes?

So  in keeping with some of my fellow bloggers like Liz, who are contemplating other jobs and career moves, I have another job I’m mulling over too.  Some of you know that I am a research scientist and have been for over 11 years now.  At the same place!  It’s like my second family.  However, I did work at a pharmaceutical company right after college, and really didn’t like it.  I stayed there six months and then was offered a positon with my current employer.  We’ve been through buying several houses together, a divorce, numerous serious relationships.  My daughters entire existence I’ve been with this people.  And it’s a stellar job.  Downside?  It’s one hour from my home.  Two hours of commuting daily.  And my daughter is an hour away from me during the day.  Her dad is in town though for his job, which is why it works ok for us.  

I have a job coming up teaching in a Catholic school-chemistry and physics.  I went to grad school for a Masters in Education.  The only part of that degree I haven’t finished is the student teaching.  And I won’t, because I’d have to quit my job while I did it.  And that’s just not reasonable to me.  However if I take this job, I’ll have a big cut in pay, but it will count as my student teaching and we can push my certification through (NY State is a toughie when it comes to teaching requirements, for those of you who aren’t aware).  So, great job, summers and school vacations off, shorter workday, no commute.  Drastically lower pay.  

Everyone says take it.  Our business is doing well and the money isn’t really the issue.  However, I have my single mom mentality permanently ingrained.  What if this marriage doesn’t work out?  What if it’s just me and B again?  I can’t support her as I have in the past, with this type of pay cut.  

Oh and the kicker-my precious Gram Julia, while in the hospital shortly before dying, said to me (when I contemplated skipping one of my grad school classes to hang with her) “you go be a teacher”.  And in a Catholic school…oh Gram would LOVE that.

So why am I so afraid to do this???  I’m afraid to depend on my husband.  He says I do way more than my share here and take the job that will make me happiest.  But what job IS that?

What makes a hero?

Here’s what Merriam Webster has to say:

 

he·ro Listen to the pronunciation of hero
Pronunciation:
\ˈhir-(ˌ)ō\
Function:
noun
Inflected Form(s):
plural heroes
Etymology:
Latin heros, from Greek hērōs
Date:
14th century
1 a: a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability b: an illustrious warrior c: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities d: one that shows great courage2 a: the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work b: the central figure in an event, period, or movement3plural usually heros : submarine 24: an object of extreme admiration and devotion : idol
Here’s what Former Single Mommy has to say:
A hero is someone who inspires you to follow your dreams, by living a life worthy of following by example.  Every time I think of doing something great, or accomplishing bigger successes than I already have, I think of “who is my hero”?
Does your hero have to be someone who has done extreme things, accomplished many letters after their name?  Discovered a cure?  A new scientific theory?  A political activist?  
It’s always been clear.  It’s my Gram Julia.  She was a woman who endured the loss of not one, but two husbands.  Her first husband and his brother were in a car with her, she had two children at the time, and they had a car accident.  The first husband died.  The other brother married her to help her raise her children and they ended up having four more of their own and having a beautiful love, until his life was tragically ended in a  mining accident when he was only in his thirties.  My Dad was 14.  My grandmother endured all the years of raising the children, the youngest child being ten when her Daddy died.  She also had to go through the Vietnam War, when all of her sons, in different branches of the military, felt called to serve (as their Dad had done).  I have the beautiful china my Dad brought back for her from overseas when he was in the Marines. She wanted to be sure I had it before she died…so she could be sure it was in the right hands.
My grandmother lived about a half mile down the road from me, and growing up I was there just about daily.  She was where I got off the bus, or stayed when my parents went somewhere.  To be honest, I pretty much lived there.  She could be a sassy, cranky woman, but she was someone I was completely in love with.  I sat on her lap right up until she died.  She instilled a love of reading in me that has helped me weather some tough times alone.  She showed me what a single mom can really do when faced with obstacles.  She always maintained an impeccably clean house.  Yeah, I got my OCD neat freakism from her too.  She was my inspiration for so many things.  I think she knew that.  Nothing was better than my Gram Julia’s spaghetti and meatballs and molasses cookies.  Her house was my other home.  I loved her smell, her smile, the way she crinkled her eyes.  She was the crux of our family.  When she was diagnosed with cancer, she didn’t let anyone know for a long time.  That’s who she was.  She suffered silently.  And kept on being my Gram Julia.  When we finally did learn of her illness, I was in denial right up until the day of the funeral, when I went into her house with my aunt, to retrieve the opal ring she’d wanted me to have (I wore it on the day of my first wedding).  When I walked into that house, I knew.  She wasn’t there.  The funny thing is, I feel her so many places now, but I certainly did not feel her there.  My daughter is eerliy reminiscent of her.  B was about two when my Gram died, but they had a great relationship.  B loved her “Gam Gam”.  The night of her death I was in B’s room rocking her and suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of … something.  Not sad, not peace…just something.  And I knew.  I found out shortly thereafter she had died.  A couple days later, as B was lying on the floor and I was dressing her from above, she pointed over my shoulder and started laughing and squealing “Gam Gam”!  So yes, I think we are watched over by our very own guardian angel.  
I miss you Gram.  You are my hero as a single mother, before it was fashionable to be one.  You taught me my love of reading, of cleanliness, of beauty inside and out.  I inherited my curious mind from you (one time she was poring over my high school history text and asked me to leave it, so she could read it she was so fascinated).  She could cook, garden, raise children.  She is and was amazing to me.  People asked me all the time during my five years as a single mom, how I could do it?  How could I not?  My own Daddy was raised by an amazing single mother.  I miss her every single day, even now, 6+ years later.  I can still see her smiling at me.  I love you Gram.  You are my hero.
(the top is Gram holding me as a small child, the bottom is Gram holding B, when she was just two).

 

Eat, Pray, Love-Little B style.

Yes, I’m currently reading this but that phrase fits amply with the photo of the little muffin above.

My little B (not so little anymore, she’s 95 lbs and steadily creeping upwards towards her mother in height (not a huge feat, since I’m slightly exaggerating when I claim to be a whopping 5’4″) and she’s only 8 1/2, is the epitome of a happy person who has really got her inner self in a great spot.  Sure, she has her days sometimes and I get frustrated too, but this kid has figured out something at an early age it’s taken me until age 34 to learn- HAVE FUN!  While reading “Eat, Pray, Love”, I realized that although I strive daily to appreciate all that I have in my life and how blessed I am, my girl tends to do that without even being aware of it.  I’m not sure how to help her hang onto this and God help the person who bitters up that old soul in a spirited youthful body!  She asked me about this book this morning, after having seen it lying around.  When I told her about it, her eyes lit up.  I think she’ll be the one to travel all over when she gets a bit older.  Hopefully she lets me tag along!  

In my late teens and twenties, I, like Elizabeth Gilbert, was always entwined in one or another relationship with a male.  Always some drama, always an attachment.  Does anyone have any ideas how to encourage my daughter to develop her sense of self and to be strong enough to not “need” a man in her life?  I was pretty independent, but I can barely think of a time when I wasn’t somewhat involved with someone on some level, however superficial.  For right now, she’s pretty in love with this one male:

Then again, so am I.  

Another thing, for those of you who don’t know B (this just came to me, because I’m so curious, I’d be just dying to know!  😉  ), do you wonder what her name really is?  Did you figure out it starts with a B?  Did you wager a guess?

Former Single Mom, yeah I guess so. :(

 

Ok, so here’s the reply to a few questions from Ms. Single Mama  a single mom whose blog I just love!  It’s my new discovery, but I’m sure I’ll be going back there often.

 

So going from the transition of single mom, to having a husband again is…well, an adjustment.  I wanted this so badly.  Some other time, I’ll have to tell the story of my husband and I on here.  I didn’t save it from my old blog.  (Bad Shannon, no more deleting blogs!).  But after two years of realizing that he was the one for me and missing him oh-so-much (albeit glorified because he was with someone else during that time and you know that whole thing about hindsight), I was willing to do things I’d said before I would never, never, no never, do again.  I wanted marriage, I wanted one house, I wanted a family.  Yikes.  Now, where did Shannon go?  Actually, that’s what he said.  But he was very happy, since that’s the girl he’d wanted all along.  So, fast forward to us living together for about 6 months before we got married.  Yay fun times!  Slumber parties, whoa we are busy, his son starts kindergarten, B’s activities begin to pick up, planning our Hawaiian vacation, the holidays, high speed all the way.  Then, we’re in Hawaii in January, recently engaged and what do you know, we plan a wedding while we are there and get married with our two kids in tow, rejoicing all the way! La-de-da.  Now we are back home and it’s daily routines and regular living.  Which I’m good at, really I am!  But I think I’m used to doing everything on my own and wowee do boys generate way more dirt!  🙂  They’re kinda messy folk.  The laundry quadrupled instead of doubling, now I have to cook a legitimate meal and you know what, my husband seems kind of different now that he’s my husband.  I think this is what we do.  We are so used to doing it all on our own and we do it so well, that when other people come in, we do not want to relinquish control.   Of anything.  I think I struggle with that a great deal.  And do we EVER have different parenting styles.  I’m more strict and definitely in control.  He thinks he doesn’t want to be “that kind of dad”, so is a bit lax (I’m being kind).  Raising another womans child is really tough.  Part of me feels bad for her.  Part of me is angry at her for not doing her job right (she wants to by the way, she wishes she could have him back) and part of me thinks I may have been nuts to jump into all this.  It’s an ongoing transition and I will definitely post and sometimes gripe about this on a regular basis.  Little things are hard to get used to.  I miss sleeping with my girl so I make a point to go somewhere with her once a month where we can sleep together and cuddle our hearts out.  I still do lay with her in bed awhile at night and lay with her to wake her up.  But STILL.  I miss my baby.  

Hmmm.  As for how much a partner really helps.  Well, he mows the lawn and does the outside stuff that my Dad used to help with, or various male friends or neighbors.  But I’m pretty self sufficient.  I do have more free time.  If I ASK, he will bring out the garbage or the recyclables or take my car for a wash.  He would even do laundry, although not really how it should be done.  So it helps.  Some.  But I never hated doing that stuff anyway.  It’s nice to have the financial relieft for sure!  I’ve always had a good job but now we are taking vacations and doing bigger things and in a bigger house.  That’s nice.  Especially for the peace of mind we single moms didn’t often get in regards to financial things.  That’s probably the biggest positive change.  That and the back and foot rubs.  

Ok, so although this is a brief answer to something I could talk for days about, there is one more question she mentioned.  I do not feel that his son is one of my own.  No, no, no.  I think he feels more that B is like one of his own, but that is a personality thing.  His son is a different kind of person, not easy to care for at all and has some very special needs and issues, so maybe that’s it.  Maybe not.  He loved my daughter when he first met her around 5 years ago and that completely freaked me out.  Not sure why, everyone loves her.  It shouldn’t have surprised me.  She’s bubbly and happy almost all the time and just a radiant little firecracker with a douse of mischief in her sparkle.  But I did not want to share her.  Actually I still don’t.  But she likes it.  She thrives off it.  And the odd part is, I became very close with another single mom that my ex-husband dated (our daughters became very close and we decided that they should remain friends) and she said she loved my daughter from the beginning too.  I love her girls very much.  Actually, my nephew is someone I loved from the moment he was delivered.  I felt heartwrenching love for him.  So it’s not that I don’t have that ability with other kids.  I’ve heard stepmoms may feel jealous so ok, maybe that?  But I do think he needs a bit more corrective parenting and I gently guide him.  I NEVER yell, would NEVER NEVER NEVER spank or physically punish him and I look out for his well-being all the time.  If I have any issues with him, I talk to his Dad privately and let him address it.  If I’m home alone with him and he does something that needs correcting, I do that as I would if I was babysitting.  I don’t let him misbehave, but I’m certainly not playing the evil stepmom either.  My guideline is I do what I would want my husband to do if the roles were reversed.  I don’t expect that anyone will love B the way I do-there is research proving that the chemicals involved in the mother/child bond run deep and pervade.  And everything I have encountered says you can’t expect to love someone right away…and that you may never feel that-after all, you fell in love with the parent.  Sometimes people are really lucky, and love the child right from the start.  But I won’t lie.  It’s a hairy situation.  You are expected to live with and raise someone else’s child and treat it equal to your own. But you don’t have the real authority to discipline or make core decisions in most instances. Let’s be honest.  With someone who has been a single mom, that won’t really happen.  Our tie is a blood tie.  That child is our everything.  No man can replace that.  Now I am sure there are some single dads who have this dynamic.  In my own experience, those aren’t the guys I’ve run into it-so it seems it may work differently for men.  We all love very differently.  When my daughter is away from me, even at school I miss her.  I ache for her on the weekends she goes to her Dads.  I’ve not yet met the father who has that going on.  And my husband fought for full custody of his son to keep him safe.  I think thats the difference.  Responsibility plays hard in the male psyche.  I get a different husband when his son goes to visit his mom.  He’s more relaxed and less stressed.  So.  If I could give advice, probably it’s easier to have one of the two people getting married to NOT have full custody.  Then you have the occasional reprieve.  This may sound harsh and it’s probably not as clear as I want it to be, but it’s the best I could do while still getting work done.  And, I’m sure there are exceptions.  I can only offer my experience.  In addition, I’m pretty laid back.  If you aren’t…then this situation I’m in is definitely not a wise choice.  You kind of have to just roll with it.  I know my child inside and out…and this other child is a very different animal.