How To Turn Your Child Into a Germaphobe In A Few Easy Steps

To the parents of Facebook posting about their child’s current viral battle, I would like to explain to all of you how you’re increasing my anxiety and therefore teaching my child that irrational thoughts are totally acceptable. Yes, it’s your fault, not mine. At all.

It’s that time of year again. No, not the “holiday spirit” time, none of that shit. The time of year when every second or third Facebook status in my feed is comprised of giving graphic details of vomiting and/or feverish children.

Look, I’m totally guilty of it, too. Misery loves company and when your child is sick, at my age you know that at least 200 out of your 500 Facebook friends can relate to what you’re going through, maybe even more. There’s comfort in that, I get it, but let me tell you how my brain processes these status updates:

Step 1: Analyze severity of said virus. If virus is more severe than a common cold, move on to step 2.

Step 2: Analyze where this friendly Facebook poster is geographically located. If they’re in Florida, move onto step 3. If they’ve been in direct play contact with Lily within the last 3-7 days, go directly to step 5.

Step 3: Begin Six Degrees of Separation analysis. Ex: If they’re in the same county, do they go to Lily’s school? If not, how do I know them and who knows them that I interact with? If there is any link to Lily or me whatsoever, move onto Step 4. If there isn’t a link, continue checking back to poster’s Facebook page to make sure said child is better just in case it’s possible that Lily will somehow come in contact or linked to sick child in the near future. Or perhaps the virus is contagious through the computer.

Step 4: If there is any indirect interaction with Lily within the last 3-5 days, begin preparing for said illness: Vitamin C load up, make sure OTC meds are stocked, wash linens, etc.

Step 5: OMG LILY IS GOING TO GET A STOMACH VIRUS AND THEN I WILL GET IT AND THEN I WILL DIE AND LILY WILL NOT HAVE A MOM.

These are the joys of living with high levels of anxiety. You make everything into a catastrophe.

So, ok. Now I’ve read the statuses and my brain goes into survival mode. Must.prepare.for.worst.virus.ever. Logically, I go to Lily and sit her down for a heart to heart:

“Lils, listen. There are a lot of germs going around right now. You know what that means?”

“Mooooooommmm, yessssssssssssssss!”

“Well, what? Tell me.”

“I need to wash my hands every few minutes at school, don’t eat anyone’s food, don’t put my hands in my mouth.”

“AND?????”

“And don’t touch anyone.”

“Right. Good girl. Not even the teacher because all of the kids touch the teacher. And don’t touch the lunch table.”

Eye rolls ensue and the child asks to leave the country to get away from me. Kidding. She’s not quite there yet.

Currently, it’s as though I’m playing this weird game of musical chairs in my head with my ex to see who will get “sick Lily” in the middle of the night. Who will be the one to get that sick sounding, pathetic voice in the middle of the night? Will it be mom or dad? No one knows. It’s bound to happen though based on the statistics I’ve derived from my Facebook analytics.

Anyone see that movie “Bubble Boy”? Someone please tell me where I can buy one of those bubbles. Thanks in advance.

Defining “Full-Time Single Parent” Through Social Media

I am addicted to Instagram. It’s honestly an obsession. I just love looking at pictures, more than the average person, I believe. I prefer Instagram over Facebook, hands down. On Instagram there is rarely any abounding negativity or that vague-booking phenomenon of, “Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers!”, or, “I AM SO DONE”, with no explanation of why I should even consider praying for said individual or what that person is “SO DONE” with. No, on Instagram there just seems to be love, kids, pets, yoga, and humor. I adore it.

There is one exception to my love for Instagram: Commenter wars. I don’t know if this is even a thing but that’s what I call it. I’m sure you’ve all seen it, if you’re an Instagram fan, these wars between commenters that take place usually under popular pictures, mostly posted by celebrities or high traffic Instagram accounts.

Today, I saw a post by Heather Armstong of Dooce.com. (If you don’t know her then you must be new to the internet so in that case, welcome.) She made a comment under her photo post about how you celebrate the small victories when you’re a “full-time single parent”.

“Oh, how I can now completely identify!”, I thought to myself.

I rarely leave comments on pictures but I wanted to praise the post and find that single-mom solidarity with her. As I went to hit that “Comment” button, I noticed a small war brewing within the comments already posted. Random women, most likely strangers to Heather, were discrediting her for her use of the term “full-time single parent”. Women berating other women. Parents berating other parents.

There were 12 comments at that time, more than half of which were giving Heather their own, more accurate (says them), definition of single-parent. As I type, there are currently 80 comments with more of the same.

“‘Single parenting’ means no co-parent- someone widowed or whose former spouse has shirked parental responsibilities”- Jackiedanicki

“The issue isn’t the use of single parent. It’s ‘full time’ single parent. We know she has shared custody, we know she has family. With all due respect she has no clue what being a full time single parent is. Hint- no alone trips, no relief. All you all the time”- turbulentmouse

Those are a couple of examples of the comments left on Heather’s photo.

These people were striking a huge nerve of mine. Why must we all one-up one another with how tough our life is? Why is someone else’s battle less hard than your own? Why does it matter that someone’s definition of full-time single parent differs from yours? Is there even a definition of “full-time” single parent? Does there even have to be?

The truth is that full-time single parenting means so many different things to every individual experiencing it. Everyone lives in their own reality and everyone is on a journey that includes hardships. This is true for life in general, single parent or not. That we can all agree on. So, let’s stop attacking someone else’s reality because it does not and will not ever mirror your own. Let’s stop making assumptions about people’s lives, how hard they work for their kids, their custody agreements, etc. It isn’t fair.

For me, I have learned through my brief stint thus far in single parenthood that there are just too many dynamics to define what it truly is. It looks so different in every situation. It’s somewhat undefinable even though the words seem so self explanatory.
I have my daughter five nights a week, leaving my ex with two.
Do I stop worrying about her those two nights a week and do I stop parenting when she’s gone? No.
Do I have it easier than someone whose ex spouse is completely out of the picture? No, I don’t think so because in some situations co-parenting is more intense and more difficult than just doing it your own way 100% of the time.
Do I have it harder than divorced parents who split their time 50/50? No, see previous answer.
Do I have it harder than all married parents because I am no longer married? You know what? No, I don’t. Not in all cases. I have seen plenty of parents that are married and would completely define a full-time single parent because of how absent their spouse is.
Do I consider myself a “full-time” single parent? Abso-fuckin-lutely.

What I know is that I am a parent who has her priorities in line. My child comes first, period. That qualifies me as a full-time parent in my book. Any parent that prioritizes their children as number one in life is a full-time parent. I just so happen to be single. Does that component make it difficult? Hell yes but I refuse to be the asshole to say, or think, my life is so much more difficult than anyone else’s. I do not live in anyone else’s reality.

So, Instagram commenters, stop trying to define something that bears a different definition for everyone. More importantly, let’s remember that there is a human with emotions on the other side of your screen, someone who is fighting a battle that you know nothing about aside from what TwitGramBook tells you. Be kind and let’s lift one another up. Think of something kind to say to a single mom that is posting on social media, and clearly struggling, not something to shame them.

Oh yeah, also, Instagram commenters? Stop ruining my happy place.

In the Trenches

I’ve used that phrase often. In the trenches of college. In the trenches of figuring out my career. In the trenches of planning a wedding. In the trenches of new motherhood. In the trenches of toddlerhood.

I have never used that phrase for anything as painful as being in the trenches of going through a divorce.

I read a blurb today from one of my favorite female comedians, Amy Poehler, on the topic of divorce:


“Imagine spreading everything you care about on a blanket and then tossing the whole thing up in the air. The process of divorce is about loading that blanket, throwing it up, watching it all spin, and worrying what stuff will break when it lands.”

“When you are a person going through a divorce you feel incredibly alone, yet you are constantly reminded by society of how frequently divorce happens and how common it has become. You aren’t allowed to feel special, but no one knows the specific ways you are in pain.”

That last sentence completely resonated with me: You aren’t allowed to feel special, but no one knows the specific ways you are in pain.


It’s so very true. No one will ever truly know that pain as you experience it, even if they’ve been in a similar situation. No one knows the way you loved, the passion you felt, the way you gave, the way you cried, the hurt you endured, the specific feelings of rejection and betrayal, the unique way you have self-doubted, the contents and magnitude of the arguing, the inner struggle to stay or go multiple times, the different ways of finally letting go,…I could go on and on.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the pain that you now carry for your child(ren) throughout this process. Pain of letting go of this family structure so they can have a happy, healthier mom…eventually. The pain of managing this for them in two separate houses. The pain of making them a statistic, being a “child of divorced parents”. It’s a heavy burden, this type of pain, in addition to your own pain. We can all agree that staying together for the kids is not the healthy choice to make but let’s face it, it’s the reason many of us stay longer than we should. No one wants this for their child. No one gets married and has a child to say “Man, I cannot WAIT to go through my divorce so my kid can have two houses!”. It’s the most painful part, your reflection in your child’s eyes, yet, the most calming.

Friends can listen, identify, empathize, hug you, cry with you, ache for you, but they cannot live your pain, nor should they. It’s your path to walk, your pain to endure.

“Lonely” is an understatement in these trenches.

The whole dynamic shift that occurs while going through this process is only comparable to a death. You’re missing this whole moving part of your life that you become so accustom to and dependent on. You’re in this new world of self-reliance when you never wanted it or planned it this way. You’re now missing that emotional connection that you clung to for so long: that confidant, the person that had to listen to your work rants and that person you shared your dreams with. You’re now missing that physical connection: that person you woke up to and knew their morning routine, that person that you hugged at least a couple times a day, the person you’ve been most intimate with in life. You’re now missing that “partner” connection: that person to call if you forgot to pick up milk on your drive home, that person to help fold laundry, your guaranteed social event date, your go-to person to take over the parenting responsibilities when you’ve just had enough.

Even if you’re extremely independent, as I’ve always been, these missing pieces are all exhausting, especially with a child. Obviously sad, too, but exhausting because you’re now 100% self-reliant.

So, how do you put the pieces back together? All of these things you’ve piled on the blanket and threw up in the air are making their descent and you’re watching so many of them break as they land in different places. Some stay in tact, but most are certainly broken. Everything you’ve known for however long, (in my case, 12 years), has been undefined now. Everything.

You have to clean up now and redefine.

The pieces will not fit back together where they were, it’s impossible, so you try to find where the pieces will fit now. You create this new normal for yourself and your child and slowly figure out where the pieces will fit. You sit with the pain when you need to because it’s grief and you have no choice but to look at it in the face. On good days, you say “fuck you, grief and sadness. I’m going to have a good day”, but on bad days, (and there are A LOT of bad days), you sit with it, you become ok with it…and you learn from it.

And there it is, the purpose: learning.

Throughout all of this, the only thing you’re truly gaining is an education. One that is so incredibly important. You learn about yourself. You learn that you’re much more capable than you ever gave yourself credit for. You learn that you’re a better parent because of this. You learn who truly loves you and how to give more of yourself to those people. You learn to stop giving to those that don’t. You learn how to be selfish, which is magical in it of itself. You learn how to self-preserve. You learn to see things with a fresh perspective. You judge less and love more. You learn how to forgive but not forget so you’re not tempted to go down that path again. You just learn and there is so much value in that.

And about all of that loneliness? You learn it isn’t so terrible. You start your own morning routine. You realize that the laundry can stay in the fucking dryer for 3 days. You ride your bike up to the corner store for milk, just to get in that extra piece of exercise. You go to dinner alone and enjoy people watching. You plan a trip alone, somewhere where YOU’VE always wanted to go. You find your love for things that you didn’t know existed, like Ashtanga yoga and frilly bed quilts. You spend more time with friends and family. You shop for things only you like, not having to consider another’s taste. You enjoy one-on-one time with your child. The list goes on but the point is, you’re redefining yourself. It’s an opportunity that not many people have in life or not many will take in life: making a new definition of who you are, here and now; meet yourself for the first time. How amazing is that?

Is the view from the trenches scary and sad? Yes. It’s a trench I never wanted to explore but life had bigger plans for me. It wanted me to see a new life and it wanted to teach me to let go of a relationship and a love that was not serving me anymore. I have to open my eyes and enjoy the view from here for now.

So, to those going through this process of divorce and are in the trenches, do I understand the specific ways you are in pain? No, but we’re still in it together and there is something amazing on the other side of all of this.