Fifty Dollars Can Change Your Life

$50 is how much it cost to get our marriage license 10 years ago. The license that held the legality to all my hopes and dreams. The paper that went along with the promises that we would love each other, support each other and see each other through the hard times. $50 to start the journey of having a home, a family and a bright financial future with someone always by my side. It would cost much more than $50 to get divorce but that is a whole other story.

$50 was the co-pay when I took my daughter to be evaluated by a developmental pediatrician. I knew that she was not progressing as she should and this was the first step to get answers and the help that she needed. When the diagnosis of Autism was given I was not shocked but I was shook. At the time I had no idea how that would shape our lives. The struggles she and I would endure in finding ways for her to cope with sensory issues, social issues, behavioral issues, sleep problems. The triumphs we would celebrate in her learning how to speak in full sentences, being invited to a Birthday party for the first time, moving into a higher level class, eating new foods, and making lasting relationships with family.  It was a $50 well spent but a life changing $50 for sure.

After my divorce, $50 was how much it cost to fill my tank with gas and embark on our adventure moving from the Bay Area which I had called home all my life, to a little suburban town right outside of Sacramento. This town held promises of a better life. A family friendly town with low crime and high spirits. Little did I know at the time that in my new city “family” meant more than just one parent and a child and it would cost a small fortune to even have an apartment on one income. Sometimes I wish I could get that $50 back.  

$50 is the average amount people ask for from me on a semi-regular basis. Grown men who only have to care for themselves (one of which doesn’t even work but has mommy pay all his bills) will come to me, a single mom, and ask for money. Money for them to get cigarettes, money for them to go to a bar etc.  I don’t give them money anymore, instead they get a lecture and the offer that I will take the $50 they need and put it in a fund to save for their early funeral because their lifestyles are so unhealthy! Of course I don’t actually do that because they aren’t worth my $50!

$50 is how short I came up on an application for an apartment for my daughter and I. I make a decent income compared to others in the area, I get a little bit of child support from my daughters paternal grandmother and some additional money for her having Autism. Do we struggle every month? Absolutely. I have to think extra hard and plan where every dollar goes. But we have never gone hungry, and I have never missed or been late with a rent payment. So I applied for this apartment and show all of my income and I am $50 short of making 2.5 times the rent. I offered to go without Starbucks to save $50 a month but the leasing agent didn’t see my humor. I reached out to several city, county and state level council members and not one could offer me any advice. I could go on a political rant here about how other people who are less hard working get more from the Government but I will leave that alone. $50! $50 means they would rather my daughter and I be on the street! $50 means they can tell me that I don’t qualify to live there and give me an attitude that I am not good enough. This is the most frustrating $50 out of them all.

I really never gave much thought to an amount of money under a thousand dollars possibly changing your life. I am now here to tell you that just $50 can make all the difference in the world!

 “There she is, the man stealer” I think as I drive past the location that my love spends all his time at. The other woman. She is quite large but intimate. She offers comfort in ways that I cannot. He has sought comfort there for about the same amount of time that I have known him, yet they are closer than I will ever be to him.  She is the first place he turns to when things get hard, the first place he goes to celebrate a triumph. She is his world.

When he gets off work he heads right to her, staying there until late at night when he goes home either to his bed or mine to claim he loves me. I wouldn’t know, it is hard to feel that love when all he does is sleep next to me. She is the one who knows his secrets, comforts his soul, and provides his entertainment. He never lights up for me like he does around her.

I know that I should let him go, let him be happy there and move on but I keep holding out hope that one day he will see all the damage she has done to him and all he has lost because of her. She is the reason for most of the drama in his life, she is the reason his bank account continues to dwindle. If he had not been with her that Friday night, he never would have gotten his face beaten in by another man who also wanted to spend time with her. The fact that he cannot tear himself away from her has cost him several jobs, living situations and now might even cost him me. It won’t matter. He will replace those things with more of her comfort. After all, I am just a woman who has given him my heart and loyalty. I could never compete with his bar!

What if We Had a Dating Resume?

How awesome would it be if you got to screen a resume of someone before a date? A dating profile is nice but the questions are not always right, I don’t really care what your favorite book is but I do want to know about the failed relationships you had. Lets face it, we are going to get to that at some point anyway to just get to the point. Let me know about all the drama right off the bat. If I were to write a super honest dating resume about my opinion of men, the shit I’ve been through and what a hot mess I am it would look like this. . .

So there we go folks. While this is for entertainment purposes only, drop me a comment anyway and tell me if you think dating resumes are a good idea? Maybe the future of dating?

Men as Wine Varietals

Lets face it, there are a lot of types of men in the dating world ranging from loser to millionaire, frog to prince, hot to not. I started thinking that there are also a lot of wine varietals. Men usually are the reason I drink and I happen to like wine more then I like men but I thought it would be interesting to compare the two so here it goes. . . . Men as wine varietals

Muscat – This one is sweet. He compliments you all the time, brings you flowers, and pays for everything. Sometimes he is sweet to the point it is sickening. No one can have a dessert wine all the time.

White Zinfandel– This one you may had consumed on accident. It is not even a real wine (man). It is cheap, fake, and you don’t even want to admit to your friends that you enjoyed any of the time spent with it. You would NEVER be seen with it in public!

Chardonnay– This is the everyday go to one. You always know what to expect from it, it hits the spot, and you can rely on it to uphold its end of the relationship.

Merlot– This one is smooth and soft. Mellow and easy to get along with. It pairs well with most of your friends and family and just goes with the flow.

Petite Syrah – This one is hot and spicy. It is bold and leaves your tongue tingling. You fall in love with it right away but the spice dies down as you consume more of it and eventually this one will leave you with the biggest headache of them all.

Boxed Wine– This is the cheap ass. The one who wants to go Dutch all the time, who asks you for money, who has no taste.

Cabernet– This is the one you want to hang on to. It is stable and great quality. Deep, with a great ability to age well.  You want to treat this one like gold, lay it down, keep it at the right temperature and keep it for many years to come.

Sparkling–   This one is fancy, bubbling and exciting. It is for special occasions but can be a little too much to handle every day.

So there you have it. My favorite thing to drink, and the thing that makes me drink the most actually have a lot in common. Happy drinking and Happy dating. Cheers!

Lost in a Moment Without Autism

Sometimes I get lost in the moments and forget that Hailey has autism. It is something that I never thought would happen. When she was diagnosed, as strong as I seemed to be about it I was sad and scared for the future. I had to grieve the child I thought I was going to have and adapt life to the situation we were in. I grieved for the friends she wouldn’t have, the vacations we wouldn’t  go on, the songs we wouldn’t sing together and the games we wouldn’t play. I felt like this heavy stone of autism would forever sit on my shoulders and on my heart. A cloud of hard situations and missed opportunities would hang over my head for a lifetime. I thought I would always be aware of the differences.

We are 5 years after the diagnosis and I am so happy to say I was wrong. SO WRONG! Today I realize I did not have to grieve all of those things, I just had to adapt the expectations. Hailey has been to Disneyland, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and many of the other places I ventured as a child. We do these things a little differently, we get a special pass to not wait in line (BONUS) and we have to be a little more careful with where we pick to eat, and take more breaks but other than that, we have a blast every time!

Recently her and I took a camping trip together, just the two of us. She was in awe of staying in an air-stream (an adjustment I would have assumed years ago would be hard). We laughed and played and went to the beach and made s’mores. We did everything I would have done with her if she were typically developing. We connected and bonded and made lifetime memories. Nothing about the autism got in the way of it being a joyous experience. When it was just the two of us, I often forget she even had autism, it seemed all she had was fun!

A few weeks prior to the camping trip we attended a classmates Birthday party. Yes, the little girl also has autism and they did not interact much at the party but she was invited and was sooooo excited. I cried when we got the invitation. Another life experience my mind had robbed her of at an earlier stage in the diagnosis. It was amazing to watch her sing Happy Birthday to the little girl with the other kids, to watch her eat cake and laugh when her peers did.

Speaking of singing. Hailey and I sing Happy Birthday probably more times in a day than most people do in a year. She loves to sing, and dance. Our Whitney Houston dance party in the living room is always a hit. We even sing songs she has made up. Her creativity is truly one of a kind. 

This past weekend we were at the pool and she was playing in the water with her dolls and splashing and kicking, just like I would of at her age. Nothing seemed weird, different, overwhelming. I wasn’t at the pool with my autistic daughter, I was just at the pool with my daughter. What a relief!

It is so refreshing to have this new view, five years out. To see that things work out and that adaptations are just a part of life but that doesn’t make the life any less memorable or enjoyable. The moments when I forget about the autism are coming more and more frequently. That is not to say that some situations aren’t still hard. . . . (sooo hard) but they are becoming less and less. My worries fade a little more each day as my heart and our bond grows.

For all those mamas new in the diagnosis stage, I know what I am saying it hard to believe. You can’t see it now but your life will not be consumed by Autism forever. Everyone important in your life will learn to adapt with you and one day you will be in a moment with your child and it will just be that. . . . your child, having fun, just the way they are supposed to be.

Why Are We Celebrating You and Not Me?

So this is one of those topics that some people get REALLY mad about. When a single mom gets celebrated on Father’s Day. What’s the big deal? We do twice the work so why can’t we get twice the celebration? I was reminded of this recently when my child’s father actually expected to see her this weekend (we won’t even get into where he located at the moment) even though he never sees her any other time or does anything to benefit her life. I want to know why? Why do you want to take a picture with your daughter once a year? Why do you think that you DESERVE to even be titled a father. Lets recap her life:

Who has gotten up with her in the night since the first day she was born? ME

Who has planned every Birthday and Holiday celebration for her? ME

Who has actually bought her gifts for those special occasions? ME

Who has stayed up at night worrying about her development and diagnosis? ME

Who took the first step to get her evaluated for Autism? ME

Who signed her up for all the right therapies and advocates for her still? ME

Who left an abusive marriage (with you) to protect her tiny soul from seeing and hearing all the hatred and be scarred from it?? ME

Who has full physical and legal custody? ME

Who works full time (shit, who works at all) to support her? ME

Who pays for EVERYTHING that the child needs including clothes, toys, food, etc.? ME

Who makes sure that she has wonderful childhood memories, even when you told me she couldn’t handle it? ME

Who plans, pays for and takes her on vacations? ME

Who is with her 24/7 when she is sick, staying up all night, fighting with her about medications, taking her to Doctors appointments, hospitals etc? ME

Who makes sure she has medical benefits? ME

Who goes to every school function, every IEP meeting, teacher conference, or  first and last day of school? ME

Who deals with the day to day meltdowns and temper tantrums (sometimes even in public)? ME

Who has never laid a hand on her? ME

Who makes every meal, snack and treat? ME

Who reads her stories every night and tucks her in? ME

Who tells her how special she is, how smart and beautiful, and how much she is loved? ME

Who kills the bugs, scares away the lizards, kisses her ouchies? ME

So again, why are we celebrating you? Oh yeah. . .thanks for the sperm and unsolicited opinions on my parenting !

Advice Letter to the Next Guy to Date Me

Oh buddy, are you in for a wild ride.  I am a little bit of a hot mess. I have been damaged by many men before you and I come with baggage. The guys who got to me first got a younger, thinner, care free, but shallow girl who was heavily dependent on everyone around her.  The girl I am today is slightly more insecure, strong as hell, independent, scared to be hurt, and open minded to all types of people and their pasts but with trust issues that you wouldn’t believe. Those issues are not your fault but lets face it you aren’t perfect either and if I have to deal with your issues, you get to deal with mine.  It won’t always be easy, but I would like to think being with me would be worth it. Here are some survival tips:

  1. When it seems like I am a jealous bitch, it is because I care. If I didn’t have a problem sharing you then I wouldn’t make a big deal about other girls flirting all over you or over stepping the boundaries of friendship. Appreciate where it comes from, realize that it is a way of my sharing my love and commitment to you and only you.
  2. When I want to go out with my own girlfriends, give me an extra big kiss and tell me to have a good time.  Do not tell me that I can’t go because then I will run, don’t question me all night or call me every five minutes because then we will fight. Know that us having friends of our own does not make us any less of a couple. Know that at the end of the night, whether I brag about you to them or complain about you, I will come home to you and I will want to be there. Independence is an important part of my new self and you should thank me for not smothering you. I even encourage you to go out with the guys!
  3. When I share a situation I am struggling with and you offer to help but I say no at first. . . offer again. I don’t mean that original “no”. I haven’t had help in years and I am not comfortable directly asking for it and don’t like to feel like a nuisance. However sometimes I can only handle so much and a little help would mean the world to me! Wait a few minutes and ask me again, I will likely take you up on it and be so appreciative of the partnership.
  4. When we are arguing about the same thing and going round and round and you think I am being crazy. PLEASE don’t tell me that! I have had years of verbal abuse and I do not need to be in that situation again. Instead of telling me I am psycho, tell me you understand that I am passionate about this and want to help us find common ground. Instead of telling me that if I don’t let it go we will be over, tell me that you love me and we will get through this but you really need to take a break from talking about it so we can clear our heads.
  5. When I am having insecurities about our relationship and where it stands (because many have ended on me with no warning) Assure me that you are in for the long haul but don’t just do it with your words. Please take a small action or gesture. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, it doesn’t have to cost money but it HAS to be more than “I love you” because those words have been over used, abused and lost meaning to me over the years.

Well that’s about all. I wish you the best. . .. you are gonna need it!

Am I Asking for Too Much?

After each new failed relationship I begin to wonder if I am just asking for too much from men. To me the things I want seem so simple but yet to the men I date they are so unattainable. A basic breakdown of my list is as follows:

  1. Be faithful. Such a simple concept right? If you are with me, you are only with me. The same way I am expected to not be overly flirty, develop feelings for or have sex with someone else. . I expect these things as well. My ex-husband was confused on the rules. I guess when life gets hard he thought it was a pass to get a girlfriend. Not in my book Mr!
  2. Ability to prioritize. . . and prioritize me! The dictionary says prioritize means to “designate or treat (something or someone) as more important than other things.” I do not have to be on the top of the list but can I at least make it on the list?? I gave a lot in my last relationship and was all in, putting him high on my list and I did not fit on his list at all. His list contained things such as the local bar, friends, other girls, the local bar, roommates, previous partners who are no longer around (this was a big one!) and did I mention the local bar? I was probably the very last thing on his mind at any given time. Am I the only one who thinks this is not ok?
  3. Have a good work ethic and be financially responsible. . . I can do it, so why is it so hard for the male population? I don’t need someone who is a CEO or has a college degree. I need someone who gets their ass out of bed every day, even when they don’t want to and goes to work. Who does their job when they are there and gets a stable paycheck every week. Then takes that paycheck and pays all of their bills before they waste the rest of the money. . . . rocket science? Not to me. However, out of all the guys I have met this has been the one they all can’t do.
  4. Acceptance – “recognizing a process or condition without attempting to change it or protest it “. Unlike an asshole I have dated in the past, this will include accepting that my daughter has special needs and is still amazing, that she will always be a priority for me, that my body is not that of a 25 year old playboy model, that my shyness is not something to be ashamed of, or that the way I fold the damn towels does not change their ability to dry you off! (please!). After all I had to accept the fact that he was obnoxious when drunk, had a child who needed nonstop attention and was so old he had to nap everyday!
  5. Be able to have a partnership. This is a big one. I do not want to raise another child so if I am making your meals and cleaning up after you and solving your problems that is fine, but I will then need you to be there for me when I have a problem too and do some of the manly things around the house. On the flip side, I do not want to ask permission to see my friends or spend a dollar, I don’t need any more parental figures. I just need a life partner to work through things together.

So there is my list. Basically I just want a man who goes to work everyday, thinks about me and makes me feel important to him, comes home to me and doesn’t fool around and accepts me the same way I will accept him while working with me to make our life better.  Is that really a fairy tale these days??  

My Social Media Life Vs. My Real Life

You know those happy family portraits from your friends that pop up in your Facebook feed while you are having a crappy day? Don’t let the things get you down. I am here to tell you that they are not true. I used to post pictures of how perfect my life was while in the background it was breaking into a million little pieces. I hid the imperfections, the failures and the fears behind happy photos with heartwarming captions. 

When I posted that picture of my husband (at the time) and the flowers he had waiting for me at home along with a newly cleaned house and I captioned it with how lucky I was blah blah blah (barf!). . . What I was hiding with that picture was that a few nights prior he had come home drunk . . . again, and mad that I was on the phone with my mother and not liking the way I loaded the dishwasher. That rage turned into a verbal attack of my character, my looks, parenting skills and my future and then ended up with his fist through our wall and a promise that if I didn’t listen to him I would not be happy with the consequences.  A few nights before that, he didn’t bother to come home at all, it interfered with the affair he was having.  I never mentioned any of this in my post.

When I posted the picture of my daughter smiling in her autism shirt and I said how her smile lit up my heart and I was so over the moon in love with being her mom no matter her differences . . . What I was hiding was I had slept for about 2 hours the night before, and they were not in a row. My daughter had woken up several times due to her autism and sensory issues and thought it was time to play in the middle of the night. What I didn’t mention was that the 24 hours prior to that I had battled her to eat meals, get dressed, go to school, basically do anything but yell. Meltdown after meltdown made it hard to leave the house for that time period and I was in belief that the only word she was interested in was NO! (Please don’t get me wrong I do love my daughter unconditionally and feel I was born to be her mom but I never mentioned how hard it was)

When I posted that quote about being a strong, independent woman and then I wrote that I was so happy with the progress I had made in starting my new life as a single mom. . .What I was hiding with that post was I was scared shitless. While being out of an abusive marriage was a step in the right direction I was strapped for cash, not having any time to myself, realizing how many things I did not know how to do around the house, and feeling soooooo incredibly lonely. I was pretty sure I would be alone, poor, and confused for the rest of my life, some strength and independence that was!

When I posted about my new boyfriend and our kids playing on New Year’s Day and I said I was so happy they got along and what a wonderful year this was going to be. . . What I was hiding was his daughter drove me and my daughter absolutely NUTS! I mean I have never been around a child that needed that much attention in my life. It was a constant circus and as much as I loved my boyfriend at the time I could not wait to go home after that weekend! I also didn’t mention that I was noticing our relationship changing and I was not sure we would make it through the year (Spoiler alert: we did not!).  He went from thinking I was an amazing woman to thinking that I did nothing right. I was too overweight, I didn’t dress in the style he liked, I let my nail polish chip, and I was too involved with my child. A great year? It was a miserable two months before we finally ended it but no one on social media knew that.

When I posted about the next guy I dated and I hash tagged it #newbeginnings(corny I know). . .What I was hiding then was I was scared to even begin anything. What would make it work with this guy when it had failed with all the others? He was amazing with my daughter and we had a lot in common but what about the red flags I was already seeing? The girls that would text him all the time, the fact that he didn’t want me to meet anyone in his life, that he was always at the bar spending most of his time and money and when he could squeeze me in I was expected to be relieved to see him and pay for everything.  If this was the “new beginning”, how would the end be? (Another spoiler: this guy ended up to be a good guy and I was just over reacting to red flags and the kinks got worked out)

When I posted the picture of the firetruck at my old job with cancer awareness banners on them and I said that I was happy to work for a place that cared about the well being of people . . . What I was hiding is that this was the most toxic place I had ever worked. The people in my department couldn’t give two shits about the well being of anyone (ironic being that they were in emergency services but that is a whole different story). I woke up miserable every day that I had to go there but it was a well-kept secret on my profile feeds.

What I am telling you is that we never know what is behind a picture so we can’t let it affect our lives. What we can do is start the trend to be more honest about our lives on social media. To let others know that it sucks for us too sometimes! That life happens.  I have come a long way. If something good happened I will still share it but it will be true and it will be posted along with all the bad things, all the stresses, the funny times, the sad times, the real times. It is scary to be out there saying “hey this shit isn’t perfect and TOTALLY not how I thought my life would be but I am surviving”. But you know what else it is? It is freeing and I encourage you to try it!

Our Duty as Parents on Memorial Day

Monday is Memorial Day. It is a day when we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Those sons, daughters, husbands, wives, friends etc. who did not come home. It is a somber occasion but one that can be filled with a lot of importance, respect and gratitude.

So as parents, what should we be doing? I believe it is our responsibility to always teach respect for our country and our soldiers to the next generation and Memorial Day is a great time to start those conversations and lessons.

Most young children have not experienced war (luckily). They do not know about the World Wars, Vietnam, and Korea, our protection in Bosnia, the Dominican Republic, and so many other countries. They were not around to witness the horror of 9/11 or the wars to follow that. Some may have scraped the surface of the topic in history classes but I can tell you that I learned a lot more about other things in history then I ever did about wars, and our military.  Most of our children are still living in innocence and while as parents we want to maintain that for as long as possible we also want to teach them gratitude. Gratitude for all those who have sacrificed their comforts, family, health and lives to protect us and our free country.

There are numerous ways to do this depending on the age group and again it does not have to be overwhelming. Some ways to approach this topic are:

  • Go to a local veteran cemetery, talk about the people buried there and the flags around the grounds in honor of them. Leave some flowers and a nice note by a monument there.
  • Pause at 3pm. Where ever you are, stop at 3pm to take a moment of silence for a fallen solider. Have a brief conversation before the moment so your children know the meaning behind it.
  • Wear a red poppy.  The red poppy became a symbol of remembrance for fallen soldiers in 1918.
  • Have your child help you hang your flag  at your home ( please note: it should be flown at half-staff from dawn to noon)
  • Attend a local parade or watch the national parade on TV
  • While Memorial Day is for fallen soldiers it would still be nice to have your child write a letter or draw a picture for current soldiers or Veterans (especially those in veteran hospitals and care facilities). Maybe even bring a snack to an elderly Veteran’s home.

Whichever way you chose to share information about this day with your child, the most important thing is that they realize this is not an extra day off from school, it is not the beginning of the summer season, or a time for the best sales. It is a day to memorialize those who sacrificed for us and our country and their sacrifice shall never be forgotten.