Mother’s Day has represents a unique challenge to me as an only parent. This will be the fifth year the girls and I will mark the day without Risa. The year before that she was in hospice and the year before that – while I can’t definitively recall, I can only assume she was finishing another chemo cycle. We’ve been without a female touch on Mother’s Day for a while now.
This year though, courtesy of the Steve Harvey Show I got a unique perspective on handling Mother’s Day. Steve Harvey’s wife Marjorie treated the girls to a day complete with lunch, hair and makeup from her “glam squad” to picking out new and trendy clothes and a pro-photo shoot. I learned a few valuable lessons, which you’ll have to tune in to find out about.
But the broader realization that I had after spending five days across two weeks in Chicago with the girls – although we do pretty well, there is a missing element. I think back to when I was growing up and it was time to start shaving. I kind of had to figure it out on my own. Today when I am faced with female type things with the girls I can always watch a You Tube video.
In many moments my girls miss a female influence. It’s not that having me around is detrimental. It’s that I’m not their mom, and the reality is no one will be their mom. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be a female around.
Over the years I’ve become better about asking (and accepting) help. It’s still not easy for me. My mother – who I do try to make sure we pay tribute to on Mother’s Day helps. As do many of our friends and neighbors. I have extended family who pitch in for things like dress shopping (sister-in-law), quick questions (cousins) and other issues (all th rest).
The girls and I do some great things – from skiing, to Islanders’ games to vacations. But day-to-day that female influence is missing and it won’t be there. That’s probably OK, at the same time though I wonder about the female touch – and what it could have been.
For 12.0 today is the second of her camp friend’s Bat Mitzvah’s – so we are at the beginning of her run of trips all around the tri-state area to celebrate with her friends. Add in a few from the temple, and she’ll be busy most weekends through June – not unlike what her sister went through two years ago. So it was big sister who stepped up and was sharing the trade secrets for makeup and hair.
For me its a lot of arranging car pools and a fair amount of driving. For 12.0 its a fair amount of dressing, working on hair and nails and make up. And she has the benefit of a great big sister who helps her out with all of that – and I have to admit I am pretty proud of the young ladies I live with.
From the moment your children are born, people always tell you it goes by quickly, and it truly does. I can remember the moment I had to confront being a single parent taking my then pre-teen older daughter bra shopping. It was a decision I made not to shirk the parental responsibility.
The other decision I made a long time ago, was to make sure 14.5 was never cast as a parent for her sister – but could if she wanted the role be a great big sister.
So, when 12.0 needed to get ready for her friend’s Bat Mitzvah, there was her sister helping with the hair and makeup. Would they both rather have their mother help them with this – I’m sure the answer is yes. But that’s not the way our family works – so we rely on each other, and there was big sister stepping in, and not just applying make up, but showing 12.0 some tips and tricks.
And I’m more than good with that. My kids know in our house we can rely on one another when it comes to sharing the trade secrets.
For more than three years now Friday nights have become the biggest challenge I face as a single parent (this started as my wife got sicker). It’s a long week + a long commute + juggling the comings and goings of two girls and their schedules. By the time I reach Friday night I am just fried. Last May I proclaimed the end of the hosted sleepover that is purely social based (when a friend needs help my house is open).
So last night I got home from a day full of meetings and long phone calls-feeling pretty done mentally and physically. Since I had meetings close to home, I did not make the commute to the city-which means that I skipped out on the couple of beers on the train (which are remarkably helpful at the back-end of a long day).
I came home to 8.5 wearing makeup and mascara-talking about how her nose looks thinner with the makeup applied. Of course her nose looks skinny all the time, but she felt good about it, so I rolled with it. It’s not the first time she’s dabbled with makeup, and I have to admit she’s getting better.
Then came 11.0. She went home from school with a friend. It’s kind of a big deal here from the middle school to walk up to the neighborhood ice cream parlor after school-kind of a right of passage where we live. After I picked her up, came the conversation I heard between her and her BFF. The upshot of it was her BFF wanted 11.0 to talk to a boy on her behalf and get him to ask her out.
So off I went to grab a scotch. On overload.
I spent some time sipping scotch and texting with a neighbor (who is also a single parent). She was sipping some wine unwinding from her own version of a tough day filled with strange twists and turns.
So yeah-it’s a right of passage for all of us. And I guess there will be plenty of scotch spilling over ice as we pass through the next few years.