empty chair

Cue music to Les Mes “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables”. Hey…if you are going to be melodramatic go all the way, right.

Pre-K graduation. Precious little event. Parents—most much younger than me—flocked to the daycare playground to get a front row seat. I ended up 3 seats in front the row, 2nd row behind the concrete slab that was to serve as the stage. I sank oh-so-eloquently into the chair that was 3 centimeters off the ground and pretended to look comfortable as my knees hit my chin. The chairs, designed for wee ones, were not conducive to non-wee ones so it took a bit of adjusting to get all of my derriere on the seat and not hanging off the seat. I cursed my decision to wear a short skirt and prayed that some precious little twerp in the front row didn’t point and scream, “I see her panties” when the festivities started. My black sweater which looked oh-so-audrey-hepburn at home now seemed like a really, really bad idea. The chairs were hot and center in the rays of the morning sun. Having been warned that seats and parking were limited I had a good 30 minutes to bake…err…wait in the glorious conditions.

2 by 2 they flocked in– The parents that is. It was like Noah’s freakin’ ark; everyone was paired and partnered. They sat all around me. These young, perky, paired parents had obviously attended a few more school functions then I had because they were chatting and smiling and conversing like old friends. I knew nary a soul. Around me I heard, “….public or private….WE’VE spend a lot of time talking about that….” Or “…WE are headed to Florida for a quick get-away….” Or “…WE have our house up for sale…better school district….WE….”. Everything was WE…I sat there as ME and listened. Beside me sat an empty chair.  

My sunglasses are oversized—thank goodness. I slipped them on and pretended to NOT wipe the bead off sweat off my neck. I read the program….four times…I fidgeted in my seat in an attempt to dislodge the flesh that was melting into the hot plastic chair. I fiddled in my purse pretending to look for something. I tried to hum a song in my head to drown out the WE conversations all around me but all I could think of was “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” which did NOTHING to improve my condition. Especially since the chair beside me remained empty.

In desperation I brought out my phone. I am almost over my data for the month so I am trying to be careful about whipping out the iphone…you know…the adult pacifier. Desperate times call for desperate measures though so I gave in and used my phone to call a lifeline. My tribe. Within seconds I had responses. I felt better and hoped I looked less alone now that was so importantly typing away on my phone.

The program started and though parents were standing 3 deep all along the ‘stage’ no one came to sit in the empty chair beside me. And although it was sad and embarrassing it was also slightly nice because at this stage of the game I STUNK. The outdoorsy smell had definitely kicked in.

My cutie-patootie came on ‘stage’ so I tried to ignore the empty chair and focus on her cute little face as she proudly recited poems and sang her little songs. Midway thru the song she quit gazing in my direction and looked to the right. Her face lit up. In the middle of her little graduation poem she made the “ROCK-N-ROLL” sign with her little hand while gazing off into the crowd—away from where I sat with my empty chair. She spent the rest of the program looking off to my right flashing symbols like she was at an ACDC concert.

After the event she went running out of site. I didn’t get the first hug. I sat, my arse hanging off the too little chair, my knees almost to my chin and tried not to look pitiful. Eventually she came to me. I hugged her with all my might. She was so adorable and so proud! I wanted a picture of us to savor the moment. I didn’t know anyone to ask. I didn’t have anyone there to grab a shot. We took a selfie-my precious little bug and I. I got another quick hug and then she was off.

I left.

The hardest part of being a single mom, for me, isn’t the responsibility of being the only one to make dinner or to give baths or to shuttle from one place to another. The hardest part of being a single mom, for me, is that damn empty chair. It’s the empty chair you have to talk to when you are trying to make decisions on your child’s behalf. It’s that empty chair at the softball games, the graduations and the honors nights. It’s the selfies, not the pictures that you have to take because there is no one else there to grab that snapshot when your little one launches herself into your arms at the end of the program. The stupid, empty chair and all the conversations that only include the word ME not WE; that’s the hardest part of parenting alone. That stupid empty chair that makes a little one have to scan the crowd to find 2 faces and then having to choose which one to look at.

All in a days work (when you are the boy in this gaggle of girl)

15 minutes ago my fella was responding to my screAms! Like a superhero he swooped outside and delivered me from evil—-the SNAKE inhabiting my stadium seat.

He calmed down the crying little one and the BIG ONE (me) that wanted to cry.

Segue: in my defense that thing was couled under the blanket that was part of the seat. I reached down to pick up the seat and it MOVED!)

Back to the story—Like his grandpa taught him he checked to be sure it was black and than he forbade me to kill it. “We need it mama. It kills rats,” at which point my freak out ramped up a notch.

After assuring me there were no rats he eased the darned thing into the bushes and gave me his ‘it’s-gonna-be-okay-mama’ crooked smile.

Minutes later the girl and I are on the front porch-as far away from the snake as we could get. We are painting our nails. The conquering hero swoops in and saves the day again. This time by painting his little sisters toenails. Pure sweetness. Be still my heart.

“Your toes are so little,” he remarked at one point. “Oops-I am not too good at this,” he said while reaching down to clean up some errant color.

“Oh yes you are bubba.” Admonishes little miss. “You are da best Bubba ev-ah. You are da bestest. Bubba,” she’s gentle but firm and is speaking to him as a teacher would to an upset child. “You are do-od. You are da best bubba. You pulled my tooth,” and that was that. Her allowing him to pull her tooth was the height of trust and she didn’t need to say anything else to prove it. “You missed as spot.”

They finished the pedicure while I watched-delighted in the little moment.

The little toes weren’t even dry before she enticed him to play hide-n-seek. He willingly went along. Even going so far as to walk right by her when her “hiding” place was sitting in the middle of the  sidewalk  covering HER eyes despite the fact that he was it.

Soon he’d stalled as long as he could and he found her. While she counted he ran around the house. She got to 10-popped up and looked in the bushes, on the sidewalk and behind the column. “Mama!” She cries. “I’ve lost my bubba. I taint (translation: can’t) fine (d’s give her trouble) him anywhere. Help me. We need our bubba! We need him!”

Yes baby we do. We need our bubba. Our little man. Our hero. Our snake slayer-our toe-nail painter. So we found him.

I look up from writing this to find my darlings having dance lessons in the porch. If you asked me what I wanted for mothers day I wouldn’t have known to have asked for this moment—but it’s all I could ever want. My big boy and my little gal waltzing around the front porch. He dips her and her giggles fill the night. In turn, his giggles are infectious when she tries to return the favor and dip him.

Happy mama. That’s what I am.

No biggie my bootie

“It’s no biggie mom,” says sassy miss about her cheerleading tryout tomorrow. Sure. No biggie. 

It’s no biggie. Sure. That’s why when I called at 7:30pm I got this….(in your mind read this as one long, run on sentence said in a single breath because that’s exactly how it was said to me.)

“Hi baby. It’s me. I had to work a bit late……”that’s as far as I got. 

“Hi mom,” that’s the last breath. “Did you remember the ribbon because you said you would make me a bow to wear tomorrow and i want you to make one for my friend for bringing me home everyday and it has to be red and gold-not plain red and that yellowish color but real shiny gold and pretty red ribbon that the judges will see and remember and I need you to help me do my shirt-Ya know cute but it can’t have my name only my number and designs and maybe bubble numbers because you do great bubble numbers and….” Gasp. 

Crap. I forgot the ribbon. I just made 13 black and white ribbons for her softball team but do I have red and gold? Of course not. 

“I’ve got to go pick up cupcakes for a party at work tomorrow….” I glance at the clock. It’s 7:46 and the only ribbon I know that’s funky is back the other way-opposite of where my cupcakes wait. Dang. Dang. Dang. 

“Oh. That’s okay. I know that’s important. It’s okay,” dejection in her voice rips my heart in two. I argue that I can get both done in time but I know I can’t. 

“Oh no!” Pure panic. “I meant to see if you could get me shorts because I only have blue and we have to wear white shirts with our number on it and blue and white is OCONEE colors not Lightning colors and I thought it might be bad to wear their colors and not ours but I guess it’s too late since you had to work late and it’s okay really it is and never mind it’s no biggie I can wear the blue ones and I don’t have to have a bow cause that’s not like mandatory or anything but the shirt is so woukd you still have time to do that or are you too tired?” 

If I wasn’t tired before I am after listening to her say all that in a single breath. There is that phrase–no biggie. Um hmmm. “I will find a way to get it all done. You asked for a bow. I’ll make a bow. And yes, I can make one for your friend. That’s a nice way to say thank you,” I have to breathe. “We will have time to make your shirt .” I don’t want to make a big deal of this because it will make it worse if it doesn’t go well. But…it obviously is a big deal and I want her to feel supported: 

“I’ll figure this out,” I gave her permission to practice instead of  vacuuming and sign off wondering how I can possibly accomplish all this. Not that it’s any big deal of course. 

In the end I got her errands done and will pick up my cupcakes first thing. She’s got shorts-RED–her school colors. She’s got her bows. We also pimped out her shirt. 43 never looked so tacky. She’s done her cheer for me 10 times. Her toes have been touched 15 times and our little abode about come tumbling down thanks to a round off. Before bed she thanked me 10 times for getting her everything she needed/wanted. She’s happy and feels supported. I’ve done my job-for tonight anyway. 

What will my job tomorrow be? Drying tears or leading a victory dance? I don’t know. It’s out of my hands. What will be-will be. Good thing it’s no biggie. 

Making it

It’s 9:30pm.  “Wheels on the Bus” wafts from upstairs over the sniff-sniffs of a little girl who had a bad, bratty day so was sent to bed alone. She’s not sleeping. She’s waiting to be tucked in.  From outside wafts “1-2-3-4″ followed by a thud and a “oh man”. That’s from my big girl. She’s decided to try out for cheerleading. Her and 99 of her fellow middle schoolers. Although I almost cried when I heard that number she assured me that it’s okay. She doesn’t want football-so the 99 is actually less. That’s her story; but I know that she is still facing double digits. Before I signed the form she swore she wouldn’t be broken hearted if she doesn’t make it. Swore. Yet her being outside at 9:30 at night after being at tryouts until almost 7 pm tell me otherwise. Damn.       Why cheerleading????? She’s already a Lady Lightning softball player. While  I am overjoyed to have a middle school softball player she’s respectfully humble and carefully excited. See, everyone  made it. Softball, it turns out, is not such a big deal at our school. Our rival school right down the road is another story . They announced their team tonight and broke some of our friends hearts. We will face other friends who didn’t have thier hearts broken in their blue and white uniforms next year.  Kinsley is sad for some friends and happy for others. She’s decided to not mention being a Lady Lighting until her sad and her happy friends have had a few days to recover. I love her for that.  CLAP.  She’s still at it. I know she needs to come in but I respect her for giving 100%. I admire her for going after something new. I like her gumption. I’ll let her practice a little longer. She’s probably not ready for another round of “you know there are lots of girls with more experience” or “promise me you won’t be broken hearted”.  GOOOOOO LIGHTNING!  She is working so hard. But it’s late and she’s still got a few big days ahead so I’d better make her rest. Not that I’ll rest until all this is over. I hope I am equiped for whatver comes next.

Rite of passage

Today starts middle school tryouts for the girls I love most. Not all of them will make the teams they want. That’s a fact. It’s also a fact that some friendships might be tested when 1 friend makes it while another doesn’t. 

I know it’s real life. 

I know it’s something we’ve all experienced.

I know it’s a learning experience. 

I know it’s a life lesson. 

I know-I know-I know-I know. 

But now it’s my daughter. It’s my daughters friends. It’s MY FRIENDS that may have to dry tears or teach humbleness and that makes this rite of passage even harder. I don’t just worry for my girl-I worry for my GIRLS. I’ve been tapping my toes and biting my lip all day. Here is what I wish from the ones judging:

Please be fair. Please let the girls shine. Please see the heart beating wildly underneath the cute t-shirts.  Please see the potential. See the WANT in the girls at the back of the line. Please ignore that missed pop fly and watch for the girl that chases it down and never gives up-even if she makes a mistake. Please see the girls that will give you a cohesive team. See the girls with fighting spirits and contagious enthusiasm. Please. Please be mindful of the quiet ones. Make sure they get a fair chance. Watch for the ones that congratulate each other and smile the most. Look for leaders but keep in mind you need some to follow the superstars. Don’t pre-judge. 

For our girls:

Fight. Show good sportsmanship. Believe you can! Cheer one another on. Pump each other up. Be a team even as you fight for a spot on the team. Be friends first and competitors last. Give it your all and then give a little more. Be proud of the school you want to play for. Remember all you’ve been taught. Keep your eye on the ball. Be fearless. Be hopeful. Do YOU. 


just a few of my girls…n

Good luck girls. Good luck moms.  We may be 2 schools but today and tomorrow we are one village. Be Warriors. Be Titans. Be brave and be great. 

Rough day 

Tonight, still wet from her bath, my naked baby girl crawled into my bed and said,”Momma-can we talk about it?”

“Talk about what baby girl?” I asked. 

Big sigh. “I had a rough day,” I started to laugh but one look at her crestfallen face stopped me. 

I crawled in the bed and pulled the covers up to her chin. “Sure we can talk about it. What made your day rough?” She curled in her side-facing me. Her plump little hands tucked under her cheek and she started to talk.

Her brother hurt her feelings when he teased her about going to jail ’cause that’s where bad  guys go. Her sissy made her mad. Her tummy hurt a little bit and Alex said he wasn’t her best friend anymore. She hit her chin and it was red. She fell down at the softball game. Her big brown eyes welled with tears. 

One by one I either explained things or told her I was sorry. I punctuated each sentence with a kiss to her nose, her forehead or her cheek. In a few minutes I got a big all better smile and she bounced away. 

Our night rattled on. I mentioned the rough day to big brother to stop some teasing. He grinned over the top of her head but was  appropriately sympathetic to the baby girl who adores him.

At bedtime I was resolute in my decision that she couldn’t sleep with me. I did relent into tucking her in. She was sad and clingy and slightly weepy. 

Suddenly bam! the bed bounced and big girl joined us. She snuggled up to her chunka-munka and made some non-sensical conversation that only the little one seemed to understand. It worked. I see a smile. Bam! Big brother joins in. Smile becomes a full fledged grin. Ba-ba-BAM. Dog jumps in with us. Smile begins a giggle. “My whole fam-Ah-lee,” baby girl giggles. “1-2-3-4-5.” She counts is off one-by-one. “My bubba, my sissy, my momma and Quinn. All in my bed!” She puts her little dimpled hand over mouth and laughs and laughs. Big girl starts the strawberry shortcake CD player and toddler tunes fill the room. 

“This is what we do when someone in our family has a rough day,” her big brother explains snuggling up and laying his head down in her tummy. She taps his forehead and laughs some more.  A quick shimmy and some dance moves to wheels on the bus sends her into full-fledged laughter. 

And right here, right now,  was a perfect moment.  A 15 year old high school fella, a beautiful 12 year old middle schooler and a rambunctious dog all snuggled together to help a 5 year old feel better after her rough day.  

And in helping her they helped me. I don’t have clean house. They aren’t great at doing chores. Grades and attitudes could sometimes be better but none of that mattered tonight. I have wonderful babies; Wonderful babies with good, kind hearts who love family and who come together when it matters most. 


Teenage relationship DO NOTS-oops 

A friend of mind posted a blog post from THE MID today entitled:  How to ruin your relationship with your teen.  I read it carefully and then realized that it may already be too late.  I might have done all the damage I can do.

1. Not listening

Guilty.  Oh-so-guilty.  I get to the 3rd excuse of why so-and-so is an awful teacher and I go right into ‘teacher is always right’ lecture mode.  Or…in the middle of making dinner or bathing the hellion I tend to tune out the play-by-play of the volleyball game from PE.  Shame on me.  I get irritated when I ask about the day and get ‘fine’ but I tune them out when they try and give details on their day.  And though every sentence involves the word ‘like’ at least 4 times and has some version of “IKR” I need to shut my mouth and listen.   As my mid-child constantly reminds me, “Not EVERY moment has to be a life lesson, Mom!”

2. Criticizing Excessively

Guilty.  And I have a confession…I am guiltier of it more so with one child then the other.  I can’t take 100% of the blame though.  As teenagers you should be able to define a chore as “Do the dishes” without leaving a list that says:

a. Empty the clean dishes out of the dishwasher

b. Put clean dishes into the CORRECT spot.  Note: if the cabinet door won’t close it’s not the correct spot.  Additional note:  NO dishes are in the correct spot if they are on the counter.  

c. Take dirty dishes from sink and place into the dishwasher. Use some common sense here.  If a class is right side up it will fill with dirty water. 

d. Look around the sink.  Also put any dish that appears dirty in the vicinity of the sink into the dishwasher.

e. When dishwasher is full please feel with DISH SOAP.  Note: dishwashers require specific types of detergent.  Soap will not work.

f. Start dishwasher.  Select a cycle and push START.  You will HEAR the water if this is performed correctly.

Or—if washing your own clothes is the rule it should go without saying that taking clothes out of the dryer, folding them and putting them away is implied.


3. Grilling them with questions

In my defense without grilling you never really get any answers. While I am guilty of this one I don’t think I am going to FEEL guilty about this one.

Child:  can I go to the movies Friday?

Me: with who?

Child: friends

Me: which friends

Child: names one friend

Me: and who else? You said friendS

Child:  names another friend

Me: anyone else?

Child:  oh yeah, well maybe…Names a hoochy girl I am not particularly fond of. Ah-ha

OR…in same conversation

Me:  what movie

Child: not sure.  I’ll check.  

Comes back 20 minutes later with name of movie

Me: What’s it rated?

Child:  I don’t know.  I’ll check.

Comes back 20 minutes later with rating of movie

Me: What time?

Child: don’t know yet.  I’ll check

Comes back 20 minutes later but has forgotten to check on movie time.

Me: how were you planning on getting there?

Child: uh…you?

Me: then maybe I should know what time.

Child:  oh yeah…okay.  4

Me: I don’t get off work until after 5p

Child:  oh yeah.

4. Telling embarrassing stories or complaining about them publicly

If you’ve read more than 2 stories on likemymamasays you KNOW I am guilty of this.  I try and supplement my complaints with praise but I doubt my young ones would consider me very successful at the ratio of bragging to complaining. And if they didn’t provide such great material….mid-argument mid-child sighs and says, “…you are so going to blog this aren’t you…”

5. Stereotyping their behavior

NOT GUILTY.  Sorta.   As I tell my children, “I am not so-and so’s mama!” So and so may get to act that way because they are ‘teens’ but I refuse to let that be an excuse or an argument…most of the time.  There are a few days of the month I am willing to let an excuse prevail.  And, if I am being honest, I’ve used the “she’s 5” excuse more often then I should.  

6. Fighting the wrong battles

Ouch.  I treat them all as battles.  No wonder I am so tired.

7. Expecting instant compliance

Uh yeah…and if you don’t get it you immediately get the “if you live under my roof…” speech.  You mean this isn’t the foundation of a good-strong-communication-foundation with teens?

8. Maintain Constant Suspicion

I suppose I am sort of guilty of this one but like my mama always said, “if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…”

9. Being Stingy with Apologies

You have to be WRONG to apologize.  Just kidding.  I should probably do this more but if they didn’t PROVOKE me all the time…again, just kidding.

10. Making them feel less important than:  friends, phone, car, etc

I didn’t realize that this was so bothersome to them until I read this and gave it some thought.  Little comments that little miss has made about me checking my phone, blogging or texting while with them echoed in my head.  Since their phones seem molded to their hands I suppose I never thought about how they felt when I was on mine.  I tend to announce “NO PHONES” a lot…dinner, when we are all together, etc.   but sometimes I suppose I am the first one to pick mine up.  Opps.  Best lead my example on this one.

11. Nitpicking their appearance

I try—really I do, but my tween is caught between obsessing over her appearance and not giving it a 2nd thought. She will spend 20 minutes combing her hair but then not brush her teeth for 2 days.  UGH.  Or she’ll wear the cutest clothes you’ve ever seen but not wash her hair for 5 days.  Don’t even get me started on panty lines and leggings….

Of course if she were to turn around and do the same with me….ouch.  

12. Comparing kids with each other

I’ve got a book smart child that can’t read people to save her soul and a street wise kid who struggles with book smarts.  I have compared them but I am quick to go back and point out the merits of each type of smart.  

13. Expecting prowess at sports, dance, music, etc

I work on this one…I really, really, really do.  Thanks to some wise advice I try (TRY being the operative word) to cheer and to let the coaches coach.  As long as I get 100% effort then I am pleased.  

So there it is-an experts guide to having a realtionship with your teen. 


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