“split mom” trend . . . is that what this is?

OK, so I was feeling a little mom fatigue today. It’s happening more frequently as I age and as I still do the same stuff I have been doing since first becoming a parent 29.5 years ago. I have that incredible urge sometimes to move on, but I still have a child in high school who doesn’t drive and still needs me in many ways, so I continue to parent in pretty much the same way I always have–by being there for my kid. He didn’t ask to be born thirteen years after his big sister or even eleven or six years after the next two so I am not going to give up on this child the way some parents do when they become burnt out on parenting. I made sure he went through all the same milestones as his older siblings: swim lessons, sacraments, orthodontics, band, sports. I’m in the last couple rounds of the fight and I refuse to throw in the towel.

Still, there are those days when it gets to me, when parenting wears me down. Doing the same things for nearly thirty years in a row really takes a toll, especially when you perceive yourself–and pretty much are–a selfless person.

I was feeling that way today, so I thought I’d try to reach out to similar parents in the world because I would like to know how other moms my age who have been parenting this many years do it. I’m a fan of reality TV programs that focus on families (or at least those that aren’t trashy or live in cults and have raised criminals) and am always keen to see how other people live. I figured there had to be a blog or two out in cyberspace on this stuff.

So I Googled “longtime moms” and “moms with children more than twelve years apart” and the like and what I came up with was this one article rehashed in several publications. It was an interview of a medical doctor named Rallie McAllister who had a child at age twenty-one and then two more sons in her mid-thirties. In the article, she talks about having kids that far apart in age as being a “trend,” so I Googled and Googled to find concrete facts but just found that one article. I think one mother in basically a single article rehashed in several different online publications does not a trend make nor an authority make, M.D. or not. In fact, in the articles there are no other similar women mentioned (except, in one blog, the actress Kelly Preston is name dropped, and we all know celebrities, because they do not even remotely live an ordinary lifestyle or raise their own kids, don’t count. Ever.).

If having just one mother represent all of us moms with great spans of children isn’t insulting enough, one of the writers in one of the three articles, who chose to make it sound as if it was her original piece, added a little “background” by mentioning there were just two ways to become a so-called “split mom,” by 1) being married and having kids in that marriage, divorcing, and then remarrying later in life and having a second family or 2) having a child without ever having been married and then marrying for the first time and having a second family. Either way, in both scenarios, there are two men involved.

No mention of moms like me who are still married to husband number one and whose kids are just spread out in age. There was no mention either of moms who have a half dozen or more kids (at least five families come to mind from my childhood, when it was commonplace), making the spread even greater than mine. And no mention was made of moms who adopted or had foster kids later in life or moms who are raising their grandchildren, some of whom do end up adopting those kids. No matter how many scenarios you want to add to the equation, it definitely comes out to more than two.

I am bound and determined to seek out other “split moms” out there–but I may call the “trend” something that doesn’t signify disunity or fractionalization, no matter how many times splitting crosses our minds.

have a little faith

Faith. It’s when we believe and trust that positive outcomes will happen. If we don’t have faith, we don’t have hope.

Sometimes I need to have a little faith.

My son was in an auto accident. No one was hurt. It wasn’t my son’s fault. But it was my vehicle and it’s never a pleasant thing to hear that your car, which you weren’t even driving, was in an accident. And no matter who caused the accident, it’s still an inconvenience to have to take the vehicle, assuming it’s even drivable, to a body shop for an estimate, deal with the insurance agency, file a claim, hope that the other party’s story corroborates with yours or the claim may not be paid at all, and if you get the repairs done, be without that vehicle for up to a week or more, or if you don’t, live with an ugly gash in the side of your car forever.

This time we were lucky. This time the person whose huge, new Dodge Ram pickup hit our not-such-a-slouch-either SUV was woman enough to admit fault and deal with the consequences in the proper manner. Why is that surprising? Well, we’ve had several occurrences where the other party didn’t have insurance, wasn’t even a legal driver, and/or caused a hit-and-run accident, without leaving as much as a note on our damaged vehicle. Those times, you’re stuck. There’s nothing you can do unless you want to pay out of pocket for the repairs or file a claim against your own policy. Usually, it’s not even worth the trouble because the costs are exorbitant even going through the insurance, since your rates will increase or you have a deductible that still means a good chunk of money will come from you before the balance of the costs are covered by the agency.

So if you’re going to be in an accident, you hope it’s the other person’s fault and he or she admits to it and that person has an up-to-date policy with a reliable insurance company that pays for the repairs. I should have been happy that this accident ticked off all those boxes, but, being me, I wasn’t. When my son told me what happened, I wasn’t level-headed, calm, and adult about it. I got angry, I became accusatory, and I was upset because this vehicle is supposed to be mine to drive and not my son’s (he lost his own car in an accident a year ago and never replaced it), and I knew that I would be the one who would have to deal with the repercussions, not my son, not my husband, but I. And I was right.

But I was also wrong, because I thought it would be a horrible ordeal that would be time consuming, emotional, and dreadful, and it really wasn’t. Yes, I had to make the appointment for the estimate and take the vehicle in on a Saturday morning while my son lollygagged in bed, and, yes, I had to make the call to the insurance agency and file the claim. And yes, I will have to field the calls from the body shop (who just now rang, by the way) and listen to service reps who try to convince me to get the repairs done and not pocket the check, but it’s nearly over. (It will be when the check in my name arrives in the mail–and the phone calls stop.)

So all in all, as far as auto accidents go, this one was fairly simple. I’ve got to remember all things do not have to be incidences of Sturm und Drang. Yeah, I’ve got to have a little faith.