Last year my life imploded a little. Well, really, it was a lot. But I have a tendency to downplay crisis. I was once criticized in a job performance review for my calmness when the proverbial shit was hitting the fan, thus others didn’t realize the seriousness of the issue at hand. So, long story short, here I am: suddenly single. With two small children (under age of 5). In a city with minimal support. As a stay at home mom.
In the last 6 months my life has changed drastically. Below are top 3 changes.
Home cooked meals. THEN: I meal planned. I weekly grocery shopped. I had a menu. When speaking to my SO each day, I asked him, from the weekly menu, what he wanted for dinner that night. I made simple but nice meals, rarely relying on stand-by staples of pasta and jarred sauce, or mac-and-cheese with hamburger patties. Often these meal plans were created using the monthly food magazines I subscribed to, or cookbooks I was working my way through. I wanted to feed my family good, whole, sometimes local, seasonal food. We ate dinner out as a family once or twice a month and takeout was limited to once a week or less. It sounds so Stepford wife, but I truly enjoyed it. Plus, most of the cooking happened after my SO got home and could entertain the kids so it gave me a mental break. NOW: Fuck that shit. I make food, and then in the appropriate amount of time (3-5 days depending on the food) I throw it away. Why am I buying groceries for a meal I will never make, or if I do make it, will never eat most of it!? Instead of making fancy meals with ingredients I warm stuff up. The most effort I’m making is to limit the amount of antibiotic and hormone laced protein I expose my kids to, and even that is a stretch. We eat out way more than I would like to admit. The sad thing is that I actually like cooking. I like trying new recipes. I want to make fancy delicious yummy things, I want to feed people, I want someone to like my food and by extension like me. I’m an extrovert that wants to help other people – food is a way to bring people together while feeling useful. I miss that.
Fitness. THEN: “Meh” sums up my attitude regarding working out and going to the gym before. I’ve always been thin, can eat whatever I want, and have a normal BMI. Previously I was fine with being 5-10lbs from “goal” weight. Working out was never something I HAD to do in order to look good, or good enough. NOW: I was recently getting to a point in my life where I wanted to feel stronger, and the scale had crept up to a number that I was no longer comfortable with. I made working out a priority but was still trying to find the balance of kids, house management, cooking, wife-ing. About 2-3 months into my new found fitness kick, my ex took “wife” off my plate. How generous of him, right!? Now I go to the gym 4 times a week; I run between 12-16 miles a week. I try to fit in strength training at home, as time allows. And lets get real – this is NOT about trying to look better, get to a magic scale number, or to attract anyone. I go to the gym to get out excess energy, to give myself a small break from my kids, and to take a shower! But yes, I have lost weight. Side note: post break-up hotness is a combination of things.
Dating! THEN: I got married at 23. That was 10 years ago. I dated the same guy all through college. There really is no “then”. The last time I was even hit on by a guy was college, and even then it wasn’t a complete stranger. Date nights with my husband were formulaic, boring, and repetitive. NOW: Holy Bejeezus! Online dating!? Text world!? Sexting!? Pics and FaceTime!? Casual vs. Serious? Serial Dating? Friends with benefits? Open relationships? Non-monogomy? Poly-amorous? I am SO out of my league. I have no idea how any of this works. I don’t even know what half the things I just listed even mean. What are the rules!? Suddenly, I’m making an effort every time I leave the house, because you never know. Suddenly, I’m wondering if the cute guy/dad is single and checking for a wife or ring (not that I would do anything if I concluded that said cute guy was single). Suddenly, I am frozen between “I’m going to be single for the rest of my life” and “I want a person available to go do things when I don’t have kids”. Suddenly, I remember why I avoided this in the first place, way back when I was young and cute. Suddenly, its clear that I am utterly defenseless and defensive. Suddenly, it seems I’m too practical and too fragile.
Suddenly I’m single, and parenting on my own the majority of the time. And this is when I realize there are a lot of things that haven’t changed. And isn’t that weird?