Surgery and the Single Mom

red school blur factory

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I had surgery last week, my first surgery ever since apparently wisdom teeth don’t actually count.

I thought I knew what to expect, had asked all the questions, googled all the things, dotted i’s and crossed t’s and was ready.

Well, nope, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Not only has the recovery been more complex — I’m one week and one day out and still feeling lousy — I didn’t anticipate AT ALL the impact on my kids.

Now don’t get me wrong, I prepared. I prepared by stocking up on groceries, arranging rides to and from school while I can’t drive, lining up the grandparents to stay overnight while I was in the hospital, etc. The logistics. There’s a lot of logistics for single parents. But I in no way anticipated that they’d be worried about me or not know how to help or feel so displaced shuttling around with family and the parents of their friends. I didn’t prepare for their emotional needs.

At one point, several days after, Finn admitted to having wondered what would happen to them if something happened to me in surgery and I didn’t make it. Oh honey, I said. I had no idea he would think about that. My parents had various surgeries and hospitalizations when I was teenager and I didn’t think that way. But when you’ve already lost one parent, the fear of losing your one remaining parent is much more real and scary. Since surgeries are so routine these days I never considered this possibility myself, actually, and felt awful that he was worried about this and didn’t/couldn’t talk to me about it so I could help answer his questions and calm his fears. Sadly, that’s something a kid who’s already lost one parent has to worry about — what happens to me when something happens to the only parent I have?

So one piece of advice — to myself should I ever need to have surgery again — and to any other single parent out there who’s kids might be worried about them having surgery: Talk openly and honestly to your kids about your surgery. Because my procedure was … ahem … female-related, my teenage sons didn’t want to know anything more than that. I didn’t push the issue but I think knowledge is empowering so maybe if they better understood the what and the why and been simply asked how do you feel about mom having surgery it could have eased their fears, fears of the unknown by getting what is known out in the open.

A life of sliding doors


I love the movie ‘Sliding Doors.’ I’m often surprised when people haven’t even heard of it, and yet it’s one of my all time favorites. Not because of any spectacular acting or an amazing soundtrack or great special effects. It’s that the truth behind the story resonates somewhere deep in my soul.

A woman is going home after work and she misses her train. The movie illustrates the power of a sliding train door — a door closed vs. a door open — by showing two tales: what happens if she misses the train and what happens if she doesn’t.

Her life is dramatically different depending on whether or not she makes it through that sliding door. In one scenario she catches her boyfriend cheating which starts her down a path of self-discovery and new opportunity. The other scenario, he doesn’t get caught and her life continues down that path.

I’ve had many a sliding door in my life, and while it’s not healthy to wonder “what if” I admit my mind has wandered down that path from time to time. It’s mind-blowing to think what a big impact something so seemingly small can make. It happens everyday though. I forget my phone and run back in the house making me 2 minutes late pulling out of the neighborhood. As a result I’m now behind a school bus slowing me down even more. The school bus rolls through the light just as it turns yellow but I stop. A little farther down the road I see a fender bender that just happened and I wonder if I hadn’t ran back in for my phone and got behind that bus could that have been me in that wreck?

It’s not always bad things either. Ever been one number away from winning an awesome door prize? You came into an event with your co-workers, you all accepted the door prize raffle tickets in random order as you came in, and the person who came in just in front of you won. If only you’d walked in just one person ahead it could be you.

There’s a few big sliding doors from my life that stick with me. They’re not seemingly random things like running late or the order of raffle tickets, but they’re the choices I made. What if I had made a different choice? A different choice of college. A different choice of career. A different choice of job. Et cetera. I know what happened when I chose the choice I chose. This. This life I’m living happened. But if I had made a different choice how different life may be. Maybe better, maybe worse, maybe kinda the same but kinda different.

There’s another movie that explores this same theme. ‘The Butterfly Effect.’ The main character has the supernatural ability to time travel and he tries to fix something that went wrong in the past. But every time he fixes it the way he thinks it should be it messes something else up. Everything that happens is interconnected so you can’t change one thing without changing it all

But we don’t live in movies with alternate realities. What’s happened happened and this is the only shot we get. It’s very interesting though to ponder the significance of every choice and every forgotten phone, every sliding door and the profound impact these seemingly small details can have.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

 — A Proverb

Good Golly Miss Molly

How cute is she?!

As if selling a house, buying a house and moving wasn’t enough change for one year we recently added a new family member.

Meet Molly.

I wasn’t actively looking for a second dog but a friend was fostering some puppies, and Caden had been asking for a smaller dog. He wanted one he could carry around and fit in this lap. We love our big dog but he’s not exactly lapdog material (although he tries hard to be one).

Without the boys knowing, I visited the puppies — a Chihuahua mix — and even took Hudson to see how he felt about it. He thought the puppies were fun at first … until I decided to bring one home!

Big dog, little dog

Actually, Hudson’s adjusted better than I thought. Molly is a good little playmate. She’s about the size of some of his toys (ha!) but even though she’s 1/10th his size she doesn’t act it. She’s fierce and picks fights and doesn’t back down even when he sometimes sends her sliding across the room. She just pounces back for more.

Hudson is very gentle with her too. He plays and rough-houses but not too rough and no one gets hurt.

She can be a little toy thief

Perhaps the biggest struggle for Hudson is she takes his toys. It’s just like children. She wants the one toy he’s decided to play with. He’s so gentle he often lets her take it, albeit with an exasperated sigh of defeat. They’ll fight a little over the antlers Hudson loves to chew. He’ll growl and snap at her when she tries to steal it, but eventually, unless I step in, he’ll let her take his favorite antler too.

This is where they can be found most days while I’m working. Hudson, my protector, always at my feet and by my side and Molly some place comfortable, the carpeted stairs or a spot of sunlight streaming through the windows.

Welcome to the family, Molly!

Wear Sequins

If you got sequins, wear ’em.

If you don’t got sequins, get some, then wear them.

I don’t remember buying this blouse. Knowing me, it was a deal on a clearance rack and something I bought because it was pretty and I justified it just in case I ever had the occasion to wear such a thing.

I’ve only worn it a time or two, mostly because I don’t go to very many fancy things where sequins would fit in. But it’s so very pretty and each time I pass it over and choose some other top I think things like why did you buy it if you’re never gonna wear it or worse, you’re never going to go anywhere fancy enough that you’ll need to wear something like that.

Negative, insecure thoughts.

So this one night a few weeks I had to go to a thing — nothing too fancy but a business casual thing — and I wore my sequins. I also wore hoop earrings. Not because it was a formal event just because I wanted to and I felt good wearing it. I felt pretty and feminine, attractive and stylish even.

I figure if I wait for the perfect occasion to wear my sequined blouse I may never wear it again, so might as well wear it other times. Especially if it boosts how I feel about myself!

So my challenge to you is to buy something you think is pretty but that you think you’ll never wear … and then wear it!

Hangin’ Out with Twenty-Somethings


Me and Marla, back in my 20s, when I thought I knew so much, only to discover … I still had a lot to learn

I used to be the 20-something in my peer groups.

Do you remember those days, Marla Jones?

My friend Marla was a 30-something when I was a 20-something, and I remember this funny expression on Marla’s face whenever I talked about things that I thought I knew all about but really had no idea because of my youth.

Of course I had no idea that I had no idea, but Marla knew that I had no idea.

Thus the smirk.

Now, I know exactly what my good friend Marla was feeling when she had that humorous little smirk on her face.

I’m now the 30-something with a bunch of 20-somethings in my life — my work, my network, my church, even my family (my 3 nephews, who are more like little brothers, are all in their 20s now).

It’s not that 20-somethings think they know it all, per se (although some of them do think that). I think it’s that for the first 18 years of their life they are dependent on others to give them approval and permission, and now, in their 20s, they give their own approvals and permissions which gives them a new found confidence. So with confidence they exert their viewpoints and opinions and decisions, and they are confident they know what they’re talking about.

And sometimes they do, which is awesome! I learn a lot from the 20-somethings in my life. Just because I’m a decade or so older doesn’t make me the smartest person in the room. And confidence is good!

And other times … they have no clue … and I smile my best Marla smirk and think “Oh how cute” or as we in the South like to say, “Bless their heart.”



An Open Letter To the Couple Who Bought My House Today

I sat across from you today while you signed your names over and over and remembered being you, remembering being a first time home buyer and the excitement and anticipation that brings.

I bet you didn’t know you’d sign your names a million times, did you? I didn’t the first time I bought a house.

You’re newlywed-ish and pregnant — I knew this before meeting you for the first time today. When you made your offer I googled your names, and your wedding website and baby registry were the top two results. It made me feel good about selling my home to you. Ironically I was pregnant too when I bought the house that is now yours.

That was 11 years ago. That baby took his first steps and said his first words, then learned to ride a bike and shoot basketball at that house, just like your baby will now. I joked with you that if one of my sons were elected, that house will be the one they designate as the President’s childhood home.

Today was a little awkward, I’ll admit. Perfect strangers connected by a house that I’ve live in a third of my life — the longest I’ve lived in one place ever — a house that with the signing of your names umpteen million times now belongs to you.

I told you a few of the things on my heart — that the neighbors on the right are amazing and that you’ll never see the neighbors on the left, except when he mows the yard and sprays for weeds and collects Amazon Prime packages from his larger-than-everyone-else’s mailbox. I felt the need to tell you about the family behind us and their teenage son who plays basketball on our — now your — basketball goal and that you may have to tell him if you don’t want him to play there anymore. It was sweet that you said you might go out there and play with him.

But I kept a lot in and pondered quietly.

It’s just a house, I know, but the selling of it is an end to a big chapter of my life and the beginning of a new one. It’s a little scary, but in a good way. I’m excited about this new chapter and the new home I hope to buy now that you have purchased this one. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it’s bittersweet.

I wish you an enjoyable life for as long as you live in our house. May it be filled with laughter and love and many happy memories, as it has been for us.



December 29th is THE best day to be born


I was born on December 29.

A Christmas time birthday.


No one likes a birthday around Christmas.

You get the combined one big gift for Christmas and Birthday.

If you happen to get a separate birthday gift, your birthday gift comes wrapped in Christmas paper. You wouldn’t wrap it in snowman paper if my birthday was in June would you? No, I didn’t think so.

None of your friends can come to a birthday party because there’s so many Christmas parties and time spent traveling to grandma’s.

Snow and ice can cancel any party you do manage to plan.

So in general it’s not the best time of year to be born.

Which makes the following most unlikely story even more hilarious.

First, I have to say that my family always did a great job at making my Christmastime birthday special. Most of the above complaints I didn’t experience, at least not too often. My birthday was always it’s own celebration separate from our Christmas traditions.

So the night before my 17th birthday we had a family birthday party with hot sub sandwiches from the sandwich shop where I worked and mom’s famous red velvet cake. My sister was pregnant with twins who were due the end of January, but of course twins are full term about a month early. There was joking about them being born on my birthday but I’m not sure any of us took it too seriously.

But sure enough, the next day, on my 17th birthday, my sister got sick, went in to labor and my twin nephews were born. I blame it on the combination of a hot Reuben sandwich + red velvet cake + a late night action flick. I mean sauerkraut + really rich cake would make anybody sick enough to go into labor.

So my birthday became “our” birthday.

Fast forward a few years to my child-bearing years. Because of my December birthday I wanted to have children any other time of the year than Christmas. Things worked out pretty well with my first born. Finn was born in July.

A few years later though, I was ready to try for baby no. 2, and I thought it would take a little longer to get pregnant than it did. I remember using an online due date predictor and shaking my head at the estimated due date: Dec. 28, the day before my birthday.

The drs. expected me to deliver early — common with second babies they said — and one of the drs. even suggested that if everything looked good she’d induce me on Dec. 21 and we’d be home by Christmas.

I even bought a baby’s first Christmas outfit.

But Dec. 21 came and went and no baby, no induction.

So Dec. 28 my dr. decided to schedule my induction for the next day. I laughed of course. She noticed my birthdate and asked if I wanted to pick a different day.

Ha, no, I told her, at this point I’d rather share a birthday with my child than be one day off. Plus, who would choose to be big & pregnant any longer than they had to be.

So the next day our trio of birthdays became a foursome.

Pretty crazy huh?