Saturday, October 29, 2005

Here goes nothin'...

At the urging of my coworker and mentor, I have decided it's time for a foray into the world of blogging -- true, anonymous blogging, mind you. I have a blog that serves as a place for me to give my real life, local friends information about what I plan on doing on the weekends and the like. But it's time for some freeing, therapeutic blogging.

Perhaps a quick vignette from the last couple days will serve as a decent introduction to my life as a 21st Century Woman...

It's a Saturday. It's the weekend. I should be relaxed and resting. But I'm too stressed to relax. Two days ago was the anniversary of the death of my beloved grandmother, the woman who loved and understood me better than anyone who has ever walked the Earth. Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the end of my longest and most intense relationship. MusicMan and I had spent almost two and a half years entwined in one another's lives, about 2/3 of that spent as a "couple." After years of abusive and unhealthy relationships, MusicMan was the only person who could get me to at last open up and give of myself to another without fear. Our relationship, sadly, did not end well, and we have not spoken in months. I no longer mourn "us," but it is still hard to look back, particularly as he is, as I write, at a concert by the musician whose concerts served as both our first date and our first anniversary date. Even though I go, at times, for weeks without thinking about him, it's hard not to when the dates and circumstances align like this.

Yesterday also served as my last day with the consulting-type firm at which I've worked for the last few months. It has been an ideal workplace -- amazing people, enjoyable job... So why am I leaving? Even though I know its for the advancement in career and, yes, in pay, I can't help but ask myself that every once in a while. At that job, I found not only friends but mentors. Three amazing businesswomen who served as friends, therapists, career counselors, and sisters. Three women who made me feel like I could succeed in the professional world. Three incredible human beings. But the new job offers some incredible opportunities, and it is with the blessing of these women that I move on. Thankfully, I'm only moving down the hall to another company. They will still be nearby. But the dynamic will shift, and I will miss that.

So needless to say, I was not in the mood for any crap today. But crap is what I got. All. Day.

21st Century Woman is the single mom to a 21st Century Son (otherwise known as the Kid, for lack of a better name), a child growing up in this modern world, fatherless, and with a far better grasp at the tender age of five of computers than I will ever have. Such is the modern child -- often lacking in the familial realm in some way (single parents, two-career homes, no extended family, etc.) but drowning in technology.

Not only does the Kid have all this to contend with, but he is also growing up in a world full of spoiled little children -- children whose parents are too afraid to say "no" to them, for fear of scarring the children for life. My parents said "no" to me all the time, and I turned out fine. My parents actually parented me, rather than letting me parent myself out of fear. I try and tell the Kid "no" with regularity, so as to avoid raising a terror who will get out into the real world and crumble when someone rejects him and his requests, such as a six-figure job straight out of college. I want a child who understands personal responsiblity, the value of hard work, and who knows how to recover when life doesn't give him what he'd hoped for. Because it won't. Not always. It's definitely tough on the Kid -- he observes the other children running amok and asks me why. He understands he behaves differently and he seems to know that his behavior is better than theirs. But sometimes he wants to make others serve him the way the other kids are served.

It doesn't help that we are currently staying with my parents, while I save up to move. I am trying as hard as I can, but as I am working fulltime, I'm also working on completing a master's and I have too many expenses to afford rent at a decent and, more importantly, safe place at the moment. (Hence, partly, why I took the new job -- I will be able to afford rent at last -- money will be tight, but it'll be there.) My parents relish the idea of being grandparents. They delight in getting to spoil their one and only grandchild as my grandparents spoiled me. The thing is, my grandparents lived 45 minutes away. About one weekend a month and two weeks each summer, I'd go stay with them and eat Oreos for breakfast and watch The Twilight Zone until my eyes nearly fell out of my head. But I'd go home, out of their spoiling grasp, and I'd re-learn the word "NO." No, I could not eat Oreos for breakfast. No, I could not watch TV all day. No, my mother would not bake an apple pie from scratch on a whim for me. It's hard for me to grab the Kid and walk away and re-teach "no." I'll say no, I'll inform the grandparents that they are not to allow the Kid to do X, Y, and Z, and I'll turn my back and X, Y, and Z are taking place because his cuteness was irresistable. (Have I mentioned yet how THRILLED I am at the prospect of affording rent soon? My parents serve together as a wonder father figure/2nd parent for the Kid, but it's time to let the spoiling become an exception rather than the rule.)

The Kid was having a more difficult time than usual today obeying me. The grandparents took him to his swim class and then spoiled him rotten with breakfast at his favorite cafe, a candy bar and a milkshake. They returned home and shortly thereafter his grandmother was preparing him the lunch of his choosing -- chicken noodle soup...and chocolate. *sigh*

It came time at last for the Kid to go to bed. He was dragging his feet (what little kid isn't when his grandfather is watching football with him?) as was expected, but the face-off which followed was a total surprise.

It came time to brush the Kid's teeth, and he prepared his toothbrush. At five, the Kid is not exactly effective at brushing. So, after his valient attempt, he always requests that I "double check" his teeth. Instead of brushing his own teeth, tonight he simply held out his toothbrush and said, "Double check." I gently told him that he needed to brush first for me to double check, as that's the whole point of double checking. He refused. He began to wiggle. He began to cry. He whined. He held out the toothbrush. I held my ground.

"I will gladly stand here all night if I have to. I will not double check until you brush your teeth."

He figured he'd call my bluff. The phony whining subsided and the crocodile tears only began rolling again when he knew I was looking at him. Twenty minutes went by with me standing behind him, hands alternatively on hips or interlaced as I tried desperately to remain calm. It was getting late and I was tired of standing, so I started moving and I saw the glimmer of hope in his eyes that he had won. He hadn't. I was just retrieving a nail file. I sat down on the toilet lid and filed my nails. "I told you, we will stay here all night until you brush first," I said, examining my nails. He continued to stand his ground, but he was slowly cracking. He'd start moving the toothbrush toward his mouth until something in his mind steeled his resolve and he would return it to his side. This went on for quite some time.

Finally, forty-five minutes after we started, he walked toward the door and turned his back to me. I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye, curious as to what he was plotting. I could see over his shoulder his lower jaw drop and his arm sloooooowly raise. I heard the distinct sound of brushing begin, and he turned around, grin on his face, scrubbing away. After a few seconds, he removed the brush and said, "I turned around so it would be a surprise." "Well, it's a wonderful surprise." He grinned again and continued brushing. Again, he paused. "Look at me, Mommy. I'm doing a great job brushing my teeth!" After a minute or two, he held out the toothbrush -- "Could you please double check now?" I smiled. "I'd be happy to."

The Kid - 0.
The Mom - 1. For once...


At 10/31/2005 8:54 AM, Blogger Small Town Diva said...

Thank GOD you have decided to grace us with your writing. It is WONDERFUL, Miss 21. Keep it up!!

BTW, applause for standing your ground. I bet your nails look good too after all that attention.

At 10/31/2005 9:27 PM, Blogger 21st Century Woman said...

I'm glad you are enjoying so far!

And my nails haven't been this well-shaped in ages!


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