Monday, October 21, 2013

Miss or Mrs.?

"Mom," said my 7-year-old daughter while I was making her breakfast, "are you a Miss or a Mrs.?"

"Well, I guess it depends on how you look at it.  I was married to your dad and he died, so that still makes me a Mrs...."

"But you're single now so that makes you a Miss," she finished, proud of herself for figuring out this riddle.

"You can look at it that way," I said, giving her a little smile and turning back to the pancakes.

Suddenly, there was a loud noise behind me.

"MY MOM IS SINGLE!" my daughter yelled out to the empty breakfast room.  "SINGLE MOM, RIGHT HERE!"

I stood there for a second, spatula in my hand, wondering how I needed to proceed with this conversation.  And then she erupted into a fit of giggles and asked for her pancakes.

My daughter's question wasn't a new's certainly one that I've pondered myself (without that last part - I've never yelled out that I'm single as I'm waiting for my breakfast to cook).  And I know that it's something that's come up quite a bit in other online forums and discussions.  It's not even a question of the title.  It's a little broader than that.

Who are we?

For some reason, I've never gotten offended when someone calls me a "Miss."  I don't get upset when I get things in the mail that say "Ms."  And I don't insist that everyone call me "Mrs."  I didn't get irritated with it when I was married and I don't get irritated with it now that I'm a widow.

I guess it's because I think I'm all of the above.

I will always, in a way, be a Mrs.  But now, let's face it, I'm also a Miss - at least to most of the people I know.  And Ms. doesn't offend me because...well, I don't know why but it doesn't.  I guess it's because I'm part of a generation of women who heard the tail-end of the feminist argument that was so pro-Ms. many years ago. 

I guess I figured that if it was good enough for Gloria Steinem, who am I to argue with it?

But I get it.  I get both sides of the argument.  I get that it's frustrating when people start calling you "Miss" because who the hell are they to tell you that you're not married anymore?  I get the people like me who realize that, like in many instances after you lose a spouse, others just don't know what to do with you anymore and might just make a mistake.  I get that you might feel strongly one way or the other and not know why.  And I get why you've decided to go to medical school, just so you can get the title of "Dr." and not have to worry about it anymore.

I get it.


Boys have it so easy.  They don't have to change their names or change their titles, depending on life's events.  They didn't have to stand in line at the Social Security office when they got married (vowing they'll never get divorced because they don't want to go through that shit again) and their "Mr." includes single, married, divorced, or widowed.  They don't go out to their mail everyday, look at how the electric company titled their name and think, "But is that really who I am now?"

That question won't distract them from the actual bill that's sitting in their hands that they will forget to pay because they're still questioning their place in the universe.  Then their electricity won't get shut off and they won't have a complete mental breakdown when they call the electric company and politely ask to have it turned back on, only to have the customer service rep respond, "We really need to speak to your husband about your service."

Then they won't run screaming from their darkened homes because they're so tired of people saying that and then they won't get sent into a 72-hour psyche hold all the while yelling, "I just want to know - am I a Miss or a Mrs.?" only to have the staff start calling them "Ms." sending them completely over the edge.

See?  This question really is more life-altering than it originally appears.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Everything at Once

Ever have one of those weeks where EVERYTHING seems to happen at once?  Not necessarily in a bad way, but you've spent two weeks in a lull only to have every appointment, meeting, and event hit in one seven day period?

Welcome to my week.

I had just been thinking, "Gosh, I really don't have all that much going on.  I really need to get out more."  Then BAM!  Parent-teacher conferences, choir concerts, piano recitals, meetings, and one interview for VoiceAmerica later...

...I kind of feel like I'm starring in my own Calgon commercial.

Granted, none of these things are what I think fit in the "getting out more" category, but they've definitely kept me busy.

I have one more parent-teacher conference to go tomorrow and I'm certainly hoping it goes better than the one yesterday.  Oh, the teacher had nothing but nice things to say about my child who is apparently an angel at school and saves all of her evil for home.  But for some reason, I just felt teary mid-way through.

What is it about school that gets me?  It's such a gut-check every time!  And it used to be just the random graduation from preschool, kindergarten, fourth grade and the leap up from the short water fountain to the tall one.  Now I've got to get all weepy at the conferences, too?


I think it was when my daughter's second grade teacher started describing her in class.

"She's so smart," she assured me.  "But she gets bored.  She finishes first and then she starts talking to the other kids."

Well, that didn't surprise me.  I mean, this is a child who does not stop making noise - not talking, just noise - all day long.  I've been shocked that it hasn't been more of a problem at school.

The reason I got weepy is because what the teacher said pretty much described my husband during his formative years.

"She's just like her dad," I said, trying to swallow.  "That's how his mother said he was."

That's all it takes sometimes, isn't it?  Just that little trigger over something that's really not that big of a deal.  That teacher could have asked me to describe in detail the scene at the hospital when my husband died and I could have done it without shedding a tear.  But a little thing like my child's inability to leave her classmates alone just like her dad and I fall to pieces.

It's the widow way.


Today I had my interview with Aimee Dufresne on VoiceAmerica.  I'd really been looking forward to it because I've spoken with Aimee (a fellow widow) a few times and we instantly connected.  I felt sure that it was going to be a good show - less of an interview and more like a discussion between two friends.

But this morning I woke up a little nervous.  I can handle myself in interviews and in front of a crowd, but for some reason this thought hit me.

What if I say something really stupid?

And then I couldn't stop thinking about it.
I went on a walk to clear my head.  I treated myself to a Starbucks.  I assured myself that if I just thought things out as I went along, I would be fine.  Surely I could get through this without making my agent and my publicist want to tear up my contracts and run screaming away from a person who is into self-sabotage.

And then it happened.

I was pulling up my pants in the bathroom (I know, TMI) and I suddenly felt like I had pulled all of the muscles in my upper back.  Now, I'm choosing to believe that that happened because I've been under a lot of stress this week and not because I'm so out of shape that I don't even have the strength to lift yoga pants.

Don't disabuse me of this notion.

And of course I had to share this little event.

I seriously just pulled a muscle in my back as I was pulling up my pants, I texted a friend.

Just don't say that in your interview, she responded.

I won't, I assured her.

Gulp.  Will I?