Monthly Archives: October 2009

My failure as a mother

Toilet_Paper_RollI’m afraid I’ve failed my son.

He has always held such promise: he was able to recite the alphabet at 18 months, wrote some of the letters (OK, just the linear I, H, E, F and T, capitals only) when he was two and a half, was reading before he entered kindergarten.

In elementary school he tested years beyond his age. He learned to ride a bicycle the day his father started to teach him, and was always a caring young man when it came to family.

As a teenager he wasn’t interested in driving until just this past summer, before his senior year. He’s taught himself to play guitar and keeps a watchful eye on his gas tank.

I’m so very proud of all of these accomplishments. He is truly a wonderful young man.

Still, I know in the years to come I will get a tearful telephone call from some as-yet-unidentified young woman, blaming me for the one thing I was not able to teach him to do.

He doesn’t know how to change the roll of toilet paper.

I’ve tried everything, even the simple little rods that sit in holders as opposed to the spring-loaded sticks most people use. When he was younger I tried to make a game of it, to see who could do it the fastest. Nothing worked.

There must be some internal switch I failed to activate. This is the same young man who can wipe out an entire army of aliens in any Halo game, survive zombie attacks while eating a sub sandwich or mow my entire yard in 45 minutes — a task that takes me almost two hours — and yet can’t seem to put a small roll of paper on the holder. At this point I wouldn’t even mind if he loaded it upside down, just so he loaded it.

I’m so sorry, nameless future daughter-in-law — I tried. I really did.

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It’s not that easy

There seems to be an uprising in urgency among men wanting to meet women, regardless of their appearance.

Guys, you may want to see us in our “natural state,” what we really look like, but I’m telling you now — don’t do it. With blind dates, online hookups or anything else that involves faceless chatter before the actual meeting, don’t assume that just because you’ve had pleasant conversation that we’re ready to let you see us in our sweats or frumpy sweaters or, God forbid, sans makeup.

It ain’t happenin’.

The world of dating has changed — I get that. I can get used to the idea of meeting people online first. Getting to know someone before you actually meet them? Sure. Fine. Whatever.

But don’t even think you can take away a woman’s right to primp and “put our best face forward” when the real meeting happens.


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Kids and dating

A man recently asked me what my kids would do if he were to show up at my house sometime.

I was floored. We’d been talking for a few weeks and hadn’t yet actually met in person, and he was already thinking of meeting my kids.

Hold on, buster. Not so fast.

I’ve been divorced for seven years, and have dated some, not a lot. Of the handful of men I’ve dated, my kids — now teenagers — have met just one, and that was two months into the relationship.

I don’t know what the rules are for meeting kids, or how the kids will react. What I do know, though, is that I have absolutely no idea what it must be like seeing your parents date.

Apparently I’m not alone. Take a look online and find plenty of columns, like this one, aimed at helping parents get their kids prepared.

I’m from the generation that was beginning to see the swing of divorce come into acceptance. While I was one of the lucky ones — my parents just celebrated their 43rd anniversary — many of my friends’ parents were divorced. Even then, though, I don’t recall any of them dating.

So what is appropriate? Do you introduce someone you’re just dating to your kids, or do you wait until it’s developed into some semblance of a relationship?

For me, I’ll wait until it’s something worth bringing them into.

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The virtual world of online dating

I’m a people person. I like to have real conversations that involve using my voice, making eye contact and reading expressions. I enjoy the sound of authentic laughter and the wispy aroma of a nice cologne.

I am so not cut out for digital dating.

My first attempts at online dating went reasonably well. I tried the site at the advice of a friend just a few weeks into my divorce. The thought was, from her, that it would get me used to talking about myself and being “out there.” Neither of us really expected anything to happen, certainly not right away.

Something did happen right away — I met a man from Eastern Iowa (I was still on the other side of the state) and we started what would become a three-year relationship that included moving my kids and I near Cedar Rapids.

I didn’t blame the digital age for the relationship’s downfall; that was due to something more controllable on a personal level (No, it really isn’t a good idea for him to date more than one woman at a time — that’s kind of a sticking point for me). Instead I waited a few months and tried again.

I tried them all:, Yahoo Personals, eHarmony. And that’s where the horror begins.

* Kevin* and I had great online and telephone conversations, and decided to meet for dinner when he got off work. Unfortunately, he was working the 3-11 p.m. shift and forgot to ask to get off early — so my phone rang at 6, at 7, and at 8 with promises of “being right out.” I should have hung it up there, but he kept telling me how much he’d been looking forward to going out so finally, at 8:45, he called to tell me he was off work. I followed him to the restaurant where he left me while he went home to shower. When he left, so did I.

* Robert and I actually got along pretty well. He was great fun, made me laugh and had a lot of the same thoughts and beliefs I did. There were two things that went wrong with Robert: a) I met him about a year too soon, just after my three-year relationship ended and I wasn’t really ready to date; and b) Robert was too interested too fast — he sang me karaoke love songs and told me he meant every word. On  our second date.

* Larry was another who seemed perfectly nice and normal on the telephone. We met for dinner after a few weeks and had a great conversation, so great that he suggested we go to a movie. I tried putting it off — you can’ t really talk during a movie — but was eventually persuaded. He went to buy the tickets and his debit card wasn’t working and would I mind paying for the movie?

The list goes on; lost of first dates, very, very few second.  The phone calls always go great but when it comes to the face-to-face meeting something just falls short. At least in “the old days” the physical assessment was done before you even took the time to talk to a person, let alone get their number.

I know we have gone digital for much of our ordinary lives: we pay bills, rent movies, arrange flights and book hotels sitting in our pajamas at our computers.

It just seems that something as personal as dating should be … well, done in person.

(*Names have been changed to protect the lame …)


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