May 16, 2011

A Lesson in EXonomics

To all the hard working single parents who do it all, all of the time, and who never receive a dime of support from their children's other parent I salute you. I also forewarn you that after this post you may want to slap my face, and in this case, I will let you. I am an asshole.

I've been spoiled. I'm one those single moms who actually receives her child support and receives it on or before the day it is due every single month. I know, shocking. Kind of like finding out that Big Foot really does exist.

When negotiating my divorce agreement I fought in court like a pissed off mama bear that had just been slapped. I made sure that my ex-husband also had to pay for half of our daughters childcare expenses as well as the full cost of her health insurance. I felt like he should - he knocked up office whore so why should I get stuck with the full cost of daycare and our daughters health insurance when I had to go back to work. He far out earned me and no way in Hell was I going to let him leave me struggling while he ran off to his new family.

It's a brilliant document really, it even includes his having to pay my legal fees if I have to take him to court for non compliance. It also requires him to maintain a life insurance policy at three times his annual salary naming our daughter as the sole beneficiary. The one, and possibly only, thing I did right was negotiate my divorce agreement as I would a business agreement. My ultimate goal was protecting my daughters future. I never wanted to get divorced but if I was gong to have to do it then I was going to do it right. Though my heart was broken and I was shattered at the time I somehow didn't screw up my divorce. I thought of everything. I had to, I'm too fat to be a stripper.

Correction. I thought of almost everything. It took me almost six years to realize I should have had a plan to expect the unexpected. You know, like pretty much every one else except me has.

I received an email Mother's Day weekend from my ex telling me that he had lost his long time job at a major Japanese corporation and that he'd filed for unemployment. Health insurance gone. Daycare expenses.... Pfffft. And that was the moment I wanted to puke because it's didn't matter how iron clad I had made my divorce agreement in the areas that affected my daughter most I didn't plan for this and that was my fault. I couldn't blame him, the only one to blame was me. I didn't have a disaster backup plan and I was even a girl scout. I knew if I lost my job my company offers a great severance package. I never thought to worry about his job. Damn.

Adding salt to the wound, Mega Corp just restructured our commission plans and by restructured I mean they figured out a way to pay us less without actually telling us outright that they are going to pay us less. It's pure evil genius really. I'd bitch about it but I'm happy to have a job. I know you're waiting for the funny part. Don't worry, it's coming, Nothing is funnier than watching a spoiled middle class broad who didn't realize how good she had it get a cold slap of reality right in the face. I'm totally going to make this going broke shit funny. I'm going to embrace my inner poor chick because I've quickly realized I have two choices here. I can either learn from this while laughing, or I can learn from this while crying. I'll be damned if I'm going to waste the last of my now coveted MAC mascara crying. No really, that shit isn't cheap and I can't afford more.

After I stopped rocking in the corner of my room, receptively chanting "holy shitballs" over and over I decided I better sit down and get my shitballs together and map this out because this problem isn't going to solve itself. I can't Scarlet O'Hara "fiddle dee dee" my way out of this bitch.  This part is fun, it's totally like high school algebra which of course I took three times.

My Income + Child Support = Mortgage + Car Payment + My Half of Daycare + Car Insurance + Electric + House Gas + Water/Trash + Gas to Make the Car Go Zoom + Food + Cat Food + Dog Food + HOA Dues + Phone + TV + Internet + Hot College Kid Who Cuts My Grass Because Now I Can't Afford to Buy a Lawn Mower This Year - Child Support - Half of Daycare - Daughters Health Insurance = Mortgage + All of Daycare + Car Payment x (I'm completed screwed on everything else) divided by holy shitballs squared and X = Xanax

It's ok though. No really, I finally moved on from chanting "holly shitballs" to researching generic alcohol and they totally do make generic booze so really everything is going to be fine. My grandmother survived the dust bowl so I can survive going from not having to think twice about what I buy at the grocery store to not being able to pay all of my expenses without child support and half of daycare and the cost of insurance. Yeah, that's where you're supposed to slap me because I've been such an asshole and now I know it. I've had it good, I've been lucky and I've been blessed when so many single moms struggle and don't ever see these things. It's made me an asshole and I'm sorry. I've become so used to checks like clockwork that even mentioning this knowing how many of you are left with nothing just makes me hate myself a little bit more.

I can do this. If so many of you can do this then I can do this. This is totally going to be an adventure and make me a smarter, craftier and more financially creative person. I can so do this. How bad can all generic groceries be right? We're not going to starve. I'm going to be the same asshole I was yesterday just a savvier more generic asshole. Not only do I have this thing in the bag I'm going to be so good at being broke that I'm going to learn to make something out of the goddamn bag when I'm done with it. I am going to rock the shit out of being broke. I'm going to make being broke so cool that people are going to want to be just as broke as I am. I'm a mama and a fighter and I'm all full of "roar". Being in the red is totally the new black. Bring it on you bitch of a universe, I will own you and then I will sell you to the highest bidder and buy cupcakes and MAC mascara. I'll give the universe the finger, it can't bring me down.

Annnnnnnd then I had to buy generic toilet paper. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can prepare you for the asstastic horror that is generic toilet paper.

Holy shitballs. Holy shitballs. Holy shitballs.

....Coming up next post: Generic pasta sauce and why licking a bum's ass would be tastier.

PS. I was nominated for this Top 25 Single Parent Blog thingy and if you click here and press the "vote" button that would be a moment of pure super duper in my week of just plain old dupe. Clearly this post indicates I'm not a very well prepared single parent and quite possibly a huge asshole but you know - it's free and shit. And then while you're there go check out some of the more-awesome-than-my-blog single parent blogs - you know - by the ones who actually do have their shit together right now.

May 6, 2011

The Field Trip... From Hell

A month and a half ago my daughter came home from Kindergarten with what I thought was her usual mountain of daily papers. I zipped open her bag of endless scribbles and art work and began flipping through her daily masterpieces when I saw it. There was a sheet of paper hidden among the others that as soon as my eyes scanned the words my head began swirling in a giddy haze of naive excitement. It was a glorious announcement... Field Trip.

The field trip was to see a production of Click Clack Moo and I knew my daughter would be even more excited about it because she would finally get to ride the big yellow bus. As I flipped the paper over I shot up in my seat and my heart leaped out of my chest in delight as I saw the three magic words that I had naively been waiting to see since she started school: Parent Chaperone's Needed. As the Hallelujah chorus echoed through my head I whipped out my phone and typed an email to her teacher as fast as my chubby little un-manicured fingers could move. I had to get the email out that red hot minute because the flyer said only five parents would be allowed. With eighty Kindergartners this must be a hot ticket! Off went the email to her teacher. "Don't mind if I do!"

Finally an opportunity with enough advanced notice that I could help out, get the day off of work and get to hob nob with the class moms. This was it. I was going to break into the coveted inner circle of the crowned room moms. The members of the lucky wives club who get to be stay at home moms and volunteer for all of their kids school activities without regard to work schedules. I was going to get to be that mom for once, if even only for a rare day. And when I told my daughter I was going to chaperon her school field trip you would have thought I told her I was buying her a miniature pony that shits candy. And in that moment I knew this would be a day we'd remember forever.

And I was right, just not in the way I thought I would be.

When the big field trip arrived this week we woke up early instead of hitting the snooze button three times while trying to perform complex algebraic equations in my head to determine how many seven minute snoozes could I take while remembering how far ahead I have my clock set at. None of that. Out of bed and on our way. It was FIELD TRIP DAY! If I had known then what I knew later I would have not only hit the snooze button, I would have unplugged the alarm clock.

We arrived at school among the normal hustle and bustle of kids racing to their classrooms and made our way with the other Kindergartners and the other mom volunteers. This was it. I was in. I was there proving that I'm not a complete absentee classroom mom and I was earning my participation badge. When we arrived at my daughters classroom I was immediately able to determine who the main queen bee classroom mom was. She was standing there all 5'11" of her dressed in her black skinny jeans and black turtle neck sweater looking very Angelina Jolie-ish and instructing everyone in a sexy Russian accent. Standing next to her I felt like Frumpy Smurf. But less blue. What the hell, when did room moms get so hot? I expected a nice approachable mom in pajama jeans with at least one coffee or toothpaste stain on her somewhere. This isn't going well.

Sexy Russian room mom smiled and handed me a white note card with bright, yet very hard to read, yellow text on it with the names of the five children I'd be responsible for not losing or breaking during the field trip. She also handed me five large bright yellow colored laminated tags with the name of our school on them for each of my kids. Each chaperon had five kids and each group was a different color. Color groups are easy, I get it. I can totally do this.

I placed my daughters name tag on first, obviously knowing which kid she was, then had her help me locate in the sea of kids the other four lucky yellow group kids. Yellow, such a happy color for our group. I found my next kid, the only other girl of my group of five, "M". "M" was sweet and friendly. Then we moved on and together found "L". "L" was adorable. I noticed he had quite the dirty face and was a little disheveled and couldn't keep his little shoes tied to save his life but Hell I'm a hot mess every day too. He was a sweet and shy little boy and so respectful. Next I found "N" and he was my charmer. I could tell immediately he was going to be a ladies man when he grew up. Adorable and outgoing. I had one kid left to find.

One minute later the teacher announced we were to take our groups to the bathroom and then head out to the bus. Two minutes later sad little "A" was laughing wildly, bouncing off the walls and all over me like a hooker on Charlie Sheen. What? Exactly. Who was this kid? He had a bigger mood swing in that two minute time period than a hormonal teenage girl. I started to panic a little on the inside. I only have one kid and she's been a pretty easy kid. I didn't grow up with brothers or sisters. I don't watch friends kids for them. Holy Hell it begins to hit me. I only know how to manage one kid, mine. I am completely and utterly unqualified and absolutely for certain fucked. I now realize that since I never volunteer that Angelina Jolie-ish bitch gave me the class trouble maker and my daughters tales of the naughty kid in her room are coming back to me. Fucked

Finally it's my rag tag little yellow groups turn to go to the bathroom. They sent my group last. I get them in the hall and they look to me to lead them to the bathroom like I'm in charge or something. "Make a line yellow group, we're walking in a line to the bathroom. You guys know how to do that already right?"

Holy shit they totally did. I told them what to do and they actually listened to me. Maybe this won't be so  bad after all. In to the bathroom they went. My girls were in and out like little well oiled machines. My boys? Not so much.  After listening to giggling and what sounded like a lot of water running I finally had enough. In my nicest you're-not-my-kid-so-I'm-using-the-patient-sweet-voice-so-your-parents-don't-find-where-I-live voice I asked them to please finish up and come out. I honestly prefer to think they were in their powdering their noses and putting on their makeup than creating some sort of massive sink overflow that would be found an hour after we left the building. I don't know what happened in that bathroom and I don't want to know.

My my little yellow group was the last group on the bus. Of course. So we were spread out. I managed to keep a seat next to my own daughter and had the cute little future ladies man "N" one row back. The bus ride proved how further clueless and sheltered I am as I had to say for the first 176 times in my life to "N" and his seat mate "keep your hands to yourself."Halfway through the trip "N" was starting to beat the crap out of his buddy and I told him to knock it off. He looked at me with his big puppy dog eyes and said, "But he broke a promise to me, he promised he'd be my best friend forever and now he says he's breaking that promise but you can't break a promise because a promise is a promise and you can't break it."

My response: "You guys are going to have to work it out between you but you're going to have to do it while keeping your hands to yourself."

What I really wanted to say: "Get used to it kid, the world is full of promise breaking assholes, you can do better."

Then I had to repeat the keep your hands to yourself bit another 253 times until cute little "N" decided to tell me that his mothers birthday was on April 28th and she's a nurse part of the time and doesn't something else the other part of the time but he doesn't know what she does but she's not home when she's doing it but she's not a super hero because if she were she would totally wear a cape and his mom doesn't wear a cape. "N" likes to spill secrets. I kind of like this kid. I'm glad he sat near me. I now suspect "N" has a mother who is both a nurse and a stripper.

I see my little drama kid "A" a few rows back bouncing off the seats. I suspect at this point that when he turned his back on me at the school when he was crying that he secretly snorted a pixie stick he had hidden up in his inspector gadget jacket. That's ok, we all have vices. He's no more than five or six right? I can handle this kid. I've got it all under control.

We get to the theater. We exit the bus one mom at a time by calling out our kids color group. "Purple kids come on." "Blue kids now it's your turn." My yellow group was next. I could see fear in the teachers face as she realized we were going to have to cross the street with these kids whereas the twenty other area school buses filled with kids got to part on the theater side of the street. I too begin to panic. At this point little "A" is so wound up he may propel himself into orbit and chill at the space station for a while.

I line the kids up outside the bus and tell them they are each going to hold a friends hand. "A" gets to the front of the line to the lead the way. This was clearly a rookie field trip mom error. We get to the intersection, it's not incredible busy traffic wise but there are five million other school groups there and and that many kids in one place makes me nervous. I mean if you lose one or break one they are really expensive to replace.

As we were crossing the street "A" lets go of "L's" hand and takes off across the street into a large crowd from another school. In my sheer panic I can't remember "A's" name so I do what we've been doing all morning, I immediately yell out our group color name. "Hey YELLOW kid get back here, get back here right now YELLOW kid!!"

Ummmmm yeah.

It took me a minute to figure out why the people from all of the other schools were looking at me like I had just fucked Hitlers corpse in the middle of that intersection. Then as I quickly put two and two together and divided by five and then multiplied by eight and found the square root of OH MY GOD it hit me. There stands the white lady holding hands with four six year old kids while she screams in a panic "hey YELLOW kid" at the runaway boy. The runaway Asian boy.

And then I wanted to die because there is no way to yell back at a large crowd of adults and children  explaining your schools stupid fucking colored group system and that your group is fucking YELLOW. A little piece of my soul died right then and there and I vowed to find the person who came up with the field trip color group system and punch them in the face. And this was only the first half of the field trip.

The next field trip I'll be chaperoning is the one to the liquor store. Alone.

Fuck. My. Life.

May 3, 2011

Kiss Our Sass

So it goes a little something like this... My friend Mely over at Sex, Lies and Bacon and I had too much to drink one night while on the phone with each other a temporary moment of genius while discussing ways as single moms we can make some extra money without having to learn how to pole dance because honestly I'm too fat for a stripper pole and have partnered up to bring you some of the funniest shirts you'll find around. And this is how Kiss our Sass was born. I could be still drunk tooting our own horn a bit but these shirts are kinda sorta full of awesome and I really hope you'll check them out. I know, I'm an asshole for saying how great they are but it's true. If we don't believe in ourselves who will? So how about you help keep a couple of single moms off the stripper pole because seriously Mely is a complete hot box but I'm a total prude, can't walk in high heels and would need a construction crew to build support beams to hold my boobs back in place and check out our shop. Oh, and if you could tell a friend, that would be even more super duper awesome. We have shirts for everyone, even those without kids, ex-husbands or a vagina. If you've already been to our store stop by again because we've made some changes.

Also, because deep down in our dark, snarky, bitter little hearts we're actually pretty decent broads we've decided to donate $1 of every shirt sold to Hannah's House - San Diego. We hope they don't mind, you know, since we kind of have potty mouths and all.

Single Mom Survives