Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I can act as an expert on parenting and marriage because I'm not a parent or a spouse. Smirk.

A lot of times I feel like there are many couples making glaring mistakes in parenting.  Maybe the mistakes aren't glaring to them because they're center isn't the same as mine.  I think having the right center makes things much more obvious.

I was watching the new season of The Middle tonight.  Next to Modern Family, I find The Middle one of the more entertaining family comedies out there right now.
In tonight's episode, the question of hierarchy comes up in the family.  Mom tries to point out that the kids are not in charge ... mom's in charge!  She goes so far as to draw a family hierarchy... Mom, kid, kid, kid. In birth order - which of course inspires more arguments, until the question, "What about dad?"
Fine.  She writes "Dad" next to "Mom".

At this point I think, "That's right sister!"

Then the kids argue that Dad is above Mom.  Mom protests.

Personally, I start thinking... "Yeah, the man should be the head of the household.  Why is this mom so opposed to this?"  
The program continues to display the drama of who is in charge.   Then it dawns on me.  The Hecks have the hierarchy all wrong.   Of course the wife is going to be uncomfortable if her husband is 'above' her.  she was right the first time - with Dad on the same level as Mom.  But she forgot to write God, above both of them.

I think it would be easy to love a man, trust a man, and honor a man who put God before not just me, but before himself.   I have long stressed that I believe that is the way it should be... and I know there are those that have trouble with the concept.  
Actually it came up on a friends FB wall once when someone posted that their kids are FIRST in their lives!! Rah Rah!  I pointed out that I thought the God, Spouse, Kids hierarchy was better suited to family harmony.  Someone asked how that works... how could you put your man before your kids?!  What if the man is abusive?  Well, an abusive man is not a man who has God first, now is he?  A man who puts God before all else will be a good man by default.  Oh, she hadn't thought of that.
Really?  (Well, I guess that's why she's married and I'm not.  Clearly I'm too picky looking for a man who puts God first. )

Then there is the knowledge that a man of God is wise enough to lead side-by-side.  I read once that the husband in the Dugger family says that the decisions he's made that were worst for his family, were the once he made without first consulting his wife.

Well, the Hecks didn't have that epiphany tonight.  Instead, they realized (once dad took on some of mom's duties and failed - it's a comedy after all.)  that in a family, sometimes everyone pitches in and leads in their own way.   Sometimes a sister helps in a way a parent can't. Sometimes kids help parents.  (all true)

I guess they couldn't land on the God theory in a program produced for a mass audience and with big corporate sponsors.   Look to reruns of 7th Heaven for that!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

When Never-Marrieds Date the Divorced

Now that I've managed to malign a population of our society... I may as well take a whack at yet another.

You know, I like to think that anyone could be a match... but the fact is  I am looking for a Catholic man and I would prefer that he's not divorced.  But at my age... at least half of the available men are going to be divorced.   So... you know... we must date them.

It's pretty tricky trying to determine from an online profile if a guy is a good candidate to commit to meeting.  Even tricker I think when they're divorced.

First of all, I don't even entertain dating anyone whose status is "separated".   Ahem, I'm a little uncomfortable to point this out but... you are still married. There is no reason for me to get involved.  Quite frankly... I think you ought to be at least two years out of the final divorce proceedings before you date.  Seems to me there is a lot of healing to work through and there's no point dragging someone else into the messiness.   But I think men in particular are not going to wait that long to get back on the scene.  Women tend to know they need healing. Men, in general want to get on with it.

So actually, second is - be healed from your divorce before you date me.

I met a guy a couple weeks ago.  We met for beverages of some sort and talked for quite a while.  I felt that he told me too much about his divorce too soon.  
I mentioned this to a friend who is in the same dating situation as I - and she said she's experienced the alternative... which was the guy hadn't said a word about his divorce until she asked him casually on the fourth date... and he looked shocked and dumbfounded!    That's no good either.  You shouldn't be surprised that it comes up.

In my case, I felt he told me too much about his kids and about their schedules.  (not in a stalker-ish way)  But you barely know me, and I'm here to get to know YOU.  Naturally, your kids are part of your life... yes, tell me about them  - but on the first date that should be limited to a synopsis of their ages, maybe genders, and one or two remarkable things about them (she's a ballerina, loves horses, he's a great soccer player).  You don't have to tell me what you think about their soccer coaches this year, or how much time you spend shuttling them between activities.   I don't need to know that. Yes, I may want to know eventually - but can I please get to you first?
See.. I don't have kids... so quite frankly I can't even relate to getting up early enough to get children to school before the first bell!   By talking about your kids, you've pretty much put me at a loss for words.   Am I supposed to talk about work now?  My car?  My parents?  My condo?
Let's talk about what we love to do.  Hiking, skiing, geo-tracking?  Let's talk about what we'd like to do... you want to visit Italy again... Great, that's the first place on my bucket list!  Let's talk about that!

I guess I do need to know why you got divorced... but please, not too much detail.
She cheated on you?   She up and left?  She never loved you?  You never loved her?  None of it reflects well on you.
Actually, I have a litmus test on this topic, especially if she cheated or initiated the divorce.  I'll ask if it was a complete shock.  Did he think everything in his marriage was just fine and had no idea that anything was wrong or that she was unhappy?  RED FLAG!
My response to that is... "So where were you?"  Was he checked out of the marriage?  Was he content with his needs being met and so never noticed that she was bored, or unfulfilled, or overworked as a mom?
You'd be surprised how many guys say, "Yeah! Total shock!"  That's when I prepare my exit.
I guess the next thing would be to ask what he's learned from his divorce... but that seems like more of a fourth date question... not the first.

See how this is so tricky?

If you're telling me that ALL your friends are getting divorced... that scares me.
Granted, you're going to want to support your friends through the same thing that you went through.  But if you're only associating with other divorced guys... well... that tells me that you think it's okay.  I'd rather hear that you're moved to help them reconcile.  I want to know that divorce was so awful you wouldn't want to wish it on anyone else.  
Maybe I'm too idealistic... but you know what they say, birds of a feather flock together.  If I said all my friends were hoodlums, would you believe that I'm the Mother Theresa trying to straighten them all out - or would you think that maybe I'm a shady character too?
Weird correlation I suppose... but it's reasonable for me to think that if you're only socializing with people in the midst of divorce ... er... that's where you're comfort zone is.
I can see that it's probably different with kids... because you want them to know they're not the only kids in the world with divorced parents.

Sixth.  The future.
This last divorced guy started ticking off qualities that he expected of his next wife.  That's okay for the most part... not ticking them off, but having an idea.   It just felt wrong when I could add up that he was looking for qualities the exact opposite of his ex-wife....  I mean OBVIOUS.  And I've never met her!   To me, that says he thinks it will all work out if he can identify the bugs in a particular model and build his own divorce proof robot.

Granted, I know what qualities I want to avoid in men ( most of which were gleaned from my relationship with Mr. Burns)  but I see it more as being able to identify those qualities and avoid them and not be fooled again.   Not sweeping generalizations... but more about identifying behavior.

Seventh.  More about the future.
This one is pretty specific.  This last guy mentioned (on the first date/meeting mind you!) that if he got married again it would be a casual affair.  In the mountains or on the beach or something.  I replied that I would want a Mass in a Church... the whole Sacrament.  I've been waiting my whole life for this, it's going to be official!   He whimpered a bit and said, "Oh, I can't do that.  I'd have to get an annulment."
"Oh. " I said, "Well, you sort of need one of those to date me in the first place."
He looked at me a bit shocked... crossed with impressed.

See... I'm not playing around.  I'm not going to get involved with someone who isn't going to be serious. In my book, an annulment says your marriage is over and you've done everything you can do to be healed.  You really ought to be healed and ready if you're going to start dating.

What is dating if marriage is not the goal?
That's just setting people up for disappointment.

When I'm looking at profiles, I look for a few specific details, especially in the profiles of divorced guys...  A) Divorced for at least two years B) if they have kids, they have at least 50/50 custody.   A guy who lives more than an hour from children is a flag.  I have no interest in a guy who has abandoned his children, even if it would be easier on me! C) That he might be open to having more children.  Obviously, I may not be able to have kids of my own, but I'd like the guy to be open to it - we should be at a similar starting point and let God sort it out.

I know Divorced folks have their opinions on dating the Never-Married as well....  and it's true, we come from completely different worlds.
Often the divorced married right out college and have never been alone...  and for the never-married... the exact opposite.    Different worlds.

What's your experience?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Long and Short of It

I've been single for a long time.  Since, you know, birth for starters.

Over the years, I've considered myself pretty open-minded about who I would date.  I've chastised other women for rejecting men who didn't meet their height requirements... or hair-to-scalp ratio.    Bald? I don't care... bald can be HOT!  (seriously girls, date ONE bald guy, you'll see.  Or maybe I just dated a really hot bald guy to start with.  hmmm.  that's still a nice memory!)  Tall, short... who cares?  I've dated men shorter than I.  Heck, I figure if God made a complete man before he reached 5'10"... he's probably a mighty good man!

In the past, I even boasted that I'd go out with anyone who asked me out.  (that comment even bit me in the butt once.  That's another story... maybe I'll share some day.)

But today, it seems that the only dating that occurs, begins online.   When I meet men in real life... it doesn't seem to occur to them to ask me out.  (in fact, one real life man in whom I was briefly interested, told me that he's not looking to meet anyone at all the events we end up at together.  Hmmm?  Who wants to be alone?  Does not compute.)

Back to the online thing.  So, I'm dutifully perusing my online sources... meeting a few men.

Mr. Potential still has his hat in the ring, but no grand efforts just yet.  Many very sweet, kind gestures but he's not pursuing hard, we are casually getting to know one another, which I enjoy.

So here's the thing.  As I'm shopping for men online... and meeting them in person... the common theme seems to be that they're either divorced or divorcing (and I won't date anyone who says they're 'separated' - hi, how dumb do you think I am?!) or they're shorter than 5'10".

Now remember... I don't care about height.  (I thought)

One friend, who had a big hang up about dating someone who wasn't taller than she... and ended up marrying he who is her exact height... said about more than one prospect of mine, "Maybe that's the only reason he's single... because he's short."

I'm still not sure what I think about that statement.
It suggests that too many women couldn't see a good man because they were blinded by his lack of stature.   But then again, it suggests that height was a sufficient reason to discard a good man.   It suggest yet another statement that I can't seem to put into words...

But what is bugging me... is that despite the fact that I don't care about height...  I'm learning that when I meet the men who I know are 'short'... and I encounter them in real-life... there is a moment of disappointment.  (What?)

Actually, think it has less to do with their height than with the fact that they're small all the way around.
Listen.  I'm only 5'5" (depending on who measures... I've been accused of being shorter!)  and I have a rather slight frame.  But sometimes these men make me feel like I'm bigger than them.   I don't understand it.
Mr. Potential, for example, is very fit and lean - but when I put my arms around him, I feel like I'm holding onto less than what he is holding onto!   It feels odd.

So now, thanks in part to what my friend said... I'm starting to feel like these small guys are (ooh... I don't want to say it... )  leftovers.

Ack.   I don't like that!  But there it is.
I don't really feel that way... but when I see a profile that describes a man that doesn't quite appeal to me... and then check his height status... it seems to confirm the theory.

Oh well.  These are just thoughts. Not hard and fast facts or even well-thought-out opinions...
It's just that I want to wrap my arms around someone substantial.  Someone who feels like a man, strong, protective...

In fact, I've dated shorter men who did present that physical security... so I don't understand what has changed.   Maybe our age impacts  the meaty factor?

Okay folks... don't jump down my throat here.    You know I don't normally target like this.  Any thoughts? 

Thursday, September 08, 2011

It Is Well With My Soul

Let me tell you friends, God is good. 
People are good. 

It took me about 12 hours to get home once I heard my dad was gone.  I couldn't get a seat on the flight that would have got me home quickest.  Instead, we arranged for relatives to get me at the airport three hours away - so all totaled - I walked into my parent's house almost exactly 12 hours after I heard the news.

Some relatives were already visiting with mom.  Before long neighbors stopped by.  All day, people stopped by with food and hugs and memories of my dad.  It was really something special.

Later that same afternoon, we went to the funeral home to make arrangements for the funeral.  Since the rest of my family had been at the hospital with dad just after he died - and I hadn't -  I needed to see him.   I asked the funeral director if it was possible for me to see him, and he assured me I could.  
After we settled all the arrangements,  my mom and brother left the room - and the staff wheeled my dad in on a table.  I got to spend time with him, just the two of us.   I prayed over him and sang to him - It Is Well With My Soul.  Because it was. 

My dad was 78 years old.  Not that all that old if you ask me.  I was just sure he would make it to 80.  
But, he lived all the way up until he died.  He worked hard every day of his life, and he was getting to the point that he couldn't work the way he wanted to - and that was a blow to his dignity. 

Dad left this world just as he had hoped and prayed that he would.  Without growing so old as to be frail  - without suffering - without ever having to be in a nursing home - without being stuck on life support (which was his greatest fear).   So I can't help but be happy for him.  

My dad has seen the face of God and I'm stuck here.  Great for him, rough for me. 

I had the best dad any girl could ask for.  He loved me and he showed it.  It was proud of me and he told me.  He was wise and kind, and everyone who knew him witnessed it. 

I don't think my dad knew just how many people thought the world of him.  The funeral home was so packed, they said their were only two chairs left in the whole building!  In the small town, the funeral home is just two blocks off of the main street... and we heard that traffic was backed up where a trail of cars had to wait for the traffic light to turn left! 

The church was packed at the funeral, and it's a good-sized church.

It reminded me of three years ago... when we threw a surprise party for dad's 75th birthday.  We had about a hundred people there - and dad was shocked that so many people would travel just for a party for him.  He joked that night that he was afraid there was a funeral the next day because he felt like he was at his own wake!  Actually, I loved that... because so often, people don't get together until someone dies.  How nice it was for him to enjoy the party!

We had a big party for my parent's 50th Anniversary in June.  It was bigger than his birthday party - and it was a great time!  We were all so happy that we had that party, everyone got to see dad and mom together... happy... in good health and good spirits. 

Even better that everyone remembers him fondly. 
What a mighty good man.

I love you daddy.   See you soon in eternity.