Mom-ish

There were three things I wanted to be when I was a kid. Well, two that I thought I wanted to be and one that I knew for sure. I thought I wanted to be a singer and a veterinarian. And I knew I wanted to be a mom. For as long as I can remember, those things were pretty set in my mind. So fast forward a hundred years and I am currently zero out of three. The veterinarian dream killed itself during a particularly boring day of high school biology, the singer dream occasionally comes to life, but is resting quietly at the moment. But the mom dream… that’s the one that cuts me. Because that has always been the number one dream. If I had ever been told that I could only have one, there would have been no hesitation, no question that motherhood is what I would have chosen.

But the chance to make that choice never materialized, so… here I am.  And a little while ago I talked about the evening when I was faced with the horrific prospect of my teen-mom cousin becoming a grandmother before I was a mother. I was on my way to Connect Group that night, but had to take a few minutes to cry in public and grapple with my faith and the feeling of being cheated. And then I pulled myself together and continued on my way. But the story didn’t end there. Due to the aforementioned crying and grappling, I was a few minutes late to connect group, so a few of the girls had arrived before me and when I walked in that night, one of the girls looked at me and announced “Mom’s here!” and for the next few moments everyone greeted me with “Hi Mom!” and as I was hugging and smiling on the outside, on the inside I was telling God “Oh hell no. This is NOT what I want.” Because it wasn’t.

I can imagine the darkest timeline, the one where I never have children and I can see how it could totally happen, but if it does… I will feel cheated. And that’s real. So in that moment, it felt like God was trying to trick me into accepting a consolation prize.  Like He’s been trying to trick me for years. Because people have been calling me “Mom” for years. And it’s never bothered me, I’ve never taken it as a bad thing, if anything, I’ve taken it as a compliment. But that night was the first time I completely rejected it on the inside. I felt like, If you’re not going to give me this the way I want it, then I’m not going to walk in it at all. So I didn’t say anything to anyone else, but I said to myself (and God), “No. I will not be the mom here.”

But no one knew any of that was going on. And it was a beautiful day outside, so we decided to move our bible study to a nearby park. We set ourselves up at one of the bench tables and everything was fine. At first. But New York is a funny place. It is full of characters and even though we’re all brushing up against each other all the time, we still keep our distance for the most part. So when worlds do collide, it’s always memorable. And on this night, our world collided with a cray-cray lady in the park. We had been chatting for a few minutes when she deliberately wandered over with her dog and asked if she could join us.  And these are the moments when being a Christian is tough. When you can pretty quickly tell that someone is not all there, but when you ask yourself “WWJD?” you’re pretty sure the answer is not Chase her and her dog away with a stick. So you say “Yes, of course — please join us.” So she sat down with us.

And the next ten minutes were spent trying to keep her, her mystical mumbo-jumbo stories and her general off-ness from dominating the conversation. At one point I remember snapping my fingers at her and saying “Look at me, you can stay, but you have to be quiet and listen. Do you understand?” (Which is not at all something a mom would say.)  And she did settle down a teeny-tiny bit, but after a few more minutes it was clear that she was too disruptive. And that somebody needed to do something about it.  But I didn’t want to. Because I was not trying to lose this particular battle of wills with God.  So I tried to hold out, but she was making everyone too uncomfortable and I loved those girls too much to let it continue. So I took back the mom mantle and took one for the team. I took our new friend aside so she could tell me everything she wanted to say and my connect group could continue safely and sanely.

And I don’t remember anything that lady told me, I know there was a lot of crying and hugging and zero reading of social cues, but it didn’t matter, she was mostly harmless and I was busy accepting my fate. If this is the kind of mom I am right now, so be it. It’s not enough forever. But it’s what I have for now.

So I started making peace with the idea of being that kind of mom, instead of rejecting it out of that old suspicion that my acceptance of it would encourage God to withhold what I really wanted.

And what I didn’t know that day was that almost exactly a month later, I would be starting this blog. And even though I started it with total focus on single women age 27+, over the past few months, I’ve recognized more and more the importance of speaking honestly about this walk, not just for our sake, but for the sake of the women right behind us.  To hopefully spare them some of the mistakes and better prepare them for the challenges. And to not pass on the same fears and hindrances that have stumbled so many of us.  And to ease the way and open as many doors as possible. And even I have to admit, that sounds pretty Mom-ish.

So if I never have children and I someday say “It’s okay, I don’t even mind anymore.” I want you to know that I’ll be lying. 100%… 103%. But I’m not going to let the fear of that make me hold back now. So to those of you who do let me “mom” you on occasion, thank you. It’s good practice. (And sometimes a helpful deterrent). And to the women like me who are still waiting for “the real thing,” for whatever reason, don’t lose heart. And don’t give up hope. That’s not what a mom does.

Welcome. And I’m Sorry.

I never wanted to start this blog. Even now as I’m getting my blog on, I wish I wasn’t. I hate that I am because I hate that I can. To be in my 30’s and still single was not part of the plan. And even as the years kept approaching like no suitable man ever has, I kept hoping against hope that this phase (Dear God, it is just a phase, right?!) was going to end any minute now. But it never did yet. So here we are. Single as ever. I mean, I know I am and since you’re reading this, I assume you are too. So…

Hello! Welcome. And also: I’m sorry. Because you have obviously reached one of three points:

  1. It’s not funny anymore. And maybe you’re suffering a little bit or feel that you may be about to. So you wandered over here in the hope of finding some answers or “aha moments” or helpful hints to help you either be okay with being single (if that’s how it has to be), or, much more preferably, teach you something that will totally flip the switch and end the drought. Or…
  2. You actually have no business being here. You’re younger than 27 and/or married and you just can’t let us have this one place of peace and quiet away from your incessant whining about all your non problems. You are the worst. Get out of here.* Or…
  3. Your well-meaning friend/mother/aunt/married younger sibling heard about this new site for older Christian singles and immediately thought of you. He/She sent you the link with a “thumbs up” emoji and if they really love you, a sweet little note that said “For while you wait.” Or some variation of that. Don’t be mad. They mean well. And they actually did you a solid.

However you ended up here, this blog is written and (wo)manned by a veteran of singleness, a prisoner of war, if you will. I wish I could say that I’ll be telling you how to win the war or how to truly love the way that you’re losing it, but I can’t. I won’t. Because if I knew how to do either of those things, I wouldn’t be here.

The truth, as you already know, is that it’s an ebb-and-flow kind of situation. Some days it’s fine, you don’t even think about it. You’re just living your life and loving that you can go an entire winter without shaving your legs or anything else. But then all of sudden something will upset the balance. Could be something big like a friend getting engaged. Or something small like seeing a couple on the subway. Or even smaller like seeing two cookies that have run together on the baking sheet and thinking “Even these cookies found someone!” Whatever it is that sends you into the spiral of hopelessness and despair that leaves you listening to Adele and reactivating that Eharmony profile (not that there’s anything wrong with that) this blog is just to let you know that you’re not alone… well, I mean, you are, but not in the cosmic sense. So if you feel like you’re spiraling, or just about to – go on.

I’ll meet you at the bottom.

* Dear under 27s and marrieds: All bans and restrictions have been lifted. You are still kinda the worst, but you can stay. 

Best Ever

Best Ever

Have you ever had a moment of realization and growth that you felt really good about suddenly turn around and kick you in your face? I have. Just this past week. There I was, fresh off my last post about not being afraid to let go of things because even if it’s the best you’ve ever had, it’s not the best that God can do and then 17 minutes later I’m crying because I have just written one of the best lines ever and I don’t want to give it away.

For a year now I’ve been working with an up and coming artist on his debut album. It’s a project that started out small and no-budget, but has grown and now has some pretty serious steam and momentum behind it. I started the gig as a favor and didn’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about the future of it, but dammit… this kid has got the goods. And he’s gonna make it. And my writing is part of that. And overall, working on this album has been a great experience. Within every song there have been moments of inspiration and frustration and some point where I hated everything about it and wanted to quit. And then just past that… somehow… it would all come together. And we’d be on to the next one.

And it’s not my album, but there are obviously pieces of me all throughout it. And there are moments and lines that I really love in each song, but there have only been three times when the writing has actually moved me to tears. And for two of those times, it wasn’t the brilliance of my lyrics as much as how they stepped right on something I was feeling at the moment. But the third one… I thought “Wow. This is a really good lyric.” And I got really sad at the thought of giving it away.

Because what if I never write something that good for myself? What if I’ve peaked and it was all for someone else? So for a good 24 hours, I had to do some soul-searching. Because it’s easy for me to let go of places and things, I know money comes and money goes, but what about what I really have to give? My gifts and my talents, my words and creativity — what do I do with this urge to hold back, to be selfish, to keep the best for someday for myself?

Well, I wish I could say I heard the voice of God say “Don’t be silly! Of course you haven’t peaked!” but I didn’t. If I heard anything it was just the question being thrown back at me “So what if you have?” What if the greatest work I ever do and the best contributions I ever make are on behalf of other people… would that really be the worst thing?

Honestly… Yes. Because God’s not done with me and I am still extremely selfish. But also… No. The worst thing would actually be to hold back today’s creativity and then spend too many tomorrows trying to shoehorn it in somewhere it never belonged.

So I let the lyric go. I gave it away. And now, looking back with the added wisdom and experience of approximately 6 days, it’s actually laughable to me what a legitimate struggle that was. I still think the lyric is amazing, but as I was working on some lyric ideas for one of my shows yesterday, I could feel the old magic lurking and I knew, I know that I’m only scratching the surface of what’s possible. Because God doesn’t compartmentalize generosity – He’ll honor any area we choose to live with an open hand in.

So I’m really grateful for this album project. For many reasons. But mostly for how much it’s stretching me. And teaching me. And reminding me that experiencing that Ephesians 3:20 better-than-you-can-ask-or-imagine means having to let go of whatever I could ask or imagine and probably thought was the best thing ever.

Because **spoiler alert**: it gets better.

7.5

7.5

This time last week, I had no idea where I would be living today. My sublet was ending on Friday and I had known that for over a month and had been searching for the next place for just as long but… nothing. Nothing had come together. So I had booked a mover with only half helpful information – a pick up address with the drop off location still TBD. Awkward. So awkward. And frustrating. And annoying.  AKA: So very New York. And I’m not gonna lie – it was hard. Emotionally more than anything else. Moves are usually stressful due to finances, but thanks to my job, my side hustles and tax season, money wasn’t even an issue. What was a very real issue was the feeling of not just being uprooted, but feeling completely un-rooted. And being stuck in this cycle of not really belonging anywhere. Or to anyone.

Moving in New York is nothing new to me. I just did the math and since arriving 90 months ago (in October of 2009), I have moved 12 times. That’s an average of once every 7.5 months. Can you imagine that? At some point every year (twice in the really good ones!) packing up everything you own and moving it someplace else. It is exactly as fun as it sounds. And absolutely exhausting. And I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I moved on Friday night and by Sunday evening, I had every box unpacked. “Seriously?!” One of my friends was shocked (and I imagine, mad impressed.) “It took me 6 months to get to the last box!” Which isn’t unusual at all, but the way my vagrancy is set up, I just can’t afford to wait 6 months to unpack a box I’ll be repacking in 7. So if there’s something I can leave boxed up for 6 months, it’s something that I can leave behind. And I do. Not just when I move, but in day-to-day life, I’ve gotten really good at realizing that things are just things. And letting go of them. Because it’s all just stuff. And whether it’s something I bought or something that was given to me – if I got it once, I can get it again. Bad days and general annoyances aside, my life is on an incline, it’s getting bigger, better, stronger all the time. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not where I was and to be afraid to let go of something because it’s the best I’ve ever had and “what if I never get it again??” is to be afraid that this is as good as it gets and that God has done all He can. But I know that isn’t true.

And that’s what I had to remind myself of in the moments when I just wanted to walk away from everything. Those moments when everything about the situation was screaming how much I didn’t matter, didn’t belong and didn’t have anything to show for all the years here. And honestly… there were some moments when if a door had opened someplace far far away, I would have thrown my cat in his carrier and run through it. But NOTHING was opening up. Except in Brooklyn. And I never got that desperate.

Ask anyone who knows me how I feel about Brooklyn and they’ll probably tell you I hate it. In fact, you can ask around and even people who don’t really know me can probably tell you two things: I love cats and I hate Brooklyn.  They are well-worn facts from the folktales oft told about Jani The Cat. But are they true facts? Well… they are like Lifetime movies: based on real events, but exaggerated for entertainment value. I don’t have any real issue with Brooklyn. I just don’t have any use for it. I feel about Brooklyn exactly the same way I feel about the artwork on the wall across from my desk at work – it’s there but who cares? And what most people don’t know is that once upon a time, I almost moved to Brooklyn. I actually got selected in one of those housing lotteries and was thisclose to moving into a brand new building in the Crown Heights area when the subject of pets came up at the lease signing. And being the crazy cat lady that (anyone can tell you) I am, I had to turn down the keys to that brand-new-elevator-with-laundry-in-the-basement apartment.

But because we had already gone through all the paperwork the management office asked if we might be interested in living in another other building they had. In Washington Heights. And that was how I ended up living (and loving!) uptown. Which is where I ended up building a connect group. And building friendships. And a life. And I know it’s different for everyone, but for me… I just have a conviction that uptown is where I’m supposed to be. So even with the clock running out and the possibility of being homeless skyrocketing, I would see ad after ad featuring open spots in Brooklyn, and I never even considered it. And no one ever suggested it. Not seriously.

Which is crazy, right??

You’re literally days away from have NOWHERE  TO LIVE and you won’t even consider putting your crazy conviction aside.  Well… I’m also on the edge of NEVER MAKING IT, but still can’t quiet this conviction to keep writing. And I’m definitely within spitting distance of being SINGLE FOREVER but still can’t shake the conviction that there is someone great for me.

So this move, was a different test of faith from the million before it. It was a trial by fire of believing a particular area is where you’re supposed to be and waiting, against all reason, for a door to open. And you know what? A door did open. This time a week ago. I set up an appointment to go view a room that had just popped up on Gypsy housing. It was a little more than I wanted to pay for another roommate situation, but the pictures looked pretty nice and desperate times, right? So I went. And I met the new potential roommate. And I thought, “Yeah, okay. This could be good.” And I was pretty sure that it was going to work out, but I didn’t want to say anything until the sublease was signed and the deposit was in. And that didn’t happen until Thursday evening. So I didn’t know for sure for sure until the day before I was moving.

And it wasn’t until the day after I moved that it hit me what an amazing door I had walked through. In the borough/area I love. In the best building/apartment I have lived in so far. Cat-friendly. With an elevator. Laundry in the basement. In a spacious bedroom. With two windows. And two amazing views of the Hudson River, GWB and New Jersey.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…

It is an Ephesians 3:20 kind of situation through and through. And it’s a new touchstone to remind me (and hopefully a testimony to encourage you) that you’re right where you’re supposed to be AND right about where you’re supposed to be. And what is for you, is for you and the clock may be ticking, but it’s actually on your side because it’s counting down to the open door that is just for you.

(And yes: 7.5 months from now, this sublet will be over and I’ll be moving on again, but I’ve already decided that I’ll be buying. And I’m already looking forward to seeing what “better than I can ask or imagine” is going to look like in that situation/process.)

Sick and Sorry

Sick and Sorry

“Is it too late now to say sorry?”
Abraham Lincoln
(or Justin Bieber. I always get those two confused.)

I felt sick for all of February. Every single day. And I’m pretty sure it actually started sometime in January, possibly even December, but February was when I actually noticed that I consistently didn’t feel good and hadn’t for a while. And it was nothing major or unbearable – no pain, just a constant feeling of being slightly nauseous. All. the. time. Hungry, full – didn’t matter. In fact, the only time I didn’t feel sick was when I was literally in the act of eating. It was like my body would think “Ooh! Maybe this will help!” but it wouldn’t. And within 5 to 10 minutes, I’d be back to feeling BLAH. And so, naturally, like any reasonable adult with health insurance and a will to live, I thought about going to the doctor. I thought about it a lot. I even looked up my insurance card and spent a fair amount of minutes on the interwebs trying to find an “in network” provider, but the doctors with the best reviews and most human-like photos were booked solid until April, May, 2019 and the other ones were a little too available (why is your next available opening at 11am when it’s 10:45 right now??) So I did eventually book an appointment (for April 14th, I do believe. hashtag: adulting) but in the meantime, I figured I’d keep soldiering on, bravely, nobly. Handling all the stresses and responsibilities of life in New York, all the while suffering. Silently. Bravely. Nobly.

And then I figured out what was wrong. And I’m sitting here today feeling absolutely fine. As fate (and probably genetics and age) would have it, I do believe I have become lactose intolerant. So now that I’m not having milk in my tea, eating ice cream like it’s my job or downing Chai lattes, I’m feeling a-ok. Which is great. But in looking back, this whole experience has been fascinating because it made me realize how easy it is to get used to functioning at a sub-prime standard. To be feeling sick while carrying on as if its normal. Because as far as anyone else knows – everything is normal. You’re normal. And doing just fine.

But I wasn’t. And I’m still not. Because it wasn’t just my stomach that was bothering me. My soul has been sick for all of 2017 thus far. The poor thing feels like she’s wasting away. Actually… no. Wasting away sounds like a problem of lack, so I guess my soul is actually on the verge of imploding from the weight of everything that I’m not doing.

I came into 2017 with solid ideas of things that I wanted to do, goals to accomplish, endeavors to… endeavor. And here we are with the first quarter of the year very nearly over and what have I done? Basically, nothing. I hosted one disaster/reading in January and have been fixated on everything I don’t have and can’t do ever since. And it’s ruining everything. I can’t enjoy anything because I feel convicted all the time. I went to see a friend in a show last week, a terrible TERRIBLE show (my friend was amazing) and I was so mad. Not at the show or the writers, but at myself. Because what the hell am I doing? The team of people behind that terrible (TERRIBLE) show actually sat down, made a plan, found supporters, held auditions and produced something. Middling talent and absolute terribleness, be damned – they did something. And people came and saw it. I know because I was one of those people. Because my friend, my insanely wonderfully talented friend, was in it. Because my friend just wants to work. And those terrible (TERRIBLE) writers produced work. And meanwhile… I’m sitting over here fixated on what I don’t have and can’t do.

And my friends deserve better than that.

So I probably owe you an apology. And please believe, if you have talked about/asked for prayer re:/mentioned in passing any of your audition stories/struggles, you wouldn’t have known it, but I have felt convicted. And if you have joked/not been joking about auditioning for me someday (which an annoying number of you have recently, #jesusbecreeping) please know that I probably went home and cried about it. Which is exactly what I deserve.

Earlier today, I saw that quote about strength being for service and not status and it just hit me how that covers all the different kinds of strengths it takes to step out and do something – not just the talents and skills, but the strength of will it takes to face possible ridicule, failure and falling short – because somebody has to do it. Whatever talents we have, aren’t just for us and us alone, they’re supposed to find their place and fulfill their purpose in conjunction with others. For others.

So I have to stop living with this sick feeling of holding back. And I don’t know… but maybe you do to.  We all want to whatever we do to be the best thing ever and the easiest way to stop ourselves from moving forward is to imagine all the worst case scenarios but we’ve gotta push past all that. Done is better than perfect. Something is better than nothing. And honestly, this moment – knowing that I’m not really doing all I can to push forward the people and the causes that I care about — this is the worst case scenario. Well… the second to the worst. The very worst case scenario would be to live quietly with this sick feeling for the rest of my life. But ain’t nobody got time for that. Not me. Not you. And not the people waiting on us to move forward.

So let’s not let this month end and this quarter close without offering some sincere apologies by making some moves.  And cutting back on the fears and excuses that have been keeping us sick. And, hopefully, we’ll all feel better in the next quarter.