Come one, come all – read the first ever interview given by the one, the only, Ragtop Day!! (uh, yeah, that would be me)
Melina, over at “That Woman who speaks eighteen languages and can’t say “no” in any of them” interviewed me as part of the Great Interview Experiment that was the brainchild of Neil. Here are her questions, and my answers, but go check her out as well!
1. Describe the biggest challenge of being a single mother of two. (I guess I should put that in the form of a question. “What is the greatest challenge of being a single mother of two?”)
For me, the biggest challenge is that I am always “on”. Always. I never get a day off, or even an evening. Because I also don’t live near family, I have very little support. It’s all on me. Just writing this sounds like I’m having a pity party with myself, and yes, sometimes I do feel this way. Especially when married friends complain how hard it is when their spouse is away for a night or a weekend. And I think – you’re complaining to ME?? I’m also not good at asking for help, and have the mentality that I must do it all myself, especially since I became a single mother by choice. I actually had someone (a family member) chastise me for feeling stress because I “chose this”. Yes, I did – the decision to adopt both my girls was made outside of a relationship. I always planned to do this alone (though I was married for three years when K was little.) So that’s the external challenge. I’m going to throw another one in there, which is not specific to single parents, but in parenting two. While I initially thought it would be the day-to-day logistics that would turn my world upside down, the truth is it’s the relationship between my girls that causes me the most stress. While they get along fairly well, they also bicker a LOT, and the dynamic between them can be well, interesting. And stressful.
2. What was the best thing about being in the military?
Gosh, where do I mention I was in the military! LOL! That honestly seems like another lifetime ago. I suppose the best thing was being exposed to people from outside my own little world, and the fact that I got to manage people (or try to) at a very young age. (I made a TON of mistakes!) The most fun thing I did was Airborne school where I actually got to parachute out of an airplane (5 times!).
3. You talk about your relationship about your mom as being…well…a little strained. What’s (was?) your relationship with your dad like and do you think that has anything to do with the way you and your mother interact?
Boy, this one is a tough one. My parents divorced when I was 9. Up to that point I would have described my dad as my favorite parent. Gee, who wouldn’t? Mom was the one who made me get dressed and clean up after myself, while dad took me with him on cool errands (like the barbershop) and was more fun. Gradually over the years though, I grew closer to my mom. When I was in my early 20’s I would have described my mother as my best friend. My dad was always there, but our relationship was more intellectual, if that makes sense. He and I had the same taste in books and would discuss those, as well as current events, job issues, etc. He was a mentor and a friend. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1997 of cancer at age 62. He and my mom had no real relationship with each other, aside from being parents to the same kids, and that ceased to be of much importance once I graduated from college.
It wasn’t until my step-father died suddenly in 1991 that my relationship with my mother grew strained. I came to realize she had a drinking problem, and probably had for many years. It was hidden from me by the presence of my step-father, I think now because she didn’t need me when she had him. Or to put it another way, once he was gone, she needed me desperately. She verbally abused me while drunk and pulled a lot of crap on me for several years. Conveniently these always occurred during blackouts for her, so she never understood why I was upset. While her drinking seems to be a non-factor right now (it’s not something we talk about), she has some very insecure personality traits and I can really only take her in very small doses. If she were not my mother, she is not someone I would choose to spend time with. Actually, I choose not to anyway, but because she’s my mother, I do. Which I feel guilty about, constantly. And while I strive not to talk about my feelings about her with my girls at all, they have certainly picked up on them anyway. I mean they can tell who is on the phone by the tone I use when I say hello, for crying out loud! So I worry about whether payback will be a bitch when my own kids want nothing to do with me one day.
4. Describe the happiest moment of your life.
Hmmmm….I’m supposed to say adopting one of my kids right? But while amazing, and singularly significant, I can’t say the overriding emotion was happy. A happy moment is by definition fleeting, I think. Contentment is what I’m really after. Still working on it.
5. Since you seem to be a great fan of memes, give me your top five favorite songs and what they remind you of.
Aw, the only reason I’m such a big fan of memes is that I’m lazy! It’s a fun and usually easy way to post something. I read somewhere that memes are more fun for those doing them, than reading them, and I believe this to be true. So, I would like to apologize for doing so many!
So these aren’t really my top 5 favorite songs so much as five songs that have memories associated with them:
• “Turn the Page”, by Bob Seger – has high school written all over it
• “New York, New York”, by Frank Sinatra – the one is a college song for me – every Friday night the student center held a dance, and this was the finale song every week. My ex and I used it as the final dance at our wedding as well.
• “Hush Little Baby”, Carly Simon – this is the version on the Jim Brickman CD my girls listen to as they fall asleep every night; I also sing my own (butchered) version to them every night as well
• “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”, Meatloaf – what’s not to love?? It’s so much fun to sing at the top of your lungs – it’s been popular since I was a teenager, and can bring me back.
• “Horse with No Name”, by America. The song I danced to with a boy for the very first time.
6. You talk about how much you love your girls and that they were both adopted, what advice would you give to future adoptive parents?
Adoption is a wonderful way to build a family. While many people adopt after infertility, I did not – I never tried to get pregnant. So, first, don’t ever think adopting is “second best” just because it comes second (or third or fourth) in the way you try to become parents. There is a difference.
But adopting is not the same as giving birth to biological children. All children come with a history, all children were created by a man and a woman, and in the case of adoption, this means not you. Don’t be threatened by the existence of birth parents. If you are lucky enough to be able to have a relationship with them, embrace it. I cannot emphasize this enough. I do not have information on either of my daughters’ birth families, but I would do most anything if we could get it. It’s that important TO THEM.
Also, talk to adult adoptees, either in person or online. And listen to what they say. Their experience is true for them. They have much to say, and are worth your time to listen to. Before you adopt, after you adopt, forever. If you will be adopting internationally and/or interracially, talk to people from that country or of that race. Racism is alive and well in this country and it does no favor to you or your children to pretend this doesn’t exist or that “they’re American now”. I don’t blog about this much, because I read many blogs where adoptive parents, birth parents and adoptees talk about it so much better than I, but it’s very real.
7. Another question that stems from your girls. You’ve mentioned that both are Asian, how are you and them treated by society (I know the one post mentioned that a boy in one of your girl’s classes wanted to know “where she was from”)…do you feel that there’s an initial urge from strangers to dismiss the three of you?
This is a great question, and my answer ties into my answer for the previous question. First, my girls are still young, so when we are out together we are still assumed to be a family unit. I expect this to change as they get older when people may wonder why those teenage Asian girls are walking with that white woman. But quite the contrary, rather than feeling dismissed, I feel like many people are attracted to us. Granted, this is happening less than when K was a baby/toddler (and that’s fine with me!), but I think our difference gives people license to approach us and ask us questions. I also get a lot of “they’re so beautiful” comments. And while they certainly are, I don’t believe people wouldn’t comment so much if not for the racial difference between us. While I have mostly experienced only innocent curiosity, many other parents I know have gotten some very rude questions. Mostly, you learn how ignorant people are. I think I blogged about the father of one of K’s friends asking if the girls were born knowing how to speak Chinese. I’m sorry – how can anyone ask this with a straight face??? And behind that question is racism, and it’s that type of racism that is much scarier than any of the epithets that I expect are out there.
8. If you could have any job in the world what would it be and why?
I’m not sure I can pick just one! I would love to be a writer. I used to think a writer of novels, but maybe movies or TV would be interesting too. I say that because I find the production process fascinating – I’ve started listening to some audio commentaries on movies/TV shows (on DVD) and I would love to be part of that. The amount of thought that goes into choosing the color of a character’s shirt, the song that will be playing on the car radio in a certain scene – all those details amaze me.
I also really like “CSI” and think being a forensic scientist would be really interesting too!
While I have no artistic talent whatsoever, I like the idea of being an artist (but one who makes enough money to live on!).
9. I “think” I’ve read all of your blog posts and there is very little dating info…are you dating? What are you looking for in a man these days?
Ummm, no, I’m not dating! See answer to first question! In theory I would love to be in a relationship with a man, but honestly, the time and effort required are not something I have any room for right now. I’m hoping that when B starts school (in 2 more years) I’ll have more time to think about it. By the time they are in bed at night, all I want to do is crash on the couch for an hour or two before I go to bed. The thought of “going out”, or even talking with anyone on the phone, feels like an imposition – isn’t that awful? Also the cost of dating (e.g. babysitter, of which I don’t even have) pretty much puts it out of reach for me.
With that said, I do have a friend, who lives about 2.5 hours away in another state. We were a couple for about a year back in the mid-90’s. We broke up, but stayed in touch. Then he got married and a few years later I got married. Our contact was down to email by that point. Then his wife died suddenly of a brain aneurysm and a year or so later I got divorced. He visits us occasionally (3-4 times a year) and is actually coming to spend my birthday with me in two weeks. However, I have no lingering romantic feelings for him, though I don’t think he’d mind if I did. (And believe me, I’ve tried hard to feel them, but I just don’t.)
10. What makes you blog?
I started blogging because I started reading blogs. And I wanted to be part of the community. And also because I wanted an excuse to write, and something to write about. But I’m finding it hard to break into a community – I’m not sure how to get readership. It eludes me why and how some blogs are considered more popular and highly read than others. I read some that have lots of readers, and some with only a handful, and other than the amount of readership, I don’t always see a lot of difference! I did pick up a few readers during NaBloPoMo, which was great. In the meantime, I’ll keep it up-if nothing else the kid vignettes will be nice memories one day, as well as providing me a journal of sorts.