I find it frighteningly easy to slip into a world of complacency, lounging on my divan (that’s couch to you and me), contemplating my navel, lost in thought, or knee-deep in my very important, life saving work, with all of my projects, deadlines, and Skype calls to my best friend who has to remind me how complacent I’ve become. Thank you, Clementine. You’re the best.
I own my “Dani-world-itis”… but I can lounge only for so long. Several months ago, after succumbing to a complacent spell that had tightened its grip around my trachea, I decided to do something. I opened my office door, stood up from my physioball and I thought about somebody else.
I decided to participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. I don’t have Alzheimer’s, nor does anyone in my family, thank you Allah (I’m not Arabic either). Oh, me and my family have brain issues, but they’re more of the mentally unstable kind. Nothing a 1,000 mg of Wellbutrin can’t fix. (I’m exaggerating, 1,000 milligrams could take down an elephant. Maybe.)
I decided on Alzheimer’s, because my boyfriend’s father died from this insidious disease, and I thought it would be a wonderful thing for us to do with the Girlfriend Mom kids. I’ve always volunteered, as it’s truly the best medicine for depression. That is of course when I can get my a** out of bed.
In the back of my mind, I thought that if these were my kids, they would know the meaning of volunteering, so I took it upon myself to give them a little push. Never mind that my parents never exposed me to volunteering. The things that they did expose me to, however, could get me arrested in 45 states.
I didn’t ask anyone if they were interested in the walk, but when I told my boyfriend that I signed us up, he got on board, and thanked me for thinking of his father. Yes, I am an angel dressed in Lululemon see-through pants.
Thus, the kids were gently forced to partake, because my train was leaving the station. In hindsight, it might have been prudent to have thrown the idea out for feedback, before I went full tilt boogie, so as to mitigate any resentment that they may harbor against the Girlfriend Mom (GM) in the future.
And yet, my parents, who are my obvious role models, (JC help me) did not run a democratic household, allowing for opinions on where to go or what to do, when we were young. They were not looking for a consensus.
When they said that the family was going to Colonial Williamsburg, my brother and I packed up our Mad Libs, went to the bathroom one last time, Mom started a wash just as we opened the car doors, and we took off down the driveway. It didn’t matter that the last thing that my brother or I wanted to do was be shown how butter was made.
I declared myself team captain seeing that I was the one doing all of the work. I hoped that everyone would be excited about our ‘family’ do-good-ness and that they would talk about it nonstop leading up to the actual event. They didn’t. They were tepid at best, including the boyfriend.
I have to confess that a part of the allure of this particular walk was that it took place only a few towns away, and it was only three miles. Baby steps. (pun intended)
I had the daunting task of informing the kids that, in addition to walking three miles, they also had to ask family and friends to sponsor them, and that the money would go to The Alzheimer Association. Knowing how to broach this particular topic was not included in the nonexistent GM manual.
I felt uncomfortable asking them to do something that they never asked to be a part of and what do I know; maybe this isn’t something that kids are expected to do.
Heck, I was uncomfortable asking my boyfriend to raise money. When I did tell him, he said that he was uncomfortable asking family and friends for money, even though people hit him up for donations all the time. He decided to write a check. Now where’s the fun in that?!
It’s challenging being unmarried and not the Stepmom, which in my mind, comes with a certain amount of authority built into the title. I like to think that it’s because I’m a Girlfriend Mom that I struggle with these things but I’m sure that’s not always the case.
I decided to let it go, seeing that it’s only been recently that I feel confident enough to remind the fourteen-year old to put his stinky socks in the laundry room, not play with his lacrosse or hockey sticks in the house or to turn off the lights when he leaves a room. I’m going to work up to teaching them (and their father) about charity work and how to ask people for money.
I did think that at the very least, they could’ve asked their mother for a donation. God knows she’s got money coming in every month. Ugh, never mind.
On the day of the walk, I told my team to stay put while I checked us in, as there were hundreds of people. Not three minutes in, I turned around and they were gone. Are you friggin’ kidding me? I took a few steps away from the registration desk and scanned the hordes of people in purple shirts. I wandered around in circles for several minutes unable to find my team. I looked like I had Alzheimer’s.
When I found my boyfriend and the kids, I asked him what was so difficult about standing still. I told him that I wasn’t doing this for my health (there’s a joke in there somewhere), and if he could please cooperate.
I’ve always admired those families that take their kids to soup kitchens on Christmas Eve, or volunteer at the local ASPCA. I always thought that if I had kids, I’d be that type of mother. Since I don’t have kids of my own, I think that sometimes I project onto the GM kids. It’s probably unfair to force my values and my, ‘this is what I would do’s’, onto them.
I might influence the kids by setting examples through my actions, planting seeds without them realizing but it just doesn’t have the same umph as having complete control and being able tell them that they’re going to Rainbow Horizons, to read to really old people on a Sunday.
Being a Girlfriend Mom has given me laser sharp insight into how I would want to mother. I also know that when it comes to raising children, that insight often flies out the window, right along with the once perky boobs.
I like to think that I would be a earth mother type; alternative, carefree and a Free To Be You And Me kind of mom. However, I get wiggy if the kid’s shoes aren’t lined up neatly in a row on the hall mat, so forget that description.
I’d like to think that we’d all eat fruits and vegetables from the garden that we planted together in our backyard, next to the compost across from the electric car, but I haven’t kept anything green alive for more than a day, and I’m not giving up my Mini Cooper.
I’d like to think that I’d let them go without showers until they felt that they needed one. Okay, this one I do allow, but only because I hate showering.
I’ll never know how I would truly be or not be, with my own DNA offspring. Screw it, I’m going to keep imposing myself and my hygienic preferences onto the Girlfriend Mom kids, at least until they start ignoring me completely.