Sunday, November 25, 2012

Raising Boys

Shortly after being widowed, I read online an advice columnist telling a single mom that she could not raise boys on her own; that boys raised by single moms become surly, disobedient, and more-often-than-not gang members because there is no heavy-handed father in the house to put them in their place and teach them to respect their mother. He cited the day he had to shove his own son up against a wall for disrespecting his mother, and said the kid never again disrespected her after that. Of course I had to write in the comments section to say that I was widowed and what am I supposed to do in this case? I chided him for telling me that I could not raise my boys on my own.

The response was really weird. He responded that as a widow, the worse thing for me to do was to get remarried because in those situations, the stepdads usually end up physically abusing the boys, so we were better off alone. What a contradiction! Basically he was telling me that I was screwed if I do and screwed if I don't. What is a widow to do?

Stop reading idiotic advice columnists, for one.

I'll admit, I have a little trouble raising my boys, but not because of their behavior. I'm lucky to have really good kids. The trouble comes when they say or do something that I just don't understand, because I've never been a 14 or 16-year-old boy. If I had girls, I could try to remember what I was feeling at that age, but with boys, (like men), the thinking process is completely different.

I also worry that they do not have a male around to do "boy-things" with. There is no one around to show them how to properly use a chain saw or how to put up molding. I have no idea how to do these things because despite the fact that I have two Master's Degrees, Bobby and I really followed the traditional roles of men and women - I kept things clean and tidy in the house and handled the finances; he fixed things, took care of our cars and worked outside. (I realize that this might make some people, especially women, roll their eyes, but we were happy with this arrangement - it worked for us - but I digress...) Luckily I have cousins and the boys' uncles to show them things, but these people have their own families, houses and issues that need to be taken care of.

So while my friends tell me that I am "lucky to have boys" versus the ever-hormonal teenage girl, raising them as a reluctant single mom was not in the plan. I just hope they grow up to be all they can be, even though they had to grow up without a dad.

(And it should be noted that the columnist I cited above is no longer writing his column...he has retired).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hurricane Sandy, Generators and Me

Well, another storm - Hurricane Sandy - least for me.  I got my power back and I'm back to work after it being closed for seven days, not counting the weekend.  Just like dealing with Hurricane Irene last year, and the Halloween Snow.

I look back over the past two weeks - how I was proactive in preparing for the storm and the susequesnt bout of living without electricity for 7 days.  I filled my cars and gas containers with gas, shopped for non-perishable foods, used up as much perishables as I could before the power went out, (my kids never ate so much ice cream in a period of three days), stocked up on "D" batteries and located all my flashlights and my battery powered radio.  With the help of a few family members, I put out the feelers for a new generator (mine broke), and got one, even though they were scarce in the stores and people were waiting in line for 12 hours or more at Lowe's and Home Depot just to get one.  After getting the generator, I learned how to use the generator, (I never knew what a "choke" was until last week), and learned how to convert amps into watts so that I would not plug in too many items and blow up the generator.  I learned how to open gas containers (they all have these weird "locks" on them) and that gas should only be pumped into red containers, unless it is diesel, in which case the container is yellow.

During the storm, I kept an eye on my sump pumps to make sure they did not fail if there was a flood by running extension cords into my basement and having them ready to connect if the power went out while water was pouring into my basement.  I had everything ready to keep the kids and I as comfortable and warm as possible.  Both boys were a little bit nervous, but I admit that my older son, who loves extreme weather, and I did go out on the driveway during the high winds just to feel the power of Sandy.

After the storm passed, and we lived without power for one week.  I found a gas station that was open and waited 90 minutes in line for gas to keep the generator running.  In addition to that, I had to double and triple check the house every time we left since our alarm system was not working.  I also had to reassure my kids that we were safe when we realized that some our firewood behind the shed had been stolen.  I had to go to Home Depot to buy a chain, which is sold by the foot, and learn how to use that machine in Home Depot that cuts the chains.

I did a lot of things I never had to do before, and had to think about a lot of things I never had to think about before.

I handled this all on my own, without panic and very little tears.  Well meaning friends would tell me that I should be proud of myself - being able to handle all these important tasks that normally would have been handled by Bobby in this situation.  My head says I probably should be proud of myself for doing all this by myself.  One of my Facebook friends, who is married, posted about how she did not need her husband to do all this stuff (I guess he must have been at work) and how she was proud to be able to do everything herself without needing a man around.

My heart, however, is sending me a different message.  I don't feel proud of myself.  Why am I not patting myself on the back and smiling to myself and saying to myself, "Bobby would be so proud of me"?

I don't know why.  Instead, it's making me feel depressed.

I started writing this post on paper
 during the blackout when I  was
unable to use my computer.
During the course of the storm and the aftermath, I was talking to one of my friends about the generator that her husband set up in their home.  I asked her all kinds of questions about their generator concerning wattage, price, how it was hooked up, how much gas it held, etc.  Her answer to every question I asked was, "I don't know."  One of my other friends texted me that her husband wanted to take a ride down the shore to check on things, but wouldn't leave because he would not leave her alone with the generator.  After the storm, another friend told me that she and her husband decided they should buy a generator, but that it was $1000 and they didn't have that kind of money right now.  That price seemed pretty steep, so I asked her what kind, because I was thinking of getting a bigger one and the one I looked at was only $600.  Her answer?  "I have no idea."

I actually envy their ignorance!  Why should I have to know about all this "guy stuff"?  Instead of being proud of the fact that I was able to get myself and my two kids through the storm safely, I wished I was the one saying, "I don't know" because Bobby would be here taking care of me.  I miss being taken care of by someone who loves me.

What is wrong with me?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Double Whammy

Just when you think it is safe to not worry about any more "firsts", Election Day rolls around. 

I remember when Obama and McCain were running for president in 2008, Bobby and I had a few discussions about who we would vote for.  We didn't discuss it at any great lengths, simply because we were so much on the same wave-length, that there was nothing to discuss.  We liked the same candidate and had the same political opinions.  No discussion was really necessary.

On Election Day, we went to the polls and voted together while the boys ran around the gym.  (Voting was at the local elementary school in the gym.)  I think we went out to eat afterward.  It was actually fun.

However, this year, when I went to the polls (which was now at the High School since our local elementary still has no power thanks to Hurricane Sandy - more on that in a different post), I gave the woman my name and she looked me up in the book where I was supposed to sign to get my voting ticket.  And there was my the itself.  Bobby's name was not under mine where it usually was.  Here it was...thirty-one months later and ANOTHER FIRST to deal with.  My name looked so lonely in that book without his name underneath mine.  It was a perverbial punch in the stomach.  But I voted anyway, collected my now-teenaged son, and we went home.  Very uneventful.

So why is this blog called a "Double Whammy" you might ask?  Today is also my wedding anniversary. 

Happy Anniversary, my love.