A couple years ago, when I was working as a receptionist at a chemical distribution plant, I was at a company picnic at a local amusement park. My twins, Tolkien and Indigo, who were six at the time, were off riding rides with their fifteen year old sister and I was standing around talking with the warehouse guys. It was later in the day. The picnic had been going on for a while. One of my coworkers, Edward, who was about four beers in, suddenly said, “Well, I’d better go make my rounds while the single moms are open to suggestion.”

“Hey!” I said.

“Oh, sorry, Gloria,” Edward said. “Didn’t realize you were there.”

Having spent most of my life as one of the guys, I’ve developed a pretty thick skin for the things guys say to each other when ladies aren’t around. I laughed off Edward’s comment and, really, it didn’t bother me; I happen to know that Edward is an especially nice person, and I understood he didn’t mean me specifically. Yet, his words stayed with me.

Then, recently, I was reading a review of a new television show called “The Glades” in the Chicago Sun Times.  In the review, Paige Wiser mentions the cliché “seen-it-all single mom who’s not about to be waltzed into bed.” Ms. Wiser goes on to reference such iconic television moms as Shirley Jones on “The Partridge Family,” Bonnie Franklin on “One Day at a Time,” Judith Light on “Who’s the Boss?,” and Linda Lavin on “Alice.”  “Their very existence was empowering,” says Ms. Wiser.

I paused to think about these two different ideas.  Are these my choices?  Hungry for the attention of a man, easily open to suggestion, easy to take advantage of, vulnerable, and weak versus the shrill, uptight, ball-busting, and even sexless strong single mom on television (who would benefit from a bottle of Shiraz and a vibrator)?

But, I’m neither!

No, wait…I’m both!

No…I’m neither!

No, both!


Can I see what’s behind door number three, Monty?

I am an educated woman. Strong and outspoken. I know how to use a power drill, change a light bulb, troubleshoot most car troubles, and plunge a toilet. I have a good job and my outlook for the future is very optimistic. I spend a lot of time alone. Most days, I’m really comfortable in my own skin. I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent casually dating for the last few years since I left my marriage. I’ve done it on my time, when the boys are with their dad, and it’s rarely crossed over into their world or even hit their radar. And, mostly, it’s been fine. I’ve met some very nice people and I’ve had mostly positive experiences.

But then, there are days.

Days like yesterday, for instance, where I’m suffering from a debilitating case of PMS and I’m screaming and yelling at the boys incessantly for minor infractions and I’m wishing – desperately – that I had a partner, one who could tag me out. He could come in, grab me gently by the shoulder, and whisper, “I’ve got this,” in my ear. “You just go lie down and read that Russell Brand autobiography you’ve been trying to get to. We’ll be fine.”

Instead, what I have in those situations are two little boys who must think their mom has lost her mind because she has to keep putting herself in timeout every hour. But then, maybe they don’t think that at all. Toward the end of the day yesterday, around dinner time, Tolkien said to me, “Mom, you seem to be a lot happier now than you were earlier. Maybe you were just hungry?” And then he kissed me.

It is these little moments of grace that keep me going.

I was reading to the boys a few weeks ago (as I have every night that they are with me since they were in utero). We were midway through book three of the Harry Potter series and Tolkien was lying next to me pulling at his underwear. I very frustratedly told him that if he was going to touch himself, he needed to do it in private. He got exasperated with me and said, “But my penis is sticking to my balls!” I looked at him, momentarily confused. As a woman, not only have I never been faced with a similar problem, I didn’t even know the problem existed.

Thinking quickly, I told Tolkien I could give him powder, but all I had was a can of baby powder from the late forties that my great grandma kept her whole life. It was given to me when she died. (Some families have jewels. Some families have furniture. Some have art. My family? I got a 60 year old dented can half full of talc.) I retrieved the can from the bookshelf and told Tolkien the back story. He was laughing hard at the idea of using sixty year old powder to fix his problem. He put the powder on and started to get back in bed to finish reading, patting me on the arm to say thanks in the process. Little plumes of 60 year old great grandma powder went puffing into the air. I started fake screaming, “Aaaagghhh! Aaaagghhh! You just touched me with your sweaty penis, old lady powder hand! Aaaagghhh! Aaaagghhh!” The kid was laughing so hard that he was almost crying.

And there it is.

If I’d been partnered, inevitably my partner would have quickly solved the sweaty balls predicament with a container of Gold Bond he probably would have kept in the side table drawer (is that where it’s kept?) But, instead, I handled the situation the way I handle most of what single parenting throws at me:  with ingenuity, a whole lot of humor, and muddling through one day at a time.

Recently, I publicly announced my celibacy. But what I’ve realized since then is that it’s not sex that I wanted to step away from. I have no problem with sex. I don’t have any issues reconciling being a mom and being a sexual being. Like I said, I’ve had a great time dating as a single adult woman for the first time in my life. I’ve met a lot of nice people and while most of them have been mutually respectful casual flings, there was one that was more. It was a very brief, but still one of the most profoundly important romantic experiences I’ve ever had. The problem? He didn’t want a new family.

I’ve tried dating a couple of times since then, but it has been a largely unsatisfying experience – like trying to nurse on a teat whose milk has dried up. Now that I’ve been reminded what love feels like, now that I know, I want that.

You can’t unring a bell.

And so, what I’ve realized is that I’ve not taken a vow of celibacy, I’ve actually taken a vow of love. Meaning that it may be a whole lot longer than six months before I have sex again. Which is fine. Maybe I’ll become a shrill, uptight, ball-busting, strong single mom. But not sexless. I am perfectly capable of meeting my own needs while I wait patiently for things to unfold as they will.

I may need to stock up on Shiraz though.

TAGS: , , , , , , , ,

GLORIA HARRISON is a writer whose work has been featured on The Nervous Breakdown, Fictionaut, and This American Life. Gloria was the lead editor for The Portland Red Guide: Sites & Stories of Our Radical Past by Michael Munk, which was published through Ooligan Press in 2007. She was also a contributing editor to Pete Anthony's book, Immaculate, for which she received a high five and a ten dollar gift card to Stumptown Coffee. Gloria graduated from Portland State University with her B.A. in English in 2006 and now focuses on her own writing. She had a work of flash fiction published in The Bear Deluxe Magazine (No. 26). You can follow her on Twitter here.

Gloria lives in Portland, Oregon with her school-age twin boys. She is currently working on both a memoir and her first novel. You can contact Gloria via her Facebook page.

141 responses to “Hold on Tight, We’ll Muddle Through One Day at a Time”

  1. dwoz says:

    When someone else does eventually top that “high score,” will he have to do it daily, or will the old high score be wiped off the screen?

    Was he the high score just because he never got the opportunity to disappoint you?

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Hmm… I don’t know if I’m keeping score. That doesn’t feel like an accurate analogy. And he did disappoint me, actually. I was very disappointed in the end. But people disappoint each other all the time. That’s not a deal breaker. What is a deal breaker is when I have an overwhelming sense that I could spend the rest of my life with someone and they are not interested in joining my little family. Tough though it may be, it’s just best to cut and run. And whatever. No harm, no foul. Even though it was tough emotionally, it was nice to be reminded what it feels like to be in crazy love and to be reminded what the good stuff is.

      • dwoz says:

        that’s a good answer. A very healthy answer.

        Good to hear it. I am a big fan of yours, I am rooting for you. And I know that feeling.

        I suppose I was talking about the mundane disappointments. The everyday nonsense that puts a rough patina on a relationship over time.

        Looked at through the lens of the ideal, it’s ugly, and it’s an impossible bar to rise to.

        Guys who may be reading this: having a little guy to play around with is like having a bucket full of sculptor’s clay, and time to imagine.

        Yesterday, I sat with my SON as he peeled a carburetor off a motorcycle and started rebuilding it. I admonished him: “son, you’re moving into territory where there may be dragons.” and he just said “yeah, yeah.” and continued. The kid does abstract linear algebra for christsakes. What a fun moment for me.

        A cool woman with kids is like Christmas AND “steak and **** day” all rolled into one. Can’t recommend it enough.

      • gklee76 says:

        You are a strong woman. Yet, people can relate to you! THANKS!!! 🙂

  2. I like how you always seem to post just before or just after I post…

    Now I’m going to read this and leave a proper comment that doesn’t sound like a stoner being amazed by his own cuticles…

  3. New Orleans Lady says:

    I’ve always been one of the guys, too. I know the conversations you are speaking of and have joined in several of them myself. It’s a double edged sword.

    Stories like the one you just shared, with your boys, is proof that you are a fantastic mother. Perfect for them. I know you doubt yourself sometimes, but don’t. You know what, your boys are so smart and honest, you should just ask them what they think. Ask them if they think you are doing a good job and how you can improve. You will be pleasantly surprised, I’m sure.

    As for your vow of love…I wish you luck. I couldn’t imagine having to worry about the dating scene in addition to all the responsibilities of being a single mother. It’s important that you schedule yourself in to your hectic life because it teaches your boys much more than I will get into right now. (we can talk about it at a later time.) Just remember that you are far too special to ever have to settle. Get what you want and nothing less and remember that everything happens for a reason.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      It is a double-edged sword. I like being one of the guys – – up until the exact moment when I don’t anymore. 🙂 Hey, what can I say? I’m not a guy. I’m a woman. Nothing I can do about it.

      I try not to ask my boys what kind of job I’m doing. I think that’s actually a mind fuck for a child. What I have told them is that they need to speak up if they feel unsafe or if their feelings get hurt – but not just with me, but with anyone in the world. I just really tried to make it clear to them that it applies to me and their dad, too.

      Besides, I rarely like their answers. 😉

      Saturday night, the boys and I were watching Spy Kids together. I turned to Indigo and asked, “Wouldn’t it be rad if you found out your parents were secret agents, Indigo?” “I think it would be rad if I found out YOU were,” he said. “How do you know I’m not?” I asked, trying to look mysteriious. Tolkien piped up, “Because you’re really boring!”


      • Sarah says:

        I have talks like that with Xavier too. We had one when I quit smoking. I explained to him that my brain was telling me I had to have a cigarette but that I was fighting against it and that sometimes it would be very hard. Sometimes I’d lose my patience too quickly and might raise my voice to him when he didn’t deserve it. I asked him to bear with me and let me know if (when?) I went off the deep end. We got through it, my little tough guy.

        • Gloria says:

          I’m really glad to hear that you’re over the worst of that, Sarah. Kids can endure. They need to know they’re safe and loved. I’m sure our kids know that.

          By the way – I’m still doing really well in the non-smoking game. I’ve had a couple of very minor slip ups, but not so much that I have to claim smoker again. I’ve been working on it since June 18. I’ve been totally smoke free for over a week. Prior to that, it had been three weeks. Before that one. And so on. And it’s just a drag here and a drag there. 🙁

          One day at a time?

        • Gloria says:

          OH, and congratulations to YOU, love. You’re doing great! Go, Sarah, go!

      • Sarah says:

        Boring isn’t so bad. Xavier thinks I’m embarrassing. Even if I was a secret agent, he still wouldn’t let me hug him in front of his friends.

        • Gloria says:

          I’m still cool to the boys. Boring, but cool. Do you think that if I just keep making fart jokes ad infinium then I’m golden?

        • David says:

          That will work at least through the early teens. I can ride on the Pilot thing for a while, but I am going to have to step up with booger and fart jokes soon.

        • Gloria says:

          @David – can I recommend Captain Underpants? It’s little boy gold.

          What do you suggest for the early to late teen years?

        • David says:


          Healthy teen boys will want a certain distance from their parents emotionally, socially, and literally. However unpleasant, I am not sure it is something that should be corrected.

          Captain Underpants? Sounds like great advice 🙂

        • Captain Underpants is awesome.

          I started reading ‘grown up’ books in my early teens. A lot of my reading was also from recommendations from my mum, which was cool because her taste in books is pretty good.

          I wish though that when I was twelve/thirteen someone had given me books by Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut.

          Those, I think, are a really good bridge between the silly humour of children’s books and more sensible and serious themes. Also they’re all excellent.

          It also flows nicely into the slightly more ‘adult’ silly fiction —stuff like Tom Robbins and John Kennedy Toole.

        • Gloria says:

          Stephen King and Edgar Allen Poe were my bridge between youth-oriented books and gown-up books. Oh! But if only someone had passed me some Vonnegut when I was 13. How different my life may have been!

          A word on Captain Underpants: I think that George and Harold, the two main characters, aren’t taken to task for their behaviors enough. I also think the adults are unnecessarily cruel. This was almost a deal-breaker for me. The books tend to have an air of mean-spiritedness. However, since my boys are the types of kids who are always getting in trouble and, as a result, have to deal with frustrated, exasperated grown ups who seem unnecessarily unkind, I figured it might be nice for them to read something where they felt a connection. Not every single damned thing has to have a moral. And besides, I think there may be a hidden moral in Captain Underpants and it is this: bad choices do not render you a bad person. And there is occasional redemption in the books, too. But the boys certainly didn’t think about the books in these terms. They just saw two little boys who could make a grown man fly around in his underwear by snapping his fingers. And toilets chase them! And there are fart jokes! And, hey, if they’re reading, I’m happy.

        • Tawni says:

          We have the entire Captain Underpants series!! My husband reads a few chapters to our son every night at bedtime. He’s at an age where ridiculous names and fart jokes really appeal to him. Oh, and my son is too. (:

        • HAHA! I’ve only read a few of them. I used to like how the teachers always had puns for names.

  4. I’m intrigued by the sticky penis to be honest. I have one myself, and I don’t recall it ever being so stuck as to require talc, or any other way past expiry powers or potions…

    Then again underpants tend to be quite enclosed… don’t miss those…

    So there you go. If you had a partner like me that would probably be the extent of my advice. Of course that isn’t advice at all, but whimsical underpant nostalgia.

    I’ll be honest I have a mum and a dad and my dads fatherly advice has always been along those lines. ‘The birds and the bees’ talk took place before lunch in a beer garden and was essentially a genitalia and VD themed pop quiz.

  5. Cheryl says:

    Another great post from you, and another great post in what seems to be TNB’s ad hoc series on love. I always admire and value your perspective, Gloria, and this is no different.

    The part about being a single mom coping with the challenges of raising two boys with their respective boy parts, makes me also think about the expression on my husband’s face when Jet is having any issues with her girl parts. The 60-year old, inherited tin of talcum powder is a classic! I am sure you’ll get plenty of sound advice on the comment board about dealing with ball-to-penis stickiness (:

    You and I have talked a lot about the general challenges of parenting, and I can’t express enough the admiration I have for you and other single parents. I had my own horrific PMS last month that had me just walking away with pursed lips rather than blowing my top. The difference is that I had the option of walking away for a self-imposed timeout, in the moment, because I have a true partner in child rearing. I know I am fortunate in that respect, and I am both incredibly grateful and aware enough to know that it is not to be taken for granted.

    I also love your analysis of the single mom archetypes that we have available to us in our culture. I grew up with those shows, and it seems at the time that the only way a single mom could be validated in our culture (at the time of those shows anyway) was if she was sexless. They might dedicate an episode or two to “dating”, but as I remember it , it almost always ended with the mom choosing the kids over having any sort of social life involving the opposite sex. And it was presented that way, as having to make a choice between being a good parent and being attracted to another human being. You couldn’t have both. I think we have made a lot of progress over the years in that depiction of single motherhood. At least I hope so.

    But most of all, I appreciate and applaud your characterization of your vow of celibacy as really being a vow of love. That is a definite Lovemonger stance!

    • Tawni says:

      Viva la Lovemongers! (:

    • Gloria says:

      You know, I was talking about these shows with my friend Katie and she pointed out that on “Who’s the Boss?” Angela’s mom, Mona, was the hot, sexy single mom on the show. Yet, it was generally agreed that she was slutty. I haven’t watched TV in years, so I don’t know if there are any shows that reasonably portray a single mom anymore. Wasn’t “The Gilmore Girls” a thing? Was that any good? Hmmm… Maybe that’s a niche waiting to be filled. Maybe that’s where I’ll make my millions!

      Thanks, Cheryl, forever and always and to eternity for being your beautiful, amazing self. Your mama support is ceaselessly important.


      • dwoz says:

        I’m sorry…I had to stop watching the Gilmore Girls due to the positively VISCERAL bad reaction I had to the teen daughter character, that I found so clumsy and ham-handed that I couldn’t watch.

        Hard to think of an actual good answer to your question though.

      • Richard Cox says:

        I would say these TV and movie stereotypes arise in large part from the media pandering to conservative Christian special interest groups. Not that the stereotypes don’t exist in reality, but I think media companies are so afraid of boycotts and the like that they write stories that appeal to the lowest common denominator. Or maybe that’s the wrong term. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that they write the least offensive material for the most likely to be offended and strident audience.

        The problem is, everyone who watches TV or movies are affected by these written stereotypes, which only serves to further entrench them. Grrrr.

        • Becky says:


          Conservative interest groups?

          I’d say that the dichotomy arises from a combination of pandering to and sort of simplistically rebelling against traditional gender roles.

          The frigid, male-hating single mom could be conceived from both a traditional desire to paint single moms as frigid AND an oversimplified, feminist attempt at painting single moms as stalwart islands totally uneeding of male companionship. Girl power.

          Just for an example.

          As you point out, it is an all but intractable problem, and politics are indeed largely to blame, but no one ideology shoulders more of the blame than the other. This is a major issue in feminist politics.

        • Richard Cox says:

          The girl power thing is something I didn’t consider. My understanding of feminism is woefully lacking.

          But I still think the conservative Christian groups yell the loudest and have the most effect on the media. Perhaps I’m biased because of where I live. After all Oklahoma was the only state in the country in which all counties voted Republican in the last presidential election.

          Also, I wasn’t making the case for all conservatives. I mean specifically the overtly religious special interest groups, who don’t necessarily speak for the larger audience.

        • Richard Cox says:

          And yes it’s a difficult problem in any case. No point really in debating who is more wrong. We’ll never agree. Hahaha.

        • Becky says:

          Yeah. But nation-wide, and especially as a society (a western one), the notion that conservatives are steering the boat just doesn’t prove out.

          They make a lot of noise, but they’ve had few cultural wins since the mid-60s.

          Especially in entertainment, a largely liberally-populated and liberally-driven medium, the notion that conservatism is the presiding driving force borders on mythology.

          While movie and television makers no doubt temper their opinions for sake of broader appeal, the trend in cultural–particularly feminist–depictions has stormed leftward at an incredible pace, to the point that feminism actually came full-circle and began to contradict itself.

          Sorry to be so indignant here, but sad as it is, in my opinion, sometimes feminism (at least the mainstream, institutionalized kind) is a woman’s worst enemy.

        • Gloria says:

          “Sorry to be so indignant here, but sad as it is, in my opinion, sometimes feminism (at least the mainstream, institutionalized kind) is a woman’s worst enemy.”

          Oh, Becky. I totally agree, man.

          It’s tough. I actually do see Anne Romano as a tough lady. I thought she played a strong character. Ditto for Alice (man how I loved that show.) I think that you and Richard may both be right. Or, perhaps, that somewhere between what you’re saying and what he’s saying lies the truth. I can absolutely see how women’s groups would have hit the roof if they’d made Anne Romano a coquettish, demur girly girl. I mean, the actress who played her even looked kind of masculine. But she wasn’t alone, was she? They cleverly disguised her male savior in the form of a good hearted super with a toolbelt and a pompadour. Something for everyone.

          Damn… now I kind of want to do a thorough feminist reading of “One Day at a Time.”

          Anyway, point is: I agree with what you’re saying. To be a “real” feminist is a bit damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Which is why I’m straying away from the title more and more lately. I don’t know what the new phrase is, but I don’t like what the old phrase implies about me anymore.

        • Becky says:

          There’s a certain amount of difficulty (and risk) inherent in sifting through the genetic vs. cultural implications of sex and gender and trying to assign “should bes” to it.

          Even evolutionarily, men and women are designed and well-equipped to function in any number of roles, but to say that such talents preclude or supersede or render irrelevent/untrue biologically influenced, sex-based predictable behaviors/trends is to take a temporally provincial view of what humans are as a species and, by extension, to willfully cripple one’s understanding of humanity.

          That’s where much of 3rd wave, sort of quasi-Amazonian feminism went wrong, in my opinion.

          There is a reality there, of some kind. A biological truth. And I don’t think our charge is to beat it into submission, but rather to make it the best it can be.

          But it’s a fine line between saying, for example, “Women should feel free to go out and work and be influential in the world” and saying “She’s just a housewife.”

          If that makes any sense.

        • Gloria Harrison says:

          Totally. Let’s not should on each other.

          I have a friend that is a stay at home mom (formerly known as housewife) and I think the job she’s doing is just as valuable as the lady in the corporate office. Wait. Strike that. I think it’s more valuable in most ways. And noble. Good work if you can get it, for sure.

    • Sarah says:

      Maybe I’m remembering wrong, maybe I’m making it all up, but it seems to me that the only single moms shown on T.V. until recently were widowed. Am I wrong? It was as if the only acceptable way to be a single mother was if you’ve suffered through the loss of the one true love of your life. That made the obligatory “dating” episode that much easier to reconcile because the woman either “wouldn’t be ready” or had “already met the man of her dreams.” Just once I would have liked to hear a woman, mid-30’s and divorced with kids say the FCC-approved equivalent of, “Fuck him! I’m going to go get me a new man” or something less poorly written than that.

      • Gloria says:

        No, you’re totally right. They were all widowed. And this sort of goes along with Richard’s and Becky’s debate up above. It’s a good question: what are the acceptable reasons for a woman to have no husband on TV? I want to see a single woman with children from two different fathers who isn’t a complete skank in a leading role on television. That’s what I want. I want her to be smart and successful and I want her kids well adjusted. Can we see that, please. (I mean, not that my twins have two different dads [because that would impressive even for me] but you get my point.)

        • David says:

          Part of that fact may just be lazy writing. If there is a divorce, you have all THAT to deal with, where widow is easier. Also, as we travel in the way back machine, even married TV couples were largely sexless. I don’t mean to diminish the point that that the depiction single mom was constructed very carefully to be universally unoffensive. More to the point is that media reflects society, not the other way around, and when there is a groundbreaking media event (Ellen, for instance) it is media trying to catch up to, rather then driving society further.

        • David says:

          Hmmm, I just read my comment. Perhaps I should go have some coffee and come back when my thoughts will stick together a little better.

        • Gloria says:

          “More to the point is that media reflects society, not the other way around, and when there is a groundbreaking media event (Ellen, for instance) it is media trying to catch up to, rather then driving society further.” That’s a really interesting thought, David – and certainly one that is opposite of what anti-media people would want you to believe. But I think it’s interesting and valid.

          The first married couple to ever be shown in the same bed on American television? Fred and Wilma Flintstone.

          One of my first and longest lasting heroes is Lucille Ball. When she was pregnant with Desi Arnaz, Jr., she insisted on being allowed to be pregnant on television and to talk about it, though she had to make some concessions regarding wording. This was in the fifties – thousands and thousands and thousands of years after humans started reproducing. Insanity.

        • Gloria says:

          And I totally followed you, David. 😉

  6. Tawni says:

    “Oh, sorry, Gloria,” Edward said. “Didn’t realize you were there.”


    I understand this so well. Twelve years spent playing in bands with boys rendered me “one of the guys” beyond salvage. I often shock my husband speechless with this brain and mouth combo. They ruined me. For this reason, I am only able to hang out with other one-of-the-guys girls. Women who curse. Women who can say “penis” without stage whispering. Women who won’t look at me in confused horror if I make a “That’s what SHE said” joke. I am incapable of self-monitoring for the prissy soccer mom set. Color me genteel-impaired.

    You know I give you huge props for being a single mom. Like Cheryl, I also know I’m incredibly lucky to have a true partner in child rearing. Appreciation for my own single mom – for all single moms – was one of the first major revelations I had upon becoming a parent. (“Oh my god. How in the fuck do people do this alone?”) Parenting is the hardest job in the world, and when I’m about to snap, or just feel completely exhausted, my husband takes over. And I do the same for him. So I don’t know how you do this job without the possibility of a break when you need one, but you’ve got my complete and total respect for handling the weight of it all with such bravery.

    We use Johnson’s Baby Powder in the Cooling Cucumber Melon scent for all of our sticking penis and balls needs. Refreshing! I recommend.

    There is nothing wrong with a bottle of Shiraz and a vibrator. Not a damned thing. (:

    • Gloria says:

      I don’t get along too well in polite society either, Tawni. I mean, I do okay and since I’m only freaking out on the inside, most people don’t notice. Except for when they do. I can freak out on the outside. I have a whole Rainman act that comes on sometimes. For the most part though, I’m most comfortable with women who understand dudeland and are fluent in dude. This is one of the reasons I like Becky so much.

      You know, you are lucky to have a partner. I almost wrote something about the boys being lucky to have such an involved father, but then decided against it. Men shouldn’t get extra props for being involved. Regular props, sure. But not extra. I don’t get a high five just for showing up, neither should he. That said, I actually am thankful that I’m not doing this completely on my own. I may not have someone in my house to tag me out, but I have someone in the world who loves my boys with the same depth that I do. And that is really valuable.

      Johnson’s Baby Powder in the Cooling Cucumber Melon scent. Check. Really, really useful advice. Got anything about foreskin care during puberty?

      Love you, mama.

      • Tawni says:

        “Rainman act” made me laugh. I would like to see that. Are you a nervous talker? I either completely clam up, or babble my fool brains out when I’m in a stressful new social situation. Oh, how I long for stoic, thoughtful and dignified. These descriptions have eluded me thus far.

        I couldn’t agree more that a father doesn’t deserve extra props just for showing up. You can tell which guys those are. They say things about babysitting their own kids. There is a woman in my neighborhood with one of these babydaddys. Acting-put-out-if-he-has-to-help-with-childcare guy. I stopped hanging out with her, mostly because I got tired of hearing her bitch about him. If my husband was like that, I’d be a single mom right now. I don’t need an extra two hundred plus lb. child, thanks.

        I don’t have much foreskin experience*, but I learned from dating the Brit that foreskin can grow excessively tight during puberty. In his youth, my ex ripped his foreskin during sex with some poor girl who was completely traumatized by all of the blood. After it healed, the doctor had him start stretching exercises to loosen it. So “foreskin stretching exercises” might be a pretty fun Google session for you. You’re welcome.

        *Hippie! (:

        • Tawni says:


          * Love you too, hippie! (:

        • Gloria says:

          Don’t make me go off on my “body modification is wrong if women put in breast implants but is totally okay if you mutilate a newborn baby boys body so that he looks ‘right'” rant again. It’s exhausting.

          I’m TOTALLY going to look into the foreskin stretching exercise thing. Thanks, lady!

        • dwoz says:

          This is a “delicate” area.

          As the father of an uncircumcised child, I will say that if left to it’s own devices, it will tend to perhaps even fuse to the glans…which means annoying difficulty later.

          The trick is to make sure that they fully retract on a regular basis, while bathing, for instance.

        • Gloria Harrison says:

          Thanks! That is extremely useful information. I mean, I’m sure that this information would be given to me at a well child checkup, but you never know. So, I totally appreciate it!

        • Tawni says:

          I have a friend with an uncircumcised five-year-old who had to have surgery to remove the foreskin from the penis because it had fused in the way that dwoz mentions. Good advice, sir.

        • dwoz says:

          You’ll generally find that there is very little in the way of male naughty-bits maintenance divulged in well-child visits.

          The problem I mentioned happens when some infection or irritation happens, causing open sores on both surfaces. When there is no separation of the two surfaces and it heals, the scar tissue can bridge the two. But skin is amazingly plastic. If you stretch it, it will stretch.

        • Gloria says:

          @Tawni – that’s a horror story! I was nervous that I had come across sounding bitchy with my “don’t get me started on a rant” rant, but I see that you have seen the worst case scenario. I actually researched circumcisions quite a bit before my boys were born and I found out that it’s really not necessary and largely cosmetic. I did read that as circumcised boys near puberty, there are “extra steps” to take. I always figured it would be eons before I had to deal with that. But eons appear to occur quicker these days. I also went rounds with my ex-mother in law about whether God Says to circumcize boys. Imagine my relief when, after researching, she realized that it’s the old covenant that says to circumcize. But the new covenant is cool either way. Phew!

          @Dwoz – I appreciate the advice. Thank you so much. And I’ve discovered that I need to apply the same rule to well child check ups that I do well woman checkups – which is to show up with a list. To really evaluate my health (or my children’s health) and try to cover all bases. And then tick them off one by one. Gone are the days when docs will preemptively address things that could become an issue. The best way to get good health care is to be in charge of it.

        • Tawni says:

          @Gloria: I didn’t take it as bitchy! I know you, though, so it would be hard for you to offend me because I know your heart is super swell and always resides firmly in the right place.

    • Sarah says:

      “For this reason, I am only able to hang out with other one-of-the-guys girls. Women who curse. Women who can say “penis” without stage whispering. Women who won’t look at me in confused horror if I make a “That’s what SHE said” joke. I am incapable of self-monitoring for the prissy soccer mom set. Color me genteel-impaired.”

      Yes. Exactly. This will somehow have to be incorporated into the commune code of conduct.

      • Gloria says:

        If I can hang with the dudes and the ladies who prefer ladies who can hang with dudes, can I wear my patchouli?

        • New Orleans Lady says:

          No, Gloria. I’m not going to tell you this again.

          NO PATCHOULI! It gives me a headache. How bout I buy you whatever perfume, body spray, or soap you want in it’s place? Will that be a fair trade?

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Sandalwood? I like sandalwood. It’s got patchouli’s earthy qualities but doesn’t reek.

        • Gloria says:

          What is this soap thing of which you speak, New Orleans Lady? Also, I wear essential oils not because they give me more street cred, but because colognes and perfumes make me super ill. Seriously – severe stomach cramps. I’m extremely sensitive to scents. Weird, huh? (Just kidding about the soap, by the way. But again, no perfumes or dies – my super sensitive redheaded skin won’t abide it. I use this almond oil soap that is really pretty smelling.)

          @Becky – I am super fond of mixing sandalwood and patchouli together. They mix very well. I do like sandalwood by itself, too. It is similar but much less offensive. My favorite mix is sandalwood, bergamott, and a little bit of rose oil. It’s pretty.

        • Tawni says:

          All perfumes give me a headache. Even a strong essential oil can make me feel nauseated. I plead super sensitive redhead, too. (Thank you, Cetaphil, for making facial cleansing products and soap I can tolerate.) I’m going to need a completely scent-free corner of the commune where I can get away. Please?

        • Gloria says:

          @Tawni – Thank you for the Cetaphil recommendation! I will have to check that out!

    • New Orleans Lady says:

      Tawni, everytime you open your mouth (or type something, as it were) I can’t help but smile. You make me happy.

      Thanks for the powder advice! I just added it to my list.

  7. Irene Zion says:


    You have raised up some amazingly smart and thoughtful boys.
    I am proud to know you.

    • Gloria says:

      Ah, Irene. Thanks for the words, you sweet, dear woman. But you and I both know that whether your kids turn out good or rotten – it’s only partially your doing. My boys just happened to come out of the chute pretty amazing. Hard. Challenging. Wild. Kinetic. But, also, so amazing.

  8. Irene Zion says:


    You already have amazing children.
    Regardless of how they came to be that way.
    Your life is blessed.
    More good things will flow to you.
    I know this stuff.

  9. Becky says:

    Mmmm…the ever-present guy-kinda-girl quandary.

    I have it, too.

    I’ve concocted a number of theories, none of which are likely to be universal to all such women, or to every relationship such a woman might have with men.

    Like, there are guys who I want to be around and figure out and get their number (psychologically, not telephonically, speaking) because doing so would represent some kind of vanquishing of their power over me. It’s intellectual. It’s a power dynamic thing.

    Other guys I’ve wanted but just couldn’t have, so I’ve take the next best available option, usually buddy-hood.

    Other guys I don’t really want, but rather want to BE, to some degree or another. They’ve got something I want, unrelated to what’s in their pants. (Though here, I have to admit, I have not always been above stooping to what’s in their pants, so to speak, as a way to get what I want.)

    It really does make love very confusing, especially if you consider all of the above to be valid (if complex) reactions to other human beings, which I traditionally have.

    Maybe that reveals me to be a crazy person. And of course none of this explains why I don’t have analogous relationships with females, who I, with rare exceptions, tend to ignore out of confusion.

    • Gloria says:

      Wonderful, beautiful analysis, Becky. I’ve had all the same thoughts, I just don’t think I’ve ever seen them all listed in one go like this. You kind of blew my mind here.

      And, if you don’t mind me venturing a guess here, I would say that the reason you don’t have analogous relationships with females is that you don’t trust females. You find most of us (them) suspicious. Is it a bit like being a self-hating Jew?

      • Becky says:

        Mmm…well I AM worthy of suspicion. It’s always the thief who’s scared of being robbed, right?

        But, as much as it makes sense, it is genuinely true when I say I have no interest in most of the bonding activities that women share, whether it’s talking at great length about feelings (I prefer thoughts) or shopping or getting a manicure, these things, genuinely, have no appeal for me. No resentment, no anger, no trepidation, just no interest.

        I think, honestly, that as far as girls go, I’m pretty masculine. And that leads to a disconnect with most (though not all) women.

        Most attempts to bond with me in a stereotypically feminine way will bore me and fail, and most of my attempts to interact with women on my terms…well, I almost never try. Whenever I try, they always ask me to go get manicures…or they talk about getting their ass hairs ripped out with wax so they’re ready for Mr Right.

        That second one, when it happened, traumatized me. I couldn’t be friends with that girl anymore.

        • Gloria says:

          I wasn’t trying to be an asshole at all. And perhaps I was projecting a little. ‘Cause, for me, I know that I’ve had to work through (and am still working through) some stuff surrounding past behaviors of my own (like way, way past – adolescence past) that really in no way shape or form are indicative of who I am anymore – not in my heart or in my actions. Yet, the person who did those things still lives in here. I’m still her. She is me. We are she. And we are all together. See how she flies like Lucy in the Sky…Oh, shit. Wait. I got a little woo woo there. Point is, sometimes it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around all the different iterations of myself that I’ve been and to really reconcile them all together to equal Me. Does that make sense?

          I agree about the fingernail and toenail thing. I HATE having my fingernails touched. Toenails too. It sets my teeth on fire. And I had a “bikini” wax precisely one time, at the behest of a friend, and it was the most horrible thing I’ve ever done to myself on purpose – and that includes tattoos, losing my virginity, and child birth. I don’t even shave my legs! (And, yes, I totally am willing to be the lady who doesn’t shave her legs or get manicures but still has breast implants. You know why? Because I get to choose! 🙂 )

        • Becky says:

          Did I imply that you were being an asshole? I didn’t mean to. My situation is that I’m so changeable that these broad patterns are the only way I really know myself. It’s not that I lack a me, but change IS me. Something like that. Crazy talk. It’s late.

        • Gloria Harrison says:

          Ha! No. You totally didn’t imply I was being an asshole. I just have a ridiculously hard time saying something that could be construed that way without apologizing. Which is one thing I admire about you a great deal, Becky. You’re so unapologetic about what you know,think, and feel sense. It’s pretty great.

          And yes, it is late. I should be in bed.

  10. Greg Olear says:

    The seen-it-all single moms and the Bonnie Franklins both make their kids a top priority, which is the most important — and the hardest — thing.

    Behind Door Number Three is another TV mom, Betty Draper, who only cares about herself and could give a shit about her children. You’ll never be like that, Gloria, no matter how long you stay celibate or how short you cut your hair.

    Love is hard, parenting is hard, and reconciling the two is harder still. But you’re heading down the right path, seems to me, and there will be gold for you at the end of the rainbow.

    Keep on keepin’ on, as they say.

    : )

    Dig the M. Ward…thanks again.

    • Gloria says:

      Thank you for this bit of loveliness, Greg. And I don’t usually watch TV, but I do know who Betty Draper is! I feel like I should get extra credit or something. A gold star. I really, really like that show. It’s funny because the only thing I don’t like about the show is January Jones’s character. I can SEE her acting. It’s really annoying. It’s like pulling off Santa’s beard. You’re a bad actress! Stop being on the screen! Aaaggghhh!!

      I’m really glad you like the CD. 🙂 I thought you would. Had you heard any of the other bands I included (except David Byrne, who you’d obviously already know)?

      • Simon Smithson says:

        Someone tweeted the other day: Mad Men is back! I didn’t realise how much I missed seeing Betty Draper fuck up being a mom.

  11. M.J. Fievre says:


    Thanks for sharing. I sent a link to your story to other fabulous single moms I know. Really enjoyed reading it 😉

    • Gloria says:

      Golly. Thanks, M.J. That’s a seriously major compliment coming from you, considering what an amazing writer you are. Thank you so much. I appreciate it!

  12. G lady,

    I wish you were my mom (no offense to my late mother wherever you are) – but seriously, my parents were so out to lunch and there were two of them, Y’know? You are present and yourself and you give of yourself to these lucky boys.

    I kind of feel like parenting has its own built in celibacy chapter – it just has to.
    It’s sex that made these creatures who have sweaty balls that need powder, but parenting
    is just not very sexy. Cuz we’re all tired as shit.

    I like the vow of love. I think this vow is a good one. I’m all for it.

    And yes – thank for the CD you sent us – took it on my beachy retreat I took by myself – it was perfecto.

    xxoxoxo S

    • Gloria says:

      “It’s sex that made these creatures who have sweaty balls that need powder, but parenting is just not very sexy. Cuz we’re all tired as shit.”


      Oh my god. It’s funny ’cause it’s true. I am tired as shit!

      Thanks for reading, lovely lady.

      And, hey, glad you liked the CD. I included “Human Thing” by The Be Good Tanyas for you specifically. I love that song. I’m new to their music, though they’ve been around for a while. Had you heard them before?

      How the hell was THAT? An alone beach trip. Wow…

    • Tawni says:

      “It’s sex that made these creatures who have sweaty balls that need powder, but parenting is just not very sexy. Cuz we’re all tired as shit.”

      EXACTLY. So consistently tired, like never before in my life. And now, when my childless friends whine about being tired, I have no patience for it. Ummmm… are you able to take a nap when you desperately need one, go to bed when you want to, and sleep through the night without being screamed (or peed) awake by a child? Then do those things and shaddap already. And go spontaneously see a movie or check out some live music in a cool bar when you wake up… because you CAN. I definitely didn’t appreciate how easy I had it before I procreated.

      Also adding to the parenting-imposed celibacy: when the urge for sex strikes, the chances of having the privacy to do anything about it are not in our favor either. Makes for a lot of furtive, futile groping in my house. 🙂

      • Gloria says:

        My boys still get in bed with me – almost every night. They start out in their own bed and end up in mine about 75% of the time. Mostly, I don’t mind, except for the fact that my once cute teeny tiny boys are now all arms and legs, weigh sixty pounds each, and take up WAY more space. I sleep half the night like Lilly Munster and wake up sore. I know we’re nearing the end of it because they come in later and later in the night now and sometimes they don’t come in at all. I just hope we cycle out of this before they hit puberty!

  13. Sarah says:

    The chick as buddy thing. Yup, that’s me too. For as long as I can remember I’ve gotten along better with guys than girls. 98% of the time I’m completely un-chick-like. The other 2%, however, tends to make up for the rest. I can get pretty emotional and theatrical and blubberingly girly. But I’ll never be a Woo chick. See also, How I Met Your Mother.

    You’re a wonderful mother, Gloria. You did with the talc what you do with your life – you did the best you could with what you had. When you did that, the itch went away and laughter ensued. You have a parenting partner, your shifts are just a little longer than if you were in the same household. While you may not get the five-minute time-out you need, you get larger chunks of time to decompress, write, be in silence, etc.

    For as long as I’ve known you, your single greatest joy has been being with your boys. You’re in a situation now where any man you fall in love with has to fall in love with the three of you in order for there to be any hope of a future. That can’t be easy. I admire your wisdom and commend your strength to take a few steps back and just wait.

    Mark me down for a donation of one bottle of Shiraz to the Gloria Gets Some Foundation. Just let me know where to send it darlin’.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      This response was delayed in showing up. Just FYI – when there is more than one embedded link, it takes a while for a comment to appear. I don’t know why. I think somebody somewhere has to approve it.

      I had never heard of a Woo Girl. I’ve been known to utter a hearty woo from time to time, but I don’t do any of the other stuff. I’m sure girls that fit this cliche are just lovely, but I can say confidently that I am not one of them.

      You’re a wonderful mother, too, Sarah. So, thanks, lady. You’re right, having a co-parent is like having a partner. The parts that it misses that you have when you have a two parent family living in the same household include: breaks when you’re sick, help cooking and cleaning (with the big stuff), someone whose be behavior you can observe and model your own after, etc. These things are significant. But yes, I am lucky. (Although, see below for my comment to Tawni about dad’s not getting extra credit.)

      Are you really sending me a bottle of Shiraz? Suh-weet!

  14. Gloria,

    Thanks for dropping me right into the middle of your deep world. Wonderful story, and I admire you greatly. You touch on all things here that are so out of my element, and yet I feel so much closer to you as a result. A testimony to your words, honesty and passion. Your boys are very fortunate to have you for their mother. And I am, also, for being included in your obvious love.

    • Gloria says:

      Hey, Robert. Thanks, man. I appreciate you reading. Thank you for your very sweet, supportive words. 🙂


  15. Richard Cox says:

    I really loved this post, Gloria. As I began to read it I wondered if it was going to be gender confrontational, but instead it was a more thoughtful piece about the situations we find ourselves in and the best way to navigate them. From what I know of your life, it seems as if you are doing a wonderful job. Your boys are so freakin’ smart!

    And even though I’m a dude, I loved the part about how you’ve made the vow of celibacy about a vow of love. Hats off to you. You rock.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Thanks, Richard. Yeah, I avoided the accusatory “men are dogs!” tone. I think we’re all just trying to Figure it Out. I get that.

      Yes, the boys are way smart. It’s fatiguing.

      You really are quite a dude. But I know you’re all about the love thing yourself. So, hats off to you, too.

  16. Zara Potts says:

    My Mother was a single parent. She did an awesome job.

    Hats off to you all.

    And yes. A vow to love. There isn’t a vow better than that….

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Was she? Your whole life? Do you have siblings? Did she work the whole time? Did she lose her temper often? Man…so many questions. Can I please just have her number? 😀

      To love!

      • Zara Potts says:

        I’ll get her to come and answer herself!! She’ll be here in just a tick…

        • Jude says:

          You called?
          Here I am…

          Gloria – I have just read your writing and do so empathize…

          Being a single parent is not the easiest but when you get to the other end (or do you ever get to the other end…), you can pat yourself on the back when you look at your child/children and see what a fine and admirable person she/they have turned out to be. (Of course, if you’ve done your job proper, then your kid(s) will give you no credit whatsoever!)

          I think the thing that I related most to in your writing was this… “I’m wishing – desperately – that I had a partner, one who could tag me out. He could come in, grab me gently by the shoulder, and whisper, “I’ve got this,” in my ear. “You just go lie down and read that Russell Brand autobiography you’ve been trying to get to. We’ll be fine.”

          That’s what I missed the most – but it was more the idea than the reality, because when I did have a partner in my life (a couple of times for a year or so), the reality was so much different. Unfortunately single mums do tend to attract guys who are looking for mothers… and they see you doing such a fine job, they decide to slot in as surrogate kid. great – one more mouth to feed; one more ego to soothe; one more person to be strong for…

          Or worse still, the other type is the guy who thinks ‘poor little single mom – she needs a hand’ and suddenly steps into the role of father and protector. Except he’s not of course!

          It would have been good to have had a relationship with my equal, but living life as a single mum doesn’t really offer many opportunities.

          You sum it up perfectly in this statement…”I am perfectly capable of meeting my own needs while I wait patiently for things to unfold as they will.”

          Bless you Gloria – I know at times it feels too much and you just want to curl up on the couch, but as one who’s got through the tough times, the other side is mighty fine!

        • Gloria Harrison says:

          Oh, Jude Potts. I think I love you.

          You know, sometimes this is what it takes. I have some of the most astounding mom friends a lady could be blessed to know and yet…most of them are partnered. You know as well as I that the challenges of parenting a child or children on your own is different. Your perspective on the types of men you encountered in those years is heartening.

          “It would have been good to have had a relationship with my equal, but living life as a single mum doesn’t really offer many opportunities.” Equals. Yes. Yes, that’s exactly right, Ms. Jude Potts. Being a single part time mom offers plenty of opportunities, but only half the time. The other half of the time, I’m still a mom. And my boys are not some albatross around my neck. I don’t feel shackled to them. Everything I do is in support of – not in lieu of – those two little boys.

          There are worse things than loneliness. That’s the conclusion I’ve come to. When the boys are gone, it’s lonely. I know we need breaks, but too much of a good thing is still too much. I am perfectly capable of meeting my own needs! And I’m not afraid of a little loneliness!

          Thank you so much for stopping by. I appreciate the commiseration!

        • Jude says:

          The pleasure (of stopping by) is all mine. Like you say, there’s not too many mums who are single without partners and I love it when I meet my own kind. The challenges are different and only those who have placed their footsteps in the same place can really truly understand.

          And Ms. Gloria – only you as a single mum can know what the title of Ms means for single mums. When this title came out with the feminist movement, I grabbed hold of it – because here was a title that I could use. I wasn’t a Miss, and I wasn’t a Mrs – but I could be a Ms. Not that I like titles that much – in fact I think they’re a load of bollocks, but there are certain situations within this society we live in when we have to use a title.

          Oh, Ms Gloria – I think I love you too!

        • Gloria Harrison says:

          One time, at work, a very old man called to ask something about our department. He was a former state senator. I ended up having to give him my mailing address and when I was giving him my name, he interrupted to ask, “Are you a Ms. or a Mrs.?” I said, “I’m just a Ms.” and he replied, “Well, now, not ‘just.’ A miss is as good as a mile!” Then he laughed at his own joke. It was delightful.

          To single moms, Ms. Jude Potts!

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Hey, Zara! Your mom is Jude Potts, the regular TNB commenter! Why it took me this long to put the two together is beyond me.

      Thanks for sending her this way. 🙂

  17. Simon Smithson says:

    Powder! Genius! Why didn’t I think of that?

    I think culture has a lot to answer for.

    And no, you certainly can’t unring a bell.

    “One of my coworkers, Edward, who was about four beers in, suddenly said, “Well, I’d better go make my rounds while the single moms are open to suggestion.”


    Nice one, Ed.

  18. Cynthia Hawkins says:

    The powder story is one hilarious moment!

    I’ve always felt depictions of moms in television or in films in general have almost always missed the mark. Why is this? Oh yeah. Not enough women screenwriters ….

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      I agree, Cynthia. I’ve actually written a TV pilot about fourteen year old twin boys who fall into a world of espionage. Their mom is a single mom – though it’s because their dad disappeared in Iraq on a Secret Ops mission and… Anyway, I wrote the thing when I was still married. It would be fun as an exercise to dust it off and rework bits. You know, in my free time… 😉

      Thanks for reading!

  19. David says:

    “Unfortunately single mums do tend to attract guys who are looking for mothers… and they see you doing such a fine job, they decide to slot in as surrogate kid. great – one more mouth to feed; one more ego to soothe; one more person to be strong for…

    Or worse still, the other type is the guy who thinks ‘poor little single mom – she needs a hand’ and suddenly steps into the role of father and protector. Except he’s not of course!”

    I would like to think there is a third (I would like to think I am the third). One that wants said mother for who and what she is, and wants to be a father for the child because of who and what they are, and steps in willing to learn and do his best in all the required rolls. We do exist, really. Now the question is, do you have the patients and energy (both of which will be required in scores) to help us get up to speed; to watch us fuck up a lot in the mean time. (I am still fucking up. My wife is still patient. But that is parenthood, no? )

    • Gloria says:

      Yes, David. I think of you often, actually. Mandy lucked out – as I’m sure you did too. You guys are a really great fit. But your situation is pretty rare. I think it’s the exception. I mean, look at the Brady Bunch. That’s the other cliche. Single mom meets successful single dad. Families merge. Hilarity ensues. Hilarity and love.

      Sure, it happens. Sure, it’s what I desire. But it’s a thing that requires a specific confluence of events and personalities, I think.

      And I mean, your story is so beautiful it’s kind of barf worthy. Two strangers on two different coasts find each other on Myspace (Myspace, for fuck’s sake!) and fall madly in love, move in together, get married, and ACTUALLY live happily ever after.

      It really is a lovely story. 😉

      • David says:

        We are still working on the happily ever after part. As it has been pointed out, we’re all tired and shit.

        I know I am not THAT great of a catch. There must be many single guys out there that are better men then I. Three points:

        With more personalities to mesh, It will undoubtably be harder to find something that works.

        You are doing a wonderful job on your own and don’t NEED anyone.

        You may not have or want to spend the time and energy.

        Having said that, I hope you remain open to and believe in the idea, of someone that wants to be part of your family for the right reasons.

  20. David says:


    I really enjoy reading your stuff. You convey an honesty and openness that is something to aspire to.

  21. Joe Daly says:

    Totally relate! Well, I relate to the experience of experiencing an emotion, and addressing it with a resolution, only to find that I was using the wrong solution to fix an issue that didn’t exist.

    Wait, what?

    I really do mean that, though- you describe so well how the situation unfolds where you put a lot of thought into an area of your life, and after careful consideration, make a decision to improve that experience. You went celibate. It felt right.

    Then you sit with the new experience and after some time, those emotions bubble to the top, and you realize that your solution didn’t work, because it didn’t address what your real need was. I think that in these moments, it is this epiphany that makes it all worthwhile, and I love how you spelled out yours.

    Black and white is sooo much easier. It seems like all the risk is in the grey area. But that’s where we seem to do all the growing.

    Good luck with your continued, though slightly altered course! It will be worth it.

    And now that I’m back home, I can get back to your email! 🙂

    • Gloria says:

      Hi Joe!

      I totally get what you’re saying about trying to solve problems that don’t actually exist. It’s almost like your explanation in your hilarious piece about going to Scotland. You know, when the car is rattling and you put the suitcase in the back seat. It’s like that. You don’t know what the solution (or even the question sometimes) is, but you know you must act. Action is required. Any action. Go!

      And yes, that moment when you realize the score – divine. It’s like scene in Spirited Away when Sen is cleaning the stink spirit and she’s reaching in and she grabs ahold of the bicycle handlebars and she pulls and pulls and, finally, there is *pop* and the bike comes out and then all that trash comes pouring out and out of the middle of the muck rises the beautiful, shining river spirit. It’s like that, only less dramatic. But the pop is similar.

      Thanks for the encouragement, Joe. I appreciate it.

      And, yes! Music! Which is a much purer kind of love to discuss. 🙂 I forgot to include the long list of electronic music I love by the way – Massive Attack, Thievery Corporation, Paul Van Dyke, DJ Tiesto, Moby, Fatboy Slim. I know, they’re mostly mainstream, but I actually won’t make any apologies for liking mainstream music – if it’s good!

  22. Dana says:

    Doesn’t sound like you’re doing much ‘muddling through’ Gloria. You sound like an awesome mom.

    “You can’t unring a bell.” Great phrase – I must have heard it on NPR too. It’s so evocative.

    Enjoy your many assets Gloria – and that includes your shiraz and whatever else. You deserve them.

  23. Khadija says:

    A bunch of comments ago “David” posted: “Healthy teen boys will want a certain distance from their parents emotionally, socially, and literally. ”

    I disagree David. My sons, now 25 and 21 never distanced themselves from me. Not once. I was a single mom from 35 – 52 and we are all (along with my 2 daughters) extremely close. In fact the boys told me things I really didn’t want to know. I think that “teenage distancing” is a social phenomenon that is unnecessary. My kids do call me Rebel Mom though…

    Nice article!

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Thanks for the comment, Khadija.

      It’s interesting – I’ve heard it both ways – that boys will distance themselves and that they won’t. So, I think it’s safe to say that they might. And I’d like to be prepared. I had a daughter when I was sixteen and she definitely distanced herself when she started adolescence. She recently had a baby – about five months before her 18th birthday. I wasn’t nearly as prepared for her to disappear emotionally as she did.

      Here’s to hoping you’re right, though. I really appreciate you stopping by to share your thoughts.

  24. Roxane Stafford says:

    The first time I saw my oldest boy had pubic hair (I knock now if the bathroom door is closed), I was stunned. Now, I take them to Planned Parenthood for appointments. Everything has its time and place, hopefully, for single parents, that includes taking a vow of love, someday…

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Oh, Roxanne. We are so trying to get into the knocking when the door is closed thing. It’s always been a rule, but it’s become more and more important as time has gone on. I agree that this is important. Good for you for taking your son to PP. I think that’s great!

  25. sheree says:

    So loved this post Lady!

  26. Michelle says:

    What Tolkien said to you about seeming happier and that maybe you were just hungry (followed by a kiss!) is illustrative of the fact that you have boys who are not only intelligent, but emotionally intelligent and with a level of sensitivity that I sense is beyond their years. That’s a reflection on your parenting, and clearly, you rock.

    I also love that you told him if he was going to touch himself he had to do it in private.

    Whenever I think about how would I be “classified”, that song by Meredith Brooks immediately comes to mind. I find it to be a decent summary, for something that is impossible for me to capsulize.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Michelle! It’s Michelle!

      Hi Michelle. 🙂

      My boys really are amazing. They both have IEPs for being “High Needs” and I think they’re pigeon holed for being trouble. But they’re not. If only the world could see these guys the same way I do. They’re SO beautiful.

      I am not opposed to him touching himself (or picking his nose or eating his boogers [which is actually healthy]) but it is time to learn that there are some things you do alone.

      Thanks for reading, lady. It’s nice to see you again.

      P.S. I really don’t think you’re a bitch.

      • Michelle says:

        Hahaha, Hey!!
        Yeah I was really excited to see your post mere days after the fact instead weeks after like I usually do. I’ve been wondering how you were doing and had just been thinking about writing to you.

        I hear ya, and I think you convey the beauty of your hobbitses very well. 🙂

        One of the many things I am/can be is a bitch — sometimes.
        Well, I don’t have to tell you… if someone crosses an Aries, they’re pretty much asking for it.

        Miss you ♥

  27. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    “But my penis is sticking to my balls!”

    Haha! I love it! I like the moments where you show your interactions with your boys. They really provide a window into your world. It seems like you work in a bit of a boys club, too.

    Oh, Love. Sex and love and everything in between. The muse will make fools and free spirits of us all.


    • Gloria Harrison says:

      I do work in a bit of a boys’ club. I’ve never thought of it that way, but it’s true. You’ve got a little guy, yeah? If so, see above for Tawni’s amazing sweaty balls cure. I’m loading up on that stuff!

      The muse. Yes, yes.

      Cheers to you, too, mama!

  28. Megan says:

    Gloria, is your novel about this struggle to define yourself outside the two available options? I hope so.

    The avant garde artist Cindy Sherman said something like, “Sexpot, housewife, librarian, victim, lesbian, — these are the roles society holds out to me and I have tried all of them on. Finding that none of them fit, I have nothing left to do but be an artist and point the finger at my own dilemma.”

    This post reminded me very much of that. Wonderful.

    • Gloria says:

      Hi Megan,

      You know in some ways, my novel is about how to define myself – but more in the way your quote describes. (God, how I love that quote. I’ve never heard it before, but I think I’m going to print it and hang it on my wall.)

      Thank you so much for reading!

  29. Jen Violi says:

    ” . . . I’ve taken a vow of love.” Beautiful insight, beautifully written. Also, I may not be a single mom, but I’m with you, sister. By the power of Shiraz and electric currents, we will prevail!!!

  30. Man, I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t “tag out” once in a while, Gloria. We’re pretty adept at leaping over the ropes at my house.

    Love the powder story. That kind of weirdness just becomes such a part of your experience it’s always interesting to take it out of context.

    I think there’s two kinds of people in the world: Those who grew up watching “Alice,” and everyone else.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      “That kind of weirdness just becomes such a part of your experience…”

      Heh. It really does. I kind of love it.

      I loved “Alice” so much more than the other shows I mention when I was a kid. I liked Alice, I thought Mel was wonderful even though he was grumpy, I wanted Vera to find love, and I wanted to be Flo. I may have even tried to find a clever way to fit, “Kiss my grits” into conversation. But, being eight or ten or however old I was, I’m pretty sure it didn’t take.

      On another note, Sean, I’ve seen you write the “there are two kinds of people in the world…” bit before and it just occurred to me that I would love to see a post by you where you make a whole list of them. 🙂

      • Have I used that before? Am I really cannibalizing myself? Totally unaware of it. Now that you mention it though, maybe it could be my signature thing. Don’t know if I have enough for an entire post, but a few months from now I bet I will.

        Vic Tayback. My sister swore she saw him on Jones Beach once and dragged me all the way from the snack counter down to the other end of the break. This guy was lying on a towel. He was bald. And he had a lot of back hair. But no way that was my man Vic.

  31. Laura says:

    You know my story. You know how much I relate to you, and vice versa. I have about 12 years, or so, on you in age, and in being a single Mom.

    Newly single, I dated whomever asked me out, and I was continually disappointed. I found my “good looks” worked against me, b/c I was attracting lots of guys, but wasn’t smart enough to be discriminating enough. As the years rolled by, I put on weight (unconsciously to keep them away), and became “celibate”. I, like you, realize that it isn’t the sex act I am warding off, it is the riff-raff of the dating world. If I find my “Mr. Perfect-for-me”, and fall in love again, I will be in his bed in an instant. The older I get, the more I wonder if it will ever happen for me, though, and wonder if I am destined to be “celibate” and single for the rest of my life. If that is the case, I must learn to love me as I am (which is so cliche)…and which is also just as difficult as parenting our children alone. The results of our efforts are never immediately apparent, “perfect” or concrete. It’s not like we wake one morning and say, “I did it! I accomplished the ultimate in parenting skills!”, or “I’ve found the perfect man!”. or “I am perfectly happy and self-contained alone!!” I guess that realization might happen the moment we pass from this world, but we won’t know that for sure, ’til we get there.

    I too, have met men I wanted to be in more than just a casual relationship with, whom have also had a hard time with the fact that I had children. Once a man said to me, “Stop trying to set me up as their step father!” I was completely sure I had not been doing that, yet his fear of it drove us away from each other. I’ve heard there are men who would be happy to parent another man’s children with a special woman, but I’ve never encountered one for myself yet.

    Life takes alot of patience, because yes, we muddle thru the mundane and less beautiful parts of life more often than we encounter the amazing stuff. Keep your eyes open for it though, and watch carefully, as the amazing stuff can flee before we recognize it was amazing.

    Love and hugs, Miss G.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      “Keep your eyes open for it though, and watch carefully, as the amazing stuff can flee before we recognize it was amazing.” <——– This is incredible, Laura. Thank you for these words. And yes, so true.

      I appreciate you on every level.

      David, who commented up above a bit, is that rare and endangered species who happily and graciously married a woman with a child and he is all kinds of amazing. It’s wonderful to know it exists. 🙂

      Love and hugs to you, too, mama.

      • Laura says:

        When I say amazing things happen, I mean the little amazing things in life, like the way the air feels right after it rains or the faint sweet smell of roses as you pass a bush growing in the middle of a bustling city, or the way your kids look when they’re sleeping or reading or building with legos.

        I, too, am glad there are men like David out there!!!

        I want to also give you and huge cyber pat on the back and hug for your progress with the stop smoking campaign! GOOD JOB!!! *hug* *pat*

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