That Time I Got Sad in the Costco Parking Lot

Ahhh. Proximity can be a good thing, right?

I live in a suburb which sits literally on the edge of Minneapolis. I see the pretty, twinkly skyline when I drive to work (well, not now but after daylight savings time I will again). The city I live in is a mere stone's throw from just about anything we could want or need. There are Targets in all directions, Trader Joe's just up the highway, miles of beautiful walking/riding trails and so many restaurants I could eat out every day for the next decade and would still miss a few.

My ex-husband is also nearby. Less than three miles away, to be precise. This would be a good thing if circumstances were different. Let's say, for example, if the kids spent time with him. If he and I were one of those former-couples I so envy who are able to be something that resembles friends.

It would be a good thing if seeing him didn't make me sad.

Last night was one of my late nights at work. Every week I have two of them, days where I could potentially sleep in, where I can take the dog for a long walk in the morning or just get putzy stuff done around the house before heading out for the day.

As quitting time drew near, my thoughts turned to that place they often do: dinner. I'd taken some beef out of the freezer that morning, visions of tacos dancing through my mind. But as 6:15 crept up, the idea of standing in front of the stove, browning meat and warming up tortillas and chopping up lettuce and olives didn't sound so fun. You know what sounded like fun? Putting on pajamas, having a glass of wine and falling asleep on the couch. That sounded like heaven to me.

So, I decided to get a pizza from Costco. Easy peasy, right? The tacos could wait until the next night and I'd be that much closer to pajama time when I got home. Luckily for me, Costco is also just across the way and within fifteen minutes of leaving work I was all checked out and making a hasty exit, pizza in hand.

As I walked towards the exit, I saw a man trying to shove several large cartons into the back of his vehicle. I'd recognize the back of that head anywhere. It was: HIM (cue the Law and Order music right here). It was the man with whom I'd created four babies, the man who now spends approximately four hours a year with them. He was struggling, mightily, to get those unwieldy boxes into the back of his Jeep.

Now. What would you do? I think most sane people would have just waltzed on by with that pizza, not giving the guy in cool dad distressed jeans a second glance. Some people would have stopped and said hello!

Have we met? I am not most people. Here's what I did: I spun around like Kristi Effing Yamaguchi doing an icy pirouette and quickly surveyed my escape options. The only clear way was to go through the liquor store, which I did, clutching my pizza and averting my eyes. I did sneak a peek at the Jeep Stuffing Saga and saw a little one, bouncing excitedly inside the vehicle and then feisty Wife Version 2.0 getting out to help her hapless spouse. Part of me hoped whatever shiny new object they'd purchased wouldn't fit and when they tried to shut the door it would snap off and there they'd be, stuck forever at Costco with a broken door and a hyper kid.

Part of me, though, felt sad.

It wasn't the kind of sad you feel when you see a lost love and get all feely. Nor was it the sad one feels when seeing the person who took a giant dump all over them and then walked away. It wasn't even that icky, jealous sad. The one where you catch a glimpse of "what could have been"- where a lady might look at the janky car she drives, and the pizza purchased with a gift card from a stranger and wished she was the one playing car-Tetris with something bulky and expensive under the parking lot lights at Costco.

Nope. As I turned the key in the ignition and backed out of my parking spot, all I could think of was my kids. I thought of my 15 year old who missed his bus earlier this week and tried, over and over, to get a hold of his dad for a ride. No response, not even a follow up text or call to see what he needed.

I thought about my four children and what awesome, kick ass humans they've turned out to be. And how much they deserve more than just me. More than a tired cranky mom who brings home pizza at the end of a long day. I thought about how cool it would be if they had someone else they could call, could rely on, could just shoot the shit with as they unwound for the evening.

This is the kind of thing that happens to me every so often. And I'm always afraid to talk about it with anyone other than my friends for fear of being labeled as one of those "bitter bio moms" or "angry ex-wives". But I know there are others like me out there, living in these bizarro-world universes where you bump into someone you once shared a home, a bed...a life. Someone you once knew better than anyone else on the planet, and now they are nothing more than a harried-looking stranger in the Costco parking lot.

It's weird.

Luckily the blues only stayed a short time. I spewed out a boo-hoo text to a couple friends, removed my sensible school secretary outfit and in no time I was in my comfy place: pajamas, kids around me, dog and couch.

And you know what? They ate that pizza. The dog rested his head on various laps with a super hopeful look in his beggar eyes. We talked about our days and we laughed like we always do and I decided that while my kids really do deserve more, I am enough. I'm not perfect. I get sad sometimes and I'm definitely not mother of the year.






You Got Some Poor-Splainin' To Do!

The other day, on the blog's Facebook page, I posted a question regarding the movie "Deadpool" and the appropriateness (or not) of taking my almost 16-year old. Innocent, right? 

I received many responses, almost all completely in favor of bringing him and enjoying what turned out to be a fabulously entertaining movie ("sex thru the holidays" and strip club scenes maybe not so enjoyable for us as mom and son but whatever).

I also received a response I didn't expect. A comment, which I deleted because I can, chastising me for spending money to see a movie. I don't remember it exactly, but it was something like "Interesting you were too poor to afford groceries 6 weeks ago but now you're spending precious money on a movie." If you know me, you know my history with comment sections. Say what you want, but if you're an asshole about it or if it's a gross passive-aggressive little jab, you won't get a warm and fuzzy reaction from me. I will call you out and I will defend whoever it is you are disparaging. Even if it's me you're needling. 

Don't poke the bear and all, except let's reword it to say don't poke the broke. We're a testy lot. 

My first reaction was to defend myself. I'm used to doing that by now, after 6 years of writing online. It doesn't happen as frequently as it used to- not because there are fewer people demanding explanations but mostly because I am running really low on shits to give.

And maybe I am being a wee bit too defensive. Maybe what this chick said did hit a nerve. Or maybe I'm just tired of poor-splainin'. 

Poor-splainin', by the way, is something you find yourself doing when you are on the "less than" side of the economic equation. I couldn't find any carved-in-stone guidelines or rules, but just so everyone knows I'm going to give you a little list of things poor people aren't supposed to have:


  1. Nice things.
  2. Fun.
  3. Cell phones that don't flip.
  4. Shoes with brand names.
  5. Painted fingernails/toenails
  6. Cars that aren't shitty.
  7. Restaurant meals.
  8. Cable television.
  9. Really, any television.
  10. Wifi.
  11. Apple products.
  12. Organic food.
  13. Healthy food.
  14. Pets
  15. Nice purses (and by nice I mean anything fancy schmancy or you know, not a plastic grocery bag)
  16. Haircuts.
  17. Makeup.
  18. Affordable healthcare (yeah I went there. But now I'm leaving, ha!)
  19. College educations for their children.
  20. Time off.
  21. And the biggie: babies. Poor people absolutely cannot, should not, will not, have babies. (thanks to my friend Renae for that one)
I could go on but I'll stop. Financially challenged readers, feel free to add more in the comments if you'd like. I'm sure there are a few I missed. Over the years I have found myself giving the past history of things I own: "Oh this Coach bag? Yes it's lovely. It was a gift from that guy I dated. You might say I 'earned it' LOLOLOLOL" "Oh these boots? Yes, they're Frye boots. Yeah I think they retail for about $300. But I paid $50 for them on Craigslist and you know what, they'll last a decade at least. I figure $5 a year is okay, right?" "Oh yeah, my daughter does have a Macbook Pro. She bought it herself using money she earned at her job and from her graduation gifts." "Cable? Gah. I know. We had it because Comcast is a dick and made it cheaper to have internet and basic service rather than just internet. But when the price went up, like it always does, I cut it. Strictly streaming only now, I swear!" 

These are all things I've personally had to explain, or seen other poor folks having to explain either in everyday life or on social media/articles online. 

And there I was, doing it all again because I chose to take $10 out of my budget and treat my kid to a movie (and let's be honest, Ryan Reynolds made it a treat for me too).

Ten freaking dollars. Yep, I know. I really was crying about money six weeks ago. It sucks, when you find yourself stuck between that cold rock and that unyielding hard place. And yep. I wrote about it because it makes me feel better to vent. And yep, people responded in that awesome way they sometimes do: they gave me a helping hand. I don't think I was begging for help, I truly think people were being kind. And loving. And incredible. I felt obligated to let people know what I was doing with their gifts because of all the poor-guilt and the shame that comes with it. 

So there I was, typing up a reply about how it was the bargain matinee! And I sneak in my own water! And yes I was too poor to afford groceries six weeks ago but since then I've had three paychecks and some tax refund money and also some really mind-blowing help from friends and strangers! I almost hit "post" on that reply when I got mad. Why did I have to explain this to anyone? A mother-effing movie? Yeah, I get it. I probably should have saved that $10 in my "rainy poor day" account just in case. I should have told my son we'd watch the movie in a few months using a free code from Redbox. I should have stayed home that day and sewn some clothes for myself and also swept the dirt floor of my hut. 

But I didn't. I had a rare day off from work, I had a little extra $$$ and I wanted to do something with my son who will soon be too cool to go see a Marvel movie with his mom. Sue me.

I'll tell you something else I did that same weekend: I went out with some of my lady friends. TO A RESTAURANT. We cackled and ate and drank and sat way too long at a good table on a Friday night (server was compensated very nicely...that's what happens when your BFF is a waitress 4 life). A couple of my friends were very generous and kind and paid for some of my deliciousness but guess what? I paid for some of it too. It was the first time I'd been out with friends in months. I missed them. I missed going out. I missed joking with waiters and laughing way too loud and being mildly (okay severely) inappropriate with women I love. 

Maybe I will regret these two poor-person infractions. It might come back to bite me in the ass, you know? If my car breaks down and the repairs are expensive I just may cry a little bit and think to myself oh SNAP if only you hadn't gone out that night or gone to the theater to see Deadpool...

Or maybe, just maybe...I won't. Maybe I'll look back on that Monday afternoon with my son and smile because it was fun. Maybe that night with my friends will become another one of our legendary references and fodder for more inside jokes. Maybe, just maybe, doing those two things made me happier. 

And being happier just might lead to me working harder to keep afloat. It might give me the motivation and the inspiration to keep on pushing forward. 

If that's the case, I'd say it was money well spent. Wouldn't you?

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