The Pie Baker

Fresh from the Oven

Aging Dis-Gracefully

I am 10 days into my 44th year on this planet and I seem to suddenly be crumbling apart. Currently I sport the following injuries: a cracked ankle bone, a torn elbow tendon, a torn meniscus in my knee and a sore back. I also am a walking dot-to-dot puzzle of bruises – many of which are of unknown origin – and I am experiencing muscle spasms in my left hand; chiefly, the index finger occasionally breaks out in a festive salsa routine or some such nonsense. The major injuries are results of several unrelated falls that are more embarrassing to share than the fact that I am old…so no such luck on that front.

I sucked it up and went to the doctor – CORRECTION, two doctors, who both basically said that I was getting older and these types of “aches and pains” are just part of it. Well, nobody hipped me to that, dude! With medical progress such that it is, isn’t there something that can be done to eliminate – hell, even alleviate – my pain? Their suggestions? Wear a brace on my ankle; cortisone shot in the elbow; consider surgery for the knee and lose some weight to take strain off my back. The only real result was from the shot and it feels like normal, but I doubt it will last the full 8 weeks I was promised. And how can I wear a brace with cute shoes in this nice, warm weather??? Surgery is out of the question for a while – at least until the Pie is a little more self-sufficient. And lose weight? Tell me how to do that with no time to exercise, no money to buy healthy food and no time to cook said food? How about I just stay fat, mmmmkay?

Plus, I am now taking a total of 4 prescriptions on regular daily basis. One pill is for high blood pressure, one for hyperinsulinemia, one for cholesterol and one for anxiety and depression. It looks like I need to invest on one of those plastic pill boxes that my 80 year old father uses to keep track of his meds. Have I really sunk that far? I don’t want my day to revolve around swallowing pills…”take the brown capsule with breakfast, take the little orange one and the little white one with lunch and don’t forget to take the little blue one at bedtime!” I mean…the pharmacist is becoming my new best friend!

People tell me that I don’t look my age and with the advent of the Pie, I don’t think I act it either. But my body is betraying me a little bit more everyday. My complexion is changing, as is my hair…it pains me to admit that it now takes me twice as long to look half as good as I used to! I have given up thoughts of dating since I don’t really care anymore about finding a man – I’ve lived this long on my own, so why mess with the status quo? However, I do sometimes consider finding my car in the parking lot “getting lucky” – does that count?

May 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You Say It’s Your Birthday…?

As it does every few years, my birthday falls right smack in the middle of Mother’s Day this year. In years past, I remember arguing with my mother about a silly something or other I wanted to do for my birthday, while she wanted to spend her Mother’s Day relaxing at home with her little family – which included an obviously ungrateful daughter. This year, however, this day is about me….all day, for 24 hours, a day ALL ABOUT ME!

One year in particular, one I will never forget, I wanted to go out with some friends from college, but Mom wanted me to spend the day with her, having a nice meal, sharing secrets, braiding our hair, blah blah blah…. creating the kind of Hallmark card scene from the commercials that makes you cry every time you see it. Her own mother had passed away just a few months before, but being the self-involved idiot that I was, I never imagined that she felt particularly sensitive about the holiday. I stood up for myself – which, by the way, she taught me to do – and took off to spend the day with my friends. When I returned, I found a most disturbing situation. My mother, the feisty little red-headed dynamo, had disappeared. Not in an “America’s Most Wanted” manner of disappeared, but in an “I’m Pissed Off and Will Teach That Brat a Lesson” manner of disappeared. My dad was clueless, of course, as is the case of men his age. This was before the advent of cell phones, so we worried and fretted about my mother’s whereabouts for hours. When she finally arrived home later that evening, we learned where she had gone.

She drove 3 hours to another state to visit her mother’s grave. It was Mother’s Day, she said, and she wanted to honor her mother in the spirit in which the holiday was intended, by simply being her daughter and paying her respects. That birthday was a smack in the face for me. I didn’t realize until then that she was anything more than my mother; she was a daughter, too. A daughter that had lost her mother after years of failing health and an ungraceful slide into dementia. A daughter who needed to validate her own worth as a mother by spending the day with her daughter. It was a hard lesson to learn, but it impacted me for years.

On Mother’s Day in 1993, I visited my mother’s grave. It was the first Mother’s Day without her and I felt lost, confused and small. I found some measure of comfort in sitting in the grass by her headstone, telling her how much I missed her and how much I still needed her. I imagine those were the same words she spoke on that day she disappeared to a cemetery 3 hours away. My mother died quickly and unexpectedly of a heart attack just days after the beginning of the year. It had been a difficult few months following her death, and I was still very emotional. I cried that day for the child I never expected to have, for the loss of the chance to make my mom a Grandma.

Fast forward 14 years and on the day of my daughter’s birth; I had never missed my mother more. Even in the raw, emotional roller coaster of days that followed her death, I didn’t miss her as much as I did when I looked into my daughter’s eyes and wished her Grandma was here to hold her.

Although my daughter is 2 years old, it is just this year that I am starting to realize what it really means to be a mother and what Mother’s Day is all about. My first Mother’s Day as a mom, the Pie was just a couple of weeks old. The adorable wriggling mound of flesh really was the best gift ever, but I was still sleep-deprived and couldn’t fully appreciate her magnificence at the time. In the ensuing years, she has developed a remarkably sparkling personality and keen sense of humor. I often wonder what kind of bond she would have with my mother and I know that she would be spoiled rotten to the core! If anyone reading this has ever met my mother, you KNOW I tell the truth! I tell the Pie about her Grandma that lives in Heaven, how she loved little girls and how she taught me to be a lady – sometimes against my will – and how she made certain I wanted for nothing. I promise to my daughter that I will try with every fiber of my being to be half the mother to her that my mom was to me. And although we will all be together in Heaven someday, for now we just visit at the cemetery.

May 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Financial Faith

In the wake of the recession and financial crisis that plagues the country, numerous books and articles appeared touting the wisdom of budgeting and money management. Most of those publications target the conventional family: dad, mom and 3.2 kids. However, when seeking advice for single parents on how to navigate the current financial climate, pickings are pretty slim. Single mothers face a number of challenges, but money presents the highest hurdle: how do we make more of it, spend less of it, save some of it? Where are the news-magazine features, the books and “experts” with sound, practical advice for us?

Regardless of the circumstances of single parenthood, those who fall in that category find that they must maintain the lifestyle of two incomes on just one. The rent or mortgage that was shared now becomes the sole burden of the single parent; the utility bills are juggled month to month; the name-brand groceries now are of the generic variety and when driving, everyone in the car prays there’s enough gas to make it to the next station. According to Mary Gatta, author of Not Just Getting By, a book about the financial barriers single working mothers face in bettering their financial situation, it’s possible that women can work two or more jobs and still live in poverty. As the sole supporter of child-care needs, meal provision, transport issues, bill paying and entertainment, single moms have few options in making ends meet. That’s where faith comes in.

The Bible says that “God will never leave you nor forsake you,” and keeping that truth in mind can relieve some of the stress of not having enough money. God wants parents to be joyful in the raising of their children, so asking Him to provide strength and guidance can lead to stronger bonds within the family. Philippians 4:19 says: And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Jesus Christ. Placing all trust in God that He will provide can be a scary prospect, but it’s what He wants us to do. The difficulty lies on relinquishing control over your life, especially for those of us who like to be in control in all situations.

In single parenthood, there are times when important decisions must be made. Can the electric bill wait another two weeks? Should I fill the gas tank or buy hamburger meat? Buy diapers or car insurance? Whatever the election, each decision has its own set of consequences. Waiting to pay the utility bills can incur late charges that inflate the bill even more. If there’s no gas in the car, you can’t get to work to make money to pay the other bills. If you buy hamburger meat…what else do you need to buy to make a decent meal for your family? If you get caught without car insurance, it a bureaucratic mess, but having no diapers could result in a pretty big mess also. When faced with these hard decisions, it is time to turn to God. Pray for guidance in making the decision; ask God to give you the insight to know what’s best for you to do. In every instance, God will send help or lead you in a direction that you had not yet considered.

I am a single mother of a two-year-old daughter. How my little family of two came to be is irrelevant, but what I try to keep in mind at all times is that God chose for me to have this little girl. It was HIS decision that placed her in my body, my heart, my soul. I don’t question why, I only thank God for his blessing and praise his knowledge that she was what I needed most at that time in my life. Of course, I panicked. The first thing I worried about was money. How would I pay for everything that a child needs? How would I provide a stable home free of worry and fear? I prayed a lot during those first few months and God revealed his plan. He showed me a wonderful support system of friends that already existed in my life. In particular, He shone His light on an amazing older couple with no grandchildren who help us financially, occasionally feed us and provide fantastic free child care. God sent them to me and my daughter because he knew we would need them. Matthew 6:31-32 says: Do not worry then, saying ‘What will we eat’ or ‘What will we drink’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing’… for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. They love my daughter as if she was their own grandchild and I find great comfort in the assistance they offer.

Being a single mother is infinitely harder than being a married mother for multitude of reasons, but the financial strain is primary. Believing that God will provide for us, that He will bestow upon us blessings beyond our imagination, makes preparing a budget, clipping coupons and buying generic a demonstration of faith. We may not have everything we think we want, but He assures us that we will have everything we will ever need.

May 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment