Tag: singles

Friends with Kids

Friendship-Quotes-5

I’ve never been afraid of a sensitive topic on this blog and this will probably be one of those so be prepared.

I just want to share another side of the story.

Recently seemingly everyone I know with kids have posted this video.

This is a charming video and I get why especially stay at home Mom’s respond to it but as one of those friends without kids let me try to explain the other side of the picture.

First some societal trends that come into play.  Americans, even Utahns are getting married at older ages, usually in the post college years.  This gives sometimes a decade or more for single American’s to form friendships and create meaningful bonds/memories.

These groups of friends are often more important than family to the modern young American as they have shared experiences and group empathy that is not the same in a typical family.  There is no real hierarchy to an urban tribe; where even the most high functioning family has an order and chain of command leading to the main decision makers, the parents. A group of friends provides a space without judgement or the expectations of a family.

This is perhaps less common in the Mormon world as family is universally praised over friendship. Family bonds are eternal and you are after all not sealed to your friends…

Nevertheless, urban tribes do happen and even if not a group of friends the same reliance as with groups can exist in individual friendships between singles. I’ve never fallen in love so most of what I know about love is shared through friends.  I always felt very different from my family but felt at home with my friends.

Last year when I swam GSL the reporter asked me who I was going to call first and I said I wanted to see my friend Etsuko because we had shared that experience together.

But we grow up and people fall in love, marry (or sometimes not marry), and start having their beautiful babies.  We are happy because our friends are happy but we are also a little heart broken…

Is it a selfish response?  Of course it is, but it is also a very human one.  In the 50’s the average age for a girl to marry was 22.  This meant she would be lucky to graduate from college before getting married and having a family.

Now it is 26 (28 for men). Like I said, that means for almost a decade men and women have lived their lives relying on friends and then seemingly overnight their support system and world has completely changed.  Suddenly there are new priorities and they can be pushed to the side. I cannot overstate how devastating that abandonment can feel.  It may be childish to feel that way but I’ve felt it and I bet most singles have too.

Of course, the change in lifestyle the video depicts is necessary but just because something is necessary does not make it any less painful.  In fact, some essential things are the most painful. Giving birth for example.  Do we tell a young mother that her pain is less valid because it is necessary to bring her baby into the world?  Of course not!

I can’t tell you how many times I have been a bridesmaid at a friends wedding, or thrown a baby shower, or something important like that and then I never hear from them again.  I will call and call and then eventually give up.  I will see photos of their kids on facebook and smile.  On my bitter days it can feel like everyone else is moving on with their lives but me.  My support system is gone and I don’t even get a baby out of the deal…

On my peaceful days I smile and hope my day will come and that I can do a better job at keeping in touch with my single friends.  I’m sure like the video shows it will be hard, but I hope I can at least be cognizant of their pain.

She does say in the video that she loves her friends but she is also very judgy.  Assuming her friend has all this free time and can hop off to Vegas whenever she wants.  The truth is said friend probably has worked a 10 hour day with a boss breathing down her neck and this 20 minutes with your kids is the only real human interaction she gets.  Your single friend and you may be catching Shark Tank when you are exhausted in exactly the same way just different exhaustion causes.

Both single women and homemakers with kids sacrifice most of their days for other people and leave completely frustrated and worn out.  A single girl may not understand the cheese or the door slammed in her face by a toddler but she does understand feeling frazzled and pushed around by other people and most likely what’s pushing her around does not love her the way your baby loves you.

I’m not trying to minimize being a young Mom.  It is super difficult but I’m just saying assuming one person has it so much easier than another is a shame.  You miss out on support you could be receiving and ostracizing yourself to only bonding with one type of person, other young Moms.

Of course, singles can do the same type of ostracizing and be too inflexible in adapting to the new situation. But can’t we all be grown ups and just say ‘my daughter threw cheese on the ground.  Isn’t she a rascal?  Could you help me with this? I bet you got into all kinds of messes when you were little…’ A conversation starts and an awkward moment becomes one of friendship instead of distance.

At the very least I would urge you to treat your single friends a little more gently than the video describes.  They may not be calling just to hang out.  Merely assuming that every time a single friend calls you it is for something superficial isn’t worthy of the friendship that was seemingly so important to you before you got that ring on your finger.

I understand there just isn’t time for everything and that some friends will be dropped but perhaps we give up too quickly?  Perhaps we assume because we can’t keep up our original relationship it is all over?  Maybe we could create a new relationship? Maybe it doesn’t have to be completely abandoned simply because it isn’t the same?

I have friends I only see once or twice a year but I know they are there for me.  I know they love me.  There is that gentleness and kindness which tells me ‘yes I have these kids and yes, its tough but I love you and you are important to me’.  At the very least I don’t feel abandoned and that I was a tool for a wedding photo.

A few years ago I went traveled and spent time with many friends with kids.  All of them unnecessarily apologized for their kids behavior.  Maybe I was giving a bad vibe or something but it wasn’t how I felt.  I can’t imagine just sitting there talking while friends are entertaining kids like the video suggests.  I get in and play or talk to the kids, talking to my friend at the same time. Occasionally I may have a day when I am not as kid-friendly but I don’t think it’s the rule of thumb as the video shows.

Most of the time my friends with kids want to meet me outside of the kids, not because of me, but they see it as an escape for them, but I am more than willing to meet at Chucky Cheese or a playground and talk to you, get to know your kids.  The video seems to show it is either going out, getting a sitter or a frustrated experience, and I think with a little creativity it doesn’t have to be that way.

I would also never tell a mother that I am going to be strict with my kids.  I can’t think of a single adult that would say such a thing to their friends with kids when they are with said friend.  That would be super judgy and rude.  They may say it behind their backs which I guess is bad but the woman on this video has strange friends if they say that as part of light discussion during a visit.

In the end, I guess if I made a video it would say ‘be kind’, ‘be gentle’ and spend a minute to let someone know you love them and I bet that will make your time with those little one’s a little easier too.  Maybe it will help you to not feel so alone when you know you have a friend who is rooting for you?  It would for me.

Friends are not simply role-players in our lives- someone we use to get through the day.  They are real people and relationships with real people matter.  So, if worse comes to worse, maybe pray that Heavenly Father will help you find a way to express love to your friends. Just maybe He will inspire you with an idea for a get-together or a cute text.

And if a friend does need to be dropped just try to be gentle about it.  Try to understand how they are feeling and as Jesus taught ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.  That goes for all of us married, single, divorced or widowed.

Friendship is too great a gift to let it pass without much thought.  I promise it’s worth the effort.

The truth is it is harder for single women over 30 to get together.  It is just harder when you are older, so maybe that is part of the change.  You can set up plans for weeks, get everything organized and then someone gets sick or there’s a blizzard, or a late assignment at work.  It is just harder post 30 but again worth the effort.

(I have no problems with my friends btw.  Only posted this because I saw the video so much and wanted to share how the person on the other side of the phone may be feeling).

Feel free to share your opinions of what I have written.  How have you made friendship work as an adult? My Dad is a great example of maintaining friendships.  It is a natural part of his expression and I’m kind of the same way.  I need friend, so thank you dear friends.  Love you and your kids!

Thank You for Reading

It’s late but I wanted to do a quick thank you.  All of my friends are posting daily thank you’s on facebook which is awesome but really today there is one major thing I am thankful for.  I am thankful to all of you. I had a rough October but November has started out great.  Thank you to all of you for reading no matter my mood or topic.  I know there are readers who follow religiously but haven’t made a comment in years (Becca and Suzanna I know you read!).  I am so grateful.  I hope you know that.

thank-you-for-readingThank you for reading when I inspire you.  Thank you for reading when I tick you off a little bit.  Thank you for reading when I bore you.  Thank you for reading when I make you laugh.  Aside from friends and faith, it is the best thing in my life.  Thank you especially to the people who read regularly not just when I do something bold.

Thank you to fellow bloggers who inspire me with their posts especially Samantha Ferraro, Forest Hartman, Christine Plouvier, Abbey Kidd, Tracy Christensen  Emily at Blogging Runner for giving me so much support.  Some of you I have met.  Rest of you if you ever come to Utah dinner is on me. (there are so many but they have been so supportive).

I sound like I’m dieing or something or winning an Oscar but I really am grateful.  I told my siblings that all I really wanted for Christmas was for them to comment on my blog every week or so.  I’m partly kidding but it really does mean a lot to me when people read.   I am also grateful to my sisters Meg and Anna for being the standout family readers by far and away.  Thanks!

I suppose it means a lot to any writer when people actually read what they write (go figure I know) and I’m no different.  It feels like you have a legacy and people might remember you for something.  Who doesn’t want that?

I’m grateful to my swim friends, trainers, writing group, twitter friends, cousins, coworkers, voice teachers, fellow parishioners…I could go on.  I really am just grateful.

What brought this all on is I was talking with a friend in the stake presidency who has taken my letter on the midsingles situation and shown it to area leadership and asked a question on the topic to two apostles.  It meant a lot to me to be taken seriously and to feel like just maybe I did something good with my words.

Maybe nothing will come of it.  Maybe it will just make a few of the people who commented feel understood but that’s good enough for me.

Hey, it made me feel understood and isn’t that why I started this whole thing?

In my first post on my preblog I said “First, I am never going to be happy living my life for other people’s expectations. Second, I need to take more comfort from the love of those that care for me instead of being devastated by the criticism of those that don’t. Third, I have to be my own advocate.

Why is it that I seem to believe in other people more than I believe in myself?Honestly, I think I am my toughest critic. I am starting to accept that I am not proving anything to anyone by the way I live my life. I have to believe that those that come into contact with me, including my employers, are lucky to know me. That I am valuable just for being me” (pretty good advice.  I should listen to myself sometimes).

That was written in 2007 and the blog has certainly proven that last statement to be true 1,000 times.  I am valuable for just being me and writing.

“The best word shakers were the ones who understood the true power of words. They were the ones who could climb the highest. One such word shaker was a small, skinny girl. She was renowned as the best word shaker of her region because she knew how powerless a person could be WITHOUT words.”

Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Single in a Family Church

“Rachel, I’ve been told by a bishop in a singles ward several times that if I just open my mind and pray a spouse will find me. It’s easy he said. Ok. I’ve been single 5 years now.”

A friend on the singles forum told me this yesterday and I just couldn’t believe it.  First of all, who in their right mind thinks that being single is easy and secondly how dare you judge me as being ‘closed minded’ and not prayerful enough just because I am not lucky enough to find a mate.  It wasn’t even me and I am angry.

“Begging friends for setups, dealing with creeps online, having scores of crushes unmet, constantly dealing with being treated like a child by idiots, hearing the clock tick for a family while attending a family church. So easy!” (my response)

And unfortunately this experience is not in a vacuum. You ask any single person and they have experienced such attitudes.  The problem is for many people it has been so long since they have been in the dating rat race that they remember the process with rose-colored glasses.

Also, the whole idea of dating has just changed since they were in the dating scene.  Here’s the deal to those that don’t remember- nobody I know casually dates.  If you get asked on a date whether you are 14 or 44 you assume that person likes you and is seriously interested.  The only exception is if a person needs a date for an office party or wedding.

It is very rare for someone, man or woman, to date different girls on a weekly or even monthly basis.  Now you could argue that this change is unhealthy or needs to be fixed but at a certain point you would be denying the new reality  and living in a fantasy world.

Eventually the leadership of the church just needs to say ‘ok, This is the new way people date and court.  How do we help people?’

To prove my point.  Here are some answers to my survey about dating:

“I would love to go on dates more then once every 5 years. Lol. But if you don’t get asked out, or there is no one to ask out…how do you!”

“Dating? Futile
Online Dating? Funny Farm
Being set up? “Is that really what you think of me?”

“Dating is hard. Online is way less effective.”

“I hate dating. everyone I like likes someone else. everyone that likes me I think is pretty repulsive”

Anyway, gives you an idea.  I also think this problem exists outside of the church.  Its just not a requirement to marry for exaltation outside of the church.

In the end, I agree and know from the bottom of my heart that the highest degree of exaltation does require getting married and finding that person to be with forever BUT what about that sentence screams ‘easy’?  Living truth has never been easy.  Even if you do find him or her its still not easy.

We all have our struggles and claiming that someone needs to be more open minded and isn’t praying enough when you don’t know FOR SURE is just wrong. It’s outrageous.

Just love people guys.  Please.  Laugh with people.  Tell a joke.  Share doctrine that can apply to everyone’s life with gentle encouragement where appropriate.  My experience is most people have something to contribute, even if minimal on almost any topic.  Why not listen? Heavenly Father loves His children, married or not.  Let’s try to be a little bit less free with our advice and a little bit more loving.

PLEASE.

PS.  There is a popular blog going around my married friends circles that says that those without children should ‘shut up’ and that their opinions about parenting are ‘worthless’.  If I have to keep my mouth shut about your life than the same goes for those that haven’t experienced being single in their 30’s +.  How would you like it if you went to church and heard about how your job being a parent was easy and that you just needed to pray more for your children to behave? Urgh….

Let’s all try to be nice and admit that neither of us have it easy…

There I said it.

I also have to add that my parents are a single girl’s dream.  No pressure at all.  No guilt.  Thank you!

130929-172753PPS.  If you think it is really that easy try finding someone for the single in your life to go on a date with.  I bet you will find it is tough.

PPPS.  Forgive me for ranting and raving.  The Church is still so true even if I get frustrated with the people every now and then.  I think people need to hear that someone in the world is experiencing the same thing as them.  Its hard to be single in a family church.  I hope at the least I let someone know they are heard and not alone.

Married and Single Surveys

So I have an idea for my next nanowrimo that I think will be really fun.  I won’t give it all away but it has to do with a single and married woman, so I need some feedback (especially for the married woman).   Having never been married I’m not sure what its really like.  I only see it from an observer.

You can email me the questions below or use the following links.  There is one survey for single friends and one for married.  I would really appreciate your feedback.  Thanks tons!

Married Survey

Single Survey

Single Living
1. What is a benefit to being single?
2. Have you been married? Divorced? Widowed? Separated?
3. Do you want to be married and have children? Does it make you depressed to be single?
4. What’s the hardest part of your job? Greatest benefit?
5. How is being single in 30’s-40’s different than in your 20s?
6. How is your relationship with your family as a single person?
7. How is it managing relationships with married friends and friends with kids? Difficult?
8. How do you feel about dating? Online dating? Being set up?
9. If you could invent the perfect relationship what would it look like?
10. How do you manage your finances?
Married Life
1. What is the hardest and best part about being married?
2. What do you miss most about being single?
3. If you could trade lives with anyone who would it be and why?
4. How long have you been married?
5. Who is responsible for managing your finances? What kind of stress does that give?
6. On a day to day level what is the best and hardest part of being a parent?
7. What surprised you the most about married life and parenting?
8. What do you do to relax?
9. What is a goal you personally would like to accomplish?
10. How has your social life changed since you got married? How important are friendships vs family?

If You Love Kids Why Don’t You Get Married?

All 5 of my nieces are above average in intelligence and vocabulary, and I’m not just saying that as a proud aunt, its true.   My oldest niece reads a book a day and can converse on a variety of topics.  Sometimes I think it is hard for her to be the oldest and spend so much time with younger, less mature minds.

I think I have a pretty good relationship with my nieces despite the fact that none of them live near me.  That said, I know there is a lot of my life that seems like a mystery to them.  I live in Utah.  I’m not married.  I don’t have kids.  How can that be?  In fact, the last couple of years every time I see my oldest niece she says ‘Rachel, why aren’t you married?’.   Yesterday it was ‘If you can take care of all of us little kids, why don’t you get your own little kids to take care of?

Ah the simplicity of youth.  I wish marriage was the result of readiness or abilities.  Unfortunately there’s this annoying thing called choice and chemistry…Sigh.

Sometimes I wish I could just have 4 or 5 options and just pick one and make it work.  This randomly meeting the love of my life thing isn’t working out very well.  Set ups and online dating provide few dates so I am left just trying my best to answer my nieces question.  What do you say? Here’s how the conversation goes?

“Well, I can’t have kids until I get married and I can’t get married until I fall in love”

Her response “Well why don’t you fall in love?”

My response “I’m ready but sometimes it just doesn’t happen”

She looks at me skeptically and adds

“If you don’t get married and have children how can you be happy?”

Sigh…I’m sure many young moms are thinking this kid has no idea how hard it is and that is true!  However, there is also great happiness.

I finally have to say

“I don’t know why I haven’t fallen in love, but I hope I will someday”

Still with worry another niece says:

“You should just adopt your own babies”

“That would be fun but hard to do all alone” I reply

Then the conversation wanes. If only there were better answers to all these questions.  And yes, I’ve tried online dating and its not for me.

That’s what I hate the most about dating is how impotent it makes me feel.  There is this big life goal that I know will add to my happiness (even eternal happiness) and there is almost nothing I can do about it.  How do you force love?  Force someone to love you?  You can’t.  You just have to hold out hope and be happy.

It’s just frustrating to have such a big thing in the human experience that is so outside our control.  I sometimes feel like I’m missing out on the most human experience.

To have lived and never fallen in love? Is that a life at all?  Art, music, movies, books would say no.

I know that it is, but it still makes me sad every now and then that I don’t have a better answer to “Why haven’t you fallen in love?”

Why indeed?  Only God knows.

hold-up-heart

My First Meet Up

I mentioned a few days ago that I ended up planning a midsingles activity called 8 at 8.  It was the first one so we had a few more than 8 people but it didn’t matter because the whole idea is about networking.  Instead of dating just 1 person you get to interact with 7+ people who know more people who might be right for you.  It makes an evening all the more productive than traditional one on one dating.

Anyway, I had brought the idea up on the singles forums and there was a good response so I created a meet up group and today was our first meeting.  It was super easy to plan.  I basically posted the event, created a little discussion sheet and then showed up at the Pie Pizzeria in Midvale for their awesome pizza.  They have a 23 inch pizza that we got for the group and then people got their own salads and drinks.  It couldn’t have been easier.

Once we all arrived and had our pizza everyone chatted and it seemed pleasant.  I was going to mix people up more but with people eating it seemed easier to stay put and then switch things up once people were done with their pizza.  It was a lot of fun.

I admit I got a little bit of butterflies right before but no need.  Everyone was friendly and we had good conversation.  I think it is a good thing to interact with new people, get out of my comfort zone.  Its challenging but I always feel grateful after.

So for the next one we will see if people want to do a smaller group or keep it big.  Its hard because you have so many no-shows that the smaller groups make me nervous.  Plus they take more planning but I’m open to it if that’s what people want.  The Pie is a good place because its cheap, everyone likes it and the outside space is nice.  We’ll just see what people want to do. It just has to be easy to plan and fun.

What do you think?  What kind of activities do you like to do?

Anyway, I felt proud of myself for taking the time to gather people and stepping outside of my norm.  A few more people aren’t strangers any more and that’s a good thing.

meet up1 meet up4 meet up3 meet up2

Modern Mormon Dating Woes and a Resume

Its no great secret that my church is a church of marriage and family.  After all, we have an entire proclamation on the family and have fought tooth and nail for traditional marriage to be protected and encouraged.  All that is good and wonderful but where does that lead the rapidly growing group of single adult members of the church without families? Well, you can either hack it out alone ignoring much of the doctrine that doesn’t relate to your life or you can

DATE!

(or some mix of both to survive).

The second option is hard.  Its hard to find people to go on dates with.  That is my constant problem.  And yes, I’ve tried multiple online resources and nothing.  I’ve asked my friends to help me but evidently they don’t know many singles which I get.  Hmmm.  Who else? Don’t go to singles ward any more so could meet someone at the gym or at swim stuff or something like that but its hard.  I signed up for a matchmaking service but it is based on the men and they haven’t matched me yet.  They make a big deal about being ‘active’ which is a nice way of saying skinny because nobody thinks of someone like me as ‘active’. even though I am.

So where does that lead me? Ok.  Back to option 1.  Hack out a good enough existence for yourself and ignore the second part. Make the church work for your life because you know it is true and Joseph Smith was a prophet and you don’t care that a large part of doctrine you can’t practice yet.  Ok maybe you care a little but everyone wants companionship some of the time.  You don’t have to be a robot because you are single.  So you do your best to take what you can and develop a strong relationship with God and hope that someone sets you up with a friend or you bump into Mr.  Sunshine.

Part of the problem with set-ups is my friends say things like ‘I don’t see you two together’.  I wish they would let me be the judge of that.  I had another friend say ‘you wouldn’t want to go on a date with just anyone’.  Unless he’s a rapist and murder I probably would let them buy me dinner.  The standard doesn’t have to be so high.  I can learn something from a date even if it isn’t ‘the one’.  Plus, how do I know ‘the one’ if I haven’t met ‘not the one’.

I wish I could have a bunch of dates and get  a flavor for what I want.  I really have no idea.

The problem is when you do finally get a date your expectations tend to be a little out of whack because you haven’t had one in 6 months.  You either think this person might be the one, really likes me or, has big potential, instead of just a casual date.  Usually that’s a nightmare.

Even if it is a nightmare date you have so few that I’ve found myself hoping the rotten date would call me again after it.  I don’t know why but it feels better to go on another rotten date than nothing.  Silly but true.

I’m embarrassed to admit the last date I went on was last October and that was only after rather incessant begging to my friends because I didn’t want to go to a reunion alone. We had a great time.  I enjoyed it immensely.

What made me think of this is I have season tickets to the Scera Shell and they are having Josh Turner coming next Tuesday.  It crossed my mind- this would make a great date activity but could I for the best of me think of a guy to ask? Not so much.

Its a problem.  Where have all the good men gone?  Where are you hiding?  I’m a nice girl!

Here’s some things about me to recommend me to your single friends out there:

I’m in my early 30s and look like this

942688_10151573127677239_220067204_n

I’m a great athlete and love beautiful lakes, rivers and oceans.  Swam 5 open water swims with 2 more to come this year.

DSCF0497

I also can kick most anybody’s butt. I’m tough as nails.  MMA is my specialty.

DSCF0896-001I’m also a great reader, philosopher and deep thinker.  Love good conversation and debate

988662_10151621772677239_175637564_nI also love the arts, movies, music and theater and the symphony.  Here I am after performing at Hale Center Theater

dscf0348I take great joy in writing both this blog and my recently completed nanowrimo book

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Looking for a great cook?  I’m that too.

The finished product.  So good!
The finished product. So good!

I’m also a great friend and aunt. Loyalty, honesty and friendship are everything to me. Always have been.

My friend Emily and I at a book signing
My friend Emily and I at a book signing
Stephanie, Angie, Camille and I in Hawaii.  Dear friends
Stephanie, Angie, Camille and I in Hawaii. Dear friends
Emilee and Rachel in Hawaii
Emilee and Rachel in Hawaii

miriam

Lastly my faith is everything.  Without it I would just be an anxiety ridden, unhappy mess.  I would sooner give up breathing than give up my faith.

190765_5007947238_8728_n

So there you go.  That’s my online resume for any guys out there to read.  I think I’m pretty great.  Not perfect but got a lot going for me.  I’m fun and try really hard to be a good friend.  I work hard, am honest and I know what my many flaws are and am working to do better.

So if you know someone who is single show him this page and then let him decided for himself if he wants to be set up with me.  That should make your life easier.  Who knows right!

Anyway,  That’s me and that’s the state of dating at my age.  Its darn to impossible.  So in the meantime I am hacking it out on my own.  Hoping for a bad date if I’m lucky.  Sigh…