Single Dad

Recently, while binge watching a favorite show on Hulu, I’ve seen a Mass Mutual commercial run at least twice each show – which in a day adds up to me having seen this thing a bazillion times.  A bad thing, since I HATE what this commercial is saying about gender roles.

  Click here to see commercial
The dad talks about how knows so much about “girl” things because he’s raising two girls on his own.  Now, let me say, that when you’ve lost a spouse for whatever reason, and are raising your kids alone, it is sad.  It is difficult to watch your kids grow without your partner – I am not trying to say it isn’t.   What frustrates me about this commercial isn’t how sad he is – but what he’s sad about.

He seems to be sad about being an expert in softball, tea parties, and princesses.  He knows so much about this because the “appropriate” parent, their mother, is not present.  Because if she WAS present, he’d be off doing his solitary “man” activities like he should be – or taking these girls hunting, or to a more man-friendly sport, like football.  Or, because if he had boys, it wouldn’t be sad at all that the mother was gone.  COME ON!

There are many dads with living partners who know about tea parties.  There are many daughters who like to play in the dirt, and care more about superheros than princesses.  This commercial affirms so many gender stereotypes I’m trying so hard to push against – a task I had NO idea I’d be working on at this point in time.  Not only does it purport some old-school gender roles, it completely ignores the many same-gendered parents – is it sad that two moms must figure out how to “properly” raise a boy?

Can’t we find a way to get our media to represent a more progressive world?  A world where men and women   can behave in whatever manner feels right, rather than what the dominant culture dictates?  A world where persons of color star in commercials more than caucasians?  

I truly had no clue when I was growing up that issues of equality would still need fighting or still be so real and in the forefront of our lives – or that a COMMERCIAL would set me on a rant about such things…

To be a Nomad

I’m not sure I was ever a homebody…but I know I always dreamed of living somewhere exciting or fun when I was growing up.

I remember visiting Uptown Minneapolis every year, visiting my aunt and uncle and cousins – their house was beautiful, and the neighborhood was glamorous – everything I felt that my home in small-town, eastern South Dakota was not.

When I decided to get up the courage to move – it was tough.  I left a job I’d known all through college for the romantic ideal of the “big city.”  I was fortunate to have the support of my sister, and my best friend from high school with me – and we adjusted rather well, even though I was ridiculously homesick for my parents – especially at first.

My parents both live within a two hour drive of their parents, and I saw my extended family on a regular basis.  It was hard – at first – to be SO FAR AWAY, and yet, we acclimated to the longer drive, and my parents came to visit on a fairly regular basis – especially once my children showed up.

And then the itch started again.  We had purchased a home in the suburbs – and I couldn’t believe I was going to live somewhere FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE – it felt so stifling, I couldn’t explain why.   Stability in a home is such a value ingrained into my being – and yet, I was ready to go.

Well, we tried to sell the house, and were a victim of the housing bubble of the time.  Our house was worth much less than we paid, and we ended up in forclosure.  A blow to my husband’s and my ego, but nonetheless, an opportunity to start over.

We lived on campus while I finished my classes for my seminary degree, and I loved it.  I loved that we were closer to my sister, I loved that I could walk everywhere I went, and I loved the community that campus housing offers.

The experience  was a bit jarring – I had a few night terrors at first, wondering if I had made the wrong move in giving up on the house – even though we did all we could to make right with the bank – but I adjusted with fairly little issue.  

We then spent the summer living between couches in our friends houses and my parents house in South Dakota – in preparation for our move to Denver, for my internship with a beautiful ELCA congregation out here.  I felt so delighted to be so nomadic – and I couldn’t wait for the next adventure to begin.

I had done so well, I stopped taking my anti-anxiety medication, and was feeling better about life than I ever had before!

Then we arrived in Denver.  The drive was excruciating, and the altitude almost killed my lungs.  I knew I would miss my friends and family, and I was instantly homesick.  Add to that a nagging pain and numbness in my dominant arm, and you can imagine, it was just a rough start.

It took a long time to adjust – thanks to surgery, and a merry-go-round of supervisors – but I eventually settled in. I still missed my family and my many friends back east, but I started to fall in love with my congregation, and find a few local comforts to make my new neighborhood feel like home.

  
And now, it’s almost time to go back.  I was reminded of the crazy feelings of homesickness in a recent visit from my home congregation, and now I’m in the weird position – ready to head home, and not ready to leave.

I’m not likely to struggle as much to adjust to be back in a familiar place, but in anticipation of leaving this place, my church family and friends, my actual family that’s out here, I’m feeling weepy – and I’m beginning to worry that adventure isn’t for me.  It’s painful to leave – but a Pastor’s job is to enter and love fully, and then remove oneself fully – even if we never move, this will be a reality for me.

If this is to be my future, luckily for me, so far I’ve been sent to places filled with wonderful and loving people – it’s better to miss people than the alternative – but it means I’ll have the occasionally tear-jearking dream that wakes me up to cry a little…and when I’m gone, I’ll be able to rest in the comfort that God will be with us all until we meet again!