Archive for February, 2009

An issue of terminology

Hello. My name is Maeve. I am a single mother.

A real single mother. Actually single. Apparently, these days, the distinction needs to be drawn, because nothing is more popular than for married mothers to lay claim to the “single” badge as a measure of their hardship when their husbands absent themselves for whatever reason.

Does this really need to be said?

If you are married, then you are not, by definition, a single mother. A single mother is necessarily single.

Note what I am not saying:

I am not saying that you have it easy. I am not saying that you don’t do much of the childcare and housework by yourself, making you feel as if you are in it alone. I am not saying that you are not exhausted, cranky, unhappy, confused, or that you do not have the right to complain. By all means! My ear’s right here; bend it as much as you’d like. I remember, very well, being a married mother in just that situation. I will almost certainly sympathize with you.

Just don’t call yourself a single mother.

“Single mother” is when you are up at dawn taking care of the sick baby and the house and wondering whether to send the sick baby into daycare so you can go to work and pay those bills that keep the two of you housed and fed, knowing that there is no one else to stay home with her or pay those bills, and no one else to help you make that decision, weigh those pros and cons.

“Single mother” is when you’ve taken care of the kid/s all day and somehow managed to feed them and keep the house reasonably neat and no one died or had to go to the emergency room and you are exhausted, and they finally go to bed and you start working on your own stuff because it’s the only time you’ll have all day, and then you go to bed early knowing that there is no one else coming–not at five, not at eight, not at ten, not just before he has to get up and leave the house again–no one else coming to take care of any of those night wakings for you, and the alarm is going to go off and you’ll have to get out of bed and get them dressed and ready for school and pack their lunches and your own because no one else is there to help you, not just tomorrow, not just for this week, not just for the next couple of months while he’s working on some big project at work, but potentially FOREVER.

“Single mother” is when you run out of milk and you don’t have the option of calling a spouse to ask him to pick some up on the way home from work. So you have to get yourself and your kid/s up and dressed and out the door together because you can’t leave them at home, you can’t just pop out and get it.

“Single mother” is getting really sick and having no way to get to the doctor or the drugstore because there’s no one to take care of the kid/s when you do. “Single mother” is dragging yourself out of bed with a bad flu, getting dressed and your kid/s dressed and fed and to school because there’s no one else to do it for you. Not just this once, but all the time.

If what you really mean is that you are run down because your husband–your loving, devoted, present, alive husband–is not helping you out as much as you would like, for whatever reason, please just say that. Don’t call yourself a single mother. Because those of us who actually are single mothers will wonder, if your husband does as little for you and your child/ren as the lack-of-husband does for mine, why on earth are you still married? If your life is as hard married as it would be single, why aren’t you getting a divorce?

Thank you for reading this plea for linguistic accuracy.


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Research guy

Nice guy. Obviously very smart. We have a lot in common. Talked for almost three hours about just about everything, but the whole time he seemed bored stiff. I honestly have no idea if he had any fun, though, if he didn’t, why would he stay?

So, yeah. I’m thinking I’ll probably never hear from him again, which is kind of a shame.

Good thing I decided to go with option “c,” eh?

ETA: Huh. Sent him a ‘thank you’ email–I do that, unless I’ve had a miserable time, in which case I refrain from sending the ‘fuck you’ email–just saying that I had a nice time, and that he seemed a bit bored and I hoped he wasn’t too miserable. And he wrote back to say that he thought I was bored. So. It might be a good thing that I sent that email….

Never let it be said that manners never get you anything.

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If PP doesn’t get better soon, I will go completely stark raving mad. It’s getting to the point where I am taking the coughing personally (and I do know how ridiculous that sounds) because it’s constant and I can’t sleep/think/write/work. And it’s another day without running, another day without pitching, neither of which I can afford.

Plus, the dvd player chose yesterday to die. Completely die. No longer reads disks. We don’t have cable. So now PP is watching movies on my computer, which makes everything more complicated. (I have five minutes before Shrek 2 is scheduled to show again.)

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oh lord

Talking to IT Guy #1 right now.


I know way too much about his ex now. And all about their many traumatic break-ups and reconciliations and her postpartum depression and bipolar diagnosis and all of the houses they lived together during the many times they were dating and how much he sold each house for.

And he has my phone number! He might call again!

OK. So: now we’re down to the other IT guy and the Research guy.

Plus–and here’s Maeve’s Embarassing Story for Tuesday:

First dial attempt I think I dialed the number of someone else I ‘met’ on the site, who I really had no intention of calling but I wrote it down–and someone answered the phone and I asked for the IT guy and this other person, who sounded like he knew who I was, started babbling incoherently about being really tired and so tired like he was sick, and I got really freaked out and hung up the phone–before I remembered that, hey! I probably called someone else who was hoping I would call! And then hung up on him.

Yes, I am classy.

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Multiple Choice:

1. You’ve been chatting by email (on the site) with someone who makes an unbelievably tasteless sexual joke. (See previous post.) You:

a. Yell at him. He needs to know that what he did is inappropriate.
b. Laugh, and make a date. Get a sense of humour!
c. Ignore him. You don’t owe him anything, you haven’t even met.
d. Tell him politely that you don’t think you’re a good match after all, and wish him luck.

2. A particular person has been messaging you every time you log on to the site. No photo, nothing in his profile, so you have no idea who he is–all you know is that he’s always there to say ‘hi’. Always. You:

a. Tell him off. It’s creepy!
b. Never ever reply.
c. Flirt shamelessly and then turn him down for a date.

3. Another particular person asks if he can come by your apartment with a bottle of wine and massage oil after your daughter goes to bed. You’ve said “no” politely three times but he’s not taking the hint. You:

a. Tell him he’s a sleazeball. Yuck!
b. End the conversation.
c. Report him to site management.
d. Say yes. Live a little!

4. It just so happens that on one day, within an hour or so, three different guys contact you, all of whom are nice, clever, successful and attractive enough to meet for a first date. For one, you have an email; for another, you have a phone #, for the third, you’ve been communicating on the site. Communicating on the site turned out to be faster so you have a first date with the third guy first. Now, what do you do with the other two guys? You:

a. Call and email with them regardless. It’s only a first date, not a relationship; you haven’t met him yet.
b. Let them know that you have a date with someone else and would like to wait until after you have some idea where this is going.
c. Have a first date with all three, spread out over a week or two, to see who you have the better chemistry with in person.

d. ?

I realize 4 should be filed under “nice problem to have.”

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“But men, as a rule, tend to be more overconfident than women are, and this difference explains much about the kinds of mistakes men and women make. When men and women are asked to estimate their own IQs, for instance, men, on average, will give higher estimates than women will. But men aren’t as smart as they think they are; their IQs turn out to be lower than they had guessed. Women, on the other hand, turn out to be smarter than they think they are: their IQs are, on average, higher than their estimates. In other words, men overestimate their IQs, and women underestimate theirs. And men–but not women–have also been shown to overestimate their own attractiveness.”

from p. 135 of Why We Make Mistakes by Joseph T. Hallinan.

The whole chapter about the different mistakes men and women make is pretty interesting. For instance: men are more likely to shoot first in war situations, including on their own side; women are more likely not to shoot, including the enemy.

The attractiveness quote is from:

Gabriel, Marsha T., Joseph W. Critelli, and Juliana S. Ee. 1994. Narcissistic Illusions in Self-Evaluations of Inteligence and Attractiveness. [how’s that for a title!] Journal of Personality 62 (1) pp. 143-55.

Abstract: In this study we compared the ability of narcissism and self-esteem to predict positive illusions of intelligence and physical attractiveness in a sample of 146 college students. Narcissism predicted both types of illusion for males and females; self-esteem predicted intelligence self-illusion for males. Both males and females overstimated their own intelligence, with males, but not females, overstimating their attractiveness. Positive illusions for intelligence and attractiveness were correlated. Males showed greater positive illusions than females, with this effect at least partly attributable to observed gender differences in narcissism.

The IQ part came from:

Reilly, Jacqueline, and Gerry Mulhern. 1995. Gender Differences in Self-Estimated IQ: the Need for Care in Interpreting Group Data. Personality and Individual Differences 18 (2), pp. 189-92.

Abstract: This study sought to examine differences between estimated intelligence and measured IQ among males and females. Forty-six male and 80 female participants were asked to estimate their own IQ and to complete the Digit Symbol and Vocabulary tests from the WAIS. Analysis of group data revealed a significant difference in self-estimated IQ, with male self-estimates higher on average than those of females. Moreover, male self-estimates were found to be significantly higher overall then their measured IQs and female self-estimates were lower than measured IQ, although not significantly. Consideration of these results at the individual level, hwoever, indicated that, for the majority of subjects, the overall pattern of results for males and females was strikingly similar and that statistically significant group differences were due to a few ‘outliers’ who displayed large discrepancies between estimated and measured IQ. It was concluded that speculation about the causality of inaccurate self-estimates of IQ should not be based on the assumption that gender differences at group level represent a generalized tendency on the part of either sex to either over-confidence or lack of confidence with regard to their own intelligence.

…except that one gender is obviously more likely to have ‘outliers’ under-estimating IQ and the other gender is more likely to have ‘outliers’ overestimating IQ, or the outliers would not have had the observed effect.

Observed gender differences in narcissism!

I’ve often wondered why so many beautiful, intelligent women I know are dating or married to schlubs. (If you’re reading this, it doesn’t include you.) This may help to explain that. I’m also tempted to say that it explains some of what I’ve seen on dating sites. Like, you know, a guy who can’t spell worth a damn and whose profile is littered with grammatical errors and sentences that make absolutely no sense claiming that he’s intelligent. A guy claiming he’s handsome, when his photos show otherwise. Right-Wing Platitude Boy talking about his published poetry in reference to his local paper’s Poet’s Corner. (It’s not that it doesn’t count as published; it’s that he clearly had no idea what publications he ought to be reading and submitting to.)

The same section talked about how men in college overestimate their performance on projects and the grades they will get, whereas women don’t.

I hate to say this–I’m a feminist, and it pains me, and I don’t want it to be true–but I’ve seen it time and time again. I saw it with the SA, who seemed to think that simply by being talented and producing work, the universe owed him fame and fortune. And who still seems to think that it’s coming his way. And that he doesn’t have to do anything to make that happen, doesn’t need to promote himself or work at building an audience. I saw it with the Ex, who seemed to believe that he was a stud like the world had never seen before and I was the only woman with poor enough taste not to be giving him his due. I saw it with the Engineer, who seemed to sincerely believe that since he couldn’t help loving two women, both of them just ought to accept it and give him their fidelity and devotion.

I don’t think it’s universal, I don’t even necessarily think it’s common, and I realize that my skills in picking assholes are legendary. Still. Do I think there is, as the one article put it, an observable gender difference in narcissism?

Kind of. Yeah.

Of course, in the popular culture all the narcissists you’ll ever see will be female.

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Thinking that “postponed” date has now moved into the “cancelled” category after, in his last email, he made a comment about how my “gorgeous legs” would look wrapped around a “tree.”


That’s ok, because I’ve made a tentative date w/ the Research guy for next Thursday. Who has so far been very polite, likes some of the same authors I do and seems clever.

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