In Response to “13 Reasons Why”

I absolutely am having new, difficult conversations because of this show. With my 10 year old. Not because she watched it, but because she discovered a friend has a 13 Reasons Why book she is currently writing/filling in (journal style). She discovered a couple of the same friends (who have the books) have started cutting themselves.

Let me tell you something. This is ALL new. Until this show, her classmates weren’t doing this.

Maybe I’m just a mom, with no real psychology background, but I can with almost 100% certainty that 10, almost 11 year olds aren’t ready for this. They are not prepared for what they will see. And, they’re not developmentally ready to DEAL with or process the trauma of watching this show that is full of mature content: rape, self-harm/cutting, bullying, drug and alcohol use by underage students. 

I have strict settings on our Netflix account and I know she could still access it if she really wanted. She reported the cutting and is now being hated on by kids because she reported it. Daily, I have to reassure her she did the right thing because maybe these kids don’t realize if they cut too deep, they could die. Even though other kids reported it, it’s not enough. The ones who report are being bullied for reporting because they were scared and worried for their friend and what the cutting could mean, because they don’t really know.

We got an email today from the principal about knowing what our kids are watching, that this content is too mature for elementary age kids, so be ready and protect your kids from Netflix and social media. Selena Gomez can go wherever she can go…I’d say hell but that might imply death and that defeats the purpose of what I’m saying. She produced this. She has to know about bullying and what all this means. But she’s also an adult now and however we intend for material to be seen, we have to believe our younger kids will see it because they hear about it. Does she know what it feels like to see a 10 year olds face while explaining suicide or cutting? That this is a show that can be relevant to why people may commit suicide?!

If it wasn’t about her suicide, would people be saying, well this happens and needs to be talked about, viewed in such a way?? I would never say that if it was about rape or sexual abuse, especially if it was depicted in such a raw way. Just because it happens, doesn’t mean we need to make such mature content available to all kids. Yes, those things happen too, and I sure as hell would be equally as protective, and still know we have to have the conversations in an age appropriate and developmentally appropriate way.

My daughter is aware. She hates war and genocide and that women experience wage inequality. She knows about the atrocities of war, of what’s happening politically, socially, and what has happened historically. She knows she is raised by a single mom. She knows her Mom has ptsd and anxiety. She is a wise 10 year old. She knows about depression, how exercise helps us feel better and self care. I’m not sheltering her. But this… no. There are other ways.



Ways to Build Your Network as a Single Mom

Alright, so you’ve accepted that you have a new role as a single mom, however you may have gotten there. I swear I tend to take on more than I can handle and new roles fall into my lap and I’m like Superwoman, times 100.

It’s tough to get this new role and then have to ask for help. I feel like a lot of people think we should be fine and just roll with the punches, which of course, we do. The thing that happens when we are strong is that asking for help gets really hard…at least for me, it did. I had relied on my now ex-husband in such a way that my friends and family didn’t even know what that meant. It meant that I still did it all and I just had this husband who they thought helped. I sort of graduated into full-time single mom-hood over time. I had been a single mom and when I got married, it felt like that was going to be it. I thought I had found my co-captain to this life. When we decided he’d take a job out of state and I’d stay and sell the house and we’d follow, I was pretty much flung into being a single mom since he was now out of state, with the exception of coming home every month or so for a weekend. At that time, I had a 6 month old baby, a 2 year old son, a four year old and a 10 year old. I was exhausted.

It was time for me to start getting some help. My mom started coming one night a week so I could leave and have some time to myself. I went to meditation and sometimes I’d just go sit at the bookstore. Those nights she’d come were like HEAVEN. I’d come home to kids sleeping, my kitchen cleaned up, a quiet house with dim lights. It was glorious, even if for just one night. It’s amazing how wonderful that made me feel. I started realizing how much more I truly needed and some of the different supports I would end up having were ones I never would have imagined I would need.

My mom.  

Her help will never get old. She used to come once a week to get us caught up on laundry, start dinner, do light cleaning (also known as pick up the kids’ rooms because clothing apparently belongs anywhere but down the laundry chute). She would get the kitchen sparkly and neat and she would wash the pots and pans. I hate pots and pans. She also brings cookies in two separate containers for my kids- pink is regular and blue is gluten-free for my little guy with Celiac disease. My mom raised us on her own and she must get it. She knows how hard I work for my family and it’s really just so amazing that she would cut out part of her day for us. She is the best, but aren’t moms always the best?! (Ps. Mom…we still have laundry and they still love cookies!)

Close friends. 

My really close friends are there whenever I need them. It doesn’t matter if I just need to vent or talk or need advice. It could be the middle of the night and they would be there for me. When I met my best friend, it had only been a month since my ex had moved out. I saw her walking down the street with her two youngest kids, I was trying to mow the yard before my kids realized I had gotten home. She came down and I just thought “please don’t stop and talk to me.” She did. When she asked how I was, I just started crying and said, “my husband has just moved out again and we are definitely getting divorced.” Oh and by the way, welcome to the neighborhood. I’m your overly emotional new neighbor. I thought I’d totally fucked up a new friendship. What I didn’t know was she was so ready for real, raw, open friendships that I was just who she was needing as well. My point is, open up. You’ll be surprised. People want to help, but they often don’t know what’s really going on or how to help.

My kids. 

This one is kind of, I don’t know…weird, maybe. But their sweet smiles, love and need keep me going. I know they need me and I need them. We depend on each other- I gave them life and I know I could not just walk out, even on the worst days when I don’t know if there is any other way. Just knowing I have to make them dinner is enough some days to keep going. 

My family.

I have always been pretty open about what is going on. My family- mom, dad, step-parents, sisters- would not let me do this on my own. Back then, they reminded me of why I left him when I felt like giving up the fight the divorce became. They lift me up by offering words of support, helping me with the kids if emergencies come up, and they listen. They let me vent and offer unconditional support and love. They know my pain was real and they let me lean on them as long as I may need to. Family may also be the only ones who will help financially, but they may also not know you need financial help. Asking can be one of the most difficult things to do, but I feel like they know this place I was in was temporary and they also won’t offer money that would put them in a bad place. Trust that they are being honest and truthful when they say they can help.

Ladies. Ask. Ask. Ask.

Asking for help is NOT weak. I learned this recently: wisdom is knowing what you don’t know. Asking for help is like wisdom. It’s knowing and being able to say, I know I can’t do this alone. And hey, I could really use some help. They can’t help if they don’t know. Be brave, be specific about what you need and ask. You’ll be glad you did, and so will those you ask.