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Thursday, January 26, 2012

In Life, You Count!

I hope I'm not losing my mind, but there are certain days when surely I'm close to it.  The immediate frustration of messess, homework, willful children and laundry piles just drive me to seeming madness.  Usually I get to this point when I've put myself at the bottom of priorities and the others in my life follow by doing the same. 

I need to value myself and treat myself with respect.  So do you.   You're not the only one who feels the madness of mommyhood.  Let's take acton and change course today.  It all has to do with
  1. Know what you want, know what you need.  Good mothers put everyone else first, and we've usually done it for so long that we lose ourselves in the process.  It's okay, we do this to survive, to equip our children and because of our innate nurturing qualities.  But we exhaust ourselves managing everyone else's happiness, schedule, emotions and our own anxiety.  Drop the need for things to be "just so," or perfect.  It sucks the life out of you more than gets you to the place you desire of true joy.  So make a list of what you need more of, less of  and what you miss.  Here's mine: More - Time to read.  Less - interpersonal conflict.  Miss - feeling connected. 
  2. Be assertive about your needs and wants.  Why should anyone else make your needs a priority if you don't?  It's okay to tell your children you need some private time.  Schedule something to feed your sould or eliminate something that is causing undue stress.  Take action, don't just wish your way to repeating the same patterns. 
  3. Demonstrate self-respect and they will respect you, too.  Your time and life are important.  Martyrs do not good mothers make, so build some of that margin into your family routine.    Spend some time on something you love for nothing more than the pure joy of it: reading, photography, hiking are things I love and have done little lately.  Incorporate the family, if that works, but do it for you!  Plan a get-away without the children - I've got one on the calendar in June and I just can't wait!  The anticipation gives me something for which to strive. 
We mothers are doing so much for so many.  Remember, it's your life you're living!  Choose to invest in yourself so that you can give to others.  What can you do just for yourself today?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Moving Forward When Divorce Strikes

When facing a divorce, the stable ground on which you intended to build your life begins to shiver and quake.  Not being a child of divorce, my marriage was the one thing I thought would not change, never be in question and would be the predictable thread in this changing world.  It was not so.

When I finally realized that my life was never going to be the same, it freed me to move forward.  For so long I grieved what I imagined that I had (but did not).  I longed for things to be the way I had imagined and wanted.  Not until I acknowledged that it wasn't ever that way to begin with did I open myself to the possibilty of another future.
Life is going to be different from my plan.  Yours will, too.  But really, life never goes according to a plan, anyhow and I can make a new plan accordingly. 

Different doesn't mean worse.

Different might be better.  In the case of a difficult marriage, it probably will be better.

Different is full of possibilities. 

Divorce and disappointment aren't things you get over.  We must learn to work though all the gory details of our lives falling apart, and then the hard work of putting it back together.  The very exciting part is that you have more control and experience to put back into life exactly what you truly want.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Moody Monday - Umbrella Optional

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The day began rainy and cold but at lunchtime it is mild and sunny! Isn't it wonderful when change happens in a positive direction?  I love it.  The gray days are getting old.

My week will be full and I'm looking forward to celebrating my sweet daughter's birthday, with all the extras that party planning requires. 

My mood is light and I'm ready to tackle the week.  This weekend my tax return was completed and I fell deepr in love with Netflix ... why-oh-why did I go so long without you? 

Now on to another week of numbers, sports schedules, cleaning routines and endless laundry.  It's a sweet life!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Finding Time - To Date

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Recently a reader commented:

I'm a single mother too...but I just don't know how I would find time for a man. My daughter takes up all of my time outside of work and I would feel like I was neglecting her if I started leaving her with sitters so I could go out on dates...I could only really feel comfortable with one date a week...but I would feel that one date a week would be neglecting the man's needs as well. I just feel like there's not enough of me to go around. How do you find the time to do it and do you have any advice?

It's true - solo parenting is an all-consuming task and there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish all I wish I could do.  There are few margins in life and fitting one more something in takes effort.  However, because I actively co-parent with my former spouse, I usually have at least one free night each week.  As we wrestled with the pareting time and plan at the time of our separation, one of my dearest friends jokingly encouraged that this night without children could become my date night.  I just stared at her in horror, because the LAST thing I wanted at that point was to date.  Seriously?

So my nights off became nights for myself.  Early on, this night became the evening I went to my therapist.  I spent much of my time catching up with housework, never-ending laundry an extra project like painting a room.  I made the effort to get out with my girlfriends every so often and spent some time alone shopping/wishingful thinking.  Many times, I just zoned in front of the tv and enjoyed downtime. I did a lot of processing, healing, dreaming and becoming more myself.  Learning who I am and to be comfortable in my own skin is going to be a life-long journey, I think.  Eventually, I admitted, that even though I don't need a man, I really do want that kind of relationship in my life.  Deep down, there is still a bit of hopeless romantic in me.  Soon after and quite unexpectedly - I had my first ever blind date.

We're still seeing each other, and it hasn't been easy to make it happen because of busy schedules.  He has children, too, and we both had rich, full lives before meeting.  Yet being with him is a priority.  So, I've had to adjust to fit more chores into daily life and leave that weeknight free.  I still make time to be with my friends through small group at church and monthly girls' nights out.  So when do I see my man?
  • Very occassionally, we meet for a lunch date - what a great escape during the work week!
  • He joins me at home after the children are in bed - scandalous!
  • I meet him after church for lunch and we spend the afternoon together with his children - mine are with their Daddy most Sunday afternoons.
  • I hired a babysitter - frivolous, yes?
  • We bring the whole crew together (hello, five children between us) - it's only happened a couple of times with varying degrees of enjoyment.
So, we generally get to see each other a couple of times each week, sometimes more, rarely less.  We talk daily, flirt by text and hash out details in email sometimes.  Sometimes, it feels like I don't have energy for one more thing in my schedule.  But this man is fun, amusing, encouraging and gets me.  My time with him gives me more than it takes away and the only thing I would wish for more of is time to spend together.  But this is enough for now.  The available time we have paces our relationship and will provide longevity to know each other in various seasons and experiences.  He's about to enter an especially busy time where we may see each other less.  I wonder how that will make me feel?

The bottom line is that you make time for what is important and Mr. K. has become very important to me.  Shhhhh - no one has noticed that my bathrooms and floors aren't cleaned quite as often.  Have you ever made room for something or someone else in your schedule?  When you prioritize, what
is the first to go?
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Shaping the Message of What it Means to be a Woman

I wear many titles and roles through life, but I first identify myself as a woman.  Being a woman is so fun, full of unpredictability, creates instant bonding with other women and lends an air of mystery to almost any situation.  It is my privilege to be a woman!
I get to model what womanhood means for my own daughter and for my boys.  My role will shape their expectations and attitudes so I am conscientious of the messages I send. 
Thank you to Missy for sharing these:
It's Almost Naptime

These thoughts fall right in line with the epidemic of perfection in our culture.  It is something which cannot be acheived and leads only to disappointment.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Co-Parenting Compromises

You've got to make it work, no matter how bitter was the end of your relationship.  Somehow you and your babies' Daddy have to work together, communicate and provide consistency for the children.  To that end, compromise will be necessary and so it is necessary to choose your battles.
There are little things that my Ex does which I would not choose and rather annoy me, but they are not causing harm to my children and I cannot control the issue.  Trying to monitor or enforce my will on the situation would only create conflict and a more antangonistic relationship.  It would not benefit the children in this case for me to 'get my way.'

So, if my children come home excited that they got to sleep in their day clothes, I cringe inwardly, but let it go.  However, if they explain they don't brush their teeth because there isn't time, I express to my ex the priority of them learning proper hygiene and it must come from both parents. 

Here is a filter through which I try to discern whether addressing a situation is necessary:
  • Is this (whatever this happens to be at the moment) something that happens often, or it is a one-time thing?
  • How does my child feel about it?
  • What message is this communicating to them?
  • Is this a matter of principle or a personal preference?
  • Do I actually have a say on the issue?
There are lots of things I hear once or twice and dislike, but I know that I'm not perfect either and sometimes things just get crazy with three children.  If they skip brushing their teeth one night, all will survive.  However, when it happens everytime or they aren't given the option, it's necessary to confront the co-parent and find a way to work toward common goal.  I know Daddy doesn't want them to have rotten teeth, he needs to remember the priority.  I could sense that my older two were especially aware that this was something they were supposed to do, and unable.  It doesn't need to be spoken that this was a matter of principle and not personal preference - it mattered for the hygiene and the message that self-care is important.  And while it might not seem that I have a say on the issue, I do.  I know that if my ex consistently ingored the basic hygiene of my children, I would have to take steps that insured they were not with him when they needed the care.  In other words, his visitation schedule would have to change.  He doesn't want that, so I do have a say in the matter.

Another thing that might make me cringe is the state of my daughter's hair while she is with Daddy.  She has beautifully long hair which is thin and wispy.  I keep it neatly brushed and pulled away from her face.  While she is with Daddy, it is left to hang free, just long and everywhere.  She looks unkept in my opinon.  However, I know that in just a few years she will be able to do her own hair, in fact I've already started teaching her to put on her own headband.  I know that ex has no interest in learning to properly pull her hair back and that there is little I can do to enforce my wishes.  So, I have to let this one go.  It's not what I would choose, but it isn't worth the battle.

There are lots of preferences I'm sure he would change in my parenting style, too.  Yet we're learning to allow the other to have freedom in the preferences.  He calls when something concerns him and I do the same.  By not bringing up every issue, the important ones can be dealt with.

I can think of so many small and large situations that I've had to determine to either suck up and let go, or confront and insist on change.  It's part of the ongoing dance.  Does anyone else deal with this?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Choices & Adjustments

I still get a physical calendar for each year.  The blank pages woo me to be strategic and organized and intentional.  Then life gets so busy, the real schedules demand more than I can give and many of my grand plans get lost in the shuffle.  It's hard to remember that for all the activities I add, something must be removed - even if it's just downtime or 'me' time. 

Extra-curricular activities are in full swing, church commitments require more time and of course my oh-so-wonderful (but-oh-so-consuming) relationship needs reciprocal investment.  So, other things are falling through the cracks: mainly housework, self-care and even time in spiritual growth.  What I'm realizing is that I can handle the incrased demand for a couple of weeks, but now it's catching up to me.  

Life is full of adjustments.  This season of single parenting is certainly a busy one and so I'm adjusting to our current needs.  Here's what's not working:
  • Housework - our little house is messy and cluttered.  It's stressful to me and to the kiddos (even though they don't realize it.
  • Wardrobes - two of my children are between sizes and have two sets of clothing in their closets and drawers which are too tightly packed to be functional.
  • School - While the homework routine is going exceptionally well, I feel out of touch with teachers and what's happening there.
  • Self - Care - I've been doing great at working out/moving more, but then I feel frazzed with needing to shower and get ready two times per day.  Plus I have been neglecting my own space which has become overrun with piles and stacks.
Well, I have no magical solutions, but writing out the list helps me know what needs to be worked on.  This weekend I plan to try and catch up and be more proactive.  Then I can determine which adjustments need to be made. 

Let me know if you're adjusting to anything as the calendar turns over.  It sure is part of life. 

Thank you to all the new followers.  I hope you get involved and share!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Moody Monday

It's dreary and raining and I had to wait extra long in the car drop this morning after an extra-early carpool pick up day.  I had one more stop to drop my sweet baby off with his caretaker and then I was still on par to make it to my office on time ... until the traffic completely jammed with just over two miles to work.  I was twenty-five minutes late.

Nevertheless, I'm in a great mood!  I had a very productive weekend and have started with most of the laundry done, groceries in the kitchen and all the living room put back in order.  Yes, there are still boxes of Christmas decor in the dining area, but I'll get to that later today.  It was a full Saturday and Sunday but the effort is rewarded with work accomplished and I even managed a brief Sunday afternoon nap.  Success.

Thank you for reading.  I very much appreciate all the encouragement!

Friday, January 6, 2012

What it feels like to date again....

It feels a little raw - wonderful, but dangerous.
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photo source:
I underestimated the intensity I would feel, and the desire.  I forgot what it was like to be pursued (it's wonderful).  The insecurities that I bear shouldn't have surprised me, but they do and at times I feel weak in my neediness. Hopefully, my insecurities are not projected onto my guy - he does not need to bear the burden from my previous relationship woes.  The sheer logistics of a more established life make getting together more complicated.

At the beginning, I held back a little.  Okay, I held back a lot and I still find myself fighting that impulse.  The good thing is that now I recognize it and usually choose to do the opposite: I call him.  Reach out to him.  Share something.  Make myself vulnerable.

Complicated.  Vulnerable.  Incredible.  Hopeful.  Inspiring. 

Yet finding companionship and passion with another human has reminded me how much I crave it.   I have a great capacity for love, to give and to share, to support, laugh, play and dream with another person.  I have found that in my guy which delights me to no end, makes me feel giddy like a young girl.

The man I have discovered is different from what I thought I might find in this season of life.  He is all the standard things any woman would want: responsible, moral, kind, charming.  He meets every item I needed on my "list."  You have a list, right?  I think it's important to have a short list of bottom-line necessities that you know you need in a partner.  There are many things I want and so many more that I didn't even know ask for.  My man is not perfect, yet the imperfections allow me to be flawed, too. 
And we all are so flawed

Now I find myself balanced precariously in this place of hope and basking, to doubting he could feel the same.  I am cautious to keep my emotions based on me and not give that power to another person as I did in the past when I let my ex determine how I felt.  But to care what someone feels and thinks does give that person a measure of power, and it feels so risky.  I'm taking the risk, but I wish I knew how the story ended!

It would have been easier to wrap my heart in a protective shell and never risk getting hurt again.  Now I know I wouldn't miss this moment for anything.  Whether for now or for always, I'm thankful for the chance to connect with someone in so many ways. 

Has anyone else taken a recent risk?  Do you have a 'list' for what you need in a partner?  Is there really such thing as a second chance in life and love? Do share!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

January 1, 2012

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My sister and like the sound of has a nice ring to it and I'm hopeful for a good year.  I have no idea what it could hold and I'm not willing to make predictions.  I have some hopes and dreams, but I'm keeping them to myself for now.

Wisdom was my 'word' for the year last year and while I don't really feel wiser, I do feel like I think things out more before acting.  I read Proverbs 1 today because it's become such a habit to read the corresponding day to the chapter.   I plan to add reading a chapter of James weekday now.

Last year involved a lot of internal pondering and I feel like this year will need some outward changes.  The house is for sale, a new job may be needed.  Much as I hate it, change may be in order.  I can handle it.  I've worked hard and come so far, grown in ways I never thought I needed or could!  All the while my little ones seem more secure and content than ever, they are part of a community that supports us greatly.

I am working hard to create a life that will please God, bring me joy, and help others to be wholly their best selves possible.  I never thought so much fulfillment could be found after such messes and yet it's there!  Letting go of the dreams I wanted has opened the door to a much better reality.

I can't wait to share the journey with anyone else who reads.  Do you think about the passage of time with the  changing of the calendar?  Is there anything you sense needs changing in your life?  Do you need to let something go to make space for something better?