Monthly Archives: March 2011

Tadpole to Frog; Teenage Boy to Man

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I decided this morning that I feel like a bird raising my precious dearest tadpole son to be a frog that I will let hop away from me one day. I am not a frog, and have no idea what a tadpole needs to do to become a frog. I have to use my observations and ask a bunch of friendly jumbo frogs what to say and do for my tadpole boy.

He is changing so much before my very eyes: he is now tall enough to lay his head on my shoulder when we hug; he can wrestle his little sister into a (crying) pretzel in very short moments; his voice is hardly recognizable; he doesn’t want me to encourage him in any way at his sports endeavors (I think I am supposed to only show confidence and pride, nothing that could be construed as a lack of either, but I need to confirm that with a few jumbo frogs before the next tournament). He is at that stage where they just don’t realize they are getting stronger and don’t know their physical impact when they hug as hard as they can, or dig their chin into our shoulders as they embrace us (it is a joke, and kinda funny to paralyze mom for a few minutes, haha-not!).

I’m mostly by nature a loving, compassionate, listening mom that loves her kids so much she tears up sometimes in embarrassing moments. But he needs a heavy every now and then in his life; he admittedly will take advantage of situations if he is given too much freedom. For example, that overly sweet 3rd grade teacher he had 5 years ago that he walked all over, which angered her, and then his feelings were hurt by her reactions, and a cycle of ugly began that lasted 9 long months.

Being his mom and dad at the same time is tricky business. I need to be strong and demanding, not letting him get away with sneaky or bad choices. I also need to be compassionate and a good listener so that I can teach him about communication and working problems through. Some say single moms should not try to be both. But my single mom friend Sandy and I agree without a doubt that there are times we have to lay down the law with a heavy resolute not-messing-around, not-open-to-chatting approach.

Regardless of their sex, the follow-up alone while raising a teenager takes an enormous amount of concentration and focus, leaving little left for the increased food gathering, money-making, bigger clothes buying, and my behavior conversion from talking-listening-talking to watching-watching-asking those miraculous questions.

I want to teach him to be a good worker, a good member of society, one of God’s children, and yes, a good husband some day. Modeling to him what a good woman is like, and teaching him to respect all females, whether they are mothers, sisters, teachers, girlfriends, or just friends is very important to me.
I want his wife to have a husband who is thoughtful and kind— not selfish, lazy, immature or uncommunicative.

I am also teaching my daughter to respect his feelings and preferences, even though he doesn’t insist on them, or express them like she does. He has no hope, really, of not learning the estrogen ways while living only with his sister and mother. But I think I need to be as obvious and methodical teaching our ways to him as I would really like a partner/tutor for me, teaching me how to understand men’s ways. It really is foreign territory, understanding those “other sexes”. (For example: “Honey- I’m not sure if your girlfriend would like to see you collecting another girl’s phone number on your facebook page, just something to think about”.)

Teaching him to handle freedoms a little at a time responsibly… that is also a huge task. I want him to be able to know there is an entire jug of red vines on the top of the refridgerator and not be driven to consume them all while watching Phineas and Pherb after I leave the house on Saturday morning for an hour.
Eventually, he needs to get thousands of dollars in a paycheck and not spend it all in the first 5 days on trampolines, Nike shoes, and bubblegum… So I have to really watch what I model to him with my financial habits too (and resist spending it all on trampolines, Nike shoes, Qdoba, and pedicures).

As mothers of teenage boys, they are leaving our hearts a little, breaking free from our laps and constant support in order to be the men that we want them to be: independent, strong, and making good choices based on their sound judgement. We need to be making a good impression while planting seeds that they will use.

He is becoming a young man-frog. Whether I want to let it happen or not.

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One Whole Year, Thanks Readers!

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Wow, it has been 1 year since I ventured/stumbled onto this blogging thing. What a fun year! Anyone with a love of writing should definitely try it. Go to http://www.wordpress.com; the directions are very easy.

I still do both, but have found that writing my blogs here for you is so much more motivating than journaling. I keep in mind my mission when I write for you: to share authentic thoughts, dreams and hopes for single parents, to share the honest truth in each entry so that you know you aren’t alone when you feel crazy.

I have about 15 subscribers, some of you are the sweetest dearest friends I have, and others are total strangers (whose blogs I am really enjoying reading!). I am honored that you all take time to read my blog. I hope I don’t waste too much of your time with my rants, irritate you with my character flaws, or grate on you with my spelling/grammar/punctuation mistakes. Thanks for your patience, support and excellent guidance. I love hearing topics you wish I would write about. And thanks for letting me know when I hit the button for you.

I have over 3000 hits on this site, so I want to thank whomever it is that has been punching my address in 10 times a day. Wow, you must have sore thumbs! And I apologize to those of you who came to this web site, thinking it would teach you how to build an actual 3-legged table. I am only about stabilizing the table we already have.

More soon.  Thanks for stopping by : )

New Love, Old Love, In Love?

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“Each time of life has its own kind of love.”
— Leo Tolstoy

Wow, I love that quote! It totally takes the pressure off of finding the love of my life, my soul mate, the dude to end all dudes. Maybe I don’t need to feel the way I did when I was in my teens and twenties in order to know I am in love now.

We do that, as old lovers, compare the feelings we have for someone today to the feelings we had when we were 23, had no kids, no debt, no intense job pressures, nothing to do but daydream about the date last night. That doesn’t seem fair, does it? Our lives have evolved to be fuller, to contain more, do more, and be more. How could someone possibly evoke the same volcano of emotion we felt decades ago for one person when there are children we love deeply and careers we have passion for, and friendships we have nurtured for decades as well?

Perhaps my next love will feel more like a comforting and connecting passion than a semi-truck running through my life, smearing everything else out of existence. My life is a little more complicated now, evolved a little more to encompass more passions than a romantic partner, so the loving feelings I have for a man will take that into account.

Or maybe this phase of my life is not even about romantic love, but about loving my children and giving and receiving that love more than any other type of love during this time of our lives together.

Each phase of our lives will have a new love, a new way of feeling and expressing love. Love won’t be the same as it was in our youth, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t just as meaningful and enjoyable.

Giving Away Our Victim Minds

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I can come up with all kinds of excuses not to give money to my Church or good causes: they won’t miss my measly $20; there are people who give thousands without a blink and I can’t give much; my kid needs new wrestling shoes; I want my daughter to get a haircut so her friends will be nicer to her; God would want me to take good care of my self esteem and get my hair highlighted professionally; and I need to balance my checkbook again before I let any more go away.

I know we are supposed to just enjoy giving to others. And I do, in many ways I enjoy giving to others. We all like giving birthday presents to friends, but giving to an entity without a face is harder for me.

Dave Ramsey (www.Dave Ramsey.com) says we are to give away 10% of our income to the Church. Is that net or gross, I wonder? Hmmm, I am not tithing to either level yet. I have a budget, you see, I use mint.com and keep track of everything I am supposed to buy and spend on, and it only balances out if I… blah blah blah. You know the story. I want to buy more stuff and watch more movies than I want to give money away.

I also don’t believe I have enough money for everything I need in my life. And, I have not forgotten the really lousy deal I got in both divorces. I was completely decimated, wiped out, cleaned up on like a rag doll. It has taken me 6 years to recover financially and get my feet back on the ground.

What would happen if we had the attitude that “I have enough”, “I don’t need any more than I have”, “I am blessed”, which also means I have the attitude “I am not a victim of my ex-husband/society/my parents/my bosses’ crazy bonus program that doesn’t include me/the current economic situation”.

Then we would feel better giving, wouldn’t we? If we know we have enough, and God is taking care of us, then we have more than enough blessings and we can give away money to others without a problem. In fact, if we give money away, would it maybe tweak away at the victim thoughts in our mind?

When we give, are we acting as if we have enough; will that idea find rest in our hearts and minds if we take action and 1) act as if we have enough coming in, and 2) we do have control over our own expenditures?

That victim mode sucks the life out of us. When I feel I don’t have enough, then I quickly feel I don’t make enough, and I can’t get enough (money), it trickles into every other aspect of my life. In addition to feeling financially poor, I feel lonely without enough friends; I feel loveless, without a partner and companion; and my family feels far away. But what if I took action against that “there is not enough” attitude and acted as if I have more than enough and can give money away to causes I believe in and to people who do not have food in their cabinets or clothes in their closets? Or worse yet, clean water to drink?

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When you give, you are getting maximum horsepower out of your personal design. —Dave Ramsey
My personal design is to be strong and yet trusting; this is a complicated place to get to… but I think giving money and trusting God’s plan for me do go together.

The giving and trusting mindset vs. victim mode: Which will win our hearts today?
In honor of World Water Day yesterday, I am including pictures today on that topic.

http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/

Sunrises, I-Dream-of-Jeannie-God, and Serenity

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The other day on my run, I realized what BS it is for me to get up in the morning and ask God for: peace, love, joy, gratitude, companionship, etc. I know we are told we can ask and it will be granted, and that if we “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be given unto you” (Remember that song? Matthew 6:33, NIV). But really now. Really?! ALL of these things? I believe God has my best interests in his heart, and will bring me opportunities to have all that I desire, but I need to get off my tush and do some legwork towards them (which might be what “seeking his righteousness” means?).

I need (and want) to stop sitting around, waiting for God to give me faith, love, joy, gratitude, and a new leather couch. I think we need to stand up and Be It. Be the love, Be the passion, Be the gratitude, Be the success I want for me and for my family. Ask for His help, yes. But ask him to grant it? No. Be it, with a capital, Holy B.

That was kinda pithy for my morning run. I was feeling a little proud of that break-through mind set, puffed up, thinking of the photo I would add to my blog about it for you. We can be the joy to our coworkers and bounce around all smiley and happy (insert sunrise photo). We can be gratitude and write a gratitude list (insert fancy pen photo). We can be the success and work hard at our jobs with accomplishment (insert photo of happy boss shaking your hand and handing you money). It felt so empowering! The sun rose that morning with extra gusto.

But there was more… The very next day, I had an agonizingly difficult morning with my son, disagreeing over my stalker-ish ways (according to him I am a creepy stalker on his life because I read and monitor his facebook, texts, emails, and music. I also do weird things like insist he wear socks and use table napkins along with clean his room every few weeks). So we had slamming doors, yelling REALLY loudly in close range, eyeballs rolling like billiards (which sends me through the roof), “I hate yous”, and you know the rest. It bummed me out. And sadly, I was also doing not a little yelling, slamming, staring, etc. myself. He was being really rude, disrespectful, and treating me like an ATM/maid combo. I took away his phone, CD player, IPod, and if I had a wrench, and could have figgured it out, I would have grabbed his showerhead nozzle too.

I felt awful at the office, even a couple of hours later. I tried to work but felt really resentful. I ate all the chocolate I could find. I talked to a friend and still felt angry at his expectations of me. I tried to reason through his actions but couldn’t find any clarity. Finally, it occurred to me to pray (finally!). “God, please grant me serenity. Guide me to be the best mom possible today”. Good prayer, right?

I almost fell out of my chair, the answer was so fast and so clear to me: “Be the serenity”. My response was shock and denial “No way God. That is impossible. He was so out of line, I could not be serene and calm with that tornado-gorilla. Did you hear what he was yelling at me?!? That is asking a lot! A lot more than I can do!” Again, “Be the Serenity”. What the Hell do I do with that?! I realized I actually would much rather ask God for what I want and have it granted, I-Dream-of-Jeannie-style. No matter how much I argued, I still heard, felt, and knew, I have to Be the Serenity in my family. I don’t get to ask for it, and wait for it to arrive, raining down on me with drops of peace. I gotta Be the Love, Peace, Serenity, Faith, all of it. The whole burrito.
The wave that hit me, btw, was not as much a cosmic lightning bolt as it was a knock upside the head: obviously I have to be the leader of the serenity in my life and my family, and yet I was stubbornly not willing to do it.

Hmmm, mild panic… I had to Be the Serenity. I have to. We have to. We cannot join the insanity of teenage brains. Or any other insanity (parents, in-laws, siblings, spouses, they all have crazy ways. Tough doo-doo, we have to step up). I felt a deep uggggggggggh in my heart.

So (finally) I asked ”How God, do I Be the Serenity?” When you ask God, you will get your own answers, your own ways to Be calm in the midst of the storm. We can no longer just ask God to grant it to us, we have to ask “How can I Be the serenity?”

For me, I need to ask my kids questions. That is how I can add serenity to my situation. “How many texts do you think you need to send a month? How many hours do you think you need with your friends this weekend? When do you plan to do your laundry and clean your room? What grades do you think are good enough?” I tried that the next morning, and he was a new boy, helping out when I exploded syrup all over the kitchen, volunteering to find a ride to the movie, and hugging me. I was a new mom, being the serenity in our family. And hopefully, showing my kids how to Be the serenity.
It is not going to be easy, Being the sanity, the companionship, the love, the faith (yikes!) I want in my life. But I think it is what we are called to do anyway.

Car Shopping for Girls

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In December, I realized I needed a different car- my mechanic told me that I had about $3000 worth of work needed in the next 6 months. So I researched my options online, went over my finances 12 times, counted up my income with a raise, the payroll tax rollback, and the fact that my orthodontist would not be getting monthly payments from me for the first time in 4 years. I was not happy about taking on debt, but hoped to minimize it with my tax refund.

I decided I needed a Man to come with me to the dealership. There was no way I was going to do it alone. Even men told me “Oh, you better bring someone with you, they won’t give you a good deal”. But there was no special man in my life at the time. Couldn’t I just rent a man for this? I had never bought a car as a single person before. So this was new territory and naturally I figured I couldn’t do it. I have this dementia, you see: If I have never done it before, I am pretty sure it cannot be done. Then things conspire otherwise…

I asked my friend Brad, but he lives too far away. I asked Fred, and we finagled schedules to find a time. But a fluke snow storm hit that day, and the dealerships were all closed. It was mid-February, and time was getting shorter on my old car. So on a Friday night at 5 pm, after a really busy week at work, I grabbed my 13-year old daughter, who looks nothing like a man, but might melt the used car salesman’s heart into not screwing us over quite so badly, and we drove to the used car lot. Online, I had found a used car that was in my price range and while not my favorite color (red?!), it would do if the price was right on my trade-in.

I was greeted by Jeff, the man who had been emailing me daily since my initial interest in the car. I was ready for a slick young annoying dude. However, he was a really nice older dad-guy, happy to take us for a test drive. He just laughed when he heard me say to my daughter “Smell the car carefully, Honey. I’m too nervous to tell if it stinks or not. They might have just coated a terrible smell”.

I liked the car. And my daughter assured me that it didn’t stink. But when it came down to pricing my old car’s value, they weren’t giving me what I wanted. So I said I better leave and get some dinner. Then they brought in another guy, Bob, with a little more pressure. I got used to looking at the table and repeating the price I needed and the payment terms I needed. He was frustrated with me, but turned out to be a nice guy too. He tried the dad-talk, telling me about his family.… I smiled and got used to the chair I was sitting in while repeating the terms I needed. My daughter used all the quarters we had on the vending machine.

We found a compromise. But Bob wanted me to buy the car that night (it was about 8 pm by then). I panicked. How could I possibly buy a car without any advice or help from a Man in my life? I blurted out “I have to call my dad”. Bob looked at me like I was a Martian, but said “OK” and left me alone. I dialed my dad in Florida. No answer. I called the cell phone I bought them- no answer. So I called 7 more times (thinking they might just not hear the phone ring?). Then I emailed him. No reply, no pick-up. My daughter and I were completely alone in the gigantic expanse of the dealership -windows everywhere. People driving by could see in and see that we were alone in there. More panic. Again, I called my retired Dad in Florida who has not had a job in 25 years, never had a car payment, and visits Colorado less than 6 days a year, thinking he had good advice for me. No answer. I called him 3 more times. My phone’s battery died.

I took a minute, prayed about it, realized it was a good car, this was a good deal, and took a deep breath or 7. I told Bob I was ready to sign. We left the dealership at 9 pm with exactly the car I wanted, the terms I wanted, and the payment I wanted.

Isn’t it curious that distance, snow storms, schedules, not picking up, and finally a dead battery, all conspired to allow me the chance to buy this car on my own, without the Magical Man to “make it easier”.

I woke up the next morning really happy and in love with my new RED car and my new skills.

Living the Richest Life: Mining for Diamonds

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Yes, I write about uncomfortable crap you would rather not live through. But if you have the stomach to get to the end of the struggle, you will see that I am living and telling you about it so that we can cut the crap and “bring it” all to life. Bring it all, baby.

God promises rain will arrive. There are no free rides on the Serenity Train and the rains will be back again and again. But, also, time and time again, you and I will survive, learn, grow closer to God, and love ourselves and others more deeply than before.

That is where I always end up, at the end of each blog, struggle, and tantrum– loving me and others better and deeper than before.

So, if you are looking for daisies and roses in this blog, you won’t get them. I’m digging deep, getting the bullshit up and out; rooting out the rabid hamster from the depths of her soul to find rubies and diamonds. I live large, and I intend to continue to live large. I’m bringing it all, not skipping over, hiding, or burying. I don’t want you to either. Especially not if you are my friend.

I expect God to be there with me and you and that goldfish-gaping-girl-rabid-hamster. And if you can make it to the end of the struggle; if you have stomach enough, you will find God there too. He always is. He never disappoints me.

I’m living it and pushing life to a higher level. I train for and run half marathon races, my kids and I ski and board black diamonds over 20 days a year, I work hard as a (usually assistant) project manager, we vacation, I have very little debt, I don’t lie, and I have even bigger dreams and hopes for us. My kids don’t have an X-Box 360 or PS3. We have a trampoline.

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And it is good. It is really good.

Doubts about the goodness of life can be cast aside and we can love and live fully, knowing we are living and providing the richest experiences life offers. No, I am not living on a yacht in the Mediterranean, I am living authentically, faithfully, honestly, and fully in love, and that is the richest life of all. I want that for everyone.