Category Archives: Crazed Over-cooked Single Parent Essays

These essays are where I put the pieces I write about my catapulting life that I love dearly anyway. I add encouragement too, I hope!

Did We Chop Off A Leg?!?

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The tadpole boy-man has grown since that post a few years ago. He graduated from high school, got accepted to college (out of state), was hired for a summer job, and has left home for the summer.

That is a lot of change for his Mama-Frog… tears well up and throat clogs just typing this post.

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As a Mom, we want our children to make their way in the world, to get out into the world, and to make a positive difference in the world. But wow, this is a rough one. For me. I have to work very hard to remind myself that “This is good. He is doing the right thing. This separation might actually be what I have been preparing him for all of these years”.

That takes a lot of self-talk, to remind (me), remind (me again), and provide him with encouragement, not cling…

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Day 11 Be Present: Keep Going No Matter What Fears Pop Up

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Day 11 Be Present: Keep Going No Matter What Fears Pop Up

When asked, “What disturbs him now about himself?” E.B. White answered, “I am bothered chiefly by my little fears that are the same as they were almost 70 years ago. I was born scared and am still scared. This has sometimes tested my courage almost beyond endurance.”

-E.B. White, quoted in “Notes and Comment by Author,” by Israel Shenker, New York Times, July 11, 1969

You are here for Day 11! YAY! Give yourself a big star today for sticking with this blog, for continuing to read and question, and do the work of being present and working towards more inner peace. Nobody said life was going to be easy. But I still want it to be. And when I get scared, overwhelmed, criticized, or feel otherwise unloved or unappreciated, I want to run away. Single parenting doesn’t let us do that, no matter how badly we want to. The work and the situation are still there. The kids with their bright, shining faces, their hungry bellies, and yes, their hugs and love and forgiveness for our past mistakes are there, every morning. Thank goodness!

If E.B. White had little fears that still plagued him, after so much literary success, then perhaps we aren’t the only ones with fears and trepidation about our lives? Perhaps the bus driver and the guy you sit next to at work have fears too. Maybe the check out lady at the grocery store does too, or the postal worker, the teacher, or the flight attendant. Maybe we all just have to persevere anyway, despite fears of not being good enough, or not getting it right (again), or offending someone, or looking stupid.

Running away from our fears, rather than facing them, and shutting off/shutting down doesn’t do anything but remove us from the present. No one benefits when we don’t stay present in our lives and keep on keeping on.

Action Item: Describe in your journal what fears you have about today (just today). Decide what you can do to help yourself with your scary task. What can you do to prepare? Who can you ask for help? What can you remind yourself?

Affirmation: “I am capable, strong, and have just enough on my plate. I can handle it, one day, one moment at a time.”

Visualization: Stand with your hands on your hips and smile as you look out at the world you are creating for yourself and your children. Do this 3-10 times today, and smile with gratitude and pride for what you are accomplishing. (see, you are doing it!!)

Focus on the Priority

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“Contemplate the extent and stability of the heavens, and then at least cease to admire worthless things.”
— Boethius

I choose to interpret this to mean that we are being called to dig deeper, to focus on the really important things. We can put our selves to better use if we trust the extent and stability of the Heavens (our higher power, the Universe, God, or whatever you want to call it). And then, standing firmly on that trust, stop with the whining, the focus on materialistics, the focus on others, and get our own acts together.

Today’s worthless item we need to stop admiring/giving undue attention to:
Comparing ourselves to others. Our vision of what we SHOULD be doing, looking like, or having enough money to do is one of those worthless wastes of time. You know that. I know that. But sometimes we need reminders to stop whining and move on to the priority in your life now.

We are called to prioritize our attentions so that we can prioritize our actions. Thoughts lead to actions, and daily actions lead to habits. For me, that priority is to focus on the present person in the room. This morning it is my work–I need to stick with it and have trust that I can figure out the best action to take next with that difficult client. Last night it was the kid with a scratchy throat. Tonight the priority will be my boyfriend because I invited him to dinner, and that means share a meal, not turn him into the Chore Boy.

Sometimes the priority in the room is actually us, and we need to stop with the dishes and put our butts to bed so we can be mentally ready for the next day. Priorities are just choices for where we put our focus.
matters

Portland Perspective: Discipline, Homeless, and … What?

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Forgive me if I am oversimplifying. This is a blog, not a research paper…

We all choose our lives. Depending on our spiritual beliefs, we may have chosen our paths before our lives began. Every moment presents a choice: Will I get out of bed when the alarm goes off? Will I run first, pray first, or pee first thing in the morning? Or maybe I will sit on the couch and eat Hershey’s dark chocolate toffee bites. All of our choices add up to habits over time, and habits form our lives. Self-discipline is merely a habit of making our bodies do things our brains are resisting; we eventually train our brains over time to do the workout, the laundry, the cleaning, the math homework, etc. without having to convince or cajole.

But how do we reconcile this choice-habit concept with homeless people sleeping under trees, waking up to roll up their cardboard box spring and sleeping bag mattress to live their day on the streets? Do people choose to panhandle for spare coins? Do people choose to leave all of their belongings except what fits in a garbage bag or a shopping cart, and walk the town for hours on end?

I don’t know. I spent only a few days in Portland this week. I saw so many homeless young adults that it started to look like they were choosing to camp in the streets. But we have to question that conclusion. Would anyone would choose to live on the street unless the alternative really wasn’t there: no home, abusive families, no job, mentally or developmentally incapable of self-sufficiency, and more. How many people who would choose to sleep in their shoes every night and wear the same socks for weeks on end? Or to sleep out in the open, on a bench, the only protection being your right arm thrown over your eyes.

My biggest fear getting divorced was that I would end up homeless. The picture of my children and I, living in a shelter, wide-eyed, dirty, and hungry filled my nightmares. That was the crying core of my fear of living alone. And seeing these young adults, just 5 years older than my children, of course makes me wonder if my children will find their way or will they be carrying a garbage bag with blankets in it down the street, with their ill-fitting, dirty coat, missing the 3rd button?

They started to look like body bags, laying there in the mornings, with their heads tucked into their sleeping bags. I wanted to dehumanize them, to assure myself they weren’t an alternative me, or my children. That comforted me for a moment. Then, I saw a woman crying walking along the sidewalk, hugging herself. Next, I saw an arm stretched out over his partner’s bag, protecting her. Another man carefully strapped his complacent cat onto the back of his bicycle with an old bandanna. And then, by the side of the street, I saw 2 sleeping bags, side by side. One long and lumpy, with shoes carefully paired up next to it, shoelaces tucked in. The other had long greasy blonde (girl)hair coming out one end, and a chic-book by her side.

Single Mom of Teenager Blues: My Fix-it Steps

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“If one thinks that one is happy, that is enough to be happy.”
Madame de la Fayette

I had a bout of SMTB (Single Mom of Teenager Blues) this week.  Crying jags, going to bed early, out and out sobbing while driving, afraid to talk to coworkers because I might cry in front of them, sitting in my car, wondering if I could put mascara on yet in the morning, and eating lots of chocolate chip cookies (oh wait, I do that every week).

The reason? I had to have some strong natural consequences for my son and he HATED them.  So he argued, blamed, struggled, stomped, told me I loved his siter more than him, etc.  He really worked at making me feel like the Wicked Mom of the West.  I was tired, weak, feeling unloved and underappreciated, and consequently, I felt awful about it all.  I missed the concept of a partner to step up next to me.  I missed my sweet 5-year old boy who would hold my hand and beg for me to read him more books. I missed that sweet boy who would hug me spontaneously.  I missed a husband helping to fix us dinner.  I missed sleep.  I even missed MY Mom!

Here are my feel-better steps:

1-I texted my single mom friend Sandy, asked for prayers, and she commiserated with me. 

2-I told my sister with no children that raising teenagers is wearing, and I wasn’t feeling that great.  And my sweet sister emailed me that I am doing a fantastic job, and making it look easy (I am pretty sure my kids would disagree with that!).

3-A friend at work gave me hugs and told me that I was right on track. 

4-I went on strike and did not cook or clean or ask my kids about any chore or homework or bedtime or soggy pizza box they left on the kitchen counter.

5- I went to bed with a picnic dinner and my book at 7:30.

6- I woke up this morning and ran 4 miles.  I prayed big time through it all, and decided that I have a guardian angel- I must if we have made it this far!!! She is watching over us and making sure it will all work out just right, just perfectly.  I decided to be happy and let my son be mad. 

He woke up today talking to me again, and I breathed deeply.  We are all doing the very best we can.  So let’s rest tonight, knowing all is well and will be well.

Chicken Dance for Your Soul

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I had so much fun this past weekend, I have to write about it. You know how valuable girlfriend time is, you know how much I love running, and you know how much fun a physically challenging adventure is. So, when asked, I said “Yes, I will jump in a van with 5 women I don’t know very well, and share 34 hours and 100+ miles run between the 6 of us.” It was a blast!

We chicken-danced along the highway, made a video for the “Call me Maybe” song using the porta-potties along the way as props (somehow, I will figure out how to post a video to prove our artistic talent to you), ate bags of potatoes chips, Swedish fish, and cinnamon bears, slept outside in a Church yard in broad daylight with 500 of our closest running competition, and generally laughed until we peed our pants. How old am I again?

I highly recommend finding a way to follow your hearts’ play requirement soon. It is true, I came home to an empty refrigerator, sleepy teens who had taken advantage of my absence, fur balls rolling their way around my kitchen on the un-swept floor, piles of laundry, and I was a teensy bit tired and sore still when I reported to work on Monday. But it was worth it! I have my kids 24/7. So once a year I do this race (and I did provide care for my kids- they just know how to work the system now to use my absence in their favor).

Not everyone needs to do what I did to nurture their inner spirit. You may not need to run 20 miles to get the office crap, the teenager angst, the financial stress, and the new wrinkle on your forehead out of your mind. But it worked for me.

Maybe you can:
Roadtrip to Las Vegas, Baby
Take a sick day and read a book in a coffee shop all day long while kids are at daycare/school
Go to Utah to see the colors change and the rivers flow
Sign up for an all-day pottery class at the Rec Center
Go to a yoga conference

Think of what you can do to feed that part of you, the overworked parent who is working her tail off trying to make ends meet and children behave. I am here to tell you that you can find it. Set the intention today, find a girlfriend or 5 to go on the lam with you, get it on the calendar, and do it.

Bonding Over Bacon

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He is pretty handsome. I have been seeing him for a long time, because he knows just what to do, and he is quite a bit younger. When we actually talk though, it is usually pretty mundane and I get bored: “Did you see Hunger Games?” (no, not yet), “Do you like this color?” (yes, it is awesome!), “When do you want to see me again?” (Ohhh, how about next month) Yet I have been seeing him for over 3 years. He is kinda, ummm, boring. But yesterday, I brought up the word “bacon”, and he totally came alive! You need to try it…

I am talking about Jeremy, my Hair Guy. He went crazy: told me where to find the best bacon in town (the Albertson’s over near the foothills), which store in another town down the highway has even better bacon, and his ultimate dream –bacon of the month club! http://www.thepignextdoor.com/ I actually considered signing up for a few minutes. He told me he decides where to buy groceries based on bacon selection.

Then we spoke about the horrible way that bacon prices are climbing, what is the deal?!? “OMG. It is awful!” And the packaging is getting smaller, just like cereal boxes. Now it comes in 12 ounce packages instead of a full pound. “Yes! Yes! Oh, yes!” He agreed. And I had to ask, what is up with smoked bacon? Why is the bacon in stores mostly smoked now, or has “added applewood smoke flavoring”, What in the Sam Hill is that? Isn’t that just code for more chemicals further debauching this decadent, totally unhealthy, irresponsible food?

As you can see, Jeremy came alive after I brought up bacon. Our relationship took on new life- we lamented together, breaking in, interrupting each other, we were so fired up and excited about bacon, and the fact that bacon prices have gone up so much over the past year. I have to actually ration the bacon consumption in our household.

It is hard to like bacon after you hear about the slaughterhouses, the way the pigs die so painfully, and the way it is really not good for us… But somehow, greasy bacon pulls through and we have a soft spot for it. (And I have a soft spot on my belly from it, no doubt).

Terra says “Bacon is the gateway food for vegetarians“, the food most likely to make them crumble down that slippery slope of vegetarianism. It happened for my daughter- first bacon, then pepperoni on her pizzas, then hot dogs, moving on down the slippery slope towards carnivorism. She was only in 6th grade, so her convictions were somewhat loose. But, the other day, she told me that she brought up bacon in the school cafeteria, and a boy fell out of his chair (which I am sure never happens in a middles school) talking about his own bacon-love.

Bacon, the bonding/relationship building food. When you bring it up, it automatically jumpstarts conversations. Try it at your next cocktail party (or, if you are like me and don’t get to cocktail parties nearly as much as you get to the beat-up tavern downtown, try it there). Their eyes will light up “Bacon! I love bacon! How can anyone not like bacon?”.