Tag Archives: busy

Secrets of Single (or Just Crazily Busy) Parenting-For Feeling Overwhelmed

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Secrets of Single (or Just Crazily Busy) Parenting-For Feeling Overwhelmed

I was feeling a little down this week- too much to do, waking up hours too early, worried about kids, blah blah. The same old schtick we all feel. I think it comes with the territory of being responsible for too much, whether you are single or your spouse travels a lot, when we are outnumbered by kids, or when we just feel overwhelmed, it is important to stop and check in on ourselves. So I came up with this quick list.

1. Take care of our needs
Take care of all of our needs (except the new wardrobe every season, that doesn’t help me stress less to spend money like that). Get exercise more than once a week. Eat healthy food. Read a book. Sleep when we are tired. Then, when we are needed, we are ready. Remember, parenting is a marathon race, not a sprint. We have to be ready to keep on going and going and going. So feed yourself.

2. Deal with our anger
If we are angry at someone, it will come out when our kid pushes us to the limit (which happens often, since they are checking on the boundaries of their lives). We need to put the anger where it belongs- become comfortable with healthy conflict and tell coworkers when they took our awesome idea, or cut us out of the deal, or left a mess in the sink. If we stuff it down, it will just come back, at an inopportune time. It is not very effective parenting to blow up when my daughter doesn’t put her backpack (towel, socks, dishes, 100 other things…) away. I have to think about who I am REALLY angry with and put it where it belongs.

3. Forgive the Grownups
Our parents, your ex, my older sister, your older brother, and our friends in 7th grade SHOULD have behaved better. You are right. We didn’t deserve that treatment. And we won’t let it happen again. But they were doing the best they could with what they had back then, and if it happened more than 10 days ago, or 10 hours ago, quit harboring energy there. Make our plan to take care of ourselves better next time, talk to them if needed, and then, ask God to help us forgive them. Send them love and forgiveness every time we think of the bounced check, the biting comment, the abuse, the whatever. Like Frederick Beuchner said (I paraphrase here) “When we are angry, we are feasting with passion, yes. But we are feasting on the bones of ourselves, eating at our own well being.”

4. Stop trying to be perfect
Stop fixing everything and every relationship. Stop trying to have a house like on TV (this is my downfall- those kitchens look so clean!). Stop trying to fix the relationship with our sister/brother/mom- my sister really doesn’t want a face to face relationship. But I keep trying to push it, rather than accepting that she is filled up quite enough on texts alone. Every now and then, I wear my hair really frizzy and crazy, just as homage to the crazy way I feel parenting alone sometimes.

5. Reach out for support
Call friends, write friends, talk to supportive people. I have to be careful with this one- I often “go to the grocery store trying to buy a house”. I call a person who is not able to provide support (but I think they should, so I keep trying). The person I call (e.g. my mom) is just too caught up in her own stuff to hear me, and somehow, I am listening to her tell me how lucky I am, when I wanted her to listen and give me a verbal hug. So I check in and make sure the person I am reaching out to is capable of providing support, and has provided it in the past. (And of course, I need to be sure to provide her support when she asks- the street goes both ways).

6. Find the humor
Even lame stupid humor is better than nothing. I told my son this morning that I forgot what his floor looks like, but the stinky giraffe who moved in there really likes it. He laughed and opened up enough to share to me that it was bothering him too. That was music to my ears. Because when we have kids with messy rooms, aren’t we just afraid that they will live like street people and never wear a clean shirt after they turn 22? If I can abate the fear, I can sleep better. And laughing at fear seems like really good revenge for that 3:30 am worry session.

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Tick Tock

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Tick tock. The clock is winding down. This morinng, I am pushing off frustrated, depressed, frantic thoughts as the sands seem to run out way too quickly. I attended my 25th college reunion last weekend, and was astounded at how old we have all become. My gray hairs are needing re-touches more often (I am not quitting on them, please believe me! There was one woman there who let her hair go, and I mistook her for my mother). My kids are getting taller and more independent by the day. My parents are losing their steadfast nature to confusion. My siblings are still abroad, and we don’t spend holidays together.

My life is ruled by the clock- I bill my 36 hours a week to clients, and get to spend 4-6 hours a week “unbillable”- cleaning up files, emails, desk, client relationships, etc. I need to get home in time for making dinner, for doing that one laundry load a day, for cleaning and de-cluttering the constant sea of gunk that coats my home’s surfaces. And then, I must get to bed in time to avoid that 10 pm cranky woman who emerges, no, she erupts from the stack of bills, the laundry loads, the hairy bathroom sink with nothing good or positive to say to anyone, least of all, her teenagers.

And I hate that time is ticking by. I hate that my parents live too far away to know if they really are safe still driving to dinner and to shop across town. I hate that my siblings all have full lives that don’t really include me or my kids. I hate that I have to pay bills that shouldn’t be mine, but are. And the only way to pay them is to keep tick-tocking on the work clock at a job that I would like to leave. I hate that my kids are getting older and bigger, and I am so busy on my little work clock, my laundry clock, my cooking clock, my sleeping clock that I am sometimes too tired to have the conversation, the trip, the joke, the fun with them that we all need.

I cannot seem to escape the damn tick-tock. So I meditated on it, prayed on it, and wrote on it. I decided to look for the things that most please me: time with my kids, time with my writing, running, time with my cute boyfriend, time feeling grateful, time loving and helping others, and time reading. Those are the places I really WANT to spend time. Per my friend Liz’s advice, Whenever I am doing those things, I will refuse to multi-task the time away.
As single parents, we are tasked with too much to do, too many bills, and too little time with our precious kids. We have to live more presently, more consciously, and more purposely than it seems possible. And that is ok. We can do this.


First Step is to make a list of priorities: what feeds us, what feeds our loved ones, what activities do we consider loving others as God intended us to?

Second Step is to make a plan: decide what needs changing up, set a budget for time and money, identify times for the preciousness. Don’t continue to scramble and leave it up to chance.

Third Step is to ask for help, (aka pray and tell a friend so that we are held accountable)find a sense of humor, and vow for patience with everyone again so that the treadmilled cranky lady stays out of the picture.

Love – The Terror of It

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“True Love is one of the rarest jewels of life, treasure it with all your heart. When you find someone who loves you just as you are, is steadfast during moments of stress, willing to grow with you and allows you to feel however you choose to feel in any moment – there is nothing more you will ever find in a person. You’ve found True Love when you feel fear; fear of vulnerability, fear of abandonment and fear of letting go of your own stubborn egoic patterns that keep the real you separate and safe from the other. Trust in love and go towards your fear, taking this leap of faith in every moment is the journey Love requires for its sweet reward.”

– Jackson Kiddard, author & polymath.

pol·y·math   [pol-ee-math]
noun
a person of great learning in several fields of study; polyhistor.

Ok, so the quote above was written by a man of great learning in several fields of study- a very smart cookie. I love this quote! Love is terrifying! So I would add that it requires courage added upon our relationships on a daily basis.

Truly loving ourselves requires courage to stand up for the person and her ideals, even when we really aren’t so sure about how she will be received by the world.

Loving our teenagers means we have to step up to the plate and stand up for what we believe in (our rules, our boundaries, our behavioral expectations), and who we believe in (the cute pimply kid in front of me who just got busted for breaking the rules, again). It takes guts to show up every day as a single parent, ready to step in when needed, to discern when we can butt out, and to have faith that we are enough and what we have done is enough. With no back-up, no cheering section, and no partner.

For me, loving my lover means I need to show up, let my ego take a break, and throw that oh-so-ugly-fear of abandonment out the window.

Some days, the courage needed to truly love me, my teens, and my lover is elusive, I really want to back down, accept, and burrow in to the fear, let it take me over. I think that I am not worthy, that I just can’t do it…I don’t have the energy needed. Ha!

Guess what? I can do it! And you can too. So keep on stepping up to the plate, keep showing up, keep on setting aside your fears, and give the ego a shove-off. You are vulnerable, you may be abandoned, and the real you might not be compatible with your lover after all. But today, in this moment, you know what you know. So do this one step you know right now. Be present. Be vulnerable. Be Truthful. God and the Universe are on your side. Ask for their help!

What would it be like to live this day believing that we are truly blessed, protected, and guided? I have that written on my mirror with stars and underlines, because I tend to forget that, even though it really is kinda important…

Let’s get out there and love, truly love, you, your children, your lover, and your life. You are truly blessed, protected, and guided.

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Napping

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I had some surgery last week, and it was serious enough that I stayed in the hospital one night. I am ok, it was planned, and no more surgery is expected. But I have been told it could take 6 weeks to recover… 6 weeks?!?! When my doctor initially told me that, I burst out crying. That was 2 months ago, and I am still struggling with the concept of being restful for weeks at a time. I told my boss I would be back at work after 2 weeks- probably not realistic, but it was the only way I could tell him I wouldn’t be there for 2 weeks…

I have been told to “rest as much as possible, and don’t do too much too soon”. Hmmmm- but what if “doing as much as possible as soon as possible” is the way I have survived as a single parent for the last 9 years? This space in my life is definitely a brain twister. How can I be my productive self if I am laying around on the couch?!? Is this me? Will I get swallowed up and lose myself in my pillows and blankets for these weeks?

I am hoping that at the least, I get a little perspective on my life during these 2-3 weeks of time off of work (probably the only 2-3 weeks I have spent off of work since I graduated from high school a hundred years ago). And of course, at the most, I would like to 1)get all of my pictures arranged and organized in my computer (my music too), 2) get the last 10 boxes unpacked from our move in November, 3) get my and my kids’ closets organized, 4) have devised the miracle budget combination that allows me to save and yet live abundantly, 5) blog meaningfully on a regular basis, 6) write some hand written notes that are overdue, and 7) do research on parenting teenagers and significantly improve my parenting. That is the first 7 items of my 21 item To Do List. (I figured I could complete one a day)

The problem is, I keep having to sit down because I get tired after being awake for 2 hours. But yet I really hate napping… I am having anxiety dreams every time I fall asleep, that is part of the lack of allure of naps… I am actually anxious and nervous about this time off. What if I become a couch slug and NEVER get back to my prior life of athletic health and productivity? What if I cannot convince myself after all of this that my job is meaningful? What if I really like working part time and cannot go back to full time? What if I cannot finish all 21 To Do items?

You know the answers to all of these questions: This time off IS going to change my outlook on life and my job, and the point is to come up with some changes in me, not necessarily my house and its organization or lack there of. And all I can do is turn over this time, ask for help from God and my friends, and do the best today, this hour, taking care of my body and mind and wait to see the miracles that occur.

Getting Nervous…

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The high school reunion is now less than 2 weeks away… I have only seen 2 of them in the last 8 years, and Brad for only 1 hour. I have not measured up to MY dreams as a high school girl working hard to go to a good college, to get a good job, to marry a good man, to have beautiful children and a house with a garden and leather furniture.

I DID go to a good college, and I DID get a good job. I did NOT marry a great man, either time. I DO have a garden, but the leather furniture is ratty now.

Mostly, I DO have beautiful children, whom I am very proud of, and impressed by on a daily basis (yes, sometimes I am impressed with his arguing skills). Life isn’t what I thought it would be in high school, not at all. Some days I am amazed at how tiring and BORING it is to be a single parent in charge full time of the taxi, ATM, refridgerator, and laundry. Other days, I am impressed with God’s blessings on me and my family.

I had to sit myself down the other day and remind myself that none of the 8 of us had our dreams come true. We all are a little perplexed and can feel disappointed: his marriage to his HS Sweetheart didn’t work, she didn’t become a famous actress, he didn’t become the sales mega-dude that he wanted to become, his marriage didn’t work and he misses his children now, etc. etc. BUT- we each gained something we never expected. I can tell that, from just our quick emails back and forth while planning. I am looking forward to hearing about the blessings that DID come through, the amazing gifts from life that were unexpected when we were naive 17 year olds.

We are going to have 3 whole days without children or spouses to catch up, drink, socialize, laugh, and tell our stories. I can’t wait. I am going out tonight in my new shoes, to practice walking in them, to practice socializing with adults, and to remember how to laugh between 9 pm and midnight. Usually I spend those hours urging teenagers to go to bed. I can’t wait.

Thinking of Thinking of Dating

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I am thinking of dating again. Or maybe I am thinking of thinking of dating. If you read my blog entries, you know I go back and forth quite a bit, considering letting a man into my heart, of sharing space in my and my children’s life with a potential partner. Then I flip back and decide to wait longer before dipping my toe in the water of relationships (I don’t have men clamoring at my door, so it really is not that hard to wait).

I do wonder though what it would be like to kiss someone, because I really don’t remember what it feels like; it has been sooo long.

But then just as I get halfway into the daydream of kissing someone I might care about, the fear grips me, and I remember the disasters I have dated. I also remember the Bonkers Girl whom I turn into when I fall out of balance and start consuming male attention like a bulimic on an Oreo binge.

It would be safer, wouldn’t it, if I became the Tin (Wo)Man, and sealed my heart away from relationships and those potential disasters. Cheaper too- think of all that money I am saving from bikini waxes, pedicures, child care, and lingerie. And I get a lot more work done at the office not distracted texting someone and making romantic date plans.

“We are all born for love…It is the principle of existence, and its only end.”
— Benjamin Disraeli

Then, just as I become content with my nun’s life, I get confronted with quotes like THIS, sent to me from Rachel Rubin’s Happiness Project daily emails (April 24, 2011).

Of course my mind goes to romantic love as the be-all, end-all “principle of existence”. If I don’t have it… Goodness, I must be missing something as crucial as my teeth. When I read those quotes, I feel like the bridesmaid, the odd woman out on Valentines Day, the one who is looking in on life from a 1-way mirror. Am I really missing out on the “principle of existence”, life’s “only end”?! Well, if this is true, that sucks bigtime.

To get out of this sucky conundrum, I decide to think the love we are “born for” can be defined more liberally than the kissing in the rain/sex on the beach/hand holding on our way to dinner/doing life together romantic love. I am also born to love my children, my friends, my neighbors, my girlfriends, my Earth, my life, my dog, and my God. Surely those are all worthy recipients of my love.

For now anyway… until my heart is ready to leave its tin casing.

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.