Friday, March 30, 2012

Fun Friday: Where the wild things are

Welcome to my first Fun Friday post (you know, the one I promised, like, two months ago)!

If you have't noticed, the content of this blog is heavy.  I can't help that. Divorce sucks and single parenting is hard.  But, to bring a little balance (and because I'm a goofball in real life) I've started Fun Fridays here at the blog.  Finally, Friday will offer more promise than the latest episode of 20/20!  And yes, I'm a loser...

Today's post is courtesy of Facebook.   I have a love/hate relationship with this phenomenon, but I also have some hilarious "friends" and even more hilarious conversations.  It's also courtesy of my two sisters, Amy and Vicki, who make me look tame, if you can believe that.

Here's a little background:  Well-meaning people are always trying to point out single men to me.  One day, while doing her gift registry at Babies R Us, my sister says "Oooh, Sarah, there's a cute single guy over there...without a ring."  I just stared at her.  "Amy..." I replied, "single men do NOT shop at Babies R Us."  In her one blessed year of marriage, she had forgotten the obvious. My mom is the worst though, and our conversations are usually like this:

Mom:  Oh, Sarah, there's a cute guy in your church's bulletin!
Sarah:  (Rolling eyes).  Yes, I've seen him in real life . He might actually be shorter than me. (I'm 5'1" on a good a shorter man is very short)
Mom:  But, he's a pilot!! He'll be gone most of the week. And they make good money.
Sarah:  Money won't buy him height.
Mom:  Ugh, you're SO picky!
Dad (in his thick Brooklyn accent.  Picture a younger Frank Barone...seriously):  Celierrr - I wish you wouldn't be trying to do dat. I don't like dat!

The places that people tell me to meet guys are hilarious, so I asked for feedback from my fb friends (mostly my other sisters because no one "got" it), and compiled a list of the top ten places you won't (or shouldn't) find a man.  Feel free to add to the list!

  1. Baby stores or baby showers. Not happening, ladies.  If it's too good to be true...
  2. OTB
  3. Hooters
  4. Free health clinic
  5. Prison penpal program (I DIED when my sister said this hahaha)
  6. AA/NA
  7. MySpace - Because it's not 2006.
  8. Victoria's Secret - If he's single and shopping there...he's either weird or shopping for his mother. Which still makes him weird.
  9. Child support enforcement office - Whatever story he has to explain it, it sucks.
  10. Court - Thanks to my need for speed, I've been to traffic court. It gave me the willies.
If you have an idea for Fun Friday, send it my way!  Happy weekend, peeps!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Letting it be

God, I look to you
I won't be overwhelmed
Give me vision, to see things like You do
Give me wisdom, You know just what to do - Jenn Johnson

"But mommmm-mmmm-mmm-mmmm-yyyyyyyyy..." my four year old whined, complete with the melodrama that usually accompanies her cries for justice.  I knew what was coming next. "It's. Not. Fai-www".

She and her brother were fighting over something meaningless.  As usual. I'm convinced that if there was an actual piece of crap laying around, and there was only one, they'd fight over it.  But I digress.

Usually they fight, one wins, and the winner does a victory dance and teases the other incessantly.  The other cries because it is't fair.  And it usually isn't. Life isn't fair.

Sometimes I feel like they feel.  I spend the day waking sleepy children, making breakfast, packing lunches, running for buses, driving to preschool, working, conference calling, picking up from preschool, working more, cleaning, picking up from the bus, working more, making dinner, forcing homework, making snacks, serving dinner, threatening no dessert if said dinner isn't eaten, cleaning up tables, playing referee  and...and...and.  Just when I'm about to wave my white flag in surrender, their dad's visitation time arrives and he gets to swoop in and save them.  From me.  And you know what comes next?  Mother's guilt, for coming very close to losing my mind. Again.

Keep in mind, I want to be very careful how I word this because I love my kids more than anything in the world.  I love that they love their dad and I don't want to get in the way of that.  I want them to choose their feelings for him based on their experiences, not mine.  And I never want to write anything I don't want them reading later, about him or about our situation. So, I'm trying to craft my words wisely, while also trying to explain how I feel.

When they are with their dad they have little rules or discipline because it's just a few hours per week.  They don't spend nights with him, so they're stuck with me at bedtime too.  When I do discipline them or set rules they don't like, I often hear "I want daddddddddy."  And though I hate to admit it, inside I am suddenly the one screaming: "It's not faiwwwww!"

And it's not.  So what am I going to do about it?  What can I do about it?

Recently, I've been struggling with this more often than I'd like to admit.  All I ever wanted to be was a mom.  All I still want to be is a mom, just not a single mom.  And definitely not responsible for the large majority of the parenting.  Currently, it's not quite happening that way, but as you know, this is not the way I planned it. It's easy to get caught up in anger and resentment.  I guess I have every right to be angry...every right to feel like I've been left with a huge responsibility.  Yet, living in a place of anger won't (and can't) do me any good.  Being resentful won't change the situation.  It will keep me, and eventually my kids, in a prison of unforgiveness and that is the last place I want us to be.

All I can do now is let it be.  Keep on keeping on.  Do the best I can.  Make meals.  Drive short people everywhere. Hug my babies.  Stop focusing on everything I lost and focus on everything I have.  Stop thinking of everything I wanted and dreamed of and planned for, and be thankful for more time with  these healthy, beautiful, patience-wearing, impressionable kids I have here.  I'm lucky that I get to be their mother.  No, life isn't perfect.  And rarely is it fair. For now, though, I choose to let it be.

What are you learning to "let be" in your life?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Motherhood Mondays: New dreams

She's got spunk.
Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. - Corrie Ten Boom

My daughter loves to hear the "stowy" of when I was pregnant with her.  I love to tell it, because it was one of the best times in my life.  It was also the last few months of my "normal", before the truth of her dad's infidelity began to unravel.

On a summer day in 2007, I went to my doctor for a routine sonogram. I was 19 weeks pregnant and knew they'd be able to tell us the baby's gender.  I walked into the examination room, cautiously optimistic.  I wanted a little girl so badly.  I'd lost my mother as a young girl and really wanted an opportunity to have a mother/daughter relationship I'd seen others enjoy, even if it was from the other side.

When the nurse casually announced "you got your girl",  I was beyond thrilled!  That weekend, I went shopping for all the cute little outfits I could find.  And in four years, the shopping hasn't stopped.  Really.  It's the most ridiculous kind of fun.

On a windy Monday morning in November, she finally arrived.  The first time I laid my tired, puffy, a-human-just-came-out-of-my-body eyes on her perfect little face, the dreams I had for her filled my mind. Fun dreams of bows and ballet, sharing shoes, and shopping for prom dresses.  And then the more intent dreams.  I wanted her to have a "normal" family, a healthy upbringing.

Yet, even before I had given birth, the "normal" had already begun to unravel.  At age 4, the idea of a mommy and daddy living together is foreign to her. A broken home is her "normal". And that's not what I wanted for her. Ever. Who does?

If there's anything I've learned in the past few years, it's that I can't control some events that happen in my life, never mind theirs.  At first, it was easy to get wrapped up in the statistics of children who grow up in broken homes.  I mean, google them (at your own risk).  They're heartbreaking.  Divorce affects kids physically, socially and psychologically.  Single parent households are at risk for a number of different things.

I also become concerned when I look back on the issues I was dealing with when I was young, and how they affected my relationship choices.  I met and married my ex-husband seeking emotional protection and refuge...looking for what my heart needed in a human, and not in God.

However, greater than those statistics and experiences is a God who loves her more than I ever could.  A God who has her best interests at heart and has already given her all she needs to deal with life's joys and hurts.

Even though I've had to let go of some of the dreams I had for her, that's not going to stop me from dreaming new dreams.  Above all the new dreams I have, my greatest dream is this:  when she faces life's storms, I hope she rests in knowing that God is carrying her through them.

And she is watching me.  She's watching to see if I trust, if I rest, if I make it through life's storms.  Dr. Phil (who I love...don't judge!) always says the greatest role model a child has is the same sex parent.  Even if I don't notice it, she's observing every thing I do, learning how to be a woman.  That alone makes me want to do better, try harder, and most importantly, trust God more.

What are the new dreams you have for your children?

I thought I'd share these tips for single moms raising daughters.  They were taken from the same site I used in my post about single moms raising boys.  What are 

1) Don't punish the girl because you see things in her that you hate about yourself. Learn how to deal with YOU first so you can more effectively help her.

2) Being hard on her doesn't automatically equate a virtuous young woman. I'm not implying to let her do anything, heaven forbid, however; I'm implying that you should provide structure and boundaries, but not act as a prison warden.

3) Don't live your life through your daughter. Just because you were a cheerleader, doesn't mean she has to be one. Just because you were in the band, doesn't mean that she has to play an instrument.

4)When it comes to boys, she is looking at you to see how you treat (your husband, boyfriend, etc). She is listening to how you talk about men (good or bad) and this is what she is going to model in her life.

5) You can control what she wears. It's important that you train your daughter to have value in herself, long before someone "whispers in her ear." Don't say, I can't help what she wears or does. This is the door way for a long life of regrets for your daughter.

6) Just because you may have had bad experiences with men and/or relationships, don't raise your daughter to hate men, or be distrusting of everyone that she meets for the rest of her life. She is not you, even though she may have some of your traits and attributes. You can't raise her to be a "second you."

7) Build her self esteem continually with positive words and affirmations. She needs to know that she is complete all by herself and that she doesn't have to go looking for wholeness in another person or thing.

8) Spend time with her outside of school, housework, and the day to day, especially when she get older. She may not say it, but she still needs you. Spend some quality time, go out to eat, to the park, for a walk. You can't get those moments back once they are gone.

9) Raise your daughter in love and NOT fear. When you fear if she is going to get pregnant, meet the wrong guy, make the same bad choices you made, that's often what we attract. Raise her with the love of God and the faith to know that after you have done all that you can do, God will intervene and bring it all back to her remembrance.

10) Teach her how to love herself, love God, and how to remain pure and virtuous in a society where everyone is compromising. Remember, when you teach your teach your daughter's daughter.
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