Monthly Archives: September 2016

The Tender Hearted

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My 6 year old is such a sensitive, caring child. Tonight while putting him to bed, he said he wanted to tell me something but he was afraid it would upset me. Oh boy!…..(I think to myself and gear up for something drastic!)

So I told him it was ok to tell me and I wouldn’t be upset. He told me that his step-mom is a really great step-mom. He told me this while crying and said he didn’t want to hurt my feelings. He told me I’m still the best mom but that she’s ok too.

Of course that brought tears to my eyes. Not because he had those feelings towards his step-mother. In all honesty, I’m glad that he feels this way towards his step-mother since he’s with her and his dad 50% of the time. But it brought tears to my eyes to see that he had such a keen awareness of my feelings and that even at 6 years old he is that concerned with how things will affect me.

I’ve had a lot of rough days as of late, in life, in dealings with issues with the boys, with my health, with my finances, just everything it seems. But hearing him say that to me tonight just put so many things in perspective to me.

So many things in life will try (and oftentimes succeed) to bring me down. Doing this whole raising kids thing on my “own” is not a walk in the park. It’s not a path I would have set out to choose, obviously, but it’s the path that I’m on. And there are so many times that I feel that I have failed my boys or that I just am not equipped to do this. Or that I’m going to screw up the boys’ lives. That I’m just a “bad mom.”

But then something like this happens. That little twinge of hope. That spark of recognition of my efforts and that yes, my kids are going to be ok. That reassurance that I’ve not totally messed up their lives. That my boys, deep down have good souls, loving and caring hearts, and the tenderness to know how to show others that they care.

That in and of itself is more than I could ever ask for. I am blessed beyond measure with these two boys, my miracles. I may not be a perfect mom (FAR from it), I don’t have all the answers and have even far more questions it seems. But these boys are proof enough to me that we’re going to be OK, no matter what is hurled our way. We have each other, and there is so much love resonating around us, that there is nothing we can’t handle together.

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Great Expectations

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I’ve always been a dreamer. I’ve always had grandiose ideas of how things would happen (never once believing they would ever be a reality). Maybe it makes me an optimist…..maybe it just makes me crazy! I would like to think that some of my dreams and wishes and ideas would become a reality one day, but I just can’t shake the sting of reality.

And it’s not because I’m hopeless and lack any capacity to hope in my life. But one can only have their hopes and dreams dashed so many times before you start to give up on all of those other hopeful aspirations.  What is more likely, in my given scenario, is that my patience level (or lack of patience) is reached before any expectations can be realized.

I have a hard time waiting. Like, it’s excruciating for me to stand by and just quietly wait. One, I’m rarely quiet. Two, I just hate waiting. Over time, and having children, I’ve become “better” at it, but I’ve far from mastered the skill. I’ll forever be a work in progress when it comes to waiting. Sometimes it’s a good thing and I push for an answer while people are on their own clock. Other times, it comes to bite me in the, well, you know what.

And now as I’m approaching 40 (much too quickly I should say), I wish things were done differently in my past. Maybe if I had spent more time being patient and waiting and not rushing things, my outcome would be different. Maybe I wouldn’t have these grandiose dreams and desires for a different life.

I’m not saying my life is awful. It’s not in all reality. I have two amazing boys that are smart, well-adjusted, happy, caring, loving, and all around great kids. I have a loving boyfriend who treats me well and makes me feel safe and comfortable in our life. I have a roof over my head, a car that runs (most of the time!), a good job, and enough money to pay my bills. Things are tight sometimes and I struggle during the month sometimes, but I rarely go without. Of course, I don’t have all the extra things that many people enjoy, but I’m happy.

Of course, my life isn’t perfect. I’m a divorced mom with two children. I have shared custody of my children, so I don’t always get to see them and there are days that I don’t see them because they are with their father. I miss my boys, immensely, when I am not with them. I know that I “should” appreciate the time I get to myself, and enjoy that “freedom” that not everyone has, but I don’t. I WANT to spend more time with my kids. I ENJOY the time I am with them (mostly – hey, boys will be boys!). I wish I wasn’t the divorced mom that has to shoulder the weight of raising my boys. Yes, their father helps to raise them when they are with him, but it’s not that we raise them “together”. I guess it’s hard to explain if you aren’t a “single parent” navigating the waters such as I am.

And of course, I would love that childhood dream of a wedding to come to fruition for me one of these days. I’ve never had the chance to pick out bridesmaid dresses or even HAVE bridesmaids. My first wedding was a trip to the Justice of the Peace with a few family members as witnesses. Again, because we weren’t patient and just rushed into things. And look how that turned out…I digress.

I’m not saying that I HAVE to have the big fancy wedding. In fact, I know that we CAN’T afford what my childhood dream wedding would consist of. But in all reality, who really can? Because of hastily made financial decisions in my past, finances will always be an issue going forward. Lessons learned, and in all honesty, I’m better off in the long run. But the expectations I’ve had in my life for the wedding I’ve wanted to have is one that I’ll need to put out of my mind. Because reality comes into play big time in that planning.

Just like my wedding “expectations”, I had a lot of expectations growing up, both placed on me and self-imposed.

I was expected to attend a Christian college right after high school and graduate in 4 years, possibly be married or engaged at the end of that college stint and start a family shortly thereafter.

WRONG!

It took me almost 10 years to finish my college degree. I attended a few different colleges, changed my major so many times I’ve lost track, moved, gotten various jobs and then eventually got married. I WANTED to finish my degree BEFORE I had children, and I almost made it! I finished up my degree a few months after I had my first son. It wasn’t ideal, and it wasn’t the expectation of most people of what would happen, but it DID eventually happen.

I was taught growing up that friends would come and go into our lives, but family would always be there. That was the expectation I had growing up.

WRONG!

It’s taken me a long time to be comfortable with how this plays out in my life. I’ll be honest and say that I’ve not fully been able to come to grips with this. You see, throughout all my struggles in life, I have found that my friends are the ones that have stuck around. Of course, there have been friends that have come and gone. That’s just how life plays out. You grow apart from people and eventually part ways. That’s just how our lives play out on a daily basis. But through my divorce and subsequent trials, I’ve seen that my friends, my TRUE friends are the ones that stuck around. I had high expectations that my family would be there for me. And some have. Don’t get me wrong. But there are some that I thought would have stuck by me, but they haven’t.

You see, you grow up one way being told one thing. You are told what to EXPECT in life and that a, b, or c is going to be the only options and that’s how it’s going to be. But in all reality, it’s wrong. You can hope and expect until you’re blue in the face. But until you are faced with reality and the specific situations at hand, any and all expectations fly out the window!

I fully expected that my life would turn out a certain way because I stopped attending church. It didn’t.

I was told to expect to be single after my divorce indefinitely because that’s how it was supposed to happen. It doesn’t.

I fully expected certain family members to stick by me and support me in my time of need because that’s what family does. They didn’t.

You see, expectations, great or small, can work for us or against us. They can bring us closer to our desired reality or push us further away from the expected outcome. I don’t think that having expectations is a bad thing in and of itself. It’s when our expectations are too far reaching. It’s good to have dreams and aspirations. It’s beneficial to set goals and attempt to reach those goals. But it’s also wise to not set yourself up for failure either.

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Be realistic. That’s the mainstay thought I must have. Have REALISTIC expectations in life. Will you have to lower your expectations and desires? Most likely. But that doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your ultimate desire to succeed. Sometimes you just have to readjust the route you have to take. But in the end, the only expectation we can ever have, is to be happy. Do what you need to do, and take whatever road you need to take to get there. But in the end, when I peel back all the layers of expectations, if I find myself happy and content in the end, that’s what matters most.

Sure, I have big dreams and high expectations in life and for myself. And what I can attain, I will. But what I can’t reach or have as my end game, I will put the expectation of ultimate happiness on myself. And that’s all I can expect of myself and those in my life. I have high expectations for my own happiness. And those expectations are within each and every one of us.

 

 

 

 

The Problem With Assuming…..

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I think one of my biggest pet peeves in life is when people assume. Granted, I’m not immune from this as I’m not a perfect soul. I would, however, like to think that I have really made a conscious effort to try to stop that way of thinking.

But I recently had a conversation with someone via Facebook about something I couldn’t financially afford to do. And whenever the topic of finances comes up, in any varying conversations, it always causes my blood to boil. Not because I have a plethora of dollar bills raining down on my at any given time, but because that’s the opposite of my situation!

The conversation went something like this (I’ll paraphrase):

ME: My insurance is not very good and I have a very high deductible ($3000 if you must know). The “treatment” you are suggesting is not covered by my insurance and I don’t have the out-of-pocket cash to spend for this type of treatment.

ASSUMER: Well, it’s cheap here and only $35 a visit if you don’t have insurance.

ME: Maybe to YOU $35 isn’t a lot, but to a single mother on a limited budget, $35 a few times a week, every week adds up very quickly and it’s a lot of money to me.

ASSUMER: (In a private message) Well, if that’s the case, how much did YOU spend on a recent plane ticket to a city out west?

ME: $1.86 (which WAS the actual airfare, I wasn’t picking a number to prove a point)>

ASSUMER: Defriended on Facebook and no further communication….

ME: BLOCKED said assumer and am moving on with my life.

Now, there are several assumptions this person made about me, just in that single conversation. Let me break it down for you and give some responses:

This person ASSUMED that I had an extra $35 lying around to pay out each week if not multiple times a week. I do not.
This person ASSUMED that I would think that was an affordable price. I do not.
This person ASSUMED that I shelled out a lot of money for my upcoming trip away. I did not.

You see, you have failed, as an assumption maker, to gather the appropriate information before jumping in and giving your 2-cents worth, when it was first never asked for, and secondly, you were wrong.

This is what you need to do, in this order:

Learn the FACTS….Before Assuming
Understand WHY…Before Judging
THINK………………..Before Speaking
FEEL…………………..Before Hurting

Maybe before you THINK you know my situation….ask and learn the facts.

$35 is a huge amount to me to spend 1-3 times a week seeing that my CHILD SUPPORT that I receive is only $35 a week (for both boys).
$35 is a huge amount to me to spend 1-3 times a week seeing the my GROCERY BILL is around $40 a week since that’s what I CAN afford.

Sure, you see me going to Reds Games, or the Art Museum, or other events around town with my boys. Do you think I just spend hundreds of dollars on that and therefore can AFFORD to spend the $35 1-3 times a week on medical treatments? NOPE!

I’m a single mom on a limited income….but I’m also a FRUGAL mom. I don’t HAVE to explain myself to anyone, I know this. But in case you’re wondering, let me break this down a little bit more for you, so you DON’T have to keep assuming you know what my life is like!

Yes, we go to several Reds games during baseball season. 15-20 games to be exact. BUT…
Did you know that about half the tickets we get for games are free?
Did you know that I pack a cooler with drinks and a bag full of snacks and tote those in to every game?
Did you know that when I allow the boys to get a treat at some of the games it’s based on allowance they have earned?
Did you know that while about half the tickets we get are free, that the other half are tickets that are purchased either during a special (i.e. $5 tickets) or after using some of my tax return money?

Yes, we go out to eat on occasion and I don’t cook every single meal. BUT…
Did you know that I almost always either have a gift card or a discount coupon for the meals we eat out?
Did you know that because of some Reds games, we’ve earned free pizza?
Did you know that I make my children’s school lunches, therefore saving money and ensuring they eat whatever I pack them?

Yes, I buy my children “new” toys on occasion. BUT…
Did you know that I almost always buy their toys used, from Once Upon a Child or Goodwill?
Did you know that if we buy a “new toy” we donate 1-3 toys in its place?
Did you know that if a NEW toy is bought, it’s almost always on a gift card or from allowance the boys have earned?

Yes, I take my boys to various events and places in the area to fill the time. BUT…
Did you know that if we go to the movies, we wake up early and go to the 1st matinée of the movie since the tickets are half-price?
Did you know that if we go to the Cincinnati Art Museum, admission is free and we park down the hill in an off lot so that we don’t have to pay for parking?
Did you know that if we go to the Cincinnati Pops, we go on special times where the admission is usually half-price if not more or I’ve used a discount coupon?

Yes, I had several trips this past summer with my boys. BUT…
Did you know that our trip to Chicago was almost free as I had free hotel stays, dinner coupons, discount half-price tickets to LEGOLAND and bought tickets for the baseball games we attended after I got my tax return and bought enough in advance that I got better prices?
Did you know that our trip to Louisville to go to the Louisville Slugger Museum was only $8? That I had 2 free tickets and a half-price ticket?
Did you know that our trip to Mammoth Caves was paid for with my tax return and I cooked almost all our meals and we stayed in a cabin in the woods at a minimal price?
Did you know that our trip to Hilton Head during Spring Break was very inexpensive? That I paid for it with my tax return and split costs for food and transportation with my boyfriend? That we had coupons for a lot of our meals? That I saved up for the trip and found condo bargains?

I shouldn’t HAVE to defend what I do or how I spend my money or what I do with my children, but after dealing with such ignorant people and those that just assume that they know my situation, I am left with no option!

Did you know that I’ve been through a bankruptcy? That I cannot get a credit card (nor do I want one honestly)? That I cannot get a house loan (nor do I want to because I don’t have the extra income to pay for household issues that could come up i.e. no credit card to pay for those)? That I had to take a loan out part of my 401K (which I’m paying back) so that I could get an older used car so that I could get to and from work and get my kids to and from school, etc? That I’ll never have a NEW car and I’m perfectly ok with that?

Did you know that MY personal insurance deductible is $3000? That I have to pay that out-of-pocket before I have full coverage? That on a recent ER visit in the spring my co-pay was $300 and it took me 3 months to pay that off as I had it deducted from my paycheck? Did you know that I buy just about all my clothes at goodwill? That on the occasion I DO buy clothing or accessories at a retail store, I will only buy if it’s on clearance or a really good sale?

Learn the FACTS….Before Assuming
Understand WHY…Before Judging
THINK………………..Before Speaking
FEEL…………………..Before Hurting

There’s a reason why I do the things I do. There are methods to all my madness that I call my life. And if you don’t bother to take the time to find out the details and just jump on the assumption bus, you’re going to crash head first into oncoming REALISM ahead of you.

It’s the age old adage that apparently people have failed to grasp onto. Think before you speak! You have no idea what someone else’s life is like and have no idea what someone else’s struggles are on a day-to-day basis. Have some compassion and stop assuming!

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Are You Committed?

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I recently had a conversation with a virtual stranger on the Twitterverse which gave me great pause. Let’s set the stage here and give you some points to ponder.

My boyfriend and I have been together almost 16 months. We live together and share in our mutual expenses (i.e. rent, utilities, groceries, auto insurance). Going into the relationship, I was debt free with the exception of a minimal bankruptcy payment from when I was married. Otherwise, I have paid my student loans, I have no credit cards, and my car is paid for. I have no desire to ever have debt again and I will do all the I can to keep it that way.

Now, my boyfriend still has some student loans to pay off as well as some minimal credit card debt. He as well, does not use credit cards and like me, everything we pay for is in cash. A very good method for keeping up with our expenses as well as ensuring that if there is something we want, we will not go into debt in order to get it.

My boyfriend are very much in love and are in a committed relationship with a higher level of commitment to come in the future (i.e. marriage….I hope lol). I digress…..We have lived together for a year now and are pretty much set in our routine and love each other and know that our lives are together and we are in this relationship for the long haul.

Enter in this conversation I had with said virtual stranger on the interwebs. He stated that I should help out my boyfriend financially with his debt and bills that he has. Bills and debt that he obtained several years prior to meeting me, that he has been chunking away at to get paid. I don’t begrudge him for any of this by the way. The amount is not substantial enough that I would want to go into hiding to avoid any further financial pitfalls in the future. Far from it honestly.

Let me also mention, that at this current point in my life, I am not financially able to contribute towards my boyfriend’s debt. I sometimes struggle with bills and “surprise” expenses that might come my way, but I am stable enough to always pay my bills, rent, and have some leftover for other fun stuff and extras for us and my children.

This person that I was talking to has substantial means to help his girlfriend of 6 months pay her bills and debt. He’s able financially to contribute towards that, and if that’s something he decides he wants to do, then so be it.

Here comes the part which I just can’t agree with. This person stated that because I don’t contribute financially to pay my boyfriend’s bills that it shows a lack of commitment to the relationship and my boyfriend. He states that it’s a sad situation and it sucks. That my commitment to my boyfriend comes into question because I don’t contribute my finances to his debt.

UM, WHAT?

This coming from someone, by the way, who easily makes 4-5 times my salary and still pays some of his ex-wife’s bills. That’s asinine in my opinion but again, I digress.

One, I cannot financially afford to contribute towards my boyfriend’s debt at this point of time, but even IF I could and didn’t, this is NO WAY shows a lack of commitment to my relationship.

Second, we are not married yet, not even engaged at this point. To me, even though I’m fully committed to my boyfriend and our relationship and our future together, it would be foolish to commit such finances to him at this point in our relationship. Because even though we have the best intentions to be together forever and our future together, lets be honest. Life happens, and sometimes, beyond our control, things happen.

This person stated that in any relationship, we are partners and a team. That “what’s yours is mine and mine is yours.” And to an extent, I agree with that. My boyfriend and I are definitely partners and make decisions together, especially those that are dealing with joint finances. But until we are joined in marriage and have a “legal” commitment to each other, I don’t agree with the fact that I or he needs to contribute towards each other’s personal financial obligations. This just really leads one to rough waters at times.

You see, I would NEVER expect my boyfriend to help me out financially with my bankruptcy payments that I incurred over 3 years ago. I would never ask him to help me pay my personal loans or debt that I have had over time, prior to meeting him. And I know for a fact that my boyfriend would never ask that of me as well. In fact, we have had this discussion on several occasions. Once we are married, then we will revisit that conversation and discuss details. But for now, this is not something we are going to do.

And in going this route, the route of being independently responsible for our own bills and debt, we are maintaining financial responsibility for our own expenses. This is something important to myself as well as my boyfriend.

Just like I would never expect my boyfriend to pay for things associated with my children. In a relationship or down the road when we are married. Even after marriage I would never assume that he would have an obligation to pay for school fees, or lunch fees, or field trips, or anything like that. No….they have a father that pays for things for them. He contributes equally towards those expenses as well as pays child support for his children. If my boyfriend wanted to pay for something or treat the kids to something, then by all means. That’s HIS choice and it’s something that he wants to do for them, and ultimately for me. But by no means is that expected from him, at all.

So in the same token, and again, this is something my boyfriend and I have discussed, I have no obligation to help him out financially at this current point of our relationship.

Does it lessen our level of commitment? HECK NO! I am committed to my boyfriend come hell and high water. I love him with every ounce of my being and I am here, standing by his side no matter what. But for this person to claim that it shows a lack of commitment to my relationship or that my relationship is in a sad state is in very bad taste. In fact, it’s quite the contrary to that!

My boyfriend and I are in a very good place in our relationship. We are in a very committed relationship and we love each other with all our hearts. We have a great relationship. We laugh together, we encourage each other, we build each other up, we are each other’s listening ear when we need to vent or talk something out, we don’t judge each other, and we are a team. We are in this, together, 200%.

So, to you virtual stranger in the Twitterverse, I say this:

If you believe that substantial financial contributions to your girlfriend of 6 months shows a higher level of commitment to your relationship than mine, so be it. To me, that actually shows a lack of maturity and wisdom. To believe that your relationship is better than mine because you give your girlfriend money to pay her debt, and you do that because you love her and want her to do well in life, you are sorely mistaken.

When you have moved in with her, helped her to raise her children and instill positive ideals and be a role model to them, when you can be an unwavering support system for her regardless of what the world throws her way, when you can say that you can’t live without her in your life, when you know that your life is better with her, and that you want to spend your life with her, no matter what,THEN you can come to me and we can discuss commitment levels.

Until you get to that point, you have no room to judge what I do in my relationship.

Until you are at that level in your relationship, you have no idea my true level of happiness in my current relationship.

Until you would move heaven and earth to ensure your relationship lasts forever, you have no room to lecture me on what I have done in my relationship and what I intend to do in the future.

I’m not going anywhere, and neither is my boyfriend. We love each other more than we could imagine. We know that our future is together. We are confident that we are with the person we are meant to be with.

That sounds pretty committed to me, don’t you think?

 

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