Category Archives: Mom Moments

What the Funk?

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I have been in a downward spiral of a funk for a while now. I haven’t felt like myself. I don’t feel creative. I don’t feel like I have anything to say. I’ve been having writer’s block, bad. I just am not sure what to do.

I wouldn’t call it full-fledged depression. I’ve been there, multiple times. I’ve been medicated, I’ve been in therapy, the works. This is not the same kind of feeling. And maybe it’s just hitting me in a different way.

The holidays started the downward deviation from my “normal” self (although, what REALLY is normal these days?!) I think being away from family is always difficult, but especially during the holidays and special occasions. So, that absolutely comes into play in my present WTF scenario.

Strained relationships, misunderstandings as well as cruel words spoken also play a part in this. I’ve heard all the cliché’s and I’ve probably posted them on my various social media accounts, partially as a reminder that not all days are perfect and not all scenarios in life are played out like they are in the movies.

You know, like the one that says, “Just because you are angry doesn’t give you the right to be cruel.” Anger is one thing, and we all experience that one time or another. But that doesn’t give ANYONE the right to treat someone badly or hurl hurtful sentiments their way. This happened recently.

Or another one that says, “The way people treat you is a statement about who they are as a human being. It is not a statement about you.” Just because someone has disrespected me and made snide remarks about my parenting, does not mean I’m a bad parent (even if that is a constant battle I have with myself). When someone makes a jab at me and/or something about me, does not mean that jab is accurate or even truthful. I have to make my own reality and truth. The offending party does not get to determine this about me.

Or finally, this quote, “Never respond to rudeness. When people are rude to you, they reveal who they are, not who you are. Don’t take it personally, be silent.” Again, this one is much easier said than done! It’s hard for me to not take rude comments and remarks personally. It’s difficult to remain silent because my first instinct is to defend myself and show the person how wrong they are. I admittedly need to grow a “thicker skin” so as to not take everything to heart. But that’s so hard when a person like me, with a heart that cares too much, hears insults hurled my way.

So basically my 2017 has not been going in the direction I would like it to go. Honestly, the last part of 2016 leading into 2017 has been pretty much hell. I’ve cried more in the last 3 weeks than I have in a long time. And maybe that’s a good thing because the release of emotions like that can always be cathartic. BUT, it also means that multiple things have caused the tears to flow, easier than they have in previous times.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel so deeply. I wish that I didn’t have a big heart that took things so personally. I wish that I could have a more carefree, caring less attitude, but then that wouldn’t be me. I am the person I am today, because of my heart. It’s not something that’s going to change overnight.

Going forward, I can only be me. I can wake up each morning, resolving to stay true to myself. I can continue to be the caring person that most people know me to be. I can’t live each day trying to please everyone, because that’s only going to end up in a miserable heap of failure. I can only continue to keep on keeping on, and leave the world a slightly better place then the day before. It’s all that I can do. And everyone needs to realize, including myself, that’s all that I can do.

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A Letter to my Children’s Step-Mother

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Today, on the Cincinnati Moms Blog my newest piece is published titled A Letter to My Children’s Step-Mother. Here’s a snippet for you to read:

“I’m not going to lie. When I first found out that my boys would have a step-mother, I wasn’t sure how to respond. I mean, I knew that this day would come at some point. But I also didn’t want another person in their lives. I had a difficult time seeing another “mother” who would help raise my children. I never had a close relationship with my step-mother, and I think that relationship clouded my vision. You truly care about my boys and love them. A hard pill to swallow at first, but easier now, as time has progressed.

It’s not easy sharing my amazing boys with anyone else. But I’m sure by now, after being in their lives the past 2 years, you are well aware of how amazing they are. You know first hand how intelligent they are, how loving and caring they can be, and how genuine they are.”

This took me a lot of time to finally put pen to paper on this topic. I went through several periods of grief, pain, hurt, jealousy, sadness, you name them. But just as any other writer would attest to you, putting down all those feelings on paper opens the floodgates of emotions, which eventually, at least in my case, will lead to some semblance of closures.

Co-parenting and dealing with step-families is not for the faint of heart some days. It’s obviously not something I would wish upon my kids or myself, but it’s the reality of our lives. So for my own sanity and those around me, I choose to make it positive. I choose to make it work. I choose to be thankful for everything that it could be and isn’t, and grateful for all that it is.

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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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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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Now Serving, #78……

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More and more these days, I’m finding that I’m constantly pushing myself to the back of the line. I’m giving up my spot in line, so that someone else can benefit for the umpteenth time. Maybe it’s because I’m such a generous person and love to see everyone else succeed while I flounder back and forth, just trying to catch my breath. <Insert HEAVY sarcasm!> But while I’m sure that statement sounds absurd to many people, it’s partially true.

I think this goes back a long way. I’m inching closer to 40, and I can look back to my elementary school days and see this pattern starting to take shape, so yes, it goes back a ways.

I always struggled to fit in. I was (and if I’m honest, still am) a little different than everyone around me it seemed. Part of this I blame on my mother. If you saw some of the things she dressed me in, you’d understand! Mismatched clothes, shoes that had different color laces, and the Dorothy Hamill bob haircut….I digress. I’m only partially kidding. My mother was also a single mother, and I know that she did the best that she could. In all honesty, I’m seeing myself mimick my mother in her selfless, giving of herself.

But honestly, as I look back at much of my childhood, I was always awkward, socially and otherwise. I was always the girl that was bigger than everyone else. I remember vividly looking at my 2nd grade glass picture and I remember that I was only a LITTLE bit bigger than the other kids in the class. These days, some would have considered me skinny back then. But, as we all know, kids are cruel, and they’ll hone in on your insecurities and capitalize on them. So starting in 2nd grade, that’s when I can see the demise of my innocence.

As I grew up, I struggled, almost on a daily basis. Struggled to see that I was a good person. Struggled to acknowledge that I am a great friend. Struggled to fathom that I could even potentially be somewhat attractive. To this day, these are still constant struggles. I always wanted people to like me…I thrived on the acceptance. So in that instance, I would do whatever it would take to be accepted. So began the cycle of putting myself last and elevating the needs of others on a continual basis.

Part of this stemmed from a very strict religious upbringing where it was frowned upon for women to put themselves ahead of others. Women were the “helpmeet” for others. They were to put everyone else first. We always talked about this acronym: JOY which meant, Jesus, Others, Yourself. That was ingrained in us from as far back as I can remember. Which, for the most part, is not a bad way to think about life. But if you are constantly putting yourself last, you run out of steam to pick yourself up and function at times.

Now, I’m not saying that putting others first is a bad thing. Not at all. In fact, I encourage that mindset with my children on several occasions. My boys are 8 (almost 9) and 6. They are selfish people. I’m not shy about saying that. I think that all kids this age are selfish to an extent. As a mom, I encourage them to think of others. I implore with them to not fight over who is first all the time. I try to teach them that you don’t always have to “win” and that there’s no shame in helping others. In fact, I’m starting to look at opportunities where we, as a family, can put that mindset into a tangible action, whether it’s volunteering at a soup kitchen, or participating in a toy drive, or giving out care packages to homeless people. I’m trying to teach them to look for the opportunities to help others and live a more selfless life.

BUT, in the same notion, I don’t want them to feel burnt out and constantly giving of themselves that they feel like they are suffering. That’s a very fine line to follow, especially when I feel like a hypocrite for doing just that myself! I honestly don’t remember the last time that I did something JUST for myself. I’m wracking my brain to think of a time where I wasn’t putting everyone else’s needs before my own. And that’s not a bad thing necessarily. It’s just draining and exhausting.

I’m sure you have ALL seen this meme, whether it’s floating around on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram (which I still have YET to sign up for!):

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And yes, it’s quite kitschy, but it’s so true! I fail at this, often. And what I’ve figured out about this is devastating. There really was no “lightbulb moment” where I sat there and pondered this and said “Eureka”!! No, this is something I’ve known for a long time, but have failed to implement in my life on a consistent basis.

I feel like I’ve failed my children so often by not being able to do everything for them that I want to, or even that their father can give them. I know I shouldn’t compare, but it’s hard not to. I don’t make a lot of money, and as single mom, it’s a month to month struggle sometimes. I don’t want my children to struggle because of me, or despite me. I want to afford them all that life has to offer them, and in doing so, I’ve found that I’m in a sense, failing myself more.

For example, this past Christmas was difficult financially. I had surgery a month before Christmas and was out of work for 6 weeks with minimal disability pay. I don’t have a huge savings account, so that couldn’t offset it too much. I wanted to be able to give my boys a great Christmas, but just couldn’t afford it. So what does this mother do? I took the money I was given for Christmas and the gift cards that were given to me, and I in turn used them to buy my children gifts. I used the gift cards to buy groceries for my boys. I’ve had a spa gift card for almost 2 years now. I’ve yet to use it because I haven’t made the time for myself. I’ve often thought about gifting it to someone else. But again, that’s all on me.

Because of our crazy life schedules during the school year, family meals were a rarity. I’d get off work in time to pick up my boys from their dad, rush home, take the dog out, make food for my picky children (who tend to just want to eat grilled cheese and quesadillas), help with homework, get the boys showered and ready for bed, get clothes set for the next day, pack lunches, and get my boys to bed. Eventually, I would sit down to eat, but usually not until everyone else was taken care of. After my kids were asleep and taken care of, THEN I would eat or finally sit down for the first time in hours, usually to a cold meal or something just thrown together.

That’s not fair to me or my children. They need a mom who is refreshed, who is alert and enthusiastic. Not someone who is always run, run, run to get everything done. Not someone who is constantly feeling like a maid or butler or short order cook. They need a mom who is PRESENT. I’ve failed my children in this time and time again. If I can’t take care of myself, how in the world can I be expected to take care of others? There’s definitely a flaw in my reasoning that I’ve been holding on to!

It’s NOT selfish to take time for myself and get a pedicure (when I can afford it).
It’s NOT selfish to make sure my children learn to do things for themselves so I don’t have to do everything.
It’s NOT selfish to say “no” sometimes to all the requests that are hurled your direction from family, school, church, etc.
It’s NOT selfish to take a “day off” from household chores (THIS is my biggest struggle).

As a mom who co-parents, I have shared 50/50 custody with my boys’ father. This means that I have some weekends “off.” There are times when I won’t have my children for a few days while they are with their dad. But what does this mom do on those off days? Clean up toys that the boys didn’t clean up before they left. Clean the house, dust, mop, vacuum, do laundry, clean closets, cook, etc. I am in a constant power struggle with myself. I feel like I HAVE to be doing something at all times so that others aren’t disappointed in me. This all goes back to feeling like I don’t fit in and I need to do anything to be accepted. But in all reality, a Netflix and chill day is sometimes all that I need to be “refreshed” and ready to tackle the next day, whatever may come of it.

People aren’t going to reject me if my house is messy or dusty. People aren’t going to look down on me if I don’t put the laundry away for a day. People are not going to judge me if I have some wayward Super Hero Mashers in my living room. I have kids, young kids, and my house proves that. I don’t live in a museum, and honestly, never will. But I have to let myself relax and take some time off. The laundry will be there tomorrow. The dust isn’t going to get outrageously out of hand in one day. It’s ok if my kids have a pop tart for breakfast and not a gourmet pancake and bacon meal.

What it really boils down to is that I’m too hard on myself, and instead of letting myself relax and just “be”, I’m constantly on the go, giving all of myself to others so that I can feel validated. But in turn, when I do that, my children suffer. And that is SO counterproductive. I don’t want my boys to “follow my example” and feel like they always need to put themselves last just to fit in. I want them to know that their needs are important as well. I don’t want them to feel so downtrodden and their own feelings pushed aside. Yes, it’s a hard pill to swallow and sometimes comes with a side of guilt.

But more importantly, I want them to learn that they need to be their best selves in order to give their best selves to others. And this mommy needs to learn that it’s ok to take a break and take some much needed “me” time. The guilt associated with it can be harsh, and sometimes overwhelming, but there is going to be a learning curve to this new mindset. A mindset that has taken over 30 years to accomplish.

Now Serving………..

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