Posted in Life in general, Motherhood

When I Miss Mom…

We are going on two years since we lost Mom and I continue to miss her terribly. On the days when I miss her the most and I need to feel closest to her, I talk to her.  Sometimes, I know what she will say, and I offer a response. It’s kind of silly, but it gives me closure.

Losing your mother is one of the hardest losses you will experience, and trust me, I have lost a lot.  The days have turned into weeks, weeks into months and here we are two years later.  I wonder how I have been able to make it with her physically in my life.  But I know that even though she is gone, she lives in my heart, in my memories, and all the things she taught me and the strength she instilled in me.

The sadness and the missing her comes when events happen that she is not here to be a part of.   They also come when I need her the most.  That amazing woman was my rock and the place where I laid my head when things got tough.  She loved me and accepted me when no one else did.

I know that I will always miss her, but as we get close to the second anniversary of her death, I am missing her more.  I miss her when I am in a store shopping and I see other women with their mothers. I miss her when I try to cook some of her recipes and they don’t taste the same.  I miss her when someone else loses their mom.  I miss her when something amazing happens in my life and my children’s lives and I cannot pick up the phone to tell her.  I miss her when I am having a bad day or not feeling well because she always knew the right thing to say.  I miss her when everyone is celebrating with their mothers and I cannot celebrate with her.

I miss her when something reminds me of her.  I miss her when I need her advice the most.  I miss her when I see her number in my phone because I can’t find it in me to delete it.  I miss her when I see older women who are lucky enough to have long lives and she didn’t.  I miss her when my children miss her or when they say they wish Grandma was around. I miss her on her birthday and on my birthday.  She always came by with a cake even though she knew I hated celebrating my birthday.  I miss her when I think about how she would look in ten years or 20 years had she lived.

I miss her when I go to her favorite places alone like Amish county, a trip we always enjoyed together.  I miss her when I stare at the sky and wonder where she is.

And even though I continue to miss her, I remember how much she loved me and my children.  I remember that she didn’t want to leave us, and she would have done anything to have stayed and watched her grandchildren grow up and to share in their victories and celebrations.

When I miss Mom, I just take that extra step to live my life and be happy because I know that is what she would want for me.  Mostly, I try to remember what it was like to be around her and the way she would have done anything in the world for my children and me.

I will never stop missing Mom, but every day, I remind myself what Mom would want for me.  And it is not to continue to have an ache in my heart for her.   It is to live my life to the fullest, take care of my children and love them in the way she loved me, and mostly, she’d want me to move on and find my place in this world without her.

Posted in Life in general, Motherhood

Who Rescued Who?

Moira sleepI spent most last night twisting and turning. This chest cold was keeping me up.  My little guy (age 9) made his way into my bed and I ended up on the couch because I didn’t want to share this cold with him.  Moira, my two-year-old brown Tabby cat, spent most of the night at my feet.  When she heard me cough, sneeze or get up to get a drink of water to soothe my sore throat, she would come next to me and rub her nose towards my hand, so I would pet her.  When I ignored her, she would tap my chest with her paw.  She would purr once she got her way and got petted.

Moira isn’t a very cuddly cat.  She only wants attention on her own terms.  But she is very loving, especially when she sees her human mama struggling.  She has helped me get through many RA flares in past year and a half since she came into our lives.  She gives as much love as she is given.

She and my boys aren’t always on the best terms.  She may like them, but she mostly tolerates them.  The nine-year-old wants to carry her around and make her stay and cuddle.  She is no cuddler and she wants to run about, so he usually ends up being scratched.  And for my 18-year-old, the moment she hears his voice she hides behind her human mama. He is never done anything to make her fear him, but his size intimidates her.

Moira came into our lives two months after we lost Mom.  My kids had for years asked for a pet, but I never gave in because the responsibility of a pet would have fallen on me.  After many years of contemplation, I finally decided that a cat was easier to take care of when you live with chronic pain.

moira silly

We met a nearly six-month-old Moira at our local pet rescue. You know how they say, “Who rescued who?” Well, I strongly believe Moira rescued us, especially me, with everything I was dealing with at the time.  Further, she picked us, we didn’t pick her.

We went to the pet rescue that day looking for an older, short haired cat.  And we looked at plenty of cats, all in cages.  Moira wasn’t in a cage. She was in a play area trying to get our attention, and I didn’t want her because she was a long-haired cat. All my type A personality could think of is all the vacuuming I wouldn’t be able to keep up with.  But Moira wasn’t having it.  After all, her brother was adopted earlier in the day, and she was going to follow suit, so she put the charm on.  It took some time, but that girl got my attention and she came home with us that day, much to my children’s dismay because they wanted a male kitten who is was 2 or 3 months old.

Moira has gotten plenty of love, care and pampering, but she gets as much as a she gives, especially when it comes to her human mama.  She is also a bit of a snob.  Sometimes, I watch her snubbing her food or us and I wonder if she was royalty in a previous life.  Or when I watch her stretching and staring at herself in the mirror, I wonder what she is thinking.  Is she thinking that she is as beautiful as I tell her she is?

Then there are those moments where she does the craziest things, like stare at a wall for no reason, or climb into the sink, push open the faucet, wet her head and then have a long drink.  Or when she tries to fit into a box that is way too small for her. Or maybe it is the fact that when it comes to her snacks, she knows how to manipulate the kids while I am freaking out that they are going to make her fat.

All I know is that 2-year-old cat (almost 26 in human years) has brought a lot of joy to our lives from the day she came home.  Not only does she make me laugh and feel needed, but she also is there when I am feeling my worst.  Someway, she has connected and bonded with me, and made my life so much happier and filled it with the kind of love I couldn’t have imagined.  And even if I am still not feeling well tonight, that beautiful feline will be by my side showing me the same TLC that I have shown her.  Pets can be such a blessing and joy and until you have one, you have no idea.

Posted in Life in general, Motherhood

All Worth It

Graduation day came and went, as do all the events that come and go. But it was an emotional day for me. Eighteen years of working hard, often two jobs, making every dollar count, while waiting on my son’s big day, it was worth it to see him in his cap and gown, beaming from ear to ear.

I was, of course, sad that Mom wasn’t there, but I know she would have been proud to see what an amazing young man he has become and all he has accomplished, despite the obstacles he has faced along the way.  And the obstacles I faced as I struggled to raise him on my own.   There were plenty of times, where I felt like I was failing miserably, both as a single mother and as my family’s only provider.  There are plenty of times where I lost my grip and fell and thought that I couldn’t get up.  But I did over and over, and that young man is proof that despite financial struggle, health worries, and parenting alone, that you can still get up even when it feels like you haven’t got the strength.

And life can be unfair. It can knock you down. So, can people, and I have had plenty of people in my life who have knocked me down, and were shocked when I still managed to get up.  There were plenty of times where I wanted to lie there, but I got up, even if I did it crawling.  And there have so many times where I had no one to lean on and I could only rely on myself. But again, it has been worth to see that smile on that young man’s face, and I’d do it again.  Because despite numerous obstacles, he turned out to be an amazing young man, and this momma should be prouder.

His graduation day also brought out some difficult emotions, ones I thought I had long overcome.  Turns out I am still angry at certain people in my life for putting so much responsibility on me and not being there for me when I needed them most.  That is something I have been thinking a lot about in recent days.  I am actually embarrassed about my anger.  I thought I was past it, but I guess I am not.  I have prayed on it and I prayed for the strength to forgive. I think I have held on to my anger because I am afraid to forget and make the same mistakes I previously made. I will keep praying for the strength to forgive, to be forgiven, but not to forget and repeat past mistakes.  After all, I set examples for my children, and the kind of people I want them to be. So, I need to be better than this.

As I think about what I want for my children, I want for them to experience everything I was never able to experience.  I want to choose dreams that mean the most to them, not me and not anyone else. I hope the roads they take lead them to where they want to go.  I hope that even when the world is cold that they choose smile and look for goodness and kindness.  I hope their dreams are big and their worries are small.  I hope they never have to bear more than they can handle.

Mostly I hope they know that I love them, and I am forever proud of them. I hope that they find love with people who want the same for them.  I hope they find God’s grace when times are good and even when they are rough.  I hope they never forget where they came from and that they can always come home.  Because being their mother, it is my honor and every struggle, it is worth it to see them succeed and become the adults I know they can be.

Posted in Life in general, Motherhood

The Finish Line

When my oldest son started senior year way back in September, I never imaged how fast senior year would go, but here we are, less than 3 weeks away from graduation day – the finish line.

It stills feels like yesterday that I was counting the days he was late for being born – he was 13 days late to be exact. And now I am counting the days to his high school graduation.

Eighteen and a half years ago, I was blessed with this bundle of joy and I never knew I could love a human being so much.   As I reflect back, it seems as if the time moved too fast from when he was a newborn to this amazing young man he has become.  He wanted to grow up so fast, and I wished he would slow down.

There were plenty of moments where I questioned whether I was doing anything right, especially as I did it alone.  I raised that little boy all on my own, without a father in his life, and if you ask that young man, he will tell you he never missed out, that I gave him more than both a mother and father could give. His little brother looks up to him and even though they aren’t always on the same page, my little one brags about how he wants to grow up to be just like him.   And even though he and I have had our moments, he is without a doubt the best son a mother could ask for.

Over the years, as I watched that boy grow from a baby to a toddler, a little boy, a teenager, and now a young man, and his compassion, kindness and loving heart show me what kind of person he was becoming.  He constantly goes out of his way for others, sometimes putting his own needs aside to help.  And even when adversity stared him in the face, in the form of anxiety and panic attacks, rather than dwelling, he took the experience to educate others.  And I thought to myself, “wow, this kid is amazing,” and every day, he continues surprising me.  So, I look forward to his pursuing his dreams after graduation and showing me and the world everything he has to offer and give with that big heart of his.

Graduation day will be a day of mixed emotions for me. I will be proud of him for all he has accomplished, but another part of me will be sad because he has grown up so fast.  More than anything, I wish his grandmother – my mother – were here to share this special day with us.  Mostly with me, because I am watching my little boy – who now hovers over me by at least a foot – starting a new chapter in his life, becoming the adult I always wanted him to be. And he is taking a piece of my heart with him.

As he closes one chapter in his life, and prepares to start a new one, I hope he remembers he will always be my little boy, the boy who stole my heart, who makes me laugh, who teaches me to be a better person, and who can never be replaced.  My love for that young man is unconditional.  I will always be his number 1 fan and his loudest cheerleader.

And my love for him is everlasting, starting from that day in January 2000 when he took my hand and didn’t let go.  Now, he is letting go and it is time, but he knows that even though the finish line is almost here, he knows where to find me now, after this graduation, after the next graduation, and with every milestone of his adult life. I will always be there in the sidelines cheering the loudest and beaming with pride.

Posted in Life in general, Motherhood

Hardest Moments of Being a Single Parent

I never planned on being a single parent, but it happened.  I love my children and I cannot imagine my life without them.  But parenting alone is hard, and there are some really big challenges that stand out.

Worrying Alone

There is no lonelier feeling than worrying about your children, about taking care of them, and keeping a roof over their heads alone.  When I am up all night because someone is sick, or I am struggling with whether I have made a right decision, I feel overwhelmed and alone. I don’t miss my ex, but I wish he played his part. The burden of knowing you are the only person invested in your children’s lives and future is scary and hard to bear alone.

Celebrating Alone

I look forward to the milestones of my children’s lives.  They are the best reminders that I am doing a good job, that I have not screwed them up, and that they are growing up healthy and turning out to be amazing human beings.  While I look forward to the celebratory milestones like every other parent, I hate celebrating these milestones alone.   I feel like a single voice cheering my children on, and it is a subtle and painful reminder that I am alone in this experience.

Crying Alone

Single moms cry – a lot, but it is the worst when you have moments where you have held it in for so long, and you finally let the tears flow.  And you can’t let your kids hear you.  So, you grab a pillow and you cry into that pillow.  The crying alone part is magnified because you know you have no one to help you or to tell you, “it’s going to be okay.” I know it is all up to me to pull myself together.  It is not like I have a choice. But I need these moments. And I just wish someone could hug me and tell me it will get better, even if that is not true.

Asking for Help

This may not come as a surprise to those of you who know me, but I hate asking for help. I just want to be enough for my children, so I try to convince myself I can manage and balance everything.  While people are willing and eager to help, it takes a lot on my part to swallow my pride and admit I actually need help and that I cannot do it all.  It is even harder to ask because my children and I have been let down by the very people that were supposed to be there for us. So, I focus on doing the best I can despite the circumstances because asking for help is just plain hard.

Disappointing My Children

Every parent on Earth disappoints their children once in a while.  But when you are a single parent, it feels like you are disappointing them more – maybe you’re not, but it sure feels like it.  You don’t have as much time and money, and you just can’t play the role of two people.  I wish I could give them everything they want, because all I want is for them to be happy. But alas, I cannot, and I need to learn to be okay with what is out of my control.

Explaining Why the Other Parent Isn’t Around or Doesn’t Show

Having to explain to my child something that is hard to understand is probably the hardest part of being a single parent.  Why doesn’t Dad call? Why doesn’t Dad show up when he is supposed to? Does Dad love me? Is he ever coming back?  Watching my child struggle to understand the absence of his father breaks my heart.  But I watched my older son before him go through the same thing, and he turned out just fine, so I can take some comfort in that.  He is almost 18 and tells me that he never missed out on his father not being around, and that I gave him more love than two parents could.  (Yea, just thinking about that makes me teary-eyed.)

I love my children and my life.  If I had a choice between single parenting and not being a mom at all, I would choose being a single mother without hesitation.  But as many single parents can tell you, some days are rough, and going at it alone is very lonely. We are all doing the best we can with the cards we have been dealt, and despite our worries, our kids are turning out just fine.

Posted in Life in general, Motherhood

I Am Amazed, Proud and Sad – All At The Same Time

It crept up on us, but here we are. My older son is now a senior in high school. He took senior pictures a couple weeks ago and that is when the reality sank in.  Then, there was his new car.  He leaves every morning on his own and returns home on his own. He no longer needs me to take him from point A to B.  The finish line is almost here. And, then there is college and one of these days, he will have his own place and I won’t be picking up after him. He barely needs me now and soon, he won’t need me at all.  And that is a good thing. It means I did well.  So, I am amazed, proud and sad all at the same time.

My son who I have raised all on my own since he was 3 months old is almost an adult and writing those words brings tears to my eyes.  They are happy and sad tears all at the same time.  Sad that the time flew by so fast, but happy and proud of the amazing young man he has become.

My amazing son was raised by his single mother- ME.  For almost 18 years, I did this all on my own.  Family will say they helped, but their help was very little, judgmental and/or not helpful at all. And that is what most families tend to do. My parenting was constantly judged and pulled under a microscope. But despite the criticisms I received, he turned out to be respectful, polite, honest, kind, generous, and this absolutely, amazing human being. He is also stubborn with a heart of gold and this is one my most favorite things about him.  I pat myself on the back every day because I did a damn good job.

There has been many years of trials and errors and highs and lows – so many times when I thought I was failing miserably.  I loved that amazing young man even when he hated me.  He has never had a father in his life, but you ask him, he says he never missed out and I gave him more love than both a mother and father could.   He reminds me daily I am the only parent he has ever needed and hearing those words especially helps on the days when I feel inadequate in both my parenting and as a person.

Here he is almost an adult (he will be 18 in a few months). The saddest and hardest part – for me at least – is I wish his grandmother – my mother – were here to see what a wonderful young man he is becoming. It has been over a year since we lost her and missing her hasn’t gotten easier.  Graduation is just around the corner and this is a milestone, I wish Mom was here to see.  But I know she is up there smiling and proud – not just of him, but of me as well.

What Mom may not have known when she was alive is that I learned to be a strong single mother by watching her.  She was 43 when Dad died leaving her with a 4-year-old and 4 teenagers and she did the best she could with what was handed to her.  She is reason I am able to raise my kids alone. When I lost her, I was afraid I couldn’t do it without her- any of it – but I have and I continue to because of the lessons she taught me.

Here we are, nearly at the finish line – my almost adult son and me.  I look at that young man who towers a foot over me and I feel immense pride.  I never expected – or wanted – this time to get here so fast but it did.  As a small child, he was always one step ahead of me, always running in front of me, instead holding my hand and walking next to me.

I will never forget the day when he was seven and said he was too old to call me “Mommy” and it was “Mom” from that point forward. Or when he was nine and told me that big boys don’t cry and he’s rarely shed a tear in my presence since. Or every single time he didn’t understand why I wasn’t ready to send him out on his own. He thought it was a lack of trust, rather than worry and fear. He has always trying to grow up so fast, trying to be older, wiser and more mature. And for all the times, he gave me better advice than most of the adults in my life, I should have known then how grown up he already was, but I wanted him to be my baby forever.  As much as I tried to keep him younger, he persisted and here we are.

This morning, as he got in his own car, waved goodbye, and headed off to school, I tried to hold the tears back.  I smiled and whispered to myself, “You did good …. No, you did better than good – you excelled.”

Posted in Life in general, Motherhood

Five Things I Hope My Teen Son Understands

A co-worker of mine recently said goodbye to her 18 year old son for six months, as he went off to National Guard boot camp. While I know she is proud of him, I know it cannot be easy having your child leave home for the first time. My teenage son is only two years younger and while I don’t think he will be leaving home at 18, as his plans are to go to school and live at home, I still wonder what the world has in store for him. Less than two years, he will be an adult and I wonder if I taught him enough that he can survive the current cruel world we live in.

Times have changed. College is expensive. Jobs are hard to get.  Young adults graduate with debt. There is more evil and hate in the world than ever before.  And he really isn’t an all American kid. I raised an American Muslim child who sees the world more innocently than I do or ever did.  I raised him to be tolerant in an environment that isn’t necessarily tolerant of differences. I raised him to be strong even though I was and continue to be a hovering mother. I taught him the importance of independence and I tell him every day never to rely on anyone while making sure his needs are met. Despite my examples, it scares me the type of world he is becoming an adult in, one where people associate faith with evil.

And I have learned a lot of from him as well.  He reminds me to be kind even when there is cruelty. He tells me to forgive even when I have been terribly hurt. He is a big old teddy bear, hovering over me by at least six inches and he is getting taller. I have to look up to talk to him, and I don’t always see a child in front of me. I think being raised by a single mother makes a young man softer, kinder, smarter, and more accepting of the world.  I pray that he has picked up on my strength, my willpower and determination.  I know that he sees how hard I work to keep a roof over his and his brother’s heads, but I don’t know if he is prepared the real world – the one that is unfair, unkind, and sometimes intolerant.

What I do I want him to know as he ventures out there in the world? How do I prepare him? Do I just pray that the values I instilled in him help him to be the person he needs and wants to be? And how in the heck do I prepare him for the cruel world out there?

There are so many things I really hope he understands as he makes his way in adulthood. Maybe he already does or he doesn’t but I am trying my best to make sure he survives out there.  Because from a mother’s perspective, the world sometimes seems like a zombie apocalypse.

Here are five things I hope he understands as he makes his way into the real world.

I Hope He Understands That There is Unfairness

This generation of children has been told that there are no losers and that we are all winners. The sad reality is that in real life there are losers and not everyone is a winner.  And there is plenty of unfairness. People get their way in life because of who they are and what they are have, and sometimes, no matter how hard you work, it might not matter. It is just the way life is. Everyone experiences unfairness at some point. And bad things happen to all of us – things that make us feel that life is harsh and very unfair – death, divorce, breakups, illness, job loss, etc. Unfairness has no prejudice, as no one is spared.  And it doesn’t mean you should give up trying.  You grieve, grin and bear it and move forward.

I Hope He Understands That There is Evil in World

I read this line in an article somewhere: “Being Middle Eastern is the new being black.”  It seems like it has been the case since the September 11, 2001 attacks on our country.  A bunch of crazies professing they are Muslims (i.e. ISIS or Al-Qaeda or whomever) have decided they speak for all of Islam.  And every time there is some act committed by a crazy Muslim, the entire faith has to apologize. Christianity doesn’t apologize for the KKK or crazies like Timothy McVeigh so why should all Muslims have to apologize for ISIS and the attack on an Orlando nightclub by some lunatic professing his allegiance to ISIS and some other radical group.  Yea, there is evil out there and I have to have to explain to my children that these people are not Muslims. They are killing innocent people, including Muslims. I have to tell my teenage son to be careful out there anytime one of these so-called crazy Muslims commits some horrific act and that people will judge and be hateful and that scares me as a mother. It scares me that it will get worse before it gets better.  And he is oblivious to all this right now and that scares me even more.

I Hope He Understands That There are Good People Out There Too

There are good and kind people in this world. They preach kindness and not hate. They won’t judge him because of his faith or because of his background.  I want him to be one of those good people. I want to accept everyone despite their differences. I want him to help others less fortunate and stand with goodness and against cruelty. I want him to never look down at anyone unless he is helping them up.

I Hope He Understands that Not Everyone Will Like Him

The older I get the more I realize how important it is not to care what people think, even family. It took me 40 years and a lot of heartache to figure this one out and I hope he figures it out much quicker than I did. I hope he learns that it is okay to be different and that others don’t like him or his choices.  He shouldn’t get worked up or feel hurt or try to change for anyone.  He should be himself and do what makes him happy and that those that truly love him will accept him no matter what. I know I will.  

I Hope He Understands That No One Owes Him Anything

Teenagers generally struggle with the idea that their parents and the world owe them. I guess it is a teenage thing and the sooner they outgrow this idea, the better. Although, some people never outgrow this. You have to work for what you want because no one will ever hand you anything on a silver platter. He has watched me work two jobs for at the last seven years trying to give him and his brother a good life. I don’t believe anyone owes me anything and I pray that my teenager learns from my example. And failure can also come with hard work and I hope that he understands that success does too.  We just have to keep trying, be brave, take risks and put ourselves out there if we expect to get anything out of life.

As I said before, when it comes to my children, I often see the world as a zombie apocalypse.  I can only protect them for so long before it is time for them to do that for themselves. I have pray that I am teaching them all the things and giving them all the tools to make it out there in the world. Because they will venture out whether I am ready or not.

Posted in Life is too short, Living Life As I See Fit, Motherhood, single mom

Letter to the Single Mom on Keeping It Together…You Don’t Have To

Dear Single Mom:

Most of us didn’t choose to be single moms but it happened.  Either because someone walked away, broke vows, and/or physically harmed us.  No matter how we got here, we never dreamed of being single moms when we were little girls.

I didn’t choose this.  I envisioned marrying the right person and staying happily married forever. But I ended up doing it alone and often muddling along trying to figure it out.

Like so many of you, I have found myself at my breaking point at times so I am not going to tell you have to enjoy every minute of this chaos. You don’t have to and it is not for me to tell you it could get easier, but sometimes, it does, and sometimes, it doesn’t.  I am not even going to tell you to hold it together because I already know you can.  I also know there are times when you can’t.

You put on a happy face even when feels like you have nothing left to give.  Guess what! You are allowed to crumble. You are allowed to cry. You are allowed to curse.  And you are even allowed to scream.  Not all the time, but sometimes, and just for a little while.

You are allowed to be stressed about making the rent on time, especially after that unexpected car repair bill or the month when the daycare bill is higher because school is out of session.  You are allowed to feel sad when all you want is a break from the world.  You are allowed to feel like you need a break from your kids – the very kids you love more than your own life.

The truth is moms – whether we are single moms or not –all fall apart sometimes.  Even when we try our best not to.   There are times when no matter how much we are trying to hold it together, it seems we are falling harder.  So, we have to let go.  We have to feel pain and fear and let go of expectations.

When your teenager is driving you insane for no reason at all. When your seven year old is throwing a fit because his father didn’t show.  When your family or friends are mad because you can’t spend time with them due to working two jobs. When your job needs you and you don’t have childcare for your sick child.  It is okay to fall apart.

Stop telling yourself you will push through, that you have to be stronger, that you shouldn’t cry, that you are not trying hard enough, or that you somehow are required to make it work.   Stop demanding such high expectations of yourself.  You are only human.  Sometimes, everything is a mess and you are trapped in a place you can’t escape and there is not a damn thing you can do about it.

Sometimes, you handle stress by smoking or drinking an extra glass of wine.   Other times, you handle stress in ways that don’t make sense to anyone but you.  It is okay.

I have been there and I get it.  Sometimes, I can’t seem to get a minute, an hour, a day, or even a week that is going right. Everything seems so impossible.  Today is one of those days for me. My mind is full and my heart is empty.

Ladies, motherhood is not for the weak and all the things that go with it, come in waves and sometimes, those waves crash harder than you ever expected.  And single motherhood – that is a whole new level of intensity.  You are alone to bear the burden of the battered shore.   So, go ahead, crumble, fall apart and feel your pain.  You will still be there in tact when the storm is over – I promise you that.

You don’t have to hold on to that pain or hide it.  Allow yourself to fall as far as you can even if it is the bottom of a f*cking bottomless pit.  Sometimes, we get so tied down doing everything for everyone and considering everyone’s feelings that we forget we are human.  We forget we are allowed to feel things and fall apart because we are trying to hold everyone else up. Meanwhile, no one is holding us up.

The thing about single mothers is that we have learned to stand successfully on our own two feet but so often, we stand alone.  But having to be Mom and Dad to our kids doesn’t mean we have to be perfect.  We are allowed to cry, break, crumble or wish we were anywhere but here.  It is okay to fall and fail and learn from our mistakes.  Because if we don’t do just that, we can’t move forward.

There is light at the end of the tunnel and the longer you do this, it gets easier to deal with the stress and frustration.  And there are still good moments even while you are struggling to find your footing.

My living room floor is often impossible to find because of all the toys that often inhabit it.  I have stepped on Legos and I found myself uttering four letter words. I have been awoken from deep sleep by a crying child and I have been thrown up on and pooped on.  And I have been told by a teenager that I know nothing or that he hates me.  But I keep going and when I can’t keep going, I break down.

There is clothes in my closet that I’d like to fit me again but that probably won’t happen because my hips are proof I gave life to my children.  And I can’t let that worry consume me when I am trying to raise my boys right and while I am trying to make ends meet.  In my home, there is yelling, fighting, crying and losing it all before 8 am.  I have cleaned up drawings off the walls of my modest home and I have done it hyped up one at least on pot of coffee – and with creamer that isn’t even fat-free.

My bed is soft and comfortable but it isn’t mine alone. I often wake up to a foot in my face – or in my back or my neck.  There is curiosity the minute we walk in the front door and rebellion more often than I want to believe. Exhaustion is my normal but it is also a reminder of all the gifts in of my life.

There are often smudged windows and stray socks and shoes no one can find. New clothes and shoes, haircuts, and loose teeth are a reminder they are healthy and continue to grow.  It is disbelief and pride all in one.

I am overwhelmed and unhinged especially between the dandelions I receive and the mud on my kitchen floor.  My life is tiring and complex but it is where it is supposed to be.  And the meltdowns are plenty and allowed.

I know it is okay to let the rain fall and allow the storm to pass.  Sometimes, you just have to crash and burn so you can rise from the flames.  You will come out better, stronger and more appreciative of your loved ones.

To every single mother trying to keep it together, you don’t always have to.


Another single mom just trying

Posted in Life is too short, Living Life As I See Fit, Motherhood

As Real As I Can Be


My 40th birthday is coming up here real soon, about a month and a half away. The older I get, the more I see my life is something to be celebrated.  I triumphed through some of the most difficult circumstances and looking back, I am choosing not to have regrets.  I have tried to be a good mother, daughter, sibling and friend.  I have tried to be someone’s wife twice.  I have tried my best, and sometimes, my best wasn’t enough. And I accept that.

I am thankful that I am an imperfect woman.  I am not trying to be someone I am not. Not anymore. I am learning that I have to be real and I do that by being as real as I can be. I am who I am and I can’t change my experiences.  I can only look to the future and continue to do the best I can.

I am in an imperfect woman and I embrace that. I used to think that my imperfections were a bad thing, but the older I get the more I realize that it is okay to imperfect.  Being imperfect means I try harder every single day to be a better version of myself.  And I continue to be a work in progress.

I am a mother, legal assistant, patient advocate, freelance writer and frustrated novelist. I am other things to other people but these are the things I am to myself.  I am a mother first and my kids are my world.  I wish I could have more kids or that my life had turned out different but it didn’t and I am learning to be okay with that.

There is no Prince Charming in my life because I don’t believe in princes and fairy tales. If there is a weird prince out there for me, he’s probably as confused as I am.  He is probably not going to ride in on his white horse because he’s probably stuck in a tree somewhere and I’ll have to rescue him when I least expect it. But that is fine because I am perfectly imperfect and he is in the same predicament.

Often I say I am tired of being in the business of saving people but I do it time and time again and there will always be someone to rescue.   Because that is how I am hardwired.  I am a sucker for people who need help.   And chances are, I will save Prince Imperfect from that tree without fire department assistance.

I don’t feel like I need rescuing but I wish someone would save me from spilling my coffee all over the living room carpet.  I do it more than once a week and I am constantly cleaning up my own mess.  Although, secretly I wish a shirtless Channing Tatum would clean the carpet for me while I put my feet up or take a nap.  Actually, he might as well wear a shirt.

I love to laugh and be silly and I have one heck of a wicked and crazy sense of humor.  I am straightforward person who has to bite her tongue because if I don’t, I piss a lot of people off. I don’t always trust and with good reason, and it takes a lot to trust for me.  So, if I ever trust you, please know how hard that is.  I am faithful and loyal and I continue to be even when I have been hurt, and I definitely keep secrets even for people who haven’t kept mine.

I am the person who leaves money in the parking meter for the next person, or puts money when I see someone’s parking meter is going low.  I am the person who stops to help when no one else does.  I try to be a good person in every aspect of my life but it isn’t always easy, considering life has forced me to wary.  But this me, as real as can be.

People think I hold grudges but I don’t. I walk away to protect myself from getting hurt again.  I burn bridges so I don’t cross them again.  I don’t look back.  When I have looked back, it has only cost me to get hurt again.  The older I get the less I choose to wear my heart on my sleeve.  I used to but it forced me to let people in who I wanted to believe wouldn’t hurt me.  I am learning that if people can only fool you twice; after that, you are a willing participant.

I see myself as nerdy.  I don’t wear glasses anymore.  It’s been contacts for the last two years but I am still a big ol’ geek.  I love reading and writing and visiting museums and places of history.  I love nature and all nature has to offer.  Fall is my favorite season and I keep telling people I am going to move some place warm but I know I will never leave Ohio.

I am not a morning person and I am usually grouchy until I have had my coffee.  I am grouchy when I am tired and when I am hungry.  I am driven and I work hard, but sometimes, I forget to stop and smell the roses, and I really wish someone would remind me to. I pride myself on how strong I am, but secretly, I wish someone else would take the lead.  I worry a lot and sometimes for no reason at all. But that is who I am, and I am as real as can be.

I have faith and I believe in God. God reminds me every day that everything is possible even when it seems impossible. I struggle with my faith and I worry that I am not enough for God and my faith.  I am learning that this one has a lot more to do with my experiences than anything else, and I am trying to be better and to let go of the past, and focus on the present and future.

I cry at the drop of a hat, even watching commercials on TV.  I stay away from the news, but when I don’t, there better be a full box of Kleenex nearby.   And because I am geeky, I watch science fiction shows and no matter how gruesome the Walking Dead is, I don’t miss an episode.  I love anything to do with the supernatural, zombies, werewolves, and especially vampires.  Sometimes, I wonder if some people are actually real life vampires.  Specific people, actually.  Yea, I have a wild imagination.

After a long, tiring day, sometimes, I just want to sit down and do nothing.  I think I am an awful cook and sometimes, I burn dinner, but sometimes I don’t.  Secretly, I am great cook, but I don’t have a lot of time on my hands so I tell people I can’t cook. Don’t tell anyone but I dream about being Rachel Ray. Sometimes, I am too tired to load the dishwasher but then I wake up in the middle of the night, and remember there is a sink full of dishes, and then, I get up to load the dishwasher.

I am notorious for second guessing myself and I wish there was someone to help me to stop.   But this is me, real and imperfect at the same time.  I will never be able to balance my check and I think that the banking industry has some conspiracy against those of us who lack basic accounting capabilities. I know it is not true but it makes me feel better to think it is.

I don’t always feel good enough for or that give enough in my relationships.  Mostly, I just want to be reminded that I am enough.  I am not perfect but I am as real as they come.  And here I am, embarking on the big 4-0.  Let’s see what 40 has in store for me.

Posted in Acceptance, Life in general, Motherhood, Tough Choices

That was 21 years ago, and 2 husbands ago…

As I sit here on this rainy, cold, fall Saturday morning, I am thinking about where my life is now. And I realize something very important.  I am not the scared girl I was 21 years ago. I always had a rebellious side. I always wanted to be someone that I was told I couldn’t be but when it came down to it all, I did what was expected.  Do I regret doing what my family wanted? For a long time, I thought I did but for all the wrong turns my life, I am still right where I need to be.  See, if not for those obstacles, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today – strong, successful, determined, capable, and flexible but as stubborn as ever.

I have spent a lot of my life struggling to do what is expected of me especially when that is not what I wanted for my life. In hindsight, I never expected the lessons that came with life.  August would have been 21 years since I married my first husband. I sometimes I feel like the men I married took away 21 years of my life I can’t get back because neither marriage was good for me – especially for my emotional health. But then I remember what I got out of those marriages. I got my kids, and then, I realize that all my regrets don’t really matter.

At the time I was thinking about leaving my second husband, I was struggling with my chronic illness diagnoses, my brother’s illness, and then his death. Shortly after, my mother had a stroke and I was taking care of her. Then one day, I woke up and I realized how severely depressed I was. Depression was far worse than anything I had ever endured. It was lonely and scary, but somehow, though the grace of God, I made my way out of the darkest hole I had ever found myself in.  With therapy and medication, I find a part of me that for so long missing. The strong me – the “me” that hated defeat, that didn’t need acceptance, and the one that felt enough for herself and for God, and didn’t need to be for anyone else.

Sometimes, I would love to go back to a time when it was just me, young and not stuck in my life but seriously, that was 21 years ago and 2 husbands ago. I will never be that girl again and while looking back is bittersweet, I wouldn’t trade that girl for the woman am I today (although I wish I had her health).  I recently spoke to a former teacher of mine who was not the least bit surprised how much I have overcome.  He said that he always knew that I had it in me to rise above and make the best of difficult situations.  He reminded me that in the end I am still me, just all grown up and upgraded.

The truth is, I just took the long road to get to where I am today. I have struggled to get here and I have questioned myself, God, and my faith many times.  I still struggle, have setbacks where I second guess myself, and I still struggle with my God and my faith.  The only difference is I don’t struggle for as long. I don’t second guess myself as often, and I don’t let people get into my head. And while sometimes, I wonder where God is I still lean towards Him especially during hard times.  The reason that I have changed is because I have learned to know who I am, what I stand for, and mostly that I am enough.  I will never be the girl I was 21 years ago and 2 husbands ago and I accept that.

And for all the times I have wondered where God was when I struggled and fell, he was right there by my side lifting me up. How else would I have gotten up?  I don’t know what God sees in me but He sees something, and He has made me believe that everything is possible, especially when I believe in Him and myself.

I spent a lot of my life trying to be accepted by others. I have taken blame for things I didn’t do by simply not responding or defending myself.  I have forgiven even when I have been hurt so badly. I have learned that I have to forgive if I expect to be forgiven.  I have given people help that turned around and stabbed me in the back, or that forgot my constant kindness no matter how many times they hurt me.  In those moments, I question my choices and then I remember that the reason that I bounce back from setbacks is because of the person I am, and that is what God sees.  He sees me hurting, struggling, stumbling but trying even when I have nothing left to give.  But He also sees something in me that I don’t see. I don’t know what that is, but who am I to question the Almighty?

I am not the girl I was 21 years ago, or the woman I was 5 years ago.  Both were weak, self-sacrificing in the name of acceptance and thought that people cared about their tears. But I was sadly mistaken. The girl I once was grew up and while she is still willing to help others, she is cautious and no longer lets anyone in. She kept secrets for others, even though they didn’t keep hers.  The people she thought she could trust with her secrets reminded her that no one can be trusted, and that her secrets should be kept to herself.  She now bares little no resemblance to the girl from 21 years ago and 2 husbands ago.  She is gone and you know what, the woman she became, she is done looking behind her, and she is focusing on looking forward.  The past is the past for a reason, right?

Posted in Chronic illnesses, Motherhood, Tough Choices

Another New Year is Upon Us

As many of you may have noticed, I have not blogged here in a while and I haven’t done it that often in 2014. I can honestly say that 2014 has kept me busy. I have focused on my freelance writing and I had also posted at my single mom blog, in addition to my full time job. I have also been considering making some professional changes. I don’t want to go into any detail but it is something that long overdue.

One of things that I put aside was finishing up a novel. I started writing one, finished it and never got around to actually finalizing it.  I wrote another and blogged it.  I finished it as well but never really got around to editing and updating it. It is not that I don’t want to finish and publish a book. It is my dream but my dream has to be put on hold right now.

There are other things that I recently decided are important for me to work on. My RA and fibro have not been as well managed as they were previously. I don’t know if this is a result of recent stresses or just because I have started my seventh year after diagnosis living with diseases. I have also decided that while I had counseling in the past, I am struggling with other things I need to work on. I am smart enough to know when I need to talk to someone and when I need to work on myself. I am always willing to better myself because I don’t I can’t be the mother my children need and deserve.

In the past, I struggled with the setbacks that life handed me – chronic illness, my brother’s death, the end of my marriage, my mother’s stroke and then just trying to be alone with my kids and my life. I struggled with being enough.  For the longest time, I thought I mastered my biggest demons.  I mastered a lot but I am still not the best version of myself. I need to be the best version of me. I feel like I recently lost sight of who I am. I feel like I didn’t prioritize what was most important.  If I had, I wouldn’t have made a mess.

With a New Year just around the corner, I am working on making changes. I probably won’t have much opportunity to blog here but I haven’t lost my focus. I am just trying to figure out who I am again because I am feeling like I have lost that person.

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones. I hope 2015 brings you much good health and happiness.

Posted in Life in general, Motherhood, rheumatoid arthritis

Where Did 2014 Go?

I have not blogged here in quite some time.  Life has kept me busy as possible.  I am having a hard time figuring out where the year has gone. One day it was a January 1, now we are close to Dec. 31. I even just realized we are only a week away from Thanksgiving.

Of late, my life has resembled some sense of normal.  I moved to a bigger place and my sister and her kids moved in with me.  Other than that, life is just moving along.  I have thought about finding a job closer to home because I am starting to get worn out from my long drive.  I have been thinking about finishing one of the books I have written and I have also been pondering the future. I have been in touch with my daughters – one is now married, another engaged to be married and the other talking about college.

My RA haven’t been in the best place lately. The weather has gotten cold quickly here in NE Ohio and I have been in the worst kind of pain. My pain seems to be worse on my left side. It was so bad last week and I had my wrist and hand wrapped because I needed to support to do my job.  We are getting a few warm days coming up but then it is back to cold temps before Thanksgiving.  I am sure most of you in the states are dealing with the same situation and I am sure your pain has been just as bad. Old man winter ticked off early this winter.

The boys are doing well. My oldest, age 14, plays the role of the rude teenage quite well.  Sometimes, I wonder if he thinks that it is a requirement to play that role.  My six year old – a first grader – has been struggling with behavior issues at school and at home. He is a very bright child and does extremely well in school but the behavior is hard to understand.  He struggles with the fact his father is rarely around. I think it has been over five weeks since he has seen or heard from his father.  I don’t know what to do about the issue.  I wish he (the father) would just stay away if he is going to see his son once every 1 to 2 months or longer.

And I am still wondering what happened to 2014? And figuring out what my plan for 2015.  I just know 2014 has forced me to see life quietly and purely and I am really good with that.  Yes, there were and are some tough moments, especially with my health, but no one is immune from hard times.  I hope all of you have a blessed and warm Thanksgiving.  Enjoy the holiday season.