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.”

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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.

Sincerely,

Another single mom just trying

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

As Real As I Can Be


40

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.

Posted in Life in general, Motherhood, Tough Choices

I am okay


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There has not much going on in my life of late.  I did get that promotion at work and I was training for it, training my replacement, and going my actual work so it made things quite busy and stressful for me but I made it.  I always do.  Other than all the craziness at the office, things have been quiet.

Fall is my favorite season but it has been cooler than anticipated so I have not been able to enjoy it.  We actually had snow about a week ago but we are back to normal temperatures this week.  My joints are achy in the morning due to the cooler weather and also because I am waiting on my Humira.  I am delayed at least a week at this point (if not more, I lost track) because of an insurance change and waiting for that approval.  I don’t know that my joints can take any more than a few days.  The last thing I want is a major flare up. I don’t miss the days of bad flare ups.  To me, some pain is normal but I have been fortunate this year to only have had two or three major ones.

Home life is quiet and my boys and I are doing well. I have just been trying to focus on the here and now and make every moment count. I am still doing my freelance writing and my advocacy at my Alliance Health sites. Working on my book has been put in the backburner until I find the time and focus to work on it.  I am not rushing it.  Good novels don’t happen overnight.

It has been quite some time since I have been able to say this but I am content.  I am happy and I am okay with where I am at in life. I am not where I thought I would be but I am right where I should be.

All the things I have seen and endured in the past few years have led me to a place where I know I truly belong.  And I wouldn’t change a thing because if it wasn’t for a lot of heartache, loss, patience, stress, and life lessons, I wouldn’t have gotten here right where I belong.  I am thankful for every lesson and every tear. I am stronger than ever and still able to fight, except I am glad that there isn’t a fight. I am tired of fighting. I am okay with there being no obstacles and my focusing on what is important right here and right now – my kids and our happiness.

I see greener pastures ahead and I see them for the long term. I am finally where I should be in life and I don’t mean in my career or my financial situation.  I mean in the grand scheme of things.  I, all of all people, know that life isn’t easy but it is so worth it.  It is so worth fighting to be happy and get past obstacles and people that stop you from being happy.

I am okay. And I am happy. And I am at ease. And I have not been able to say for a long time.  I am okay with where I am at because I know what it is like to be on the other side.  Depression is so ugly and it sucks the life out of you.  It did for me and I would not have wished that on my worst enemy.  But the worst is behind me and I sure hope it stays there.  And I am looking towards the future with open arms and heart full of dreams.

Posted in Chronic illnesses, Life in general, Motherhood

An Early Morning Approach


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I constantly pride myself for being able to laugh even when I want to cry.  I have had some difficult times and I would like to believe the worst is behind me and maybe it is. I am hopeful that it is but I have just kind of learned to roll with the punches. And this whole laughing when I want to cry thing, not sure if it is something to be proud of.

Between two jobs, two kids, a bitter ex and a very nosey family, some days, I am not quite sure how I make it.  Sometimes, I am not sure how I make through the day without crying.  And how I made it through yesterday without crying.  My day started out with a nasty texts from the ex and a broken windshield. I told myself that crying or being upset wasn’t going to repair the windshield or change my ex.  Both of these, I had no control of.

I still worry about the future, about my chronic illnesses, about my kids and doing this all this my own, but mostly I worry about whether I am doing it right. I remember the toll that it took on me and I don’t want to go back there. Depression is one heck of ugly thing and I would never wish it on my worst enemy.

Despite my early morning approach to venting, I did get the promotion I mentioned in a prior post.  I am excited and nervous at the same time. My new position, while still within the legal department of company, is completely different than what I was doing before. I have confidence in myself that I will do fine but I have tendency to be my biggest critic.  I should remind my biggest critic how capable I am but it is like an inner voice trying to dissuade him from my goals.

I should know better. I write well and I have done well for myself in writing, advocating and my legal job.  I have done well as a mother – a single mother and I am more than capable of being successful but I have spent my whole life trying to find that something that will somehow make my life just right.  I don’t know what that is and as I get older, I am starting to wonder whether it even matters. My late father used to play the lottery every week and he would always say that his ship would come in one day.  When I was a kid with a wild imagination, that ship was a long and luxurious yacht. As I got older, that ship started to look more like a cargo ship and now, it is merely a broken speed boat. I wish that I could be that dreamer that thought her dad’s ship was a yacht but life’s challenges have forced me to see that ship differently. I don’t know whether that is good or bad.

As for my book, I am going through a frustrated author phase. I was so into it and everything felt so right and then, it didn’t.  And I am stuck trying to figure what direction I am going and I just have this sense that I may need to start over.  Essentially, the story line is the same but I just want to introduce it in a way that pulls the reader in and I am stuck trying to figure out how to make a dead womanizer the main character.  So, I am taking a break and plus, I have several articles to work on.

It is getting cooler and I am waking up achy in the mornings. Sometimes, I go to bed in pain. The winter months always leave me wondering if my RA is getting worse.  I don’t think it is but winter leaves me questioning my ability to manage it and balance it against my life. I think the part that scares me the most is that the returning symptoms make me wonder if disability is around the corner. So many of us are too young to be thinking about disability but we do. Sad, but true.

 I don’t remember a life before RA and sometimes, I wonder if my kids do – well, my five year old probably not but my 13 year old, perhaps is in the same ballpark as me – trying to remember a time where our lives were normal. I wrote about this in an article title Parenting with Chronic Illness: One Mother’s Lessons Learned.  You will have to check it out.  I have gotten back a lot of positive feedback on it.

Anyway, it is time to start my day and considering I did not fall asleep until 11 pm last night, that is a great feat.  Unfortunately, my tiring day was on my mind as was my formerly broken windshield. I took care of the windshield right away but I felt defeated and not because of the cost either (that bothered me too) but mostly because it was not a good way to start the day. So, guess what – today will be better. And if it isn’t, well I will do what I always do – laugh when I want to cry.  🙂

Posted in Life in general, Life is too short, Motherhood

I know what is next – at least what I want next to be


WhatsNext_logoI have been away from this blog – not too long but long enough. I have been busy working on several projects including my full-time legal job, my freelance articles, and my book and just life in general. And life is going well and I have been handling and managing life pretty well. At my last appointment with my therapist, we again talked about what was next in my life and I decided that were four things in my life that were important right now and that I was putting my attention to.

My Book

The first of the four items on my “what’s next” list is finishing my book and it is something I am excited about. My plan was to have a draft by the end of September but it did not happen and it has not happened yet. There are a lot of fillers that still need to go into it and I am not rushing it. I did finally decide on a working title. I am thinking of calling it “The Devil You Know.” Of course, I have left you now intrigued about my book and what it is about so I will give you some idea.

A womanizer is killed and after his murder, things start to come out about his past. Things start to come out about his killer too, but we don’t find out who the killer is until the very end.  The difference between the womanizer and the killer is that the womanizer is who he is.  There are two sides to him, the hardworking and generous side and the womanizing side and he has never hidden that. The killer, on the other hand, is someone he knows very well, and no one knows what person’s agenda was or is. No one knows this person’s background, this person’s intentions or actions. And while many suspect this person, they cannot place this person as the killer.  There is more to the story but that it is the main focus and my theme throughout the book is “Trust the devil you know, not the one you don’t know.”

I am really excited about it but it is still a project in the making. I have set up a new deadline for the end of the year for finding a publisher but I understand my timeline is subject to change. I am perfectionist. If I am going to write a book, it is going to be a great book. Plus, I am starting to think about my next book, a humorous book about single parenting.

A House

Item two is purchasing a home. This is one I have been thinking about lately. I am a homebody and I like stability in my life and in order to feel secure about my residence, I want it to be mine. Granted, I am a single mom and buying a home might be difficult but it is on my to-do list of things that I need to do to create stability in my life and my children’s lives.  I am hoping to have this goal completed before the next school year starts but I am open-minded, flexible and above-all realistic.  It is a goal that I hope to achieve sooner than later but I also like to plan and I know that everything happens in due time.

My Writing Career versus My Legal Career

My writing career and my legal career are aspects of my life that I think about often. I am a good writer and a good legal assistant.

Currently, I am vying for a promotion and I am hopeful that I will get it.  I also have thought up scenarios in my head about the possibility of them not picking me. I know that I will be upset because I am the most qualified candidate but I have also told myself that if it isn’t me, there will be a next time. I could be angry but the worst thing that could come out of this scenario is that I would be right back where I started.  While I would like more, it is still better than the alternative.

As far as my writing career, I write freelance articles for Alliance Health and I will write freelance articles for others who ask. I also maintain this blog, a chronic illness blog, a review blog, and a single mom blog. I am a busy lady and I jump at every opportunity to write.  Don’t worry; I am not as swamped as you think I am. I love writing and it is therapeutic.  When I am not writing, I am reading. It is just who I am and I am constantly trying to improve myself.

As you can see, I am a very hard working and I have a very good work ethic – oh wait, this isn’t an interview but I am so ready for the interview. But you get the point. I am happy with where I stand on my legal career and my writing career. I have come a long ways and I have grown both professionally and academically.

Where I Stand on Love

Relationships have been a struggle for me and I have had my share of failed ones.  I just know that I am better for the choices I have had to make. I tried to stay in my marriage and I tried my damned hardest but at the end of the day, my hardest just wasn’t enough. I have developed a new attitude about my experiences. I have changed and I am not the person I used to be. I have learned from my mistakes and I am better for this. I no longer have regrets and the past is where it should be – long behind me. I have lived, I have loved and I have moved on.

My perspective on who I should be and who I should be with has changed. The hardest lesson I have learned is that I should not be with anyone simply to get approval or to fulfill someone else’s agenda. I am human and I deserve to be with someone who loves me for who I am and doesn’t want to change me. I have been with men and I have had friends who wanted to change me because what I was wasn’t enough for them.

I have learned that I have to be enough for me first and if someone wants to love me, what I have to offer should be enough. I refuse to change for anyone even if that person says they love me. Right now, I am happy with it just being my kids and me. It does not, however, mean that I am not open to finding love. I am just okay with being alone right now and this is an important revelation for me. I am glad that I am content with who I am, who I have become and mostly, how much I have grown as a person, as a mother, and as a professional.  And I need someone to love me for who I am and what I have to offer, not for who they can change me into. I am done changing and I am finally accepting me.

Where I Stand Period

The truth is, and I am no longer embarrassed to say this, it took a lot of therapy to get to a place of contention.  Yes, I know I have flaws and either I change them or I accept them but I am not going to let them consume my life or make me dislike myself. Moreover, I am not going to let anyone make me feel bad about who I am or the choices I have made – not anymore.  Good riddance to those people because they are no longer in my life.

Posted in Life in general, Motherhood

Real Life – My Life


Many of you have wondered where I have disappeared off to but the only place I have been for the past month is trying to figure out what’s next in my life.  A week ago, at this time, I was embarking a new chapter in my life. It was the end of an era for me and I was ready to move forward.  I still am and I am happy with what’s happened.  I am free of a burden that I carried for nearly six years.  Making that decision six years ago, I did not know and I could not have known how much pain and heartache would come out of it.  Painful, it was but I came out stronger than I thought I would.

In my last post, I was trying to determine what was next in my life.  I felt like I had already done everything that I was supposed to do.  I was/am raising my kids, writing, advocating, and working and I was not sure what more I could do. Three weeks ago, it came to me. I started writing a book – a mystery.  I had no expectations or plans.  I just started writing – that obviously explains my absence.  My “crappy” first draft is near completion and I am getting ready for the editing and re-editing part.   If you are interested in being a second pair of eyes and a critic, I would love for you to read it before I start figuring out how I am going to publish it.  It will probably be towards the end of September when I will have a close-to-final copy ready.

So, here it is! I am writing a book and I plan on getting it published.  I am giving myself a deadline of Thanksgiving and I am going to work hard to meet my deadline. This was what was next for me. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer and my articles gave me the courage to embark on that journey.  But it was not only that, it was the people who believed in me too, dear friends, family and most importantly, my kids.  This is me moving forward and making the choice to working on being truly happy.  I closed a chapter that was a big part of my life last week and this week, now, I am ready to embark on an amazing journey.

I don’t know if my book will ever be a best seller. Heck, I don’t know if anyone will read it but it is the next part of my journey I am calling real life.  Real is the way James Wesley describes in his country music song.

My life is real and it has taken a lot of time and even depression to get to the place I am not now. And I am okay.  One day, I awoke and saw that the dark cloud that was haunting me was lifted.  Lifted are both the sadness and the anger that had taken hold of me for so long. I wanted nothing but to be the mother my children deserved and every day, I continue to work on that and be better.  Some days are still hard and raising a teen and a kindergartner all on your own isn’t easy but it is life, my life and it is real.

The boys went back to school last week.  Well, my eighth grader went back and my four year old started school Friday.  He turns five next month and I struggled with whether he was ready to enter school since he just made the cut off.  I think it is worse on me than him. I even stay longer at the daycare making sure he has everything he needs.  He is in the classroom with the school age kids now.  But, I will get through it and so will he.

It is a beautiful day today – 80 degree temps and sun is shining. I feel happy and all it took was removing someone from my life. It wasn’t easy but it had to be done. My RA has been controlled but my left knee has been bothering me.  I always knew that RA would cause some joint damage but it has only been five years. I will just take things as they come.  I really don’t have a choice. After all, this is real life – my life.

Posted in Chronic illnesses, Fibromyaloga, Life in general, Motherhood, rheumatoid arthritis, Tough Choices

I Strive for Normal


A few evenings ago, I stood in my kitchen making dinner when a rush of nausea and dizziness hit me.  I leaned on the counter for support.  I had stood too long and my body was rebelling. I left the hot kitchen and headed to my leaving room to sit down while the episode passed.  By the time I had sat down, I was sweating profusely.  I asked my 13 year old to grab an icepack from the freezer. I placed the icepack on my forehead and rested for a bit.

I finished making dinner and the rest of my evening was shot because I was too tired to do anything.  I even left the kitchen a mess until the following morning.  I was even too tired to ask my 13 year old to load the dishwasher.

Being in the kitchen and preparing meals used to be one of my favorite things. These days, my kids are lucky if they get one home cooked meal per week.  Usually, dinner consists of whatever is fast on most nights.  When I am able to prepare a home cooked meal that requires effort, I feel like I bring some normalcy back in our home. Or when I am able to keep up with the housework and laundry, it seems like my kids can have a normal mother.  Normal is what I strive for but it is not easy and it doesn’t always work in the way that I want it to.

Despite my RA and fibro being somewhat controlled, I have learned that normal is the exception to the rule.  When I try to make my life feel normal, I end up paying for it.  I am a busy working mother and I am raising two very active boys and sometimes, I can barely keep up with everything life throws at me.  Something as simple as preparing a meal should not be so hard but when you live with chronic illness, it is big feat.   It is as close to normal as I can get.

When a person is healthy, their life and identity is built around what they are able to do and how their body helps them do it.  When you are sick, you start to doubt yourself.  You want some control of your life and you keep striving to reestablish normalcy. After all, chronic illness changes what normal is and most of us don’t like the type of normal or the lack of normal it brings.

I am still striving for normal even through normal can be hard.  Normal is just the little things like preparing a meal that involves standing for long period without having to rest in the middle of it or after it.  Normal means that I can clean my home without having to rest every half hour.  Normal means that after doing laundry I can actually fold it and put it away.  Normal means that I can spend the day at a park or beach with my kids without the heat or cold getting to me.  Normal means that a long drive isn’t tiring.  Normal means that my kids get to feel what it is like to have a mother who can do so much more than I can do.  Normal means that I feel like I can do the things that others can do including creating a work-life balance despite living with chronic illness.

I strive for normal everyday and some days, it can be pretty hard. Other days, I get pretty close. And once in a while, I have a rare day where normal doesn’t wear me out and it allows me to feel like any other member of the human race. Normal isn’t my reality but I keep striving for days where it can be.