Feel Good About Living a Full Life

The other day a new friend texted me to invite me to a backyard picnic and sauna get together. I wanted to go instantly, but it was going to be on Saturday, during my weekend with my kids. Just as quickly as my excitement came, that little glimmer of doing something different and new started to go away. When you have 65% of the parenting time, that’s a lot of days you are with the kids. It’s not possible to have the same free weekends as your single-parent friends and it’s really impossible to always have plans align to happen when you don’t need a sitter.

I always struggle with this, whether I should just say no right away because it’s my time with them or try to make it work. I decided to see if my oldest was working (he wasn’t scheduled) and asked him to spend a couple hours with his siblings. Maybe they could go see the new Guardians of the Galaxy. I happily replied to my friend I could go with her to the sauna party.

Knowing I had this planned gave me something to look forward to this weeempty-cupk. The kids and I had a great Friday night and all of Saturday together. We hung out at home in our pjs (like much of Minnesota, probably, after a week of rain). We played basketball at the gym before I had to head out. Up until it was time for me to go, I was determined to not let my mom-guilt creep in and steel my joy. By the way, I don’t recommend Googling “mom guilt” because you will get everything- pros and cons, giving in to the mom guilt, how to cure mom guilt, don’t have mom guilt…it’s all there.

I’m a single mom and I’ve decided I get to enjoy life and what comes my way, if I can make it work out with everyone taken care of, because to be honest, fun stuff doesn’t happen very often. And, let’s be real. If I was still married, we’d most likely get a sitter to have a date night. Same-same, right?

Going to the sauna party was as much for me as it was for them. They ate pizza with their big brother and his girlfriend, they went and saw the movie. They adore him, and as he will be graduating next year and going off to college, I know they think getting to do this with teenagers was the coolest thing. Having new experiences is on my constant bucket list because really, going to sauna was the thing I didn’t even know I missed and needed. I want to keep my bucket list open to what may happen.

Relaxing in that heat with good company, smelling smells that bring me back to mimg_1567y childhood, jumping into that freezing cold, refreshing creek, meeting interesting new people in community, laughing in the crowded sauna with sweat dripping everywhere…I haven’t felt so refreshed and cleansed in…I don’t even know how long. Those few hours on a Saturday evening was everything. Mom guilt gone.
As moms, we carry so much responsibility and worry that we are doing things right. Although I’m a single mom who has them the majority of the time, I rarely do things when they are home. It’s all them, all the time. I often miss out on doing things I’d love because they are home and I feel bad about going. Then my weekends without them are empty and well, we can’t wait for the perfect time all the time.

The thing I worry most is that they will think a woman should become martyrs to their children once they become a mom. Taking care of ourselves is not only healthy for them to see and for us to do, but for us to maintain a sense of who we were before we became moms. The woman we were still exists and we can’t forget her. I’m not saying go out partying all the time or to abandon your children, obviously. I’m just saying, whether it’s two hours at the gym every day or a few hours on a Saturday to go shopping without kids, dinner with friends or a few hours to do some other thing, it’s important.

It’s that woman before kids that we know we are that makes us the mom we are today. So do those things, have experiences to talk about. My kids LOVED hearing about my afternoon and I’m pretty sure they want to sauna and jump into a freezing cold creek now, too. I’m not a perfect mom, but I’m perfect for my kids, and that makes me a good mom.

In Response to “13 Reasons Why”

I absolutely am having new, difficult conversations because of this show. With my 10 year old. Not because she watched it, but because she discovered a friend has a 13 Reasons Why book she is currently writing/filling in (journal style). She discovered a couple of the same friends (who have the books) have started cutting themselves.

Let me tell you something. This is ALL new. Until this show, her classmates weren’t doing this.

Maybe I’m just a mom, with no real psychology background, but I can with almost 100% certainty that 10, almost 11 year olds aren’t ready for this. They are not prepared for what they will see. And, they’re not developmentally ready to DEAL with or process the trauma of watching this show that is full of mature content: rape, self-harm/cutting, bullying, drug and alcohol use by underage students. 

I have strict settings on our Netflix account and I know she could still access it if she really wanted. She reported the cutting and is now being hated on by kids because she reported it. Daily, I have to reassure her she did the right thing because maybe these kids don’t realize if they cut too deep, they could die. Even though other kids reported it, it’s not enough. The ones who report are being bullied for reporting because they were scared and worried for their friend and what the cutting could mean, because they don’t really know.

We got an email today from the principal about knowing what our kids are watching, that this content is too mature for elementary age kids, so be ready and protect your kids from Netflix and social media. Selena Gomez can go wherever she can go…I’d say hell but that might imply death and that defeats the purpose of what I’m saying. She produced this. She has to know about bullying and what all this means. But she’s also an adult now and however we intend for material to be seen, we have to believe our younger kids will see it because they hear about it. Does she know what it feels like to see a 10 year olds face while explaining suicide or cutting? That this is a show that can be relevant to why people may commit suicide?!

If it wasn’t about her suicide, would people be saying, well this happens and needs to be talked about, viewed in such a way?? I would never say that if it was about rape or sexual abuse, especially if it was depicted in such a raw way. Just because it happens, doesn’t mean we need to make such mature content available to all kids. Yes, those things happen too, and I sure as hell would be equally as protective, and still know we have to have the conversations in an age appropriate and developmentally appropriate way.

My daughter is aware. She hates war and genocide and that women experience wage inequality. She knows about the atrocities of war, of what’s happening politically, socially, and what has happened historically. She knows she is raised by a single mom. She knows her Mom has ptsd and anxiety. She is a wise 10 year old. She knows about depression, how exercise helps us feel better and self care. I’m not sheltering her. But this… no. There are other ways.

JUST STOP NOW.

when the kids aren’t so little anymore

Everywhere I look online, I see moms with young kids…blogging about it. It seems like there are pictures of happy families– a husband, a wife, a couple young kids. I often reminisce about those days, wondering where the time went. I see photos I took during those days and wonder why I can’t remember those moments.
I remember those days when the kids were young and my days were made up of trips to the YMCA to work out and have some coffee and chat with my friends, errands, housework, naps…you know how it goes. The days were grueling with three kids home under the age of 4.

Being in the trenches of motherhood are NO.JOKE. Although I love looking back at pictures and I absolutely adore my kids, I’m not entirely sure I’d go back to that time in my life. I filled myself with them completely, to try and avoid the pain of my marriage. Something big that was missing for me was time for myself, to have friends outside of my kid-filled world, to do the things I loved, for me. My now ex-husband offered little support, which made it even more stressful. I felt like a single mom even though I was married. I would have had PLENTY to mom-blog about when they were young.

So much great material. 

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my days were filled nursing babies,

 

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stopping accidents from happening,

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Reflections on divorce

It’s coming up two years since the divorce was finalized. I used to call it “my divorce,” but I’ve stopped saying that and am now calling it “the divorce” because it’s not mine and it doesn’t define me. For a while, it was the thing that consumed me almost as much as being a mom did. Divorce sucks and with all of the draining legalities, comes a whole different set of things you go through.

While I was going through the process of the divorce, I googled often. I looked for blogs, real people who were willing to talk about divorce and how, yes, this is quite possibly the worst thing in the world, but here are some tips to get through this alive, well and MAYBE, happy. Divorce is like an earthquake. It shakes every part of your life up, some things shatter, some are slightly damaged and some things seem to be just fine. Some things even come out stronger as you rebuild and you realize there might be a better way to do something as you re-build.

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Stop asking why I’m single

Ever since I became single (or rather, each time I become single), people have wanted to know if I’m dating. And when I say no, they seem to have some well-thought out thing to say, like, “Oh, it’ll happen at the right time.” Or if I’m out, people want to know why I’m single. Well, I want to set something straight. We don’t all want to be in a relationship. I, personally, love being single. I was dating someone for about nine months and realized that dating someone was simply not what I wanted to be doing. It didn’t make my life feel any better, except that I could say I was dating someone and the best thing that came out of it was the reaction I got from others that seemed like relief, at best. I desperately wanted balance in my life and being in that relationship brought a complete unbalance. It wasn’t just his doing, but mine, as well, for allowing my time to be given to him for the most part. When you’re a single mom, the free time you have is limited, the time you have free doesn’t always align with your friends’ free time, so it became easy, and seemed natural, to spend increasing amounts of time together.

Does being single carry some sort of outcast sentiment? Does being single make people think there is something wrong with you (or them, maybe)? I can’t help but feel sometimes that society expects that women will always want or need to be in a relationship. If I say I have plans some night, and the first question is usually if I have a date. It’s gotten to a point that I don’t know what to say. So I resort to saying, “Um, no. I have plans with friends. GIRL friends. Maybe my sister. Maybe I am going to a movie alone.” (I did this once and it brought me a lot of anxiety and nervousness, but in the end, was pretty much fine). But why is a date (or some kind of nighttime thing) the first thing that comes to mind?

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11 ways I stay sane as a single mom

Almost daily, I have at least one person stop what they are saying mid-sentence, stare at me with wide eyes and ask me, “how do you DO it?” I know i make this single parenting biz look seamless (yes, that’s sarcasm), but really, i have no idea how I do it. I’ve been thinking about this, however, because so many people ask me with such disbelief. Parents with one child. Adults with cats (and no kids). Married people with one child or maybe two. One of my favorite parenting mottos is to have only a few rules, but I make sure the rules are clear so there is little room for misinterpretation and negotiation, like “food stays in the kitchen;” instead of any other combination of “don’t eat the food in the ____ room.” Clear and concise. Beyond that, this is how I do it… (cue Montell Jordan). I was going to do 10, but felt compelled to add one.

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