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.

Fall in Love With You

Last Friday, I got my hair done (professionally) for the first time in a year. It’s generally not something I spend my money on, but I was feeling drab and needed to do something for myself. I was feeling tired of everything, always giving to everyone else, and putting myself aside.

 When we forget to take care of ourselves, it’s really hard to continue to give ourselves completely to those we love, especially our children. My family and my friends are good at being encouraging and loving and saying kind things to me and it helps me, but sometimes the voices in my own head sound so loud and seem to be screaming at me that there’s no reason to care for myself, the kids are more important and I don’t want them to go without. I started to feel like what I was doing for my kids didn’t matter and even though I know better about expecting kids to have a complete understanding of putting others needs ahead of their own sometimes, I start to feel like they don’t care about me. It’s silly. I know they do. I don’t have a boyfriend and I don’t really go out where I need to get dressed nice and so sometimes I just figure why bother?! Pretty soon, I’m just a Pity Party of 1 and everything sucks. No one likes to be around anyone like that.

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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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