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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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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My favorite divorce book

 When I was going through my divorce, I found this book  by Carolyn Call super helpful. It is by no means religious and would be beneficial to anyone going through divorce. They say divorce is the second most painful life event, after losing a child. If you’re looking for a book to help guide you through, this is a great one! It pushes you to explore what is going on, how to heal and move past the pain. There is a lot of journaling, thinking and feeling. It’ll definitely push you to move out of a place that one could get stuck in.

the chicken soup recipe to end all recipes

I have a confession.

The soup, like most food I make, has no recipe. I’m sorry if this doesn’t work for you. It’s all made up as I go. And it’s soup. You seriously cannot go wrong. There is nothing like a homemade soup on a freezing cold Minnesota day.

I had a rotisserie chicken left from dinner one night and there was a ton of chicken left. Normally I do boil the bones to make bone broth, but I wasn’t feeling that today. I knew what I was working with and where my motivation level was and I just did it. That being said, I saved the bones and the chicken and will make bone broth another day (FRUGAL).

I know you’re wondering just HOW I made this beautiful soup. Here you go.

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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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the problem with our society is not single mothers

The other day I came across this article,”The problem with single mothers,” via the HuffPost Divorce page. Naturally, I wanted to find out for myself what this author’s purpose was with writing this article because the title itself pretty much disgusted me.

My initial response to this article’s title alone was exactly my reason for starting this blog of mine. Is there a problem with single mothers or is the problem actually society’s response TO single mothers? There are so many stereotypes and negative responses to us when we say we are single moms. I say we because most single moms I know personally have similar experiences as I do. After further reading, the author does explore the current trend in our society in terms of the numbers and research polls. The overwhelming result is that society has a problem with single moms who do not actively choose to single parent by themselves, however, single parents by choice receive a different response. First of all, I believe this article is wrongly titled. There is no support that there is something wrong with single mothers. The problem is bigger than that.

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the question of my life

the question of my life lately is “well, what do you WANT to do?” (insert eye roll because by 35, don’t most people have this figured out?!)

such a funny question. i have two answers. one is the one i tell people. the other is a secret that isn’t going to be a secret for much longer, once i write it out on this post. both are true, just one is more desirable to me.

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