Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I confess my father's recent death has hit me harder than I would have imagined. But in my reeling, I've had my friends stand sentry, even when I would have been more comfortable being alone in my grief, not liking to do the red-nosed ugly cry in front of an audience.
But Cathy came over that first day to walk, and has since listened and questioned and provided some amazing blueberry tea. She gets that you just need to show up, and has been waiting patiently at the ready for my dam to burst which, actually, happened last Friday.
Then yesterday, Cathy & Annie got it, laughing, when I questioned through my tears whether my seemingly distant God was enough when I had Ben & Jerry so close by. Plus Annie said she'd never have guessed that I'd gained weight, grazing through my grieving. I mean, c'mon. Does it get better?
Two other Kathies listen like wise women who know (and they do), and yet another Kathy asked to borrow my daughter this Saturday so they could bake cinnamon-y yeasty stuff. All day. And then have me back for dinner that night.
In and around the loneliness, the lostness, I have these amazing compass points. I've just got to look.
What do you need to tell your tribe this Christmas?
Sunday, November 29, 2009
I have been "fatherless" for a week, technically speaking. But based on our rocky relationship, I have been fatherless for far longer due to numerous understandings and misunderstandings. But I have to say, this past week I've been acutely aware that I have one less layer of protection in the world, even though I stopped needing a dad years ago, even though he hadn't been my "dad" for years.
I spoke with a pastor today who commented dryly that single parenthood wasn't a very sexy cause, so to speak, but that single parents impact us all--individually, societally, corporately. We need to be committed to them, to each other, even though our life's not terribly glamorous, even though it's often a slog, day in, day out...first right then left.
I know a little more about my father now that he's died. I know more the reasons of why, perhaps, he didn't have it in him to do the daily slog with me.
I know that God in His mercy has seen fit to give me the best rental dads a girl could ask for. And one special one who's considering a lease-to-buy option. :)
I know that I didn't want to need things from my dad. But maybe he needed to be needed.
As I continue to process his death and my new place in life, I'm reminded that I need to stay anchored. It is easy to feel alone and untethered as a single mom, and especially easy now with the thought that occupies much of my time and brainspace these days: Huh. He's gone. Some friends who've lost parents already have been especially tender with me, knowing the questioning, understanding the floundering and for that, I'm especially grateful.
But as much as I ache for a different ending with him, I know that I must continue contributing to a different ending of my own. It's why I want to continue this good work started here with Eve's Daughters and why I continually invite others to join me.
Maybe we'll get to the point where there's community instead of polarity, of a miles-traveled marathon versus a quick check-in. Maybe our glamorless status will become nearly comical in its irony: Because we'll have each other, and that's a thing a beauty.
And perhaps most important, those relationships create another layer of protection: of caring, of concern, of listening, laughing, crying, walking...living...in an uncertain world. And maybe that's plenty more than any of us can hope for, giving or receiving.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
How does it happen? It seems like just yesterday I found myself a single mom. Then E was 7 months old and J was 3 years old, and now E is 15 and J is 18…a man…an adult!
Today E and I walked to the elementary school so that she could work on her hitting and pitching. When we were done and I was walking the track…silent tears hit my cheeks. Why can’t I have the time back? Why can’t I be sitting in the gym waiting for J to play a revolutionary soldier and E to play a recycling cheerleader? Where did all the time go?
I write this as J heads to watch the Westview girls play in the state soccer championship…his high school career finished. Where did the time go? Just yesterday we were checking mountain passes for snow so we knew the best route for a soccer game in Bend…
One of the hardest things about being a single mom is that we tend to just survive the moments…instead of enjoying them. We are too exhausted to do otherwise…we have so much to do…so much to organize.
Today I want a do over…I want to stop trying to orchestrate everything, live in each moment, and love each interaction with the kids. The interactions of today are different, but they are still moments…still memories…still love. It’s never too late. I may not get the do over that I dream of (starting back at kindergarten and reliving the moments), but I do get a do over in terms of attitude…I can look for the good in each interaction…each moment…each word. I can smile at past memories and focus on living in the new ones…
I’m not ready for E and J to grow up, but I am getting used to it. Life isn’t over…it is a continuation. I do get a do over of sorts…today I choose to enjoy each moment and make new memories to add to the fabulous ones of the past. Today I get a “perspective” do over. I challenge each of you to do the same...whether a single mom, a married mom, an aunt, or grandma...live in each moment...make memories...and think upon the good in it all...past, present and future.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I'm always amazed that my daughter is so young but she *gets* it. She knows, every now and again, to declare it Jamma Day and just hang around, chilling. I'm sure she did not learn this from me. She wants to snuggle on the couch, watch too much TV and connect with me, while I'm...looking at my watch and thinking how much there is to do.
Call it the Clash of the Types: I'm an A (maybe even an A+!) and E is somewhere lower in the alphabet. Perhaps a Q or so. But I don't sense in her the (sometimes inherent) loneliness I feel from moving constantly. It seems she knows how to unplug, charge up and re-group.
I wonder: Did I know this long ago, before life caught up with me?
I'm so thankful for a business partner like Cath, to whom I can say, "I'm just struggling and I feel alone" and know she doesn't feel tasked with fixing anything. My friend Rebecca filled that bill last weekend, and my brother the other day. Perhaps as single moms, we need that connection even m0re, so we can turn back around and plug into our kids again, successfully, rather than losing all our juice. Not to mention plug into each other so we can keep encouraging and keep going.
I know the disconnect is temporary, and that I'm less alone than I think. But maybe it's during these times that we learn the good reminder to stop and reach out, instead of treading even faster.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
We laughed about how lax we've become, as moms, as the years pass: What once would have sent us in a panic to the ER now merits an unsterile Band-Aid, haphazardly applied. She noted that a woman she knows refuses to let her boys play with pretend guns at home. But she has no problem asking my friend if her boys could come over to play with her boys' pretend guns. And, somehow, this woman is the better mom for it. Go figure.
The further I slog down the Mommy Superhighway, I'm finding I know less, not more. I thought my utter dedication and tireless supervision would keep life in line, but there's so much over which we have zero control. My girl's heart gets bruised with some regularity. Plans change, people leave, life is terribly unfair. I get crabby when I'm feeling overworked and underappreciated.
I wish someone would have told me early on that diligence is fine and all, but Easy Does It should be the new mom's mantra. I think I'd have fewer gray hairs and more good memories, less stress and more fun. I wouldn't have gone as ballistic years ago when I saw my then-toddler sharing her ice cream with the dog (one lick for her, one lick for him), or as wigged out over a 104-degree temp that barely slowed her down.
I'm hopeful, as Eve's Daughters progresses, that we'll have more stories based in an easier-going reality--of times when cereal suffices for dinner, when cleaning the toilet gets waylaid for a game of tickle, when an outing for $1 ice cream is doable even on the tight budget. When Easy Does It becomes a way of life.
How have you simplified?
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
My girl came home from her first day of middle school and said it was “awesome.” My heart leapt, relieved, as I’d been wondering about her all day. She had teased me this morning, asking if I was going to cry like I did when she started first grade.
I told her today was kinda like first grade again, but she was taller.
Fresh lunchbox, fresh backpack, fresh start. My heart aches, grateful.
I cannot tell you how or why, but it feels like I’m getting a do-over as well. I have been quietly thankful, not entirely sure of the circumstances or how long they’ll last. But I feel supported, buoyed by a clear course. I’m no longer rudder-less as I was in the early days of my divorce. It feels to me like an early thanksgiving—purposeful but humble, jubilant but shy. It took a long time, but I’m becoming new.
I talked to an old friend tonight who’s known me since I was 12. I told her about this strange state I’m in; she told me I was due. The newness is tempered by the full knowing that life continues to twist and turn, to present challenges and those ubiquitous “growth opportunities” that “build character,” as if we need any more of that. Things will break; homework will perplex; doctors’ bills will come. Nothing really changes, but everything does, seemingly. Something has shifted, and I think it has to do with purpose, and direction, and understanding and maybe some hard-won wisdom.
I’m getting to see things, people transformed, and it’s pretty amazing. As bittersweet as it is to watch my girl grow, knowing she’ll need me less and less, it’s equally thrilling to watch My Girls (and I use that term with love) grow—the amazing single moms I’m meeting and learning about. I mean, how cool is that—that I get to be along for the journey?
I hope you enjoy the strange newness of the season as well—I’m finding what seems like an ending often is a beginning.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
I came across this plaque last weekend when I was shopping with a friend from college...I didn't buy it the first time I saw it...but when I went back to buy the "It's all Good" serving bowl...I picked it up. I figured I needed a reminder.
So here it sits on my desk...serving to bring me back to the good..."love the moment"...find the joy in each second. It is when I think about the past, worry about the future, or add it all together that I lose my perspective. It's then I start to see the glass half empty. So focus on the moment...the second that I am in.
It's as simple as watching the water come out of the hose as I water the plants. Each drop is like a little bubble dancing before it hits the ground. Or seeing the smile on my daughter's face as she talks about her community service project this morning or watching a squirrel gather nuts from our oak tree.
If I try to stay in the moment...the right now...the joy of the second. Will the seconds morph into minutes...then hours...then days... Is that how perspective changes? Is that how it turns from glass half empty...to glass full...
Want to join in the experiment? Love your moment...let me know how it goes...still trying to figure this all out...
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I have to admit, I have leaned toward the glass half empty frame of reference a lot of my life because I felt I wouldn’t get disappointed that way…I wouldn’t be hurt…I wouldn’t feel rejected. I thought it was a good strategy.
Maybe that “thought” wasn’t on target.
So at the risk of growing up a bit…I am trying it…the “It’s all good” strategy. So far so good! My daughter, Elizabeth, asked me why I was smiling the other day. “Just because”, I told her (imagine the look of shock, confusion, then shoulder shrug).
It feels good to think good thoughts. The alternative is not very fun. How come I didn’t see this before?
It feels good to look at the early morning sky, hear the birds chirp, see the squirrels climb trees, see the flowers bloom, the leaves on the trees dance in the breeze. I love the stars at night, and the cooling off from the hot summer day.
Even writing this takes practice…it’s a bit uncomfortable to be so hopeful. Breaking the habit of bracing for the worst…always on ready for the next shoe to drop…for the next crisis. Don’t get me wrong. I know the challenges will come. They have to for me to keep growing, for life to have variety, for life to have meaning. I have always “thought” life would be good if I won the lottery, was married to a fabulous man, had perfect kids, a perfectly run business, and had no problems. I am now able to start thinking that a “perfect” life might be boring…and would certainly not produce any growth in me. I think I do a lot of my growing through the challenges I face each day.
Want to join me on this new journey...focusing on the good in life…
“Filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse…Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies”. Philippians 4:8-9 (The Msg)
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
You see…I thought I was free and clear when my kids were old enough to stay at home by themselves…then old enough to drive…then old enough to watch the dog when I went out of town on business. I didn’t count on the old enough to talk back…old enough to want independence…old enough to spend the summer with Aunt Molly…old enough to go to college…old enough to leave me…
When our kids are younger we wait with the camera at ready to capture those “firsts” like rolling over, sitting up, walking, talking. Something happens along the way…between kindergarten and senior year…we are no longer so ready to pull out the camera and capture the milestones…the battles…the good-byes.
I don’t enjoy the fights about keeping the room clean, doing the laundry, setting a curfew, enforcing family time. What happened? All a natural evolution…just like rolling over…but oh…it sure isn’t as cute...and sometimes it hurts!
I have been spending a lot of time rationalizing my thoughts and feelings. “It is all normal,” I tell myself and continue with, “They are so much better off asserting their independence…this is the right thing for them…it isn’t about me!”
I don’t think it is just a single mom thing…but I think it might be more pronounced. In many instances our lives have been our kids…it has had to be. There just wasn’t enough time to take care of work, laundry, bills, kid activities, kid homework, and still have a life of my own. Don’t get me wrong…I don’t regret it. I wouldn’t do it any differently. But…when they gain that independence and they aren’t at home…I am left with myself. Left to wonder…what’s next? What do I like to do? Is it time to start achieving my own milestones…ones that are just about me?
It is a new game…a new day…one that has more time for me. I will still be here for the kids…but they don’t need me in the same way. It is different now. I need to adjust to the new life…to the new expectations…to the new reality. Time for me…huh?
Thursday, June 25, 2009
"Au contraire, my little petri dish. The open window is keeping me alive in this," I said as I swept my fingers over her bookshelf and created a Pigpen-style dust cloud. "Too bad I don't have haz-mat gear."
After she finished rolling her eyes, she started cleaning as well and it dawned on me: I must have gotten the wrong baby at the hospital. Because I actually like it clean, you know, relatively speaking.
So all week I've been thinking of the many ways she and I are different, how weird that is, and how much, frankly, *I've* had to change in raising her. Just saying. She's not having to change, I am. And I wonder if she'll ever know *me*...or just me as Mom.
While I've become a better me--a more patient me, a more selfless me, a more protective but bittersweet me--it always costs to change. As a single mom, I liken this to feeling around a dark room, trying to get my bearings without another important adult there to provide a clear reflection: Ya bump into things--emotions, feelings, dust and dirty socks--and it's up to you how you handle it.
We are entering a strange new time, she and I, where we butt heads as often as holding hands. She's pulling away, wondering who'll she'll become as she grows up. I, too, wonder what I will be as more Me, less Mom.
Any other mothers going thru this? Do tell--
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Since the beginning of this journey…fourteen years ago…decision making has been my weak spot. Especially when it comes to my kids. I sometimes feel as if I am stuck behind a gigantic elephant, wondering what lies ahead…how will my decision affect the path...and will I make the right one? This morning is no different. I awoke at 4:30 a.m. thinking, “I can’t let him do it by himself”.
My son is getting ready to choose colleges and this summer is the summer of soccer ID camps. We have known this for awhile…we just haven’t known what camps. Last night we made some decisions. He will go to at least two different camps, one close by and one a plane ride away. The one a plane ride away starts the day after my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. We are celebrating in Sunriver…the entire family.
So what’s the problem? Josh needs to come back to Portland the day of my parents' anniversary to leave on a flight the next morning. I think I should go with him, get him settled, get him from the airport to the campus…and just be around in case he needs me, needs reassurance that he is awesome, unique, and one heck of a guy. Is that too much? How do I let go at the right time? Does he still need his mom? My gut tells me this is a scary time in his life…exciting but scary. So many unknowns...am I an anchor for him even now?
I have to admit I have allowed myself to get knee deep in the empty nest blues – and he isn’t even gone yet – he still has another year at home. Is my wanting to go about me…or is it about him? Of course, the simple answer is to ask him if he wants me to go with him, then try and read his facial expressions…make the right guess. Is he nervous? Would my going help him? If I do go…what about my mom and dad and their anniversary?
You see, I hate making decisions on my own…
The Christian-thing to do is pray…and I will. But, God doesn’t always answer a mother’s plea as soon as she thinks He should…but it is a start. It gives me a sense of peace that someone bigger than me is in control. Plus, if I lift it up, then maybe all the pieces will fall into place…like maybe his Dad will volunteer to go. Would that be the right solution…should I call him? Should I ask him to go with Josh? Would that make the situation better?
No answers…but I’m at the place that I need to be…in prayer…asking God… hoping …and trusting (fast pulse) that He will provide a glimpse of the road ahead…a tiny sneak preview of the path that unfolds in front of the enormous elephant blocking my view…
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
So beautiful, in fact, that I want to recreate it for our community. Watching my friends react to this loss, seeing them expand to their very tender best, witnessing people giving in their ache...this is what I want for our single moms. It became so clear for me. I want that support whether a woman has been widowed or abandoned, whether she filed or he did.
Is there any less need?
This has impacted me on a number of levels, both personally and professionally, both heart and head. Cathy and I talked about it over the weekend: How amazing would it be for people to come together and protect the most vulnerable? This is what the Church is supposed to do, and sometimes it happens. But could it become what Eve's Daughters is known for?
On my other blog, I just wrote, "Sadly, I think most of us have only experienced a taste of this (kind of community) ever in our darkest times. How do we fix that--so that being alone in your abandonment or betrayal or shame is the exception and not the rule?"
I wait, right now, knowing things that are not ready to be discussed. There will be time for that, for me and my friend. But I pray there's also a time for all of us to all come together--that it will become our new norm.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
But then the coolest thing happened: A little gray-haired lady came up to me afterwards and grabbed for my hand. She then placed a wad of money in it and said, "It's not much, but I'd like to make a donation to your organization."
Oh. My. Gosh. This was like my grandmother slipping me candy money when I was a kid. It was so incredibly sweet, and I just held onto her hand for a minute and thanked her. Why did I get such a sense of the widow Jesus spoke of and her two copper coins? I obviously have no idea of her financial situation...but I gathered she may have emptied her wallet for Eve's Daughters' benefit.
She gave us five singles. And Cathy and I are going to get a special mat and frame them like they do at the restaurants. Our first donation! Now we just need some office space...
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Somehow it seems official now...like we are grown up and real! Let the real work can begin...so much to do...what's next...
The journey continues. I wonder who might be the first to donate to our cause? It's tax deductible! Want to join us on the ride?
PS- Happy Mother's Day! This is a good one...
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I have been walking the narrow wall of teenage parenting…and today I fell. Fell victim to the biggest lie…my kids will appreciate everything I do for them and act accordingly. They will drop at my feet and worship my sacrifices, give me loving praise, and to show me their devotion…will do the dishes, clean up their room, and give me a kiss on the cheek before brushing their teeth and going to bed.
I fell victim to wanting approval from my kids…for all that I have done…for all the love I have given them…for the trade-offs made to make their lives the best I can. It was an honest mistake, a human one…I needed love…I needed someone to care…I needed someone with skin to tell me I am okay…to appreciate me.
So here I sit, broken in tiny pieces and too exhausted to put humpty dumpty back together again. Where can I turn? The answer is back to the One that I turned to in 1996 when I first realized how broken I was. Back to God…the one that saves me from myself.
It sounds all too sweet…too cliché. But it is real. God is the only one that will save me. Will love me the way I should be loved…will appreciate me for the person He made me to be when He conceived of me. Only, He isn’t here…in the physical sense that is. He can’t back me up with the kids, hold me when I am falling to pieces, or discipline the kids when I have holed up in the back of my dark closet…
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again…but God can. Funny…after all the times He has come with the super glue…He keeps coming...patiently, lovingly putting me back together again…when I am too exhausted to manage it myself…when I am too busy buying the lies.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I regularly sit in my office, rolling my eyes toward the ceiling, trying to capture a word I'm thinking of...begins with a p...p p pppppa. This wouldn't be so bad if I weren't a writer. And when the other thoughts fly in--need dental floss, E's evening performance, sugar-free chocolate?--I take dictation on my little lime green Post-It pad: A life in stickies.
My daughter finds this hysterical--the notes stuck to the coffee pot, the calendar, the mirror. I glare at her and say I didn't used to be this way, before I was a mom. I used to have a life, a fully firing brain and goals. Not anymore. And it's been a bittersweet adjustment.
What I am realizing, however, is that it's all a trade off. I had my daughter at 34, and what I traded in energy from my 20s I (hopefully) made up for in patience and common sense. I am realizing that my calling to do Eve's Daughters, and to raise my own daughter well, necessitated that I lose some of my previous efficiency. It's requiring a transparency, a realness, a humility I didn't use to have. I had lose some of my polish to earn a different kind of glow, if you know what I mean--the kind that comes from recognizing that we're indeed growing older but perhaps deeper and more beautiful, less afraid and rigid. It impacts our work, our relationships and our mothering, but I find I have less to prove these days, and that, in itself, is pretty freeing.
How has your parenting changed as you've aged?
Friday, April 17, 2009
I am sick. I have been all week. I want to believe that it is a cold, I have been told it is an allergy…to a cat…my daughter’s cat…the one we bought to help her over a very traumatic time in her life. Now what?
My sister said it may be time to get rid of the cat…no…we can’t. My daughter needs the cat. I need her to have the cat. So I sacrifice. I head out for treatment, because that is what we moms do. We fix things. As is often the case, we fix us. Because we can control that…because we want our kids to be ok.
I am guessing that it is the same for all moms. But from my perspective as a single mom, we are really sensitive about our kids being okay, because we hear about how messed up they are going to be because they come from single parent homes. I will never forget the time I walked out of church, front row, with my kids and their friends because the pastor was telling the congregation the statistics of how messed up these poor single parented children are going to be when they grow up. My son looked at me and said, “Mom that isn’t going to be us”. Thanks Bubba, but I’m not so sure…you see I have a lot of guilt…our situation isn’t “normal”. Or so I’m told.
We want the best for our kids, and whether we were left or we did the leaving, we struggle to make things right…to make things “normal”. The 2000 Census says that 28% of homes with children under the age of 18 were heading by a single parent, of which 78% percent were headed by a female. So I guess that means that 28% is considered “abnormal” by many. I disagree.
So I sit here with barely a voice, runny nose, congested chest, and sore throat and wonder…how can I tell my body that it is wrong…it’s not an allergy…I’m a mom…we don’t do allergies to our children’s pets. How can I tell the world they are wrong? My “single mom” reaction to my allergy is most likely just how many “normal” moms living with a husband would react. We all make sacrifices…single moms and “normal” moms. It’s what we do…all of us moms.
Friday, March 27, 2009
We recently lost a sweet sweet neighbor who was one of E's rental grandmas. It was especially hard because that kind of adoration--the kind with no strings attached--is beautiful and rare. I remembered my own grandmother who, by her own admission, made a better grandma than a mom. She was the one who took me to the Disney movie openings and to Big Boy for a hamburger afterwards. She was the one who told my mother (my MOTHER!) to lighten up when it came to being fashionable in the 1970s :) and the one who'd remind me that grades weren't the be all and end all.
Thing is, kids need this kind of attention and love, yet so few of us are near biological family these days...and sometimes, biological families aren't interested in that kind of relationship. But what about, for example, the youngish widow who has a lot of time and love and talent and chocolate chip cookies to give?
Cathy and I have been chewing on the notion of working with local senior populations as well, for this very reason. Tell us your thoughts: Is this something that would be a blessing to your family?
Monday, March 9, 2009
You are loved. You are special. You are enough. I know that at times it seems like the road is forever long with no end in sight. I know that there are days when it would be such a relief to have someone, anyone, give you a hug…shed a tear or two with you…and then graciously take out the garbage and recycling. I know because I have been there and today is garbage day.
I’ve heard it said that “we all have our roles to play”. Why does the single mom have so many? I hate garbage day…it is irrational but I have done the single mom thing for over 14 years, and for 14 years I have hated Monday nights…garbage night. I resent the heck out of it! Each Monday night, when I drag the cans to the curb, I am reminded that I am on my own…with the garbage, and all the other things that come with being “alone” without a husband.
The question I ask myself…why do I do it...why do I hold onto the garbage? I have a 17-year old and a 14-year old – why can’t they do garbage day? Sometimes they do…if I bug…if I nag…if I cry…if I throw a fit. They are good kids, but they have no radar into garbage day…
Could it be that I am not good at asking for help? Could it be that I feel a bit guilty that my kids grew up in a single parent household? Am I trying to make up for the “normal” life they didn’t have? Society has such a way of labeling us single moms as misfits and our kids as future delinquents. Maybe I am buying into it. Maybe it is time to liberate myself…maybe it is time to turn over garbage day to the kids…to realize that I have done the best possible job that I can…that I am a darn GOOD mom…and that my kids are growing up okay and will make positive contributions to the world. No amount of garbage can take that away from me!
“KIDS, come take out the garbage…and don’t forget the recycling!”
All you single mom's out there...hang in there...and remember it isn't a weakness to go on garbage strike!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
So my ED biz partner, Cathy, made a suggestion many weeks ago about having my 10-year-old daughter take ownership of one dinner a week, which I thought was brilliant. I broached it with E and she was delighted, maybe mostly because I told her she didn't have to do dishes on those nights. But we're several weeks into it and I tell ya, the girl is hauling: we're mincing and sauteing and creating. We're planning ahead, and defrosting and shopping. But mostly we're talking and teaching and learning, and that's the wonderful thing.
For some reason this year, I've been especially cognizant of 1) being in a midlife crisis and feeling terribly old and 2) recognizing that time is going by at warp speed. The two, for me, go hand in hand, so it's been kind of sweet to spend this time together--it achors something for me, as much as teaching her to brush her teeth, get dressed on her own, ride a bike or do an algebra problem.
How have you combined the teaching/"being" times in your households? Please share your wisdom in the Comments section...and thanks!
Monday, February 16, 2009
Truth is, the story was a set up. It was intended to look as good as possible. The problem with this, though, is it discounts and discourages the scads of other single parents who are doing the daily slog without the multiple blessings from heaven, without the fireworks. I call this Life in the Meantime (LITM), and it is the life I lead 99.9% of the time. It consists of 5th grade homework, milk shortages and medical lab results that suggest I have another something to deal with. It consists of working with other single moms--one who's going through the ringer, one who's doing better. The fabulous helpful spouse is apparently on back order. My toilets are dirty. I'm tired but managing.
But I needed to remind myself, so I will do it here, for your benefit as well: LITM is holy work. It's honorable. It's not flashy or award-winning, but it's solid and necessary. It's my church, these days...the place where I show up, hoping to hang with God in and around the other stuff and other people who make me laugh, witness my tears and otherwise cheer me on. It's not neat, tidy or optimal, most days, but it's incredibly real and rich, in its own way.
I had to take some time, cry a little, talk to a friend, go for a walk with my girl and generally get back to basics to get past the lie. I don't want to cheapen my life, your life or what we're called to do on behalf of single parents by falling for the Good Life = God's Good Graces deal. Not to mention it cheapens God.
How much do you value LITM? What's your lie? And how do you come back to center?
Friday, January 23, 2009
So my brilliant beautiful friend Melinda just blew my doors off yesterday. You know how a simple idea can take on Einsteinian proportions? Please read her blog on Modus Operandi: +1, in which she describes living her daily life...plus one. That means one extra prayer, one extra lunch for someone who needs it, one extra meal, one extra note of encouragement. As moms, a normal battle cry is, "I'M DOING LAUNDRY...DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO PUT IN?" So +1 is along those lines, but bigger: If I'm doing something anyway...how can we stretch this out and help someone else?
I know I often feel overwhelmed, and then guilty, about not "serving" as much as I'd like to. There are a million worthy causes and only so many hours in the day. But Melinda's M.O. is so...streamlined! As a multi-tasking recovering-Type A kinda gal, I love that in a life-giving, life-changing call to action.
So, work with me here: What could you do to +1 in your normal routine? Choose a person to pray for? Donate a little extra? Check in on an elderly neighbor? I got to see one of my daughter's favorite teachers last night and learned she's expecting. I packed up a bunch of mom books for her this morning. Easy schmeezy fresh and cheesy, as we say in this house. A few moments and it was done on this end. Will Em's teacher review those books months (or years) from now and remember that they came at an exciting, wondering time?
Please think about this...and let us know how you're +1-ing it at your house, in your community, in your heart's prayers. Because you have to know: this is one of those things that goes exponential. And that, my friends, is what it's all about.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
“When we don’t believe God is determined to love us perfectly, we end up living like our best choice is to take care of ourselves. And then, we become so busy taking care of ourselves that we have little time for authentic, transparent, loving community with others.”
I related how I felt I was living that way right now. I am so involved in solving the crises in my own life that I feel I am neglecting my friends and family. Why can't I do it all? I so easily take on the role of God in my own life…I must take care of everything myself. Part of it is a control thing, and part of it is that I have a hard time believing that God really wants to love me...help me.
Then of course, God surfaces in the words of one of my buddies. She pointed out that, “Being in ‘community’ doesn’t necessarily mean that Cathy has to give to others, it could mean that Cathy gets to let others love her!”
My expectations for myself are different than my friend's expectations for me. She cuts me slack...grace. What a concept. I am so used to giving, that I forget (and frankly feel uncomfortable) about letting others help me. I think it is one of the curses of being a single mom. Afterall, I am alone, it is just me. It is my job to take care of everything. I forget that friends and family are there to help me. I forget how to let them in, how to accept help, and how to let them love me.
This single mom thing is a two-way street. We need people to be a blessing in our life, but we also need to be able to accept the blessing. I need to remember it isn’t a sign of weakness. Letting others in is a sign of healthy community…give and take…it takes both. Aaahh, I am still uncomfortable…
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Some people watch the snow fall, lazily nursing a hot toddy or peppermint chocolate: I spend my time looking furtively with an eye tic, thinking of the million ways we could die.
So during our severe weatherage, I had a pipe burst outside and, in the subsequent Three Stooges-esque scramble to get the water main turned off, among other concerns, I came to the conclusion that I make a lousy guy. I didn't know what I was doing and I was overwhelmed and, frankly, all the guys I know would not have started bawling in frustration as I did after one thing tripped another and another and another.
This is the kind of stuff that makes me feel especially alone, even though my ex was the kind of guy who would have just said, "Call a plumber." There is something to be said for having another adult in the area to which you could comment, "Doesn't this just suck?" And he'd say, "It sure does suck." And you both could eyeball the damage together and agree on the suckitude of the situation.
So...Cathy wrote about our looking to get that safety net established and firmly entrenched for ED. I am piggybacking on her blog entry here simply because my plumbing story is so incredibly common. And it's not just plumbing we're interested in--We're looking to share knowledge across the board. I'm a firm believer that we all have something valuable to share...it's just a matter of organization. It's the old adage of teaching a man to fish--do we solve an immediate crisis, or do we also instruct on how to prevent or fix something for the long-term? My vote is for both. There is a lot to be said for instructing and encouraging single moms on a number of fronts, from changing a tire to bleeding a pipe, from stopping a leak to starting a class. While we all may remain girly men, in the nicest sense of the term, we also become stronger women and moms who get that graceful balance of asking for help and showing our kids what we're made of.
What knowledge do you have to share?
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
This time I remembered my resolution about showing some grace in 2009. So instead of tar and feathering my partner and me, I asked a simple question, “Could it be that we did as much as we could humanly do in 2008? Given all that is going on in our lives could it be that just maybe God felt we made progress?”
I heard a loud and clear… “YES!” Of course we would like to be farther along…we would like to be fully up and running…we would like to be able to help all single moms the way we envision it happening…but it takes time, and God remembers that we are still single moms as well. So I am listening to God, I am taking it easy on myself, and I am showing myself some grace.
This doesn’t mean I am slacking off…it means taking one day at a time and making realistic goals for 2009. Last year we began spreading the word about Eve’s Daughters and we started getting a lot of requests for different types of resources. So this year along with submitting our paperwork for our 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, we are focused on developing a strong network of people and organizations to help single moms.
If you or someone you know can help us with our network of resources let us know. We are looking for all kinds of people and services…plumbers, lawyers, caretakers, auto mechanics, gardeners, handypersons, career counselors, accountants, and people with an open ear and strong shoulder to cry on…to name a few. We would love to connect moms to discounted services and products where applicable. The number one thing we hear from single moms is how alone they feel in facing the daunting task of juggling motherhood, career, and “home” responsibilities. We want to help by tapping into existing resources and creating new ones where none exist.
Let us know if you would like to join our network…or if you know of a resource that is already in existence…don’t assume we know about them all. Please help us help the modern-day widows and orphans.