Friday, December 3, 2010

An Open Letter to Friends of Eve's Daughters


A year ago, we took a deep breath and stepped out with our first fundraising campaign. In return, so many of you stepped up—and we raised nearly $8,000 in that effort alone. Since it’s that time of year to be grateful for the bounty, we wanted to recap for you the growth that’s happened thanks to your support.

-We continue meeting with women individually to hear their stories and best meet their needs, and have more than doubled our contact list

-We’ve researched and met myriad needs, from distributing food and gasoline gift cards to helping with medical bills, to researching low-cost cancer screenings and low-income housing to creating mom-to-mom connections

-We began a monthly dinner after learning in our focus groups that our women struggled with a lack of local family and community. Since February, we’ve seen our numbers go from single digits to over 40 moms, kids and volunteers, and have “guest chefs” who volunteer to cook almost every month

-We started an online Meetup group to reach women outside of the area

-We were featured in a 20-minute radio interview at the end of July, which then brought in more single moms and volunteers

-We got our first monthly donor

-We revamped the website to strengthen our online presence and searchability

-We’ve partnered with another local church, whose support and programming specifically target area single moms

This and so much more—we’ve got a ton to be grateful for this year and invite you to join us in giving thanks.

What Lies Ahead
As we continue to grow and get a better handle on local “universal” needs, we’re hoping to next create a single parenting curriculum and a speaker series to address the topics we’re challenged with constantly: finances, legal advice, emotional support, etc. These will dovetail nicely into the community that’s been growing and gaining ground in 2010.

Our Greatest Needs
As we look toward 2011, we’re realizing one great need is office space. As you can imagine, it’s difficult to talk about deeply personal topics sitting at Starbucks. The more we grow and the more women we reach, the more we need a safe, welcoming spot for them to come talk and bring their kids, as needed. Our second great need is for a paid worker, starting with one day a week and hopefully moving to two, with the knowledge that still many hours will be donated without pay. With a dedicated worker, our reach will continue to grow.

For these and other programming needs, we are hoping to build a team of regular monthly donors. We currently have one, and she is likely lonely… Won’t you consider joining her?? Seriously, if you are so moved, any donation will help us continue strengthening our foundation. We hear comments regularly from women who’ve met other moms at the dinners and have started much-needed friendships and support, or many thanks from those who’ve received financial assistance to report they made it past that hurdle. As our community-wide safety net grows, we ask you to stay with us and thank you for your continued support and encouragement.

All blessings to you and your families—

Cathlin Brewer
Executive Director
Karen Sjoblom
Program Director
Eve's Daughters
PO Box 1959
Beaverton OR 97075

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Grace and Peace

I have people in my life who sign all their emails with with "Cheers!" or "Blessings" or "Best." But one in particular uses "Grace and Peace." This simple phrase weaves in and out of Paul's letters in the New Testament, almost always followed by " you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." It's something I've read dozens of times that's never sunk in til this morning.

It's Thanksgiving, and, yeah, I'm supposed to be thankful. But sometimes I find it an impossible assignment. There are always loved ones struggling in some capacity, unmet needs, unfulfilled hopes. There's that stupid extra weight, or health challenges, or a shortage of time, or a conflict or three.

Things are not always as I would have them.

The grace part--the thing that smooths out the edges and makes each new day at least marginally doable--has to come first. And since that's an undeserved gift that we can't manufacture for ourselves, we've got to at least be aware of its existence. We've all been shown it, likely at some of our worst moments; it's the grease that keeps things running.

And then peace--glorious peace--follows: Likely you've had a glimpse of this, too, recently. The baby finally falls asleep, the job finally comes through, the teen finally gets home (even if it's 3 a.m.). It can range from a momentary glimpse to sheer relief to some stunningly clear vision, in the midst of imperfection.

You know peace when you feel it, just as you know what life feels like in its absence.

Somehow this morning, in between making a disgusting turkey hand puppet to completely gross out my daughter (just because I love to make her laugh), to talking to my big brother, to anticipating a houseful of friends 'cause we don't have much family nearby, I accepted some grace and got the peace to boot. It's a Thanksgiving first since my divorce, all those years ago, and I'm so incredibly aware of their presence right now I hardly know what to do with myself.

I don't have any illusions that this will last. And that's OK--they will come again. But for now, I feel them, this remarkable duo, on either side of me as I type, and I'm more thankful than I've been in a long time.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Exiting Chaos

Not unsurprisingly, I'm overcommitted. Seems it's that time of year where I say "yes" to practically everything. I should know better: I function so much better in what I call my Zenny place--manageable, organized, quiet.

Too bad life isn't like that with any regularity.

Someone with some actual perspective reminded me this week that being a single mom requires a lot of juggling. Somehow, I forgot. But maybe the bigger lesson is that our lives in general, single mom or not, are prone to overcommitment. The more we learn, the quicker we run; the more technology, the faster we're expected to go.

Today, I'm jumping off the rat wheel. We get to have friends over for dinner tonight and I think I will forego autoclaving the house prior to their arrival. I may read a little while the roast cooks slowly. I'm going to ignore the sticky notes all over my desk, in 6 different colors (that means I've gone through 6 different pads of them recently), with the exception of crossing "BLOG" off the list.

What do you do to slow down and exit chaos?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Six months later...

I have a magnetic notepad on my fridge with a quote from Joan Rivers that says, "I hate housework. You do the dishes, you make the beds and six months later you've got to do it all again."

When I saw how much time flew by from my last blog, I kinda felt the same: I suppose it would be beneficial if I actually kept up on it... And while it hasn't been six months, it feels like it. A lot of life has happened: kids back to school, kids leaving home, friends having medical crises, friends getting jobs, things breaking and things getting fixed...a whirlwind of real life.

In some ways, I feel really blessed to have this existence, balancing mom duties with work duties with Eve's Ds duties; in other ways, I find my heart breaks on a regular basis due to mom duties, work get the point. It's that cyclical nature of life that, ironically, keeps us both tethered and on our toes. Strangely, it's the promise of do-overs that helps me keep going: When things are good, I've got to remember to enjoy it because it will change. When things are bad, I can remember what I've slogged through before and that likely an oasis is coming.

The past six months of Eve's Daughters has seen more activity, more women, more successes, more failures, more stumbling and bumbling with a few things that really stuck. Kinda like real life. I don't know where we'll be six months later--but I'm grateful to be on the journey with you amazing women.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Risky Business

Yesterday, a friend of mine relayed a comment made by a famous woman who's in the process of reinventing herself at midlife. The gist of it was that women need to let their daughters see them taking risks...and even see them fail (and of course, this goes for sons as well). The "gift" of failing, after you finish nursing your bruises, frees our most-loveds to fail themselves and learn that it's rarely fatal.

For anyone who knows me, it should go without saying that I'm not referring to heliskiing, mountaineering or deep-water scuba-type risks. I'm talking about starting that business, moving to another state (or country), living alone even though you're scared or lonely, giving so much that you're always living on the edge, going back to 50.

I've always tended toward the orderly and predictable, preferring life to be on the neater side (if anyone had bothered to ask). But I'm also a very strong woman on a lot of levels. So why, then, do I want to show my daughter only the clean side, the pain-free side? Often, it's because I want her to feel safe, and that is a good a point. Because we live in an unsafe place where bad things happen to innocent people and longings go unanswered and people up and die, there's only so much safety I can provide. Do I want her to think well of me (by keeping everything neat and in control) or would I rather she think well of herself ("If Mom can do a face plant in life and keep going, so can I")?

The older I get, the freer I get, and the freer I get, the more I can share the real me with my girl. I'm less afraid of telling her the times I've been terrified; I'm no longer searching for the perfect answer, instead telling her I've often been unclear. This frees her to go through life wondering, questioning, marveling. Risking. The way we were wired. Life is indeed risky business--how are you living it?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

For Giving

"You may be the only Bible that people are reading," our guest pastor said this morning, referring to the fact that we're supposed to be *living* our faith in the world. We've got the guidebook, but how we do it and what that looks like is up to us.

I haven't been to church in a long time, but I heard to go this morning, and that pastor may have well as thrown an NIV upside my head. How often do I forget that people watch me, listen to me, hear when I'm snarky, complaining, cursing or despondent? Do I come across as hopeless...or hope-filled? Victim or redeemed? Compounding the issue is that he also said we need to be reconciled to whomever or whatever needs it, in order to be authentic. Real. And sadly, this involves the often painful experience of forgiving.

This last year has, frankly, been tough. There's been a lot of loss--of people, relationships and support. I've been adrift, questioning and feeling pretty lonely and forgotten. But if I take this morning's words to heart, then I need to take steps to make that right with the people involved if I want my parenting, my writing and my work with Eve's Daughters to have the scent of authenticity to it...vs. the stink of withholding, of unforgiveness, of bitter disappointment.

During my divorce, a wise friend taught me that often people who've hurt us don't deserve our forgiveness, but that I deserved to be a woman who forgave--that I was made for giving. Most days I forget that. I'm at that critical crossroads yet again: Forgive and make progress, or don't and stay stuck.

And although I am heavily into reality, I confess today that I am caught in the stink...even as I sit here, mere minutes away from gladly preparing a meal for some 40 single moms, their kids and our volunteers. I will happily pour into these women...but I also know I've got some hard interior work to do to make this meal--and the next and the next--all the more real.

My desire to be right, to be vindicated, fights with my desire to be free. But for now, I'm trying to be "willing to be willing"--to loosen my fist a bit, to relax into an imperfect ending. To go prepare a meal and serve it with imperfect grace. And I know if I stay willing, forgiveness will come with silent steps when I least expect it--when I suddenly find I'm no longer in this tight-fisted place, when reality shows up with wide, hopeful spaces.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I have been blessed with some of the finest women friends available--some long-term, some for a season--and all of them have somehow kept me tethered while encouraging me to still go deep. While in Chicago for my dad's memorial, I was able to catch up with four of my bestest high school girlfriends. It was fabulous because these amazing women--some of whom I knew in junior high--hold parts of my history that no one else knows. So in addition to being reminded of incredibly embarrassing things we did, we were able to catch up seamlessly and it felt like we never missed a beat.

In and around some abysmally poor service from a waitress who--how shall we say??--was not operating within her area of gifting, we got to spend a few blissful hours laughing, remembering and encouraging with a side order of some good-hearted mocking. Who knew--seriously?--we'd end up where we are: a long-term married with college kids; a married ER nurse with two adopted kids; a newer mom with two young girls at home; a professional w/o kids, and a single mom. We've worked, we haven't; we've had kids, we didn't; we've had relationships, we've been single...You'd think we wouldn't have much in common, but you'd be wrong. And with one who couldn't hear too well, two sharing reader glasses to scan the menu and a couple of us saying how the aging snuck up on us, we were a funny buncha broads if I do say.

These are some of the finest friends money can buy, and they have anchored me seemingly for a million years. There's no telling where I might have landed if I didn't know--really, truly know in my bones--that they would be there for me, long-term. We all can go crazy amounts of time without talking and pick up where we left off. And that is an amazing gift.

We want to create those kinds of deep relationships--those anchors--in Eve's Daughters. Getting these babies raised well take a long time and a lot of energy, and who better to walk alongside than someone who knows the landscape? I am grateful beyond measure to the women who help me, step by step. Come join us, be a beacon for others...and then take a minute to thank your anchors today.

Monday, July 12, 2010

You Are Here

I had an interesting conversation this morning about how churches often scramble to get as many people as possible through their doors but often fail to do the even-harder work of helping those people get as whole (and holy) as possible. My friend said, "Yeah, it's like getting people to clamor through the gates at Disneyland only to find there's no map to the good stuff inside."

The comment struck me. In a separate conversation yesterday with a newly single mom, I asked how she was holding up, how her kids were handling visitation, whether the exchanges with her former spouse were livable. She sighed and said, "It's so good to finally be able to speak about these things." She'd been on the side of the road too long, and I got the feeling she was searching for her map, as we all do, after finding our worlds turned upside down for one reason or the other.

In times of confusion, crisis, introspection, grief, even joy, it seems we need to anchor ourselves in relation to the landmarks around us: God, friends, family, work, kids, hobbies...whatever it is that keeps our footing sure. Each of our maps vary, as each of our landmarks are deeply personal. But all of them have the spot with the X that says YOU ARE HERE.

More than anything, I want Eve's Daughters to be the X on the map--where a woman can know without a shadow of a doubt that they can learn to do the single mother gig with strength, grace, humor and health. I don't want to simply build our numbers, having women streaming through our doors, without a map to what's inside. But the irony is that these maps can't show a list of directions to follow; rather, they become apparent over time, footprint after footprint, conversation after conversation, friendship after friendship. We invite you to explore being "Here" with us.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fatherless But Fathered

I just came back from a long, hard, good trip to Chicago, my hometown. The occasion was my father's memorial service, with some catching up in and around that event. This trip, more than any other, cemented the fact that "home" is gone and I don't get a do-over; however, only during this trip, too, was I finally OK with that ending.

I loved my earthly dad but in the end, I could not have a relationship with him. It cost us both too much. I love him still and hope more than anything that the restless man I knew is at peace. I have worn my fatherlessness since last November, when he died, like an ill-fitting garment. Sometimes it chafed, hitting too close to home. Sometimes, it was too airy with the unsettled differences still hovering between us. It's taken some getting used to but I've tried to keep my eye on God, tried to keep asking and listening and moving. Tried to keep living.

I smile to think I now have two Fathers in Heaven, totally, wildly different. I have ached to have a last conversation with my dad, one that worked, but now I just kinda of talk to him during the day, as I do with my other Father. I wish I could hear something back from either party, but I think it was Oswald Chambers who wrote that we grow to the point where God trusts us with His silences. Generally, I wish not to be so trustworthy in these types of situations, but for now, silence it is.

And in the midst of all this processing, life keeps happening: we continue growing ED in fits and starts, people come and go, my daughter gets taller and wiser, things are breaking left and right, friends suffer and celebrate and we keep shuffling left right left. But something has shifted in this latest process: I *know* without a doubt we're being watched over. Silently, with eyes that don't tire. The old vulnerability is gone. And I think that's one of the smallest and biggest things we can hope for in this world: To matter to someone else, but to also know the cost of aloneness and, therefore, develop the empathy to want to help pay someone else's way.

And that, in itself, can give life.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A lesson from graduation

It’s over…high school graduation that is! My son is officially done with his K-12 education…he is an adult…he is off to college.

I made it…high school graduation that is! I raised a respectful, intelligent, and compassionate young man…ready to take on the world.

Retrospect is an amazing thing. Today I realized that I spent most of the graduation season looking back (going through old photos for the graduation poster and photo album) or looking to the future (how will I cope with him away at college…what will our life look like in this next chapter?). In between the past and the future, I spent some time in the present.

I had a barbecue to celebrate my son’s graduation. As my gift to him I vowed to not freak out about the condition of the house, the imperfect backyard, the lack of time to do all the special things I wanted to, and the inevitable chaos surrounding food prep (for the most part I kept my vow…mainly because I asked for help and I graciously received it). Instead I focused on enjoying each moment. I laughed, cried, shared, loved, and observed. I watched my son as he navigated the crowd…making sure each person there was talked to…was made to feel welcome…was appreciated. I participated in all that he is.

Perhaps that is the biggest lesson I can take away from his graduation…I need to enjoy and revel in the “right now”. It isn’t about surviving the thought of “empty nest”. It isn’t about questioning why the years went by so fast…it is about appreciating where we are.

I have spent the last 18 years worrying if I did enough of the “right” things and fretting about what comes next. While I think it goes against our human nature to spend 100% of our time in present moment…I need to consciously choose to engage in life as it unfolds.

I wonder if a post-it note or a string around my finger will help me remember…habits are hard to change. - Cathy

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Your Average Single Mom...

If normal is just a setting on the dryer, then perhaps average should be relegated to baseball stats. Cathy forwarded some November 2009 US Census Bureau statistics from a study* that were pretty eye-opening about the “average” single parent. Approximately 13.7 million single parents in the US today are raising some 21.8 million children (approximately 26% of children under 21). While there are many custodial dads out there, here’s what the “average” single mom entails:

  • Approximately 84% of custodial parents are mothers
  • She is divorced or separated (45%), never married (34.2%), widowed (1.7%) or now remarried (19%)
  • She is employed: 79.5% of custodial single mothers are gainfully employed, with 49.8% working full time, year-round, and 29.7% working part-time or part-year

  • She and her children don’t live in poverty (73%). A minority receive assistance (22% receive Medicaid, 23.5% receive food stamps, 12% receive some form of public housing or rent subsidy, 5% receive TANF)
  • She is 40+ years old (39.1% of custodial single mothers)

  • She’s raising one child (54% of custodial mothers) with 46% raising two or more children

As fascinating as some of these stats are, what we’re finding at Eve’s Daughters is there is no “average.” Certainly, there are commonalities, but each woman has a story as unique as her fingerprint.

I confess, years ago, that I struggled with my prior “picture” of a single mom. It wasn’t pretty, partly based on where and how I was raised. That picture worked for me…until I became one of them. Then it became personal, and it forced me, humbled, to edit that image. And that’s developed a far greater humility in me to not be so quick to judge, across the board—that I don’t know, can’t know, every person’s back story.

Now, with our organization, maybe that’s why we feel so strongly about developing relationships first and foremost, versus assuming a cookie-cutter approach. Because when we take the time, what we’re hearing goes far beyond average…often into the extraordinary.

Is there a single mom in your life that deserves a second look?

*United States. Census Department. Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2007. By Timothy S. Grall. Census, 2009. 26 Feb. 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Tiny Life

"The spiritual life is not a life of success; it is a life of faithfulness, and it’s not easy. God knew we would naturally be dazzled by big; that’s why Jesus told the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son…Jesus was trying to tell us something: The spiritual life is a tiny life, filled with little decisions, tiny steps toward God, tiny glimpses of His presence, little changes and small movings, tiny successes and imperceptible stirrings.”—Michael Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality

Happy birthday…to us. Eve’s Daughters received its official non-profit status a year ago, the day before Mother’s Day, setting a new land speed record in terms of 1023 approvals. And since that momentous occasion…there’ve been fits and starts, and sometimes just fits, usually thrown by me. There’s been lots of planning, and talking, and listening. There’ve been seemingly 1.7 million emails, and distress calls, complete with head-in-hands. And still, all told, it’s been kinda tiny work. We are still “wobblers”, not even toddlers yet, in a world that’s not always supportive of non-profits, regardless of need.

I smiled when I read Michael Yaconelli’s description above, that God knew we would be dazzled by big. Like the bumper sticker, “Distracted by shiny things,” I find myself thinking there must be something bigger to be had, bigger to be done, bigger just in general, and it makes me lose my focus sometimes.

But then I think of all the tiny decisions: For Cathy to have been listening to hear the name “Eve’s Daughters”, for me to know it was time to join her, for all the planning, for choosing the board members, for writing the background material, for starting the fundraising, for developing the monthly dinners, for every cup of coffee over listening to a woman’s story. Each was a tiny decision to move toward to the vision, closer to the hope, even when everything swirled around us that maybe the whole thing was a mirage, a mistake.

We see changes in the women we serve, seemingly imperceptible at first, and then gaining steam. I've come to learn that tiny steps eventually do add up. So when I’m tempted to think we’re not making a difference (or a difference that anyone could notice), I’ve got to remember to narrow my focus. For someone of my wiring, this doesn’t come naturally or gracefully. But I keep hoping there will come a time when I get the perspective I crave—that it was all supposed to be this way, a little breadcrumb trail to sustain us, living the tiny life in a big, big way.
Birthing a non-profit is not unlike our other births--joyful, messy, scary, overwhelming. But that something tiny that we helped usher into the world--who knows what it will grow into?

Monday, April 26, 2010

A letter to Tes

Cathy's Note: Tes Syzonenko, a fellow single mom, passed away on February 24, 2010 after a very short battle with cancer. She leaves behind her 18-year old son, family, co-workers, customers, friends...and me.

Dear Tes,

I haven't been ready to write...I have just been waiting...for what I'm not sure. But today I passed your son on the way to school and the tears came again. I miss you. In recent times, we didn't see each other much, but there was a time when we were a big part of each other's lives, and we were always in each other's prayers.

I can't help but think about you as Eve's Daughters begins to blossom. You would have loved the concept of moms supporting moms. Of creating a place for moms to belong, to socialize, to talk, to be accepted, to be loved. You would have been right there dishing up the soup, helping the little kids with crafts, and sharing your journey as a single mom.

But you aren't here. It happened so fast. I was so lucky to be able to share the last weeks with you, to watch your courage, to tell you what a great job you did raising your boy, and then to see you say goodbye to him.

"I won't see him graduate," was the first thing you said to me when the doctors told you it was terminal. When I saw your son today...I couldn't help but remember the words. High school graduation is around the corner.

Tes, I know you struggled at times with being a single mom...we all do...but you held on. You made difficult decisions when you had to, you fought the good fight daily, and you loved at all times. You would have never thought of yourself as an inspiration to others...but you were...and still are.

Eve's Daughters is a place where single moms can come to be encouraged, renewed and validated. You would have loved it. You would have been right there serving with a smile so engaging that people would forget their troubles for awhile.

I wish you were here. I'm not ready to say goodbye. So instead...thanks for teaching me so much about much about sacrifice...and so much about love. Thank you for showing me that it doesn't matter what our is all worth it...we do it gratefully for our children.

I push on with Eve's Daughters knowing how important it is to moms like you...and to sons like ours. I love you Tes, thank you. - Cathy

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What Does Your Saturday Look Like?

I had a great series of conversations recently with someone who’s been helping me walk through some disappointments. While this person is definitely pro-Karen (which is a fabulous help), he can’t walk the path for me. All he can do is listen, point me back to True North and help me on my journey.

The gist was such: Between a promise ending on Good Friday and a promise anew on Easter Sunday, one can have a long, lonely, questionable, faith-trying time on Saturday. That’s where I’m at right now, on a number of fronts. And you can’t always expect people to be willing to hang with you on a Saturday, if you know what I mean: Sometimes, there’s other stuff to do, and maybe your friends are living in Tuesday or Wednesday mode.

But if I rally a bit of faith, I know I can get quiet and pray. I can believe that Sunday is coming, if not immediately. I can remember that lonely Saturdays can be good for me, in a stretching kind of way, if I can accept them and not divert the grief into cleaner closets or more organized cabinets. If I can remember back to other Saturdays—and there’ve been plenty—that eventually gave way to something wobbly and new.

What’s your Saturday looking like? Are you waiting on a job? On a check? Is your kid sick? Do you need to forgive…or be forgiven? Are you worn down with resentment? Are you doubled-up with longing? Whatever it is…remember your other Saturdays. Know that others have traveled this path. Trust, even if it seems a longshot. Call someone who’s pro-You. Chocolate never hurts. Pray. Sunday will come.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A word or two from Elizabeth

Quite often I am completely blown away by my kids...usually by the maturity and the "know-how" they possess. My daughter posted this drawing and poem on my "DREAM BIG" bulletin board. I thought it might be a good thing to share...mind you this is my 15 year-old daughter writing...

When things go wrong as they sometimes will, when the road you're trudging seems all uphill. When the funds are low and the debts are high, and you want to smile, but you have to sigh. When care is pressing you down a bit, rest if you must, but don't you quit. Life is queer with its twists and turns, as everyone of us sometimes learns. Many a failure turns about, when she might have won had she stuck it out. Don't give up though the pace seems slow, you may succeed with another blow. Success is failure turned inside out; the silver tint of the clouds of doubt. You never can tell how close you are, it may be near when it seems so far. So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit. It's when things seem worst that you must not quit. - Elizabeth

Today I hold on to my child's words...knowing that the wisdom she imparts today was partly gleaned from doing life together over the last 15 years. Just when I think I haven't done enough...they show that they get it. Thanks for the lesson Elizabeth, love Mom

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bye Bye Bob

I went searching for a bandage this morning and found Barbie. Scooby. Dora (ok, those are really old). And my old fave: Bob the Tomato from Veggie Tales. But I couldn't find my secret stash of plain, old beige band-aids and came to find out...

E has been using them. Secretly. Sez she's too grown up for Bob and Barbie after all.

We've had an abundance of maturing exercises lately, between family, friends, body changes and the like. 1 Cor 13:11 says we're expected, when we're children, to act like children...but eventually the goal is to mature, putting our childish ways behind us.

Does this go for moms, too? Because I have been struggling to let go of the especially sweet childish stuff--the innocence, the lack of attitude (!!), the long times of make believe when anything can happen. I am blown away by the lovely young woman she is becoming...while I still recall middle-of-the-night feedings with lullabies playing softly.

(Wasn't that just last week??)

How do you adjust to the changing seasons of being a mom?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Why It Sucks to Be a Fish Poop Paperweight

There are some mornings in this child-rearing gig when I well up and really am thankful for the job. Then there are some mornings when, simply to cope, I feel compelled to shove down maybe a dozen deep-fried apple fritters followed by a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ONE Cheesecake Brownie.

Doing the right thing day in and day out is tiring, unglamorous and highly overrated. Yet that’s what me and my single-sistah-mommies keep choosing to do. I’m not at liberty to discuss details here, or name names, much as I’d like to, say, from a rooftop with a bullhorn, but I sometimes get weary of being The Anchor. You know, the one who keeps everything level and safe and moving and responsible and, well, anchored. Sometimes it really hits me that anchors live a life of unseen servitude while nestled silently in centuries’ worth of fish dung.

Or maybe that’s just how it feels this morning.

During the long slog of trying to raise our kids to be fit to roam the world someday, it can feel hopeless. If you’re a divorced mom trying to co-parent, you can find yourself facing seemingly untenable cross-purposes. Seriously: It can make a girl go on a sugar binge.

So, while I’ve got too much work to do to make a fritter run this morning (and I’m sure my butt will thank me later), I am trying to remember my Lamaze breathing and tell myself that we’re only halfway through this very large and important assignment of getting someone raised up right. And that maybe the view from the ocean floor will look a little more promising tomorrow. I’d be curious to hear how you all deal with being in the sometimes exhausting and unpopular position of The Anchor. OK…I need to hear it this morning—humor me, will ya?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tough lessons

I think I probably knew this before...but the last couple of days have really convinced me. I react to the experiences my kids have as if they were my own experience. Is this what mom's do? Do we internalize our kids' good and bad experiences into our own emotional life?

As much as I have been writing about thinking on good things and making the most of every moment, I am in a funky that I can't really explain but is best put, "I feel out of sorts". I am hurting for my kids.

Without going into details, suffice it to say, my kids have had some tough lessons this week. I so want them to only have good never be get all that they want. I know that isn't reasonable for myself...why do I want it for my kids...why do I somehow expect it to happen? I dream big for my kids and I am left grieving when they hurt.

I realize there isn't anything I can do to "fix" the situation for them, but I want to. I can offer a listening ear and, if they let me, some insights from my years of valuable experience :). It seems that is all they need. If I get too upset about their "lessons", and internalize them, they begin to feel that they can't share with me or, worse yet, they take responsibility for my feelings.

So...all this I ponder what it means to personally "love the moment"...I need to remember the same rules apply to the kids. They need the good and bad just as much as I do. It helps shape helps them learn what they want from life...and it gives them belief in their own ability to handle life's ups and downs. I can see them confidently handling both...all that life throws at them. That feels much better than internalizing their hurt...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Another take on "moments"

I haven't been sleeping real well lately...and last night was another one of those up at 1:30 a.m. times. I awoke with the thought that there are no wasted moments. Too tired to blog...I captured the thought and headed back to bed.

In the light of day...and I mean light of is beautifully sunny here in Oregon...I still hold to not wasting moments. However, I hear in my head voices saying...not all moments are wonderful...bad things isn't always possible to only have good moments...sometimes we can't help but focus on bad things. Yes, this is true...bad things do happen...and how we choose to process them affects our approach to living life.

My daughter recently came home with a mug she made, sporting the phrase, "Half Full!!!" She has been working on how she views life. Challenging herself to see things "half full" versus "half empty". It doesn't mean that there aren't any road bumps or sink holes in her life, it means that when she comes up against them she is trying to see the good in the situation.

All moments are gifts from God...both the good and the bad. The "bad" help us to recognize the "good". If we only had the "good" how would we know how good life really is? So while I recognize that it can be tough to overcome the obstacles in my life...I can make a choice not to obsess on them. I can look at them as the yard stick from which I measure how good life is...I can accept that the "bad" has made my enjoyment of the "good" so much sweeter... Cathy

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wasting the moment

Tuesdays are a favorite day of mine because I get to go to my acupuncturist. I always leave with more things to think about than when I walked in. Today she told me that she recently caught herself pondering a difficult time in her life, something that didn't feel good. She stopped herself and said, "That is such a waste of a moment". She allowed herself to focus on a more positive moment in the present.

I love it. "Such a waste of a moment!" Our lives are made of many, many moments...but in the end our human lives are defined by a finite number of moments. We get to choose how to use them. We have a choice...we always have a choice.

In each moment...we choose our thoughts, our activities, our intentions. If we make the choice to focus our attention on the negative, on the bleak, on a rough time in our life, on a life without hope...aren't we just wasting the moment? I don't like wasting anything...I will be more intentional with my thoughts...with my choices...with my moments...Cathy

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Productivity will have to wait

My daughter shut the front door early this morning and we both heard a clanging noise...she looked at me through the window and shrugged her shoulders...I mouthed, "I've got it, you get going". I walked around the corner and discovered the deadbolt on the front door fell off. "Dang, this is too early in the morning for repairs", I thought, and went back to bed.

I'm up now...with coffee in my bloodstream and a strong commitment to be diligent with my time this weekend. Today I am going to get more done. Today I am going to be more productive.

So, here I sit, with my blank piece of paper, writing down all the things I "should" get done today. For added efficiency I assign a time for each task...I need 30 hours today if I want to have a couple of hours to have fun. You see, today I want to go bum around Tuesday Morning with Karen...and I don't have the time if I am going to be "perfect". Maybe I can steal from Sunday's hours. So I mapped out Sunday as well. Maybe if I go to church at 9:00 am...

I have been doing this single mom gig for a long time, and I am still not used to having to do it all myself. The cleaning, the college finanical aid forms, the taxes, the soccer team finances, the board member duties, the errand running, the laundry, the cooking, the front door fix-its...and oh ya, the nurturing.

Hmmm....the nurturing. That just popped out. It brings a smile to my face. Because that's why I signed up to be a mom in the first place. so I could All the other stuff is just that...stuff.

Heck with the detailed list...heck with being "perfect". I am signing off and going for a walk with my daughter. I'm going back to the why I became a mom in the first love on a child! Tuesday Morning will have to wait....- Cathy

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Unexpected grace...

Yesterday I told Karen that I would blog...daily. I don't know if that was such a smart idea...but here goes (don't expect essays...maybe more random thoughts).

I just experienced an unexpected bonding moment with my teenage daughter. Tonight she validated my motherhood. I have often told myself that maybe when the kids were 30 or 40 years old they would see that I had their back, tried the best I could to be stable, offered a compassionate shoulder to cry on, and did the best I could to lessen the impact of divorce. I never imagined I would receive a glimpse of that grace when she was 15 years old.

Tonight we sat in the car and talked...about the divorce...about the ugliness. She was 7 months old when we split up. She says she doesn't know the truth about what happened...meaning who left who. Frankly, I don't know if the truth is that easily explained any more. It's probably a little bit of my truth and little bit of his. She says she will never know the truth, because there are "two sides", "two perceptions". She seemed okay with that. So did I.

In the midst of the conversation she looked at me and said I had "moved on", "grown up". My 15 year-old, so very much in the present, helped me see that I have mostly let go of the past. I don't need to fight...I don't need to explain my side...I don't need to make sure she gets how hard I try to be a good mom. She sees it. We live it.

So tonight, in a very unexpected moment, we both grew up. I could see in her eyes that she is going to be okay, and I felt the same for myself. It is so hard to know if we are doing a good job as moms. Especially when the kids are teenagers and they start to exert their independence. My lesson learned: just live true to who you are...and know that one day they will see the sacrifices and love you give them. That grace may come sooner than you think. -Cathy

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Little Bite of Reality

So. Cathy said I should blog. I would not have, frankly, without her prompting but she brought up a great point: This is what life looks like a lot of the time. At least be honest about it.

I got a call this morning before 8 am on my cell from my main boss-lady (I am a freelancer with several boss-ladies and a boss-guy). When that happens, I know something has gone terribly awry. Not one but two last-minute projects kinda blew up my day--this day...the day I'm supposed to working on Eve's Daughters stuff. Stressing to get my girl to school, I tried really really hard not to rip off her head and scream down the hole when she suggested she leave several dozen math problems (her least-favorite subject) until late tonight when they're due early tomorrow. Other little "mice" as my friend Kathy calls them--niggling little obnoxious things that go wrong at bad times--occurred, such as the kitchen faucet screen coming loose enough to spray water like a clown with seltzer all over my windows.

In the midst of this, I called a young women with whom I was to meet today--a single mom who's struggling. She asked apologetically if we could reschedule. I mouthed thankyaJesus so I could put out all the newly erupted fires. But then I thought: I know I need to be doing Eve's Daughters...I just don't know how I can be doing Eve's Daughters when life is crazy a lot of the time. I'm not in a position to be turning down paying work; again, as a freelancer, you have to take it as it comes. But am I working for money or God? I wish it truly were the latter but I'm telling you, He's got to pay better, you know?

So there's my honest confession, courtesy of Cathy, of saying reality kinda bites sometimes. I believe I know what I've been called to do; it's just that life gets in the way a lot of the time. And while I'm pretty sure that God will someday judge our progress with Eve's Daughters and proclaim me a major disappointment (because He always liked Cathy best), I try to remember to get out of my own way and not give myself too much credit--that I'm so terribly important that the world might just spin off its axis without me. You know. More or less.

So later this afternoon, when the fires died to embers, I took myself out for a walk and enjoyed the blustery smells. Then I made some dinner and wrote my to-do list for tomorrow and realized it will all keep going--Eve's Daughters included--with or without me. Em may be up late tonight doing math problems and learning a valuable lesson about time management. I probably don't have to micromanage that.

I wish I could wrap this up cleverly but I'm fresh out. Just know, moms, that we're all trying to figure it out. But at least we have each other. And we're keeping it honest.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Yesterday I did what I haven't done in ages...I visited a self-help section at the bookstore. Not just any bookstore...but Powell's downtown! I am amazed at how many books there are on how to fix myself. Get happy...get skinny...get smart...stop letting people take advantage of life with intention...find the man of your dreams...the list goes on...

Why was I there? I'm not really sure. I think I wanted to heal my life. What I realized in walking up and down the stacks of an endless number of that I have all that I need to heal my life right inside of me. I don't need books. I just need me...and my God.

God knew what he was doing when he picked Paul to be one of his "go-to" guys. Saul/Paul...a man in need of some self-help if ever there was one. Until that road to Damascus...then his life an instant. God changed Paul...and Paul's words can help us change.

I don't know if God works such "in your face" miracles these days...but I do know that God can make the difference between a dreary life and a joyful one. It isn't something that just happens though...we need to do our part. We need to participate.

As the new decade unfolds I am committed to uncovering God's teachings on how to lead a joyful life...beginning with Philippians 4:8:

"...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."

At the highest level, it begins with God...and continues with understanding our place in Him. In its practical form, it begins with changing our thoughts. Changing what we think about...what we meditate upon.

What I realized when I walked out of Powell's without making a purchase is that I have the only book I need...I just need to read it...and meditate on it. I have God's Word...the Bible. The best self-help book around. - Cathy