Tag Archives: single parent

mother’s day

Mothers, enjoy your children.  While they are young, as they grow, and when they are adults.  Every stage of development for your child is special.  I don’t need to tell you that; you already know.  Every stage my children have been at has been my favourite.  Why?  Because it’s where we are in the present.

Don’t wish for the past when they were young, or perhaps before they were born.

Don’t wait for the day they’re grown up and out of the house so you have peace and quiet or a clean home.

Be present.  Enjoy what today gives you.  It is the ultimate gift.  Love your children no matter who, what, or where they are.  Love yourself too.

Enjoy this day as if there are no others.  Give thanks for the life around you.  Be grateful for the ability to have them in your life for not every woman is as fortunate as you.  Hug your children.  Tell them that you love them.  Mean it.  Every day.

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simply you

The other day I went to visit my doctor.  As usual, he asked how I was doing and if I was seeing anyone.  My doctor likes to keep tabs on me since he knew the issues that occurred before and during the divorce.  He always asks how my children are coping as well.

Am I seeing anyone?  No, not really.  But do I want to be?  Well, that got me to thinking.  Then the next day I read a brief article on the benefits of being single.  That got me thinking even more.  There are a lot of benefits to being single.  You are the only one spending your income, so you choose where it goes.  You decide if you use a credit card for a high-cost item or if you decide to save up before purchasing it.  You decide how to pay off debt (like divorce debt), and how you allot your dollars.  You decide how to decorate your home.  Are you a minimalist or do you like to fill your home with things?  Your choice.  You decide if you want a pet, and if so, what kind?  Do you want to travel?  Where do you want to go?

Here’s the best one.  You become utterly and solely you.  When in a relationship, partners tend to pick up on certain pieces of the other partner’s personality.  Quirks, sayings, behaviours.  These things tend to blend.  The dominant personality tends to overshadow the less dominant personality.  You essentially become the same person.  However, when you choose a life of being single, you know that who you are is simply you.  And that is a good feeling.

christmas 

This Christmas was the best one I have had in as many years as I can recall. It wasn’t the gifts under the tree. In fact, it was the absence of them this year that made me happier than before. Perhaps it is a change in perspective. Perhaps it was a change in me. I did not need gifts under the tree to make Christmas special. 

I needed my family and I needed my friends. I needed to do things for others and for strangers and for those in less fortunate situations than I found myself in. 

I kept the gifts lean this year, yet my youngest thought it was the best Christmas ever. This tells me that it isn’t the money spent that makes Christmas special for them either. It’s the love that is shared. 

Having said that, there was a surprise for me this year. One of my very best friends took it upon himself to ensure my boys had gifts under the tree for their mom. He did it without me knowing and it was particularly touching. 

the art of minimalism

I have been doing a lot of reading lately. A lot. Much of it has been blog posts and articles on minimalism.  I need that extra encouragement and motivation to get back to some simplicity, as many of us do from time to time.

When my exhusband and I first parted ways, I bought a home for myself and my sons. We didn’t have a lot to put into our home, and it seemed rather bare.  I wanted to buy quality furniture that would last for a good long time, but I also wanted it to fit into our lifestyle. I also didn’t want to go into debt just to furnish the house.  So, some pieces came from Ikea, or ikea-esk shops.  Relatively inexpensive, but will do the job needed until I was ready to get the real deal.  And it was fine to start with.  We were just incredibly happy to be moving on with life in a positive note. 

After about five months, I found the dining set that spoke to me.  It had a rustic style, was made with refurbished wood, and the hardware was handmade.  It spoke to me on so many levels.  The style, the reuse of resources, the handmade personal touches.  It felt very earthy and helped me feel connected to nature the way I like to be.   I had saved the money needed which was great because that meant I wasn’t going into debt to buy this gorgeous piece of furniture.  

This was the only piece of furniture I have purchased for the house.  In all fairness, we don’t need anything else at this point badly enough to warrant the spending.  But where we did go wrong was the little spending.  The toys that add up but don’t get played with.  The extra craft supplies that we bought without specific purpose but had grand ideas for.  The extra stuff for Christmas that really wasn’t needed, wanted, or used, but was bought for the sake of volume for Christmas morning. 

Clutter affects us in so many ways.  It affects us mentally because there’s this mess looming over our heads that we know needs cleaning.  The dust that accumulates because we can’t properly dust around the extra stuff.  We just feel better when there is less around us.  I know that, yet I still fell into the trap of having stuff.

So, over the next 50 days, I am embarking on a personal challenge to declutter my home, and prepare a healthy and welcoming environment.  What I am hoping to achieve is mental comfort, a clean home that houses simply what we need or truly want.  Those things that are no longer necessary need to go.  Those things that hold negative feelings and negative memories must leave the premises.  These things create mental clutter, which is just as harmful.  Once this is done, my creative living can have the freedom to expand into the open spaces. And for me, this is very important. 

I encourage everyone to consider how the things in your environment affect you…both good and bad.  Minimalism is not for everyone, and it looks different for everyone too.  What is the same is the stress relieving effect it should provide. 

thanksgiving

My own personal challenge was to post a weekly blog post every Sunday for a year (at least).  I have been quite good with keeping up with it, but today has been a challenge.

Today is Thanksgiving Sunday here in Canada, and while I do try to be a positive person, I am having a very difficult time with today.  It is difficult to be miles away from family on the holidays.  And it is even more difficult to say goodbye to your children on Thanksgiving Sunday because they have to go to their father’s house despite where they want to be.  To send them off with tears in their eyes because all they really want is to be home is heartbreaking.

how much time in a week

What can you do in a week’s time when you put your mind and determination into it?  Turns out quite a bit.

This week, I had set a goal to give my son’s room a complete make over.  I wanted to have certain projects done by the end of July so that I could have a week of mental and physical rest before starting my next career chapter.  This included his room.  I have wanted to repaint his room since I bought our home, and the carpet in there simply had to go.  Well, this was the time to do it.  From Sunday last week to today, I worked a full week.  I had something going on every night after work, and then, once I finally got home, I got to work on his room.

I tore out the carpet and underlay.  Primed and painted the walls.  Stained some shelving pieces and pine crates to make him a creative shelving unit.  Laid down the new flooring.  Screwed the shelving unit together.  Put his furniture back in (but in a different configuration that makes the room much nicer).  Screwed his wall shelves back on the walls.  Hung some art.  Gave Jack the Tangerine Gecko a home right next to my son’s bed.

My hands are sore, my knee is a wreck, I am physically exhausted, but my heart is full and I await his reaction to his newly renovated room.  He knew I would be doing the work this week, but I wonder if he has thought about it while he’s been away at his father’s.  Oh how I wish his father wasn’t such an ass and would let me speak with them at least to say goodnight.  But I digress.

Alas, before he gets to see his new space, the plan is a picnic dinner in the park as soon as I get them back, and hunting Pokémon with them in Pokémon Go!  Such a treat and what great family time to be had!

uniqueness

I find it rather curious how we all become individuals based on our experiences and the way our lives unravel.  During this recent trip back to see my family, I think this is the time when it really hit home for me.  I looked at how my sister appeared to me and compared how I viewed myself (and how others have described me).

This is what I saw:

My sister is the typical soccer mom.  I watched as she interacted with all the other soccer moms at my niece’s game.  She fit right in.  She is slow moving, like nothing is ever a rush.  There isn’t any reason to be in a hurry or rush off anywhere, and her body language shows it.  She also carries extra weight (not that there is anything wrong with that or that I’m criticizing it, just an observation), and her slow motion seems to be accentuated by that.  She drives a Mercedes.  She works if she chooses to.  She has a husband who provides for the family.  She lives a life of leisure, has a social life, and spends the summers at their lakeside cottage.

I am nothing like her.

I am a hard working, often overtime working single mom.  I have strayed from the materialistic way of life (due to the fact that my ex-husband always had to have the most expensive-best-top of the line-keep up with and bypass the Jonses stuff.  While I was never that way myself (he typically had the best and I was left with nothing to spend for myself after providing for the children and him), sometimes it would have been nice to have something for myself.  I have a five year old Jeep that travels everywhere I go, I spend time in nature with my children and alone; I consider the mountains my home.  I am not a soccer mom, nor would I ever fit in with them.  I am a vegetarian, organic, natural and clean eater (mostly).  I am a yogini.  I meditate.  I do not have an expensive home and I most certainly do not have a lakefront cottage.  I have wanderlust, an adventurous spirit, and a camera.  I am an artist and an author.  My dog is my best friend and the one I socialize with the most.  I’ve been called a hippie more times than I care to count.  This term, as far as I am concerned, is a compliment.

I don’t typically compare myself to others because I know we all have our own paths.  It just seemed so obvious to me this time.  I haven’t spent time with my sister in so many years, and perhaps because of this, it became so very clear to me how very different we are.

So I suppose, what I have seen, is that life and experiences really do shape us into who we become.  We had the same upbringing for the first 18 years of life.  Somewhere along the way, our lives took divergent paths; neither one better than the other, just different.

I am grateful for this trip home, for so many reasons.  This is just one of them.  I am also grateful for the experiences (good and bad) that have shaped me into who I am.  I can honestly say that I have earned all I have by myself.  I have nobody to credit for my possessions but me, and my lifestyle is a reflection of who I am beyond monetary and materialistic views.  This is part of my uniqueness.

adventure on

My boys and I regularly go on adventures.  Some are big and others not so big.  Adventures take many shapes and forms, but they are all exciting no matter what it is.  This weekend we did our annual dinosaur hunting adventure.  I take them to Drumheller, Alberta every year since we are all dino-crazy.

The weather was not fantastic.  It was downright crappy really.  Cold and overcast, with rain in the night making the outdoor activities poor to nonexistent.  One of our mantras was used excessively this weekend.  If you’re not getting dirty, you’re not adventuring.

We did get dirty.  We also got muddy and wet.  So we spent the majority of this adventure indoors.  Naturally, we had to visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum as we do every year.  We love it there.  Everyone should go at least once.

Drumheller is a place where I feel like I’m allowed to let my inner child run wild.  It’s ok to be obsessed with dinosaurs and fossils there.  It’s encouraged even.  I’m sure the local businesses love it because they want you to buy dinosaur merchandise and fossils.  You know, support the local economy and all.  We do.  We drop a small fortune every year, and I am totally ok with it.

Am I sad that our annual dinosaur adventure is over for this year? Absolutely.  But now we get to look forward to the next one. And in the meantime, I have my memories, photos and souvenirs to remind me of the fantastic trip we enjoyed together.

 

mother’s day

Yes, many will be blogging about Mother’s Day today.  I guess I’m no different. I am blessed to be a mother to the wonderful boys that I have. My youngest woke me at a rather early hour, happy, dressed and with a kiss on my cheek and a  cheery “Happy Mother’s Day, mom!  I love you.”  It started the day off exactly right.  Then, he brought me the Mother’s Day gift that he made at school and was dying since Friday afternoon to give to me.  I adore it. It’s a beautiful work of art.  He created a painting on canvas of a flower, but artistically and creatively placed in the corner of the canvas.  He is quite the artist and has a keen eye.  He could have given me a sock puppet made out of a dirty sweat sock and I would have still treasured it the same way.  I suppose that isn’t the point, but the canvas will find its home on the wall by the end of tomorrow.  Guaranteed. 

After opening my gift, he bopped off to wake his brother.  I spent a few more minutes enjoying the comfort of my bed before getting up and getting showered and set for the day.  We went for a late breakfast at this fantastic little breakfast and lunch place. The “it” place to be this morning, the meal was definitely worth the wait.  Fresh fruit cocktails and smoothies, blueberry pancakes with a custard sauce, eggs, bacon and hash browns, and mushroom and Brie crêpes filled us beyond full.

We came home and my older son gave me his gift that he made in school. His was a very intricate card with my favourite things: flowers, sealife, and dinosaurs.  He knows me well.  Inside this well decorated pyramid shaped box was a clay heart shaped necklace with his fingerprint on it in pink.  I wore the necklace for the rest of the afternoon. It now lives as an ornament hanging from my rear view mirror whe I can see and appreciate it every day.

We took a walk as a family with the dog. Another favourite part of my day.  

The hardest part of my day was having to send them off for the week with their father’s girlfriend.  Oh how I wish he would have agreed to let me have them for the whole day, but alas you can’t change a jackass.

So there it is.  Mother’s Day is done for another whole year.  I wonder what this next year will bring.  

happiness 

How many people have found happiness?  I mean, truly found happiness. Happiness isn’t exactly quantifiable, but really has a qualitative aspect, somewhat like quality of life does.  So how do we know if we have actually achieved happiness?

A tad bit philosophical for a Sunday morning.  Hmmm

I think it’s safe to say that we have all had bouts of happiness.  Something has gone extremely well and we are pleased with the results, or someone has made us feel special in that way that nobody else seems to be able to and therefore we experience happiness attached to that.

I feel like we all have our own definition of happiness.  Sure, I could do a literature search on the topic and find out what researchers have discovered if they did a qualitative study on happiness, but I don’t care to do such a thing on a Sunday morning after just having returned home from a work-related trip.  I did, however,  ponder the thought of happiness in my life during my commute to and from my destination.

As I reflected on the things in my life, I have discovered that I have had numerous times where I have experienced happiness and many where I found the exact opposite.  Many would say that your wedding day is the happiest, most important day of your life.  Not for me.  I believe that I knew (having looked upon my life in retrospect) this was a mistake. I cried through the entire wedding ceremony…what does that tell you?  Hmmm.  Mistake in progress.  Loyalty kept me there.  Fear kept me there.  Oppression kept me there.  There are many reasons I could cite as to why I stayed, but again, in retrospect, none of them were valid, and the majority of people would have had no clue as to the state of the relationship I had with the man I was married to because I didn’t allow anyone to see it.

The birth of your children, again, another hallmark of happiness.  And to risk being taboo or state the once unstatable, my first pregnancy was not expected or planned, and therefore I did not experience that happiness immediately.  Does that mean I did not wish for the child?  Of course not.  I adapted.  I kept those ‘wrong’ feelings hidden.  I had a bright future planned.  Yes, I was married when the child was conceived.  But now my plan of leaving the person I was married to was now gone.  Depression hit.  Pregnancy complications hit.  Postpartum depression hit.  A change in career path was necessary.  I adapted.  My happiness was not as important as the one I was now bringing into the world.  Fake it till you make it.  Keep smiling.  Nobody likes a girl with a frown on her face.  Ok.

For the record, I loved that child more than life itself.  The pregnancy had a very real chance of taking my life and I took the risk for that child.

Onward.

I worked, I attached success at work to personal happiness. Did it work?  Perhaps superficially.  I began to identify with my career and had nothing other than that and being a mother.  Where was I? Who was I?  These were questions I couldn’t even consider asking or looking for answers to.  Remember that fear, loyalty and oppression?  Still there.

Let’s fast forward.  Here we are to the point of marital breakdown some 20 years later.  The attacks on my personal self were becoming unbearable.  No, I was not fat at 102 pounds.  No, I do not want to see what I would look like at 85 pounds, how dare you ask me to even try.  No, affairs are not normal nor should I accept it.  Violence and personal attacks, not acceptable.  Not anymore.  But these things still have an effect on us.  It took me time.  Years to work thorough the effects.  I still am.  I still get the fight or flight response when I see an officer come into Starbucks still wearing his sidearm.  Will that effect ever go away? I don’t know, but for now, I recognize it, acknowledge its presence, and take some deep, cleansing breaths and remember, this is not the man I once was married to.

I had an amazing relationship that I attached happiness to.  He treated me better than I had ever been treated before.  Of course I was happy!  Until he left without any fights or arguments, no differences in opinions.  I was at a loss as to why he left.  I still am, if we are to be truthful.  But this in itself was a gift.  It was a couple of gifts..  One,  now I know what it means to be loved, to be truly loved and cherished.  The feeling was incredible.  It’s a drug, I most assuredly can attest.  Two, I found that not only can I survive the loss of that, but I could actually thrive.  My happiness was not to be dependent on having someone love me.  My happiness needed to be an internal thing.

I found that I was ok alone.  I found that I enjoyed my own company.  I was now either forced to live a life imprisoned in my own home and become a cat lady, or I could blossom and experience the world my way.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my cat, but cats really are bitches and they will cut you if you look at them the wrong way.

I took a healthy amount of grieving time.  I tried dating but did not find it to be engaging, and it really is quite time consuming.  It became a bit of a social experiment for me: how many dates will this one last if there is no physical contact (no hand holding or kiss goodnight). How long will this one last if trapped in my vehicle for a day trip to the mountains? Let’s face it, the majority of men in the adult dating pool are really just looking for a lay.  I’m over it.  So until the right one happens to fall into my life by divine intervention, I’m not looking.

I have discovered good things too.  I take art classes on my own, I have my photography club that I belong to.  I have friends to go to the movies with.  Me and my dog will go for long walks together and meet up with strangers and have friendly meaningless exchanges, but the underlying word here is friendly.

I have discovered the joy of waking up in my own home that has been decorated my way.   I have the love of my children and my pets.  I have healthy friendships with people I want to be associated with, not being told by anyone that I can’t be friends with this one because he’s a man or that one because he doesn’t like her.

And you know what else?  I have rediscovered that love of education that I have pushed away simply because that was the only definition I had of myself for those married years.  I have been finding my thoughts gravitating towards the PhD that I considered before.  Perhaps I am starting to feel ready and prepared for this.  The key factor that I noticed when considering this option was that it was not anxiety or fear that held my emotions when thinking about it.  It was happiness and excitement.  I think at the moment that I recognized that, I realized that I was truly happy.  Let’s not confuse happiness with perfection though.  My life is far from perfect, but as it is, I am happy.