Tag Archives: parenting as a single mom

Behind Closed Doors

She looked around her cramped one bedroom apartment. Dark stains ran across the ceiling where the roof had leaked – or rather where it still leaked on rainy days. The smell of damp gym socks hung faintly in the air. Her landlord refused to take care of the mold growing near the entry door. Light filtered dully through the dirty windows lending a brown hue to the room.

She sat on the second-hand sofa she had picked up on sale at Salvation Army. Rusty springs creaked under her weight, even though she’d lost nearly 10 pounds since she moved in. Weighing 120 at 5’ 6” she couldn’t afford to lose more. A butterfly could land on these cushions and still sound like a ghost rattling chains, she thought. The fabric under her bare leg felt like burlap as she moved unconsciously away from the brown splotch that seemed to grow bigger of its own accord. Soon it would be impossible to avoid.

She rested a foot on the battered coffee table she’d rescued from the dumpster. One of the wobbly legs was shorter than the others but she kind of enjoyed rocking the table back and forth. It soothed her frazzled nerves. Leaning her head back and closing her eyes she pushed it away, then let it fall toward her. Push, fall, push, fall, push, fall. Focused on the repetitive movement she almost missed the mouse that scurried inside the wall behind her head.

A few weeks ago she would have screamed at just the thought of those beady-eyed creatures. Now when they crossed her path she didn’t even flinch. For the most part they went their own way. The exception, of course, was the kitchen. It took a while but she learned how to keep what little food she had from her tiny roommates. Now she opted for cans and jars mostly. She kept cereal and bread in the fridge. Since the refrigerator was barely cooler than the rest of the apartment she never bothered to buy milk or yogurt so there was plenty of space and the mice couldn’t get to them there.

Push, fall, push, fall. Over and over she rocked the table. This is better? she wondered to herself. Were things really so bad?

The answer was yes. Not just a regular yes…but a resounding YES! As bad as her living conditions may be her previous situation was worse. Much worse.

She may have been living in a beautiful home with expensive furniture, but it wasn’t hers. She had been a slave. Sure, the word they used for it was “wife,” but if the truth were told she had been treated no better than the poor souls who had fought for so many years to gain freedom. Only she didn’t have Dr. King on her side.

Because her skin bore no visible scars they had said it wasn’t abuse. For years she had believed them. “He’s just joking,” they’d say when she was hurt by his cruel criticism. They didn’t know him like she did.

They didn’t see what he would do when he came home after she had spent all day cleaning his beloved house and his cherished possessions. They didn’t know that he would look for any tiny crumb, any speck of dirt, any excuse to find fault. And then he would destroy all she had done. He would throw knickknacks on the floor – only hers of course, never his – crushing them beneath his heavy boots. He would rip pages from her favorite books and scatter them around the room.

She had learned to ensure the trash had been taken to the neighbors’ can as on more than one occasion he had dumped trash over her glistening kitchen floor. She thought she had won when she began taking the trash out every day before he got home. But he wouldn’t let her get the best of him. Oh no, he simply went out to the trashcan and brought it inside, pouring out coffee grounds and half eaten food.

But if it were at the neighbors’ there was nothing he could do.

In front of everyone else he was charming, the perfect husband. Perhaps a little demanding but that was to be expected since she didn’t work. After a long day at the office didn’t he deserve to have supper waiting for him? It really was the least she could do. She was fortunate he wanted to support her. She had everything anyone could ever want! That’s what they told her and she believed them.

Her life was in a shambles but they told her it was paradise. Her husband was ruthless but they called it love.

Push, fall, push, fall, push, fall. She rocked the table faster as she remembered the night she told him she wanted a divorce. It was the first time he actually lifted a hand to her. She was sure he was going to strike. She almost hoped he would. At least then there would be proof. But he knew that too.

In the end he’d told her to go, to get out of his house. It didn’t matter that she had spent 17 years cooking and cleaning for him. It was irrelevant that he wouldn’t let her work because he wanted her at his beck and call. The house, and everything in it, belonged to him. She had nothing.

“Go sponge off someone else,” he’d shouted as she walked down the driveway.

She almost turned back. Where could she go? But she knew it was too late.

She had no friends to turn to – he hadn’t allowed her to have friends of her own. She had no money. She hadn’t worked in almost 20 years. She was alone and penniless. What had she been thinking?

The first night she spent alone, shivering under a bridge in spite of the heat, praying for morning to come. Once it did she set out to find a job – any job. She applied everywhere, telling them her phone wasn’t working and she’d be back to schedule an interview. Within a few days she had been hired at a local diner. Although she was still sleeping outside she kept herself clean, using a public bathroom in the park when no one was around.

She kept her tips in a tin can she buried under a rock. After she cashed her paycheck she added that as well. Slowly she saved enough to move into her crappy apartment. Gradually she was rebuilding her life.

Push, fall, push, fall. Suddenly the table crashed to the ground as short leg broke off completely. It doesn’t matter. I’ll get a new one, she thought. She pushed it away and stood. It was time to get to work.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Shambles.

Finding My Path

You precede me on this journey. You lead not because you know better where we are going but because that is who you are. I follow not because I am a follower but because I want you to be who you are. I have had my chance to find my path. It is now your turn.

I can feel more than see the distance growing between us. I know deep down it is only a matter of time before our paths diverge. It cannot last. Is it worth the pain I will feel when you leave?

You get further ahead, then wait for me to catch up. The space between us increases more each time you decide to stop. I could ask you to slow down, but I won’t. This is your journey. I worry that you’re losing patience waiting, that I’m slowing you down. How long will it be before you decide to just keep going?

I watch you walk as I struggle to keep up, afraid I will lose sight of you. What will happen if I do? Your stride is so much longer than mine, your pace more determined. I prefer to travel slowly, stopping to appreciate the way the light shines on a staircase made of stones. Or pause to examine a thick root, revealed by erosion, worn smooth by countless feet that have been dragged across it. I want to take time to appreciate how it clings, tenaciously holding the earth in place. But the distance grows and I’m scared I’ll never catch up.

Perhaps we were never meant to walk this path together. It’s impossible to know, and so I will try to enjoy what time we have. I’ll be grateful you were there to encourage me when the path became so steep I didn’t think I could make it. I’ll remember with fondness the quiet time together sitting on the rocky ridge, feeling like the only two people on the edge of the world.

And when it’s time, I will let you go.

Up ahead there’s a bend in the trail. Will you stop? No, you’re out of sight now, and maybe I won’t see you again. Maybe you’re done waiting for me. Perhaps you regret waiting for me to begin with.

Just beyond the bend the trail splits. Which way did you go? There’s no way for me to know, no telltale signs. In the end it doesn’t matter. I need to choose the direction that’s right for me, just as you have chosen what is best for you.

Our paths might cross again some day, after all they do wind and weave, crossing each other more often than we realize.

All I know for certain is that it was worth it. You were worth it.

It Amazes Me How Much Can Happen in a Year

As 2018 comes to a close I have been reflecting on all that has happened this year. This more than any other year has been one of dramatic personal change and growth in all areas of my life. It has been absolute proof that real change is not only possible, but completely within our control.

Physical Fitness: This year I lost over 40 pounds, took up running (I can now run between 4-5 miles), and have been practicing yoga. Now that the cooler weather is here I will put away my paddle board (I’ll miss you!) and get back out on my bike. The key for next year will be maintaining what I’ve achieved.

Writing: As my loyal followers know I self-published my first book (click the image below to find it on Amazon) this spring. I set an ambitious goal and I published ahead of schedule. I’ve been working on my novel that was conceived through the Word of the Day, although much to my chagrin I am months behind where I had hoped to be by now. That being said, what I’m writing now is so much better than what I was writing just a few months ago the extra effort will be well worth it. Look for it to be available in 2019!

Travel: My kids have been asking to travel more and in 2018 I made this happen for them. We took an amazing trip to Georgia with their friends, a trip that will be one of those lifelong childhood memories for them. I took them to Washington DC which was someplace they had wanted to see. Although they didn’t particularly enjoy the city there were a lot of first for them on that trip, including their first train ride which they loved. We also vacationed in the mountains in NH and hit many of the tourist destinations those who live in NH often forget about. As much as I love being with my kids, I take time for me as well and traveled without my kids: hiking on the Appalachian trail, camping outside of Savannah and Charleston. Where will we go next?

Emotionally I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, even though I’ve had a few tough hits this year, including the recent passing of my mother. Financially I’ve recovered from the purchase of the rental property last year. And I’m once again on a writing retreat at my friend’s beach condo in the hope of getting back on track with my novel…something I seem to be avoiding even now.

I would like to be more involved with WordPress once I figure out a new purpose for this blog. In the meantime, I will be working with my sister on her blog Accessible ABA, in some capacity. And I will continue to work on my novel.

What will 2019 bring?

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Chagrin.

Getting Back to Life After a Death

As many of you know, I’ve been absent the past 2 weeks due to a death in my family. My mother passed away unexpectedly after an accident on the farm where she volunteered. It was tragic and sad, and there is still much to deal with. I’ve been debating what, if anything I should say on here regarding what has been going on in my life. In the end I have decided to share a short list of the things I have learned thus far (in no particular order).

1. There isn’t always time later.
2. You can’t please everyone, nor should you try.
3. Make your wishes known before you die. Write them down, share them with loved ones.
4. Have a will. It can be as simple as leaving one person you trust in charge of dispensing your assets, but have a legal, notarized document.
5. Even if you don’t have a lot of assets, create and fund a trust (I now know what this means).
6. Destroy documents that are past record retention requirements – no one needs to go through medical records from the 1980’s, even if you sustained a major injury.
7. Keep a list of your accounts, user names and passwords locked up in a safe. It is so much easier if your loved ones can access all your information and knows what accounts should be closed.
8. Password protect your phone and computer – but make sure at least one other person knows how to get into your devices.
9. Keep current statements for all of your accounts so your loved ones know how much money you have, where it is and what you owe.
10. List a Payable on Death person for each of your bank accounts. This gives your loved one instant access to your money to help pay outstanding debts.
11. It is not enough to name an executor. You have to give this person the information they will need to handle everything when you are gone.

There’s more…much more…but this is enough for now. Death is a part of life. It is difficult enough to deal with your emotions when a loved one passes. Dealing with the seemingly endless details on top of that is almost unbearable. Over the next several months I will be getting all of my information together. How about you?

FREE Today Only – Learn 4 Secrets That Will Change Your Life!

Have you ever wondered, “Is this really all there is?” My life used to consist of work, chores, taking care of the kids, and a couple hours of TV to unwind before I went to bed. After my divorce I met people who helped me realize that there really is more out there – a LOT more! My life has changed in ways I would never have believed possible.

As a result of everything I learned, I published my first book in April – Thriving not Surviving: Bravely Pursue a Life That Will Blow Your Mind! It is a straightforward guide for changing your thinking in a way that will help you move from simply surviving to thriving. I’ve done it and so can you! (see below for an excerpt from the book)

If you haven’t downloaded it yet, you can download the Kindle version for FREE today only (the paperback version is also available but not eligible for the promotion). Go grab it and let me know what you think! Miss the promotion? Email me at gratefulsinglemoms@yahoo.com and I will notify you of the next promotion!

After you read the book, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. It helps more than you know!

I was fortunate enough to be able to include writing from two of our fellow bloggers as well:

The Wonderful and Wacky World of One Single Mom

A Creative PTSD Gal

Click the image below to get your free copy today!

Excerpt:

We are inundated day in and day out with messages of lack, things we don’t have but desperately need. Is it any wonder we struggle to feel grateful for the things we have? And yet gratitude is the one thing that will always make us feel happier.

It is impossible to feel both grateful and unhappy at the same time.

It is impossible to feel both grateful and lonely at the same time.

It is impossible to feel both grateful and angry at the same time.

It is impossible to feel both grateful and less fortunate at the same time.

How much happier would you feel if you spent more time focusing on the good things in your life? If you thought about the amazing friends you have, how much you love your kids, and how lucky you are to even just be alive, what would your life be like?

All it takes is a little practice. Now that you have (hopefully) accepted that you can choose your perspective in a situation, you can also decide to feel gratitude for whatever lesson, success or gain you have received as well. You can choose to actively seek out positive aspects of your life, even the smallest ones, until you can fully appreciate how fortunate you really are.

Even if you just feel grateful for your morning cup of coffee, the fact you have food for lunch and a job to go to every day, you will improve your life by simply opting to feel grateful for these things.

FREE Today Only – Learn 4 Secrets That Will Change Your Life!

Have you ever wondered, “Is this really all there is?” My life used to consist of work, chores, taking care of the kids, and a couple hours of TV to unwind before I went to bed. After my divorce I met people who helped me realize that there really is more out there – a LOT more! My life has changed in ways I would never have believed possible.

As a result of everything I learned, I published my first book in April – Thriving not Surviving: Bravely Pursue a Life That Will Blow Your Mind! It is a straightforward guide for changing your thinking in a way that will help you move from simply surviving to thriving. I’ve done it and so can you! (see below for an excerpt from the book)

If you haven’t downloaded it yet, you can download the Kindle version for FREE today only (the paperback version is also available but not eligible for the promotion). Go grab it and let me know what you think! Miss the promotion? Email me at gratefulsinglemoms@yahoo.com and I will notify you of the next promotion!

After you read the book, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. It helps more than you know!

I was fortunate enough to be able to include writing from two of our fellow bloggers as well:

The Wonderful and Wacky World of One Single Mom

A Creative PTSD Gal

Click the image below to get your free copy today!

Excerpt:

We are inundated day in and day out with messages of lack, things we don’t have but desperately need. Is it any wonder we struggle to feel grateful for the things we have? And yet gratitude is the one thing that will always make us feel happier.

It is impossible to feel both grateful and unhappy at the same time.

It is impossible to feel both grateful and lonely at the same time.

It is impossible to feel both grateful and angry at the same time.

It is impossible to feel both grateful and less fortunate at the same time.

How much happier would you feel if you spent more time focusing on the good things in your life? If you thought about the amazing friends you have, how much you love your kids, and how lucky you are to even just be alive, what would your life be like?

All it takes is a little practice. Now that you have (hopefully) accepted that you can choose your perspective in a situation, you can also decide to feel gratitude for whatever lesson, success or gain you have received as well. You can choose to actively seek out positive aspects of your life, even the smallest ones, until you can fully appreciate how fortunate you really are.

Even if you just feel grateful for your morning cup of coffee, the fact you have food for lunch and a job to go to every day, you will improve your life by simply opting to feel grateful for these things.

Download my Book for FREE Today Only!

If you haven’t downloaded my book yet, you can download the Kindle version for FREE today only (the paperback version is also available but not eligible for the promotion). Go grab it and let me know what you think! After you do, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. It helps more than you know!

For those of you who don’t yet know about my book, it is a reflection of how I’ve changed my thinking in such a dramatic way over the past 7 years that I have literally gone from surviving to thriving. I was fortunate enough to be able to include writing from two of our fellow bloggers as well:

The Wonderful and Wacky World of One Single Mom

A Creative PTSD Gal

Click the image below to get your free copy today!

As always, I’m sincerely grateful for the support I receive from all of you!

Inspiration Comes in Many Forms

Five months ago I sat on the back porch of a rented house in Georgia and I was inspired in a way I had never felt before. The air was warm and smelled of pine forest. Birds chirped and a river bubbled over rocks far below. A salamander came to visit but otherwise I was alone, the kids still asleep inside after a late night.

I grabbed my laptop and words flowed from my fingers as I worked on the post that inspired my new novel. The word of the day was Limerence, not an easy word to work into a post:

Limerence is a state of mind which results from a romantic attraction to another person and typically includes obsessive thoughts and fantasies and a desire to form or maintain a relationship with the object of love and have one’s feelings reciprocated.

I wrote a few sentences, just 2 paragraphs – one that never even got posted:

My heart pounds in my chest and my stomach churns as I look nervously around the wooded driveway of the rented cabin. There’s no way he could have found me here, yet the extent of his obsession makes almost anything possible. With one last glance behind me the key slips easily into the lock and I turn it while pushing the door open at the same time.

As I twist quickly to shut the door behind me, the backpack on my shoulder knocks over the lamp on the small table, shattering it on the floor. My already frazzled nerves cause me to jump at the sudden noise in the silent house. I turn the deadbolt and place my bag on the hardwood floor at my feet as I lean back against the solid wood door.

I liked it, but I didn’t feel like I would be able to slide in the word so I kept it but started over.

From my rocking chair I could see the odd staircase that led down to the river. I could see a woman walking slowly down, lost in thought. In her reverie she is comparing someone she knows now with an ex – an ex who had turned out to have a crazy obsession. Yes! This worked with the word perfectly, and I posted the following:

Am I More Than Just an Obsession to You?

The girls eventually got up and we were off tubing in the river and exploring the area, my post forgotten. The next morning I was once again up early relaxing on what I was starting to feel was MY porch, ready to write another post. The unpublished words from the previous day were still up in a web browser, right where I’d left them, waiting to be turned into something more.

As I reread what I’d written I saw a connection from the previous day’s post. The frightened woman who locks herself into the rented cabin is the woman who later walks down the staircase to the river. On the staircase she is thinking of the ex she had been running away from, the crazy obsessed ex. The man on the porch watching her walk down the staircase, the one who saves her from falling off a landing that has no railing is there to protect her from the ex.

If you were following me over the summer you will have read about some of what happens with the ex, who is now named Clay and the hero who is named Caleb. These parts of the story were posted completely out of order and I explained in the post below what these characters meant to me, because the story is deeply personal even though it’s fiction:

With Eager Anticipation I Watch My Story Unfold

September 16th I posted my last post about the story. I felt I had enough content and I was anxious to start editing. I had put all of my posts into a separate document, in the order I envisioned them actually unfolding, so I printed that document – over 100 pages – and set to work. Only when I began this did I realize that I still have a lot to learn about writing. The posts made for pretty good blog posts but it certainly wasn’t what I would consider novel material.

The more I crossed out and rewrote the more frustrated I became. I borrowed books from the library, trying desperately to learn what I would need to do to fix what I had written so I could turn it into what I felt had potential to be a truly riveting story. And I have made significant progress. This has taken time away from blogging but in the end I think it will be worth it.

Many books have helped me understand dialog and character development, the use of similes and metaphors, plot and subplot, etc. But the book that has been most helpful has been Revision and Self Editing for Publication: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft into a Novel that Sells by James Scott Bell.

Thanks to this book I have begun completely rewriting what I had written, words I now consider more of an outline than a draft. The rewrite is moving slowly but I love what is forming. It’s better on an order of magnitude I never would have expected. There will be other drafts after this, I have no doubt. I may end up working on this for a year before I’m ready to put it into print – I hope not longer than that.

It’s sometimes hard to put so much time and effort into a project, not knowing if anything will come of it in the end. I am working on faith and at times I wonder if the sacrifice is worth it. I believe that it is but time will tell.

Sometimes You’re Ahead, Sometimes You’re Behind

“That’s not fair!”

I remember making this announcement repeatedly growing up. I still want to stamp my foot and cross my arms at the injustice I felt as a child. As a matter of fact, my sister and I said this so many times my stepfather took a piece of paper and wrote the word FAIR on it, then suspended it from the ceiling. He told us that the only place life would ever be fair was under that dangling piece of paper.

Still, as a twin I fully expected everything to be exactly half, split down the middle, completely even and above all FAIR.

This idea of fairness has come up time and again in my life. My daughters feel much the same way I did, although I haven’t yet hung up a sign. In talking to a friend about my parenting schedule this morning she echoed what everyone tells me when I talk about that situation – “that’s not fair!” And yes, sometimes it truly does feel unfair.

My ex would agree that our arrangement with the kids isn’t fair, although he would say he gets the short end of the stick. He still pays the same amount for child support as he did before child care costs that I pay went down. During the school year he typically only gets to see them on school nights and so is always dealing with the routines of homework and school instead of being able to do fun things with them.

On the other hand, I have them almost every weekend (the weekends I don’t have them in a year could be counted on one hand). He sets the schedule every month to work around his schedule and I can rarely plan more than 30 days in advance.

I can choose to focus on whether life is fair. I can struggle against what I feel is unjust, or I can accept that sometimes I’m ahead, and sometimes I’m behind. This is a lesson I learned in highschool that stuck with me (although I do need reminding from time to time). When I first heard Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen by Baz Luhrmann I started to understand. Sometimes I will get the bigger piece of cake, sometimes my sister will…but in the end things usually end up being fair. As Luhrmann says, “The race is long. And in the end it’s only with yourself.” This last piece I didn’t fully understand until I was much older.

If you’re not familiar with this, below you will find links to the Amazon download and a YouTube video. It’s full of insight…things that are obvious but not often considered. I still listen to it from time to time when life is feeling unfair. And now that I’ve listened to it, I feel I’m just a little further ahead in the race.

Amazon Download:

YouTube video: Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen

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