Tag Archives: parenting as a single mom

You’re Not Good Enough

“You’re not good enough.”

Parents of teenagers all over the world are reminded of this on a daily basis.

When my girls first come back from being with their dad they are their most critical. This is when they are most likely to remind me of my faults and failures. I don’t think it’s because of anything he necessarily says about me – although that does happen. I think instead it’s the differences they see between their father and me. They love both of us but we are two very different people.

Of course, they do not limit their criticism to just these times.

In the end, it’s part of being a teenager. It is a teen’s job to pull away from their parents. Finding fault with them validates their need to be independent.

I know this. Sitting here I can say that it’s okay that my kids criticize me, that they find fault even with things I’ve done specifically for them.

But in the moment, as it’s happening, it hurts. Of course it does…

This is difficult for anyone. Well, I suppose most anyone. There may be a few of those super parents out there who carry a shield, who wield a sword made of just the right things to do and say. I have no such sword, no shield. My armor is rusty and dented, found used on the side of the road.

Although my self-esteem is much improved I’m still sensitive to criticism – more than I should be – from anyone. All too easily my doubts creep back. The girls might say, “We’ve had pasta 3 times this week” after I’ve planned a meal for their first night back from their dad’s. It was a sure winner – unless that’s what they’ve been eating all week.

I don’t hear their words though. I hear, “You’re not good enough.”

I could have picked anything and the result would have been similar. Chicken? “I don’t like chicken anymore.” Steak? “Yours isn’t as good as dad’s.” Tacos? “Why can’t you make something different?”

It’s never good enough. I’m not good enough.

Usually after they’ve been with me for a day or so the criticism slows down. It doesn’t necessarily go away – after all they’re still teenagers – but it gets better.

And then I realize….I am good enough. I’m not perfect – no one is – but I’m a good mother, and a good person, and I’m doing the best I can on my own. Hopefully when they’re grown they’ll realize it wasn’t easy for me to do all I do. I think they will but it’s hard to tell what memories will carry forward (I never make anything they like for dinner) and which don’t (we have their friends over almost every weekend – it’s like girl scout camp at my house).

But I’m doing the best I can and that’s good enough for me.

Download my Book for FREE on Saturday and Sunday

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

Thriving Not Surviving: Bravely Pursue a Life That Will Blow Your Mind!

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

Asparagus Causes Breast Cancer

“Asparagus causes breast cancer.”

This proclamation came from my oldest daughter after I told her what was for dinner last night. The girls had been with their dad for 10 days and I had expected a challenging evening. I had been prepared for conflict, arguments over every unimportant detail. But I had not anticipated this.

The girls’ stepmother had breast cancer not long ago so it isn’t uncommon for me to hear about what causes breast cancer.

But asparagus?

So I googled it. And it turns out this isn’t exactly true, although I can see how it could be interpreted that way.

The short story, from what I’ve read (which honestly isn’t all that much) is that there has been a study (possibly several) that have linked the amino acid asparagine with growth of tumors on mice. This amino acid is formed by the body from substances found in foods including asparagus, fish and potatoes.

I don’t know if my daughter saw this on the news. More likely it was discussed either directly with her or she overheard a conversation while she was at her dad’s. With this information I would agree that her stepmother should avoid these foods. There is no reason for a healthy 13 year old to avoid asparagus.

I reminded my daughter that information on the news or the internet is usually provided in a way to generate emotion in people. In this age of information overload and short attention spans it’s imperative for a journalist to grab the viewer from the first moment, draw them into their story and provide the “facts” in a way that will cause fear, anger, or other powerful feelings.

I believe the intention of the study was to understand the relationship between this amino acid and cancer so that doctors might be better able to treat their patients. I don’t believe it was designed to cripple the asparagus industry as it appears it might do based on the reaction I’ve seen.

So, before you or I make any rash decisions we should probably do some more research. It is probably perfectly fine to eat asparagus…at least until the next scientific discovery.

(I’m sorry Walt….this one just fit. I wasn’t even trying…)

This post is in response to the daily writing prompts Rash.

Download my Book for FREE on Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Sometimes procrastination pays off! If you still haven’t downloaded my book yet, you can download the Kindle version for FREE on Friday, Saturday and Sunday July 13-15 (the paperback version is also available but not eligible for the promotion). Go grab it and let me know what you think! If you do, please leave a review on Amazon. 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

Thriving Not Surviving: Bravely Pursue a Life That Will Blow Your Mind!

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

With Eager Anticipation I Watch My Story Unfold

For those of you who have been following my blog for a long time you will have noticed a dramatic change in topic (again). While some of you are enjoying the new bits of fiction I’m putting out there it’s not what people expect from me and a few are disappointed that I’m not continuing with the motivational self-help topics I was known for writing. They enjoyed the personal stories that inspired hope and showed growth from a difficult situation.

And I understand. I really do. I enjoyed writing that myself and some day I might get back to it. But what started that line of posts is also what started the new series of fictional stories that I’ve been writing.

I’ve talked about it a little before, but the word of the day has allowed me freedom in my writing that I might otherwise deny myself. It allows me to clear my mind of anything except the word and write whatever comes from that. It keeps me from writing what is expected of me, or what I think I should write about, and allows me to just practice writing.

And although what I’m writing is not what I would have planned, I do like the story that’s unfolding and I’m proud of the way it’s developing.

There have been some questions about whether the story is fact or fiction. Clearly some of it is complete fiction but parts are also loosely based on real life. Since no one reading this blog is intimately familiar with my life or my history you won’t be able to parse out what is true but I will share a little here with you now.

The post that inspired the story that is unfolding (completely out of order, in case you have been confused) was written while I was sitting on the porch in Georgia. I loved that porch and the somewhat questionable stairs leading down to the water. I wanted to write about that setting and so I wrote Am I More Than Just an Obsession to You? This was a work of fiction but it was also my way of exploring how I’ve allowed my past relationships to, perhaps falsely, predict future ones. I’ve mentioned before that for the first time since my divorce I’ve made the conscious decision to focus on my goals and temporarily end spending time working on romantic relationships (my friendships remain very important to me). Part of this time I’m taking I’m thinking through who I want to be outside of a relationship, but I’m also considering why past relationships have failed. This post was part of that.

In that post I mentioned an obsessive controlling ex. I wrote these words with my marriage very much on my mind. I don’t talk a lot about my ex publicly. Although no one who follows me here has connections to my life in Florida I am aware that some day my kids may read what I have written here and although I don’t censor myself I don’t want to write things that might hurt them either.

That being said, I will tell you that my ex was verbally abusive. He controlled and manipulated me through fear, especially the last year of our marriage. I remained in the marriage for many reasons, not entirely limited to my low (almost non existent) self esteem but it was my choice to stay. It was also my choice to leave.

The pieces of the story I’m now writing about the controlling ex attempt to work through some of that. What happens in the story is not what happened in real life, but the emotions are essentially the same. Although I haven’t yet given the main character any indication of issues with self esteem (and I’m not sure that I will), often people end up in relationships in spite of the warning signs. They believe a false story they are told instead of paying attention to the person’s actions. They allow themselves to be manipulated because they like the story and they want to believe it’s true.

This is the first part of my story that’s unfolding.

When they finally realize what is happening they’re often too scared to leave, or they doubt their own worth too much to leave, and they justify this by thinking of only the good, ignoring the bad that is so much less than they deserve or worse, harmful. If they are able to break free it is with a tremendous amount of fear, regret, doubt, guilt and endless other emotions.

In the posts I’ve shared this as the main character being physically afraid of her ex, but the fear caused from verbal abuse is just as real. I haven’t fully worked out this section but I anticipate some mind games coming, that will add to her fear.

This to me relates to the months I spent going through my divorce…from the time I told him I wanted to end the marriage until the time we signed the papers. Before he moved out, I kept a bag of clothes under my desk, thinking that at some point I might not be able to go home. The clothes were there and I had a friend I could stay with if facing him at the end of the day just became too much. Each night I would wait until 9 or 10 to return to the house, most of the time simply driving around because I had nowhere to go, no place I could be. And often when I would get home he would be waiting for me. He would want to “talk” but really the more he tried to “fix” things by controlling every single move I made the more I knew I had to leave.

And so this became the second part of the story.

The remaining posts express confusion. There’s a yet-to-be-named hero in the story but there’s doubt and fear about trusting again. This person can be perfect in every way and yet at one point she thought her ex was perfect too…so not only does she fail to trust him, she lacks faith in her own ability to judge his character. What about him is she failing to see? What hidden agenda might he have? How can anyone ever really know for sure?

This is where I find myself now in my life. I want a relationship at some point yet I’ve struggled and I want to understand why. I’m tired of investing time with the wrong people and so it’s important for me to understand why I keep doing it. My life is complicated and busy and sometimes I wonder how anyone would fit into it, and yet I’d love to find the person who does fit. I want that for me because I deserve it. But I also want it for my girls. They have a father and I in no way want to replace him. But I want them to have an example of a good, healthy relationship. I want them to know they shouldn’t settle for anything less. It was in part my lack of role models growing up that led me to accept a relationship that was far less than what I deserved.

And it’s these thoughts that I share as the final part, where the hero protects her and she doesn’t know whether to trust her feelings for him or not.

So, if you have been missing my more personal posts, I hope you now see that they are still there, although changed slightly. I will tell you that I also plan to post a piece of the story using the word of the day as well so you can wait with eager anticipation while I put that one together. Given the time it’s likely I will be leaving to take my niece to breakfast before it’s finished so you will have plenty of time to wonder what could be coming….

I have an idea for the story that I think will work well. I credit Walt for encouraging me not to take the obvious route with this word.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Anticipation

He Has Me Confused and Aching With Longing

Finally reaching a large house on the beach that is surprisingly isolated from nearby buildings, he opens the door with a flourish. I stand in the entryway, a little dazzled by the high ceilings and the stark whiteness of the open space before me. Everything is white: walls, floor, furniture. Even the kitchen cabinets and counters are white.

I glance at him and he is clearly proud of his home, so I give him a big grin even though I find the lack of color somehow overwhelming. The structure of the room is beautiful and bright. I would prefer artwork, some colorful pillows or even some greenery to give it a more homey feel, but as long as he’s comfortable my opinion doesn’t really matter.

He beckons me into the living room at the front of the house. Favoring my left foot which is now throbbing from the cut, I join him on a soft white rug covering the hard tile floor. He opens his arms to me and I rest against him in a hug that also allows me to use his strength to help support my weight. I sigh as I lean into his bare chest.

After several minutes he gently touches my chin with the fingertips on his right hand, tilting my head up. His lips softly touch mine in a chaste kiss that should not have sent desire coursing through me, yet I feel the yearning build all the way down to my toes. My breathing is shallow as he pulls just inches away, his crystal blue eyes locked on mine.

I am unable to turn away from his gaze.

He leans closer. I expect him to kiss me again. I ache for him to kiss me again, deeper this time. But he bends lower, his lips brushing my ear, his breath sending shivers down my spine. In little more than a whisper he asks me if I would like to go upstairs. At first I’m confused. Is he asking what I think he’s asking? Part of me is definitely screaming YES! But I know I’m not ready to be intimate, even though clearly I am attracted to him. Deep down I’m old fashioned. I’m not someone who jumps into bed on the first date. And did this even count as a date?

His faint chuckle tickles my ear and causes my heart to flutter. What is he doing to me? I’m starting to feel faint with longing. Why is he laughing?

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Flourish and is part of something longer I am working on.

If I Trust You, Will You Hurt Me Too?

My feelings for you overwhelm me sometimes. I want to be cautious, protect myself. I need to move forward slowly, taking time to get to know the real you. I truly haven’t known you that long, and there’s so much to learn. What are your hopes, your dreams? What are your fears? Who are you, deep down where no one has looked before?

I’ve allowed myself to be swept into a romantic fantasy before, and I almost paid the ultimate price. I was fooled by his charm, mistook his attention for affection. I wanted to believe what he was telling me and so I did, almost without question. I failed to see his true character because the one he portrayed seemed to be all I’d ever wanted.

I can’t risk that again, yet I’m drawn to you. I could talk to you endlessly, swaying on the porch swing, my head on your shoulder. I feel safe with you, not just because you’ve protected me but because you have opened yourself to me, showed me your vulnerable side. You have demonstrated trust in me and I yearn to reciprocate.

I know I should be careful, but my emotions burn with a fervor I can’t seem to control. My desire for you runs through my veins, warming my blood. My longing is genuinely physical, but it goes so far beyond lust. I don’t dare label this; I’m not sure I know the words to describe it even if I dared.

But there is fear behind the passion. True terror courses though me when we talk of the future. After what has happened, how can I trust again? How can I open myself up when by doing so I risk allowing you to hurt me?

Even in this way you are unique. We have talked about this, perhaps too much. You listen to my concerns…no, you hear my concerns. There’s a difference. In the past I haven’t been heard. Others have listened to what I said, then offered platitudes or swept my feelings to the side. You take the time to understand, to ask questions, to discuss solutions without forcing your will on me.

I don’t know how to release my anxiety. I don’t know how long I will need to know you, or how well, before I can turn hope into faith. Because I do feel hope. I feel it blossoming in my chest when we are together.

I don’t know where this will go, what this will be. But I want it, perhaps more than I’ve ever wanted anything before.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Fervor and is part of something longer I am working on.

Photo by James Garcia on Unsplash

Was This a False Sense of Security?

Stepping outside I hold my cell phone up in the air, as if the extra 18 inches will suddenly allow it to connect. Nothing. The dirt road ends at the cabin, making it more private than the ones further down the hill. Briefly I debate whether to walk. I can’t have lost service far from here, yet driving somehow feels safer, like my Honda Pilot will somehow protect me.

Still cautious but intent on reaching Jeff for help, I lock the deadbolt behind me. I pause at the top of the stairs leading down from the front porch, listening, watching. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary I scurry over to my car, using the key fob to unlock the door just before I reach for the handle, then slide into the driver’s seat.

I back into the turn around and point the car down the narrow path, holding the phone with my right hand in front of me so I can see when service is restored. My attention thus occupied I almost fail to see the fallen tree blocking the way as I turn a corner. With a cloud of dust the vehicle comes to rest with a jolt.

What the hell? Now what?

Glancing at the still useless phone I want to scream, or cry. Instead I pound the steering wheel until the pain in my clenched fists replaces the fear in my chest. I can handle this. It’s just a tree. There has to be a way around it.

Leaving the security of the car, I step into sunshine tinged green by the overhanging leaves. The feeling is eerie and I begin to wish I had chosen to flee to somewhere else, realizing with a sense of panic how vulnerable I am. I tuck my phone into the back pocket of my jeans to free my hands and walk purposefully toward the tree.

Focus. Solve the problem. Save the worry for later and figure out how to get around this.

Calmer, I examine the top of the tree. The highest branches just barely pass the right edge of the road, dangling over a steep slope. I wonder if I could simply drive over it, if the Pilot would be able to crush these smaller, thinner branches. I would have to be careful not to let the passenger side tires get caught in the ditch.

Still considering my options I hear a twig snap somewhere. I freeze, trying to determine where the sound came from. A rustle of leaves sends enough adrenaline through my veins to make me dizzy. The hair on my arms stand at attention, all my senses on high alert.

What are the odds that a tree would happen to fall right here? How likely is it that it would block the entire road? Am I being paranoid, or could this be a nefarious plan to leave me exposed here, alone in the woods, unprotected?

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Nefarious and is part of something longer I am working on.

I Need to Get Help, But Who Will Believe Me?

Pulling myself together I start to formulate a plan. I am safe as long as I don’t leave the cabin, but I can’t stay here forever. I will need food and supplies, if nothing else. What I was able to fit in my backpack won’t last more than a couple days, even if I’m careful. There is Wi-Fi here so I can still work, if I can keep my hands from shaking long enough to log into my laptop. I’ll need money, maybe a lot of it so this will be important.

I write these points down on the pad in front of me, not because I won’t remember, but because I feel somehow calmer by making this list.

I know eventually I need to get help, but who can I trust? Who will believe he isn’t the charmer he appears to be? I tried going to the police, but they won’t do anything. Apparently I can’t even get a restraining order unless he actually hurts me first. By then it may be too late. Not that a restraining order would stand in his way anyway.

My brother-in-law, Jeff, knows some ex-military types, people who know about not just hiding but also fighting, people who are trained in handling difficult situations. Maybe I can ask him to introduce me to someone. Another bullet added to the page.

I keep thinking there has to be something I can do, some way to handle this, but this is so far outside my experience I can’t even begin to imagine how to proceed. Suddenly getting help seems like the next critical step, more important even than getting groceries to hold me over.

I pick up my cell phone, prepared to text Jeff but the battery is dead. Fishing through the front pocket of my bag I find the charging cable and plug it into an outlet over the kitchen counter. Leaning my elbows on the laminate I power up the device and wait as it scrolls through the boot up routine. When I finally get to the home screen I start a text but realize this is going to require a phone call. I had left without talking to anyone, including my sister and her husband. They know nothing about the danger I’m in.

As I click on the phone icon in my contacts next to Jeff’s name, I briefly wonder if they will believe me when I tell them. Holding the phone to my ear I’m surprised I don’t hear it ringing. Looking at the screen I notice there’s no service.

That’s odd. Even in this somewhat remote location I know there are cell towers all over. I had service on the drive up the road that leads to the cabin. Maybe I just need to go back down the hill until I can connect.

It’s not completely illogical this would be the case, yet for some reason my blood runs cold as I head for the door.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Introduce and is part of something longer I am working on.

Why Is It Terrifying to Admit That I Like You?

Is it saying too much to say I have an affinity for you? Okay, I know I’m playing it safe. I don’t like to take risks, at least not with my heart.

Closing my eyes I take a deep breath and steel my nerves. Should I say more?

I like you. There, I said it. God, this is so hard. Terrifying really.

I like you because you are one of the few people who actually hear what I have to say. You don’t just listen, you also ask questions. You seem to truly understand me in a way that few do.

I like you because of your openness with me. When you tell me about your hopes and fears I can relate to you because they’re so similar to mine. Because you can talk to me I don’t worry about what you might be thinking. This is important to me because I always worry; I always doubt.

I like you because of your vulernability. When you’re feeling down you let me know and all I want to do is bring you joy. Your willingness to share your feelings lets me know how much you trust me, and helps me be a better friend.

I like you because you see the good in me. You see past my insecurities. You help polish the good and sweep away the bad. You understand I’m not perfect. I don’t think you have put me on a pedestal, and yet you see past the cobwebs to the best parts of me, the parts that others might miss.

I like you because you are honest with me. You have doubts. You worry. You have hope. You dream. And you share this all with me.

This is what I want. I want to hope and dream. I want to make our wishes come true. I want to create a life that is amazing, and I don’t want to do it alone. I want to go kayaking, and hike mountains. I want to write from a porch in the woods, and read what we’ve written to each other as we lay together in front of the fire. I want to travel to foreign lands and explore all the world has to offer. I want to find a secluded lake and feel like we’re the only two people on the planet. I want to bring our wildest fantasies to life.

But maybe this is saying too much.

I should keep this to myself for now. Until I’m ready, just know…I like you.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Affinity