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Give Yourself a Pat on The Back; You’re An Awesome Single Mom!

Give Yourself a Pat on The Back; You’re An Awesome Single Mom!

 Awesome single mom.jpg

“This is the family that we are, and we’ve got each other, and I believe that is more than enough.”  Jeanne Darst

My therapist always makes me start off every session by listing 4 things that are going well in my life.  I always find myself dashing up the stairs to her office thinking, “Crap!  I need to come up with the 4 good things!”

Why is this so hard?

My therapist swears she makes everyone do this, not just me, and she wouldn’t make everyone do it if this weren’t something we are all guilty of – having trouble looking at all the good in our lives.

And did you see the Dove Beauty post that was floating around the internet over the last couple of weeks?  The one where they show the difference in the pictures drawn based on a woman’s description of herself versus those drawn based on the description of a stranger?   It was crazy to see how much more beautiful strangers find us than we find ourselves.

That is jacked up, my friends.

Do you have any idea how amazing and gorgeous you are?

How many difficult things you get done every day – feeding picky eaters; getting up early to simultaneously prepare breakfast, pack lunches, find lost socks, sign homework and get everyone out the door; and the hundreds of other multi-tasking details that you stay on top of?

You’re An Awesome Single Mom!

You are a ROCK STAR.

You are kicking ass and taking names every day of the week.  Kid lost his left cleat?  You know where it is. No one at the office knows the name of the guy that came and did that thing for us?  You know where to find him.   Need to pick up something for dinner – ooh, and milk for the morning –  in between picking up kids from school and getting to tutoring, while still managing to feed everyone before 8pm, with at least one fresh vegetable making it to plate? You’re on it.

Yes, this stuff sounds small and unimportant.  But it’s not; it’s the stuff that makes life work.
The stuff that makes life good.

You only think it’s small and unimportant because so many other women are doing the same thing every day.  That’s my point – how amazing is this planet that so many people are out there every day doing all these small things that come together and made good lives for our families?

How good is this life right now?  Will you tell someone else how awesome they are?  Let’s shift the conversation.  Let’s stop talking about all the places where we aren’t satisfying our inner critic and start noticing and appreciating each other for the things we do to make life good for each other.

I’ll start – thank you for finding time to read this.  I know you are busy and I am so grateful you are here.  Now, it’s your turn.

Go get ‘em, rock star.

Single Mom Affirmations…Repeat After Me!

1. If I do nothing today besides hug my kids, then I’ve done enough.

2. I’m not the perfect mother, but I’m exactly the one my children need.

3. Today I will see the best in my child and the best in myself.

4. The decisions made by other moms do not need to dictate mine.

5. I have been called to motherhood—the most powerful calling in the world.

6. I respect my children; I respect myself.

7. Being a good mom takes courage, and today I’m feeling brave.

8. My mothering body is beautiful.

9. Today I will be the type of person I would like my children to become.

10. There’s value in showing my kids my vulnerability.

11. Not loving every moment of motherhood doesn’t mean I don’t love being a mom.

The post Give Yourself a Pat on The Back; You’re An Awesome Single Mom! appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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letting go of the mom I used to be

Letting Go Of The Mom I Used To Be

letting go of the mom I used to be

 

One of the hardest parts of divorce is separating one family into two households. What’s difficult is digesting the fact that you’re not going to be able to see your children all the time. I don’t think couples can ever really imagine what that is like until it becomes their reality.

I was the mom that ran the show.

I handled the day to day caretaking while dad was running a family business full-time. But during my separation that all ended abruptly. Instantly, I was mom only 50% of the time. I never really processed what that was going to be like— having to let go of the mom I used to be.

Letting Go Of The Mom I Used To Be

I’ll never forget the painful transitionary period, from the date of separation to the time my eyes finally filled with life again. I call this time divorce purgatory. It’s a place of limbo. So much confusion was swirling around inside of me. My body had no idea which way was up and which way was down. It felt as if I was waiting, wondering, trying to figure out who I was without the label of being someone’s wife. The awkward feeling of trying to define who I am without him, and letting go of being the kind of mom I once was accustomed to being.

During this transitional phase of divorce purgatory, I could honestly say it was not my finest moment in time.

How could it have been?

It was a time of great suffering, mourning the death of a family unit that was my everything. In the eyes of those closest to us, we were the picture of perfection. Because I was the one that wanted out of the marriage, I was left with having to defend and prove myself worthy, as a woman and as a mother.

When you are unsupported by those around you, something inside you awakens. A moment of clarity washed over me in a fleeting instant. At the time I didn’t realize that it was an opportunity to grow into the powerful woman I was created to be. I wasn’t ready to see that just yet. At that moment what I felt at the depths of my soul was an aloneness in a world that didn’t feel safe anymore.

How could I feel safe when those closest to me whispered… “Nobody knows you anymore, Marisa?”

How could they know who I was? I didn’t even know who I was.

I was raised to believe I needed to be what everyone else needed me to be. I was told that my husband and children come first, which meant my needs had to be last on the list. I was never allowed to discover who that was because I was conditioned to believe the world was only safe when I met the expectations of those around me.  So, I shrunk myself and silenced my spirit in order to be the good girl.

I severed generational chains, broke the mold, and left the “good girl” behind.

But those whispers were haunting. They are words that to this day I have never forgotten, “Nobody knows who you are anymore, Marisa.” I owed it to myself and my children to find out. I was done believing that I had to “sacrifice” who I was in order to be the perfect mother. It occurred to me that this is what generations of women had to do in my family, sacrifice and go without in order to keep their family together.

This was not the legacy that I want to leave my children, that they had to go without—without their own passions, without their own voice, without their own dreams and desires, in order to be loved and accepted. I knew that breaking generational chains were going to require courage, strength, and trust.

It was not going to be easy, to do what many women before me didn’t have the courage to do, but this is the kind of mother I wanted to be. The kind of mom that stands in her truth, without fear of being judged or criticized.

Growth can be scary, and it’s uncomfortable, which is why most people choose to stay silent. I couldn’t do it anymore. I was drowning in my own silence, fearful that there would be nothing left of me to give my children. My children now have a mother who has let go of the mom she used to be in order to become a mom who stands in her truth. There’s nothing more powerful than that.

Whether you are contemplating divorce or you are wanting help to heal through your divorce, I would love to be there for you.  My own divorce was messy and there were days I didn’t think I would ever be able to get through it, but I did, and so can you.

Click on the link to get a complimentary 45-min session with me! I would love to know your story  mailchi.mp/34385f68f47f/wk73dswc3s

And if you want to know more about my journey please visit my website marisalupocoaching.com/

The post Letting Go Of The Mom I Used To Be appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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work from home

How a Divorced Mom Can Excel in a Work From Home Job

work from home

 

Adjusting to life after a divorce can be hard. There are many things that a divorced mom must get accustomed to in order to properly move on and thrive. For instance, she will not have a partner to rely on and she will have to weather certain storms alone. Then, she might lose certain friends and family members.

Most importantly, there is the fear of limiting her time with the children, depending on the custody arrangement. Unfortunately, these are the realities of divorce but they can be handled with some effort.

To be able to take care of herself and her kids, a divorced mom will often look for a job. However, if they were a stay-at-home mom before, this may seem a bit difficult. Luckily, there are so many career opportunities out there and some of them don’t even require leaving the home. So, in case you’ve found yourself in this situation, keep on reading to see how a divorced mom can excel at her telecommuting job.

Divorced Moms Can Excel in a Work From Home Job

Finding the Right Job for Their Circumstances

The first step should be looking for a job that can be done in your current circumstances that will allow for financial stability. For starters, consider your skills and see what you can be doing. Then, do some budgeting and figure out how much money you will need on a monthly basis and how much each job pays. Finally, you need to establish work hours for yourself in order to have free time to spend with your kids and run your everyday errands.

For example, if you like working with kids, you can provide other busy parents with childcare services. They can drop the kids off at your place and you watch over them, feed them and play games together.

Then, if you prefer working with numbers, you can consider accounting and bookkeeping. An office can easily be run from your home and considering the overheads, the profit can be very good. Lastly, you can consider all sorts of online jobs, from content writing and proofreading through coding and graphic design to even being a virtual assistant. The options truly abound and you will surely be able to find something that fits your skills and meets your needs.

Creating a Productive Environment

Now that you’ve decided on what you will be doing, you need to create a space for your operations. Seeing as how you might not have the luxury of a separate room for your job, you will have to make the most of what you do have. Come up with a list of things that you require in order for the work to go smoothly and slowly start acquiring them.

For instance, if you plan on providing childcare services, you will need to ensure the area where the kids will be is childproof and has all the necessary toys and entertainment options. Bookkeepers and accountants will find that proper software is vital for keeping everything tidy and accurate. In addition to your computer and phone, you will also need some other essentials such as a strong internet connection, a wireless printer/scanner along with the necessary apps for printing on the go. These things will allow you to streamline all processes and get everything done much faster.

Finally, the environment should be pleasant and motivating so make sure there is enough natural light. If the area is quite dim, layer light fixtures so that your eyes don’t get strained. Then, get an ergonomic chair if you will be spending a lot of time in front of the computer. Add some calming but inspiring colors and think about introducing some plants as they have many health benefits.

Balancing Your Private and Professional Life

Last but not least, while developing your career is important in order to feel fulfilled and take care of your family, you cannot forget about having a balance between your private and professional life. It is very important to create boundaries for both yourself and other people.

People need to understand that working from home doesn’t mean that you are available to them whenever they need you. You should set working hours for yourself and explain to them that you are not to be disturbed during that time. In terms of your kids, it might be best to look for a period when they are at school or daycare.

To stay on top of everything, you should do your best to plan your time well and stay organized. Knowing the schedules of everyone in the family will help with this a lot. Make sure you make the most of your free time together and truly create a bond with your kids.

Working overtime might seem tempting if you need more money but spending this precious time with your little ones can never be replaced. Plus, you cannot forget about your own health and wellbeing so make sure you are taking good care of yourself as well.

To fuel your career from home, you will first need to find a profession that you are good at and that fulfills you; then, you must create a productive environment for yourself in order to make the most of this job; and finally, work on finding the balance between work and your private life as spending time with your kids is priceless. Good luck on this new adventure!

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insights from a veteran single mom

15 Insights From a Veteran Single Mom

insights from a veteran single mom

 

There are many great articles on what to do when you are suddenly faced with a divorce. But there are not a lot about what to know at the other end of your journey. In July 1999 I suddenly found myself a single mother 4 weeks after my second child was born. Seems my husband had other plans with his girlfriend which did not include me, my 4-week-old daughter or my 4-year-old son.

Let’s see…we were in the middle of remodeling our home and I just had a baby. All the above were left for me to complete. So many friends asked if I wanted to go out and get a glass of wine. You know… to unwind and relax.

My response? I can’t afford to start drinking now; I will never stop.

Then I went to a counselor who told me I wasn’t sleeping enough and that I should take sleeping pills to help me. Ummm… did she miss the 4-week-old baby part? I guess I could set her bottle in the bassinette and hope she takes a swig when she’s hungry. Good grief!

Fast forward 20 years later. I am here to tell you that you can survive despite the well-wishers who are …let’s face it…clueless to your new world. You learn to accept the cards you got dealt with.

You kinda have no choice. You learn to make the best “Gosh Darn” Lemonade you can with the week-old lemons that have fallen from the tree that was hit by lightning.

You sacrifice; you persevere, and best of all YOU WIN! Here are some ways I found to take those steps forward.

Insights From a Veteran Single Mom

1. Find Your Purpose

“As long as you have breath, someone needs what you have.”

Joel Osteen

I have found this to be a strange comfort to me. I guess I have found this to be a reason to keep on keeping on. I do have people who need what I have. But it seems that they need the very energy I need to be able to deliver what they think I have. Hmmm that’s a lot to unpack. Let’s try that again. It seems that “they” need the very energy that “I” need to be able to deliver to “them” what “they” think that “I” have. Well, that is still a mouthful. Work that one out if you can.

My purpose has morphed into many phases that I would never have known of myself before. When I found myself suddenly alone and facing the daunting task of raising a family by myself, building a house that was abandoned by my husband and left to do it all by myself, and all the while working a full-time job and going through a divorce…I had no idea what my purpose was. It changed by the hour. By the day. By the month. Heck, by the minute.

I had an infant so that was the measure of how much growth occurred each month. Literally a transforming child and a transforming mother right before my eyes. But I had a purpose. That purpose, though changing all the time was my navigation to keep moving forward. Step by step. Breath by breath. And at the end of each day, I would literally look at my babies asleep in the room they shared, and say, “Well Karen…you were a good mom today.”

2. Reaching Out for Help

“Most Holy Apostle St. Jude Thaddeus, friend of Jesus, I place myself in your care at this difficult time. Help me know that I need not face my troubles alone. Please join me in my need.”

Prayer to St. Jude

Oh, how hard it is for me to ask for help. It is probably my earliest memory as a child. Needing help. I had a twin sister who was wicked smart. She had no trouble with any subject. I failed math miserably. But for some reason, I guess in the 70’s they just didn’t think to offer a kid struggling any help, by that I mean teachers. Schools.

My mom had gone back to school herself and she had no time for this. So, I suffered. Sadly, I learned how to function well in suffering. I learned how to make it all look easy and not be phased by any of it. I normalized what felt like abnormal. I could not have known what purpose that would serve me later in my life.

But now I have come to see that it was a prophecy of some kind. It was a divinely engineered skill that was necessary when I needed it most. How to function as normal and light to the outside world; to the children you are raising alone; to the friends and family who look at you like you are Rock Star simply because you still smile and laugh while dealing with circumstances, they could never imagine for themselves.

So, in order to avoid bursting their bubbles and shaking the images I have created, I seek help in a Spiritual way. To the beings that know me best and who I feel have stood by me all these years. I seek help from those that I know will not judge me and who I know have felt every ounce of my nerves through these years. They have never let me down, but I do need to always remember to show my gratitude. Oh, things are tough no doubt as you raise a family alone. But they could have been so much worse. I believe in Angels.

3. Give Yourself Permission to Be Still

“I give myself permission to be still. To not worry about anything at all. Happy Birthday, Karen.”

Karen Czuleger

There is only one day that I allow myself to be still. No worries. To not engage my fears. To just be still. That day is my birthday. Oh, I still do everything I need to care for everyone else. But in my soul; I allow it to be still.

4. Remember Your Legacy

“No One With Character Leaves Behind A Wasted Life”

John McCain

I do try to believe this every day that I am on this earth. I feel that because I have character, I was able to raise a family alone and let their father run away due to his “lack” of character. I hate anyone who is derelict in character. I know it’s because of him too. Before, I could have cared less who had character or who didn’t. I just didn’t think much about it.

But now I see lack of character in anyone as a significant sign of weakness; which I, of course, have no patience for. My father was a “Man” of deep convictions. He was a simple man at the same time. He just lived his life with a compass that was extraordinary. He believed he was no better or worse than anyone. He was a man who gave all that he had in order to end anyone’s suffering. He showed me this trait every day of my life.

It showed in epic proportions when I found myself to suddenly be a single mom weeks after my second child was born. He never shirked what he perceived to be his duty. He loved me unconditionally and adored with the greatest depth of love for my children. He stepped up. He stepped in. He was the Father figure he insisted they get. And he was. No one could leave this earth with a better legacy than John Arthur Czuleger.

5. Raise Your Bar

“My tastes are simple. I am easily satisfied with the very best.”

Winston Churchill

I love the best. I love to feel that I have the best of everything. And even if my car is not a Mercedes, my car …to me is the best. But what has motivated me in the past in seeking the best has changed dramatically. I no longer live in a state of want for “things”. I do live in a state of want for love; for protection; for support; for peace.

I watch TV shows and movies that I have seen 100 times. But now that I am older, I see them differently. I feel pangs of jealousy. I know how stupid is that? I watch my old fave, Keeping Up Appearances on the BBC and what I used to laugh at and felt that they were a world away, I now see that they are two older people who are quirky, but who are financially stable. He gets to retire. She never had to work. Oh, what bliss that looks like to me now.  Some days I am even jealous of Wilma Flintstone and Jane Jetson. Good grief.

6. Don’t Give Away Your Worth

“Not one drop of my self-worth depends on your acceptance of me.”

Quincy Jones

This was something I had to really work on. I may only have 2 nickels to rub together, but I have my self-worth. I gave it to every guy since my husband and including him. I gave it to the woman he left us for. I still have nightmares about them, but for some reason I am no longer a victim in those horrid dreams. I am stronger. Oh, they used to be awful. I was humiliated over and over, repeatedly by them in my dreams.

Then I met Mark. He had to make me smaller so he could feel bigger. Then I met Jeffrey. He had to dump all his problems on me and expect me to understand when he sought out others to have fun with. Then I met the Russian. With this wonderful man, I found my strength. Why with him? Because he had enough class and integrity that he didn’t need to steal mine to find his. In order to find your self-worth, you sometimes must get so darn tired of feeling worthless that you need to start looking at the common denominators to these people.

What you find is that they seek your security to bolster their insecurities.

7. Be Confident

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

Mark Twain

Single mom or not…remember that you are the best and you are doing your best. Just because you do not have a man in your life doesn’t mean that you are alone. Share in your life’s joys and happiness with your children and never feel lonely. Never feel that you are not good enough for a man just because you have kids and you have made them your priority in some cases for a very long time. My mother used to always say that her children were her wealth! Thanks Mom! Mine are too!

8. Change Your Movie

“Can it be done, Father? Can a man change the stars?” His father calmly replies, “Yes William. If he believes enough, a man can do anything.”

A Knights Tale

Sometimes I wish the end of a movie was at the beginning. Especially scary movies. And there are many days spent as a single parent more frightening then Dracula or Frankenstein! I want to know that everything will be alright. So, change your life movie. Change your power. Think from the end.

Think of the happy ending at the end of the pain.

Think about how you want to feel and feel it. What would security feel like? You knew it before. Feel it again. Imagine it. Feel it. Let the experience wash all over you and seep into you.

Feel your heart rate lower.

Feel your breathing slow down. Check yourself. Continue.

What does support feel like?

Does it feel like a warm blanket on a cold day?

Does it make you take a deep cleansing breath in and allow you to exhale all the way out?

Are you safe?

What does safety feel like? Are you calm?

How do you feel?

Imagine the sweet calm and secure feeling of knowing you are safe. It may feel like a game you are playing with yourself. But what you feel, your body responds to. In the same way when you feel fear or are anxious. Your body responds.

So why not try the opposite feelings? If your organs were your children that you want to protect from harm, wouldn’t you just instinctively protect them? Wouldn’t your Mama Bear just kick into overdrive? It would! You would! Your organs need you to take care of them. They need you as much as you need them! Care for them. Love them.

And the result will surprise you when you realize that even though your reality may still be there to deal with, the feelings and reactions to it have shifted to a better place. Breath. Breath.

9. Love Sees Everything

True love is both loving and letting oneself be loved. It is harder to let ourselves be loved than it is to love.

Pope Francis

By Love Sees Everything, I mean with love there is nothing too harsh to see that can change how one feels. Of course, you can get annoyed by things someone does. But real loves see’s it all in its technicolor glory. You don’t have to mask anything to someone who truly loves you. You have no fear of judgement from them. The harshest judgment usually comes from oneself. Afterall we are our worst critics.

Which brings me to the real issue at hand. Love ourselves in all our own technicolor glory as well. That is, through aging, weight gain, exhaustion, crankiness…everything! We must approve of and love ourselves and not be afraid of what we see in the mirror. If only when we look at our faces in the mirror we saw the sum of all that is beautiful in us, we would never feel fat, old and worthless. We would glory in all of our imperfections. I do!

10. Right Your Story or Write Your Story

“There are those that look at things the way they are and ask why…I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

Robert F. Kennedy

I love this phrase because it makes me feel lighter. It makes me feel empowered. It makes me feel less afraid; less daunted; less alone. By writing your story you “right” your story. I am a big believer in visioning. I have had the ability to envision things I wanted ever since I was a little kid. My mom would take us to the fabric store, and we would go to the pattern books and find a dress or outfit we liked and then find our size in the pattern file boxes.

Then we would peruse the store for the best fabrics. I learned to envision things for myself in that fabric store. I could see what the finished dress would look like every time I looked at the fabric. I loved going to the fabric store! It was such a happy place where I felt that my mom gave my ideas and creativity validation.

When one is under siege from stress, especially if you have been a single parent for as long as I have, you one day realize that your visions have lost some intensity. At least I did. I spent so much of my life reacting to everything under the sun. Reacting to crisis after crisis.

These were found in all shapes and sizes from financial stress and the ever-present mortgage to plumbing issues and roof issues. And even the smallest things were a crisis like birthday presents for kid’s parties, McDonald’s trips for the latest toys, school books, school uniforms, grocery trips… everything was a reactive crisis of some kind.

And through those rough seas, I found that I no longer envisioned wonderful things for myself. I stopped myself from envisioning at all because my thoughts defaulted to a fear-based thing and I was too afraid that I would manifest a negative occurrence.

After all, if I had the ability to envision something wonderful and see it manifest, I must have the equal ability to envision something terrible and fear that it would also manifest. So, the answer was…stop envisioning. But here is the funny thing; if I could push through the fear and leap across my mind to the thoughts of seeing myself in a different scene or different job or with lots of money…I have to say that I was able to manifest more good things than I thought were possible.

In fact, I envisioned and would say to myself via an intention, “I am successful beyond my wildest dreams”! Works every time.

Seeing something wonderful through your mind’s eye and saying an intention with conviction can be a very empowering thing to do, not to mention loving.

11. Find Something Greater Than Yourself and Survive.

“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short. Shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great Imperial family to which we all belong.”

Queen Elizabeth II

This one can actually be easier said than done. If you are a good person by nature you are one who naturally wants to please. And sometimes this can be at your peril. But if you take a position to find something that is greater than yourself, greater than the circumstances you find yourself in, it can change the whole dynamic and change your feelings of being lost.

This doesn’t have to be a campaign like Save the Whales or something (or it can be if you want).

It can be a day by day campaign. Maybe you wake up and see that the greater need that day is to go through your closets and finally start purging things that you don’t need and then donate them to a shelter for women and children.

Or maybe it’s helping someone, anyone who is in need that day, for whatever the reason. It all sounds contrite I know. But it adds up. It gets you out of your head and helps you see the world through a new lens. Being of service to someone other than yourself just feels good.

12. Experience the Pain…and Let It Go.

“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together.”

Elizabeth Taylor

This is such a hard one for me and one in which I am constantly trying to navigate. Some days I feel strong and other days I feel the whole thing all over again. What I find is that when I am with my family (my siblings and their families) I feel the most alone. I know that must sound so strange. I mean, my family loves me, right? They do. I know it.

But they are a constant reminder that I am alone. They complain about their respective spouses yet go home every night with them next to them. Knowing that they have each other’s backs and no burden is carried alone. I haven’t felt that kind of security in 2 decades.

I know I have adjusted to the whole fly solo thing now, but that is what makes me sad in the first place. I am now used to it. I now have no expectation of ever being a duo with anyone. And what’s stopping me? The recurring pain.

The movie reel of that old flick running in my head all the time. But it is exacerbated by the picture of seeing my siblings financially secure and well… just secure on all fronts. I miss that feeling. I am not sure I would recognize it if I ever had the chance to feel it again.

But I sure want to try it back on for size one day. But here is what I know for certain, my pain cannot stop me from dreaming of a great future. I am my great future. So, I will put on some lipstick and pull myself together and keep on moving! NO FEAR!

13. Give Yourself Permission to Live

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

I really haven’t felt like I have really been “living life” for many years now. I know I have had some wonderful moments that’s for sure. But its been like eating a cream puff that at one time felt so decadent and scrumptious and which now just tastes like something sweet.

The whole emotional experience is no longer there. That may sound like an overly simplistic analogy but it’s the only way I can describe it.

I have become so accustomed to living and existing and operating under stress that I no longer feel the joy of a scrumptious cream puff. I feel the guilt of eating a cream puff. I feel the calories that are seeping into my body. The arteries that are possibly clogging.

The sugar surge on my heart. And why? Because my stakes are so high, and I worry 24/7 and twice on Sunday because so many people rely on me for their very existence.

So why would I enjoy anything when I have so many other things that require my worry energies. Umm “Hey Ding Dong?” Because you are allowed to Live that’s why!! It is your Right to Live!! How silly would we feel if at the end of the day, or end of our lives perhaps…we spent all our healthy days subliminally telling everyone to load it all on us and we will carry it all up the canyon of life like a donkey with a butt load of crap on our backs. No Bueno!

The people who constantly load us up will be the ones who live a happy and light life. There is something just not right with that picture, so take the power back by Living Man!! Throw the pack off the cliff and let someone else carry it now! PEACE OUT!

14. Prepare yourself for a Fabulous Life!

Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at will change.

Dr. Wayne Dyer

This mantra has been drilled into my household walls for over 10 years. Much to the annoyance of my children who are now in their 20’s. But I happen to believe that in order for us to exercise all the steps we need to take to go forward, we need to change our thinking. That usually means, change my thinking from fear and move to thinking from courage.

You may have days that you just can’t muster up the energy to even try to shift. I know I do. But as a practice, try to take a step back from a situation that is daunting you and shift your defaulted worried thoughts to a place of possibility. It should always start with the words, “I can” or “I will”. Starting anything with “I can’t” and “I won’t” is never headed for a good outcome. “I can pay all of my bills”, and “I will pay all of my bills”, sounds so much stronger than the reverse.

Even if you feel you are lying to yourself. By saying it you will find the strength to get creative and allow yourself an opportunity to breathe through it. I find that when I do this, I remember the dozens of other times during this single parent journey that I felt desperate.

But I willed myself through it by saying my positive affirmations. I don’t care how Airy Fairy its sounded, I always seemed to get to the other side.

15. Time to go home.

“You’ve always had the power, my dear. You just had to learn it for yourself.”

Glinda the Good Witch

This means its time to go home to yourself. You have done the job. You have raised the kids. You have worked the career. You have paid for the house, the tuition, the clothes, the cars etc. You have given every sodden thing in your being to provide a home and security in the best possible way you could.

Now go home. Go home to your reading. Go home to your walking the beach. Go home to your crafts. Go home to your yoga. Go home to wherever you find your soul is nourished and rested. It’s time for you now. And walk courageously to that home with no guilt. Its time to go home.  GO HOME OR GO BIG!

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gatekeeper mom

4 Reasons To Avoid Being a Gatekeeper Mom Trap During Divorce

gatekeeper mom

 

Do you find yourself having difficulty letting go and relaxing about what your children do while they are with their other parent? Focusing too much on your children’s time or activities at your ex’s house can potentially damage your relationship with them and undermine their connection with both parents. When a parent communicates anxiety and becomes too vigilant about custody exchanges (or parenting time) they may be taking on the role of a gatekeeper.

What is a gatekeeper mom?

According to child custody expert Robert Beilin, P.h.D., a gatekeeper is a term  often used in a negative way to describe how parents (usually a mother) attempts to control their children’s time with the other parent. Since traditionally mothers tend to be gatekeepers, this article will focus on mothers but the term could apply to fathers as well.

According to author Kerri Kettle, the term “gatekeeper” is generally brought up in child custody cases. Kettle, an attorney, advises mothers to beware of being a gatekeeper and to avoid adversarial interactions with their ex. After all, it could lead to additional legal costs and have a negative impact on children. She writes, “If you think you might be acting a little like a gatekeeper, try saying “yes” more often than saying “no” for a while. Start with something small, like giving up a few hours of your custodial time for a special occasion or simply not asking questions about what happened at their dad’s house.” She also advises parents that they will save legal fees by being a cooperative co-parent.

Let’s face it, it’s easy to see how a parent could slip into the gatekeeper role. After my divorce, I had trouble adjusting to our co-parenting schedule and I found myself overly concerned about what my children did when they were with their father and the amount of time they spent with him. It took several years for me to realize that this was my way of trying to gain control over the situation. While I never did anything consciously to sabotage my children’s relationship with their dad, my questions, and concerns about their activities with him didn’t demonstrate confidence in our parenting plan.

Further, children have a way of sensing tension and worry and so a mother’s fear or concerns about time spent away from her may be a red flag that heightens their anxiety. Without awareness, a parent could be bringing undue stress on your children without intending to. My research shows that the two variables that had the most negative impact on children of divorce into adulthood were limiting their access to both parents and experiencing high conflict between their parents post-divorce.

A crucial aspect of healing after divorce is realizing that you can’t control what goes on with your ex and so need to respect the decisions that he makes regarding his time with your children.  You can’t change him and are wise to let go of unrealistic expectations. For instance, you might not approve of him taking your eight-year-old to a movie rated PG 13 – but in the end, it’s not going to make or break their emotional development. So it wouldn’t hurt to simply let it slide sometimes.

On the other hand, if you have legitimate concerns about activities that your kids participate in with their father, it’s a good idea to send him a friendly, business-like e-mail expressing your concerns. Divorce expert Rosalind Seddacca CCT writes, “If you’re intent on creating a child-centered divorce that strives for harmony between you and your ex, you need to initiate the conversation and model win-win solutions. If your ex doesn’t want to cooperate, that’s when your patience will certainly be tested. Look for opportunities to clarify why working together as co-parents as often as possible will create far better outcomes for your children.”

Eileen Coen, an attorney, and trained mediator states that one reason mothers tend to be gatekeepers is that trust is often lost in a marriage. Other reasons cited by Coen are economic and a lack of confidence in their ex’s parenting skills. However, she cautions us that on-going conflict between parents is the primary reason why mothers are gatekeepers – making it virtually impossible to have adequate, healthy parenting time with their children.

Studies show that kids benefit from access to both parents. There is evidence that cooperative co-parenting actually reduces conflict between divorced parents – which has a beneficial impact on children into adulthood. Scheduling appropriate parenting time for both parent’s post-divorce and keeping lines of communication positive can be a challenge but it’s paramount to building resiliency in your children. When a parent takes on the role of gatekeeper, they communicate discomfort and anxiety to their children and diminish their sense of belongingness with both parents.

Joan Kelly, a renowned researcher who has conducted decades-long studies on divorce, found that the more involved fathers are post-split, the better off the outcomes for children. Children benefit from strong relationships with both parents post-divorce. According to Linda Nielsen, author of Between Fathers and Daughters, the child’s relationship with their father is often the one that changes the most after marital dissolution. Sadly, Dr. Nielsen notes that only 15% of fathers and daughters enjoy the benefits of shared parenting.

There are many compelling reasons why mothers are wise to encourage their children to have strong bonds with their father post-divorce. Studies show that these reasons include: Better grades and social skills, healthy emotional development, higher self-esteem, and fewer trust issues. Lowered self-esteem and trust wounds are especially a concern for girls who may be more vulnerable to the breakup of the family home because they are socialized to be nurturers and caretakers. Your kids may also have better access to extended family members and therefore intergenerational support if they spend close to equal time with both parents.

Here are 4 Reasons to avoid the gatekeeper trap:

1. Your children will gain trust in both parents and feel more confident about their relationships with both of you.

2. You will build trust in your ex’s ability to effectively parent your children.

3. There’s a possibility you’ll have the added benefit of more leisure time – when you can relax and worry less about your children’s well-being.

4. You’ll create a new story for your life built on reclaiming your personal power rather than letting your divorce define who you are or the choices you make.

Focusing your energy on what’s going on in your home and encouraging your children to have a healthy connection with their father will pay off in the long run. Another important reason to avoid being a gatekeeper is to respect your child’s and ex-spouse’s boundaries. When your children are with your ex, honor their time together and try not to plan activities or partake in excessive communication with the other parent (phone, text, etc.). Since parental conflict is a factor that contributes greatly to negative outcomes for children after divorce, keeping disagreements to a minimum is a key aspect of helping your child become resilient. You owe it to yourself and your children to avoid playing the role of a gatekeeper.

More From Terry:

Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter,  Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com

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My First Christmas Tree As a Single Mom

My First Christmas Tree As a Single Mom

first christmas tree as a single momMy first Christmas tree as a single mom.

My first picture of ME lifting him up to put the star on the tree.

You deal with day to day life and it’s fine, you boss up and do your thing every day.

Were MOMS. That’s what we do!

Make sure your child gets to school every day, take them to doctor appointments, make sure they have the right book bags, clothes, snacks, a clean bed and clean house to live in.

Make sure they wake up every day on time and have a nutritional breakfast and start the day off with laughs and lots of pep talks. LOL

Make sure they feel loved every day and read them books every night before bed. Keep the monsters away late at night when they come into your bed and are scared.

But the first Christmas tree stings.

You feel all the pain again. How he gave up on our marriage and our family. How he left me a few weeks before having heart surgery. You get used to someone giving up when the going gets tough and relying on you and yourself only.

And it stings the most because his dad isn’t here to lift him up for the first Christmas ever to put the star on. But it’s EMPOWERING to know I got the picture this year. And To know that I’m STRONG enough to lift him to put the star on the tree.

Running my business from home that my ex never believed in and I’m able to provide for us. To be my son’s safe haven.

To kiss his boos boos when he’s hurt.

To fix refrigerators, vacuums, and anything else going wrong with the house.

To mow all 3 acres.

To snuggle him and feed him chicken soup when he’s sick.

I’m STRONG ENOUGH.

So while I sit here in my PEACEful house with candles lit, tree put up, lights everywhere, the house decorated EXACTLY how I want it. I have PEACE in my heart, PEACE with where I’m at in life, and more importantly for my son and I, PEACE in our HOME.

My little baby and I are happy with just us. I will never stop believing in myself and having faith in God every day and that he has an amazing plan for us.

So keep pushing single mamas out there. YOU’RE NOT ALONE.

Our babies need us as much as we need them.

And we don’t need a man.

Our children come first and they need to see their mamas happy more than anything and never settle for less than that.

I AM ENOUGH.

That’s what matters.

PEACE. Happiness, and most importantly lots of Love.

And Thanks to my mama for the picture. Moms are always there when you need them the most, as I will do for him.

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stay-at-home mom

I Was a Stay-At-Home Mom: I Didn’t Regret That Until I Went Through a Divorce

stay-at-home mom

 

I started dating my high school sweetheart when I was just seventeen years old, and he was 16. Our families were friends since childhood.  Our relationship got serious rather quickly. He was the guy that checked all the boxes for the type of man I thought I was supposed to marry.

I had a ring on my finger when I was 19, and married before I even graduated college at 21 years old.  We pretty much grew up together. We were still kids trying to figure out life. Everything we had, we built from the ground up.  Nobody gave us anything that we didn’t work for.

Our relationship lasted 19 years; with two beautiful children to show for it, a custom-built home, a pretty substantial real estate portfolio, and a marriage that most people thought would last a lifetime.

Except that it didn’t. 

I was the mom that ran the household.  I worked in real estate part-time (a career that did not light me up) so that I could be there to raise our children.  I cooked all our meals, I made sure the home was clean, and I brought the kids to and from school and volunteered in the classroom.  Managing our home was my first priority.

I Was a Stay-At-Home Mom

Everything changed the minute our marriage was over.  It was as if this person I built a life with suddenly became someone I needed to protect myself from. I was dumbfounded that we instantly became strangers. I went from a life that felt safe, to thinking “what else could possibly be taken away from me?”

I am the one that asked for a divorce, but I was beaten to the punch with divorce papers.  I was suffering and processing the loss of my marriage, I wasn’t thinking that I needed to “protect” what was already mine.  I hired my own lawyer being that I was left with no other option.

My lawyer suggested I check my bank accounts to see if our funds were left untouched.  I can’t even begin to describe the feeling that washed over me when I logged into our joint bank accounts only to find that all the accounts had been closed and credit cards canceled.  To say that I felt terrified is an understatement. How did “our money” all of a sudden become “my money?”

Had I not been savvy, and blessed with the grace of God, I would have been at the mercy of a stranger, a person I was intimate with for 19 years, but none of that mattered anymore.  I was left to fend for myself, completely unsupported by my family, awaiting a court date in order to have a judge determine my fate. I still had basic survival needs.  “How do I pay for gas, groceries, the kid’s necessities, etc.?”

What came next was waking up one morning only to find my car key missing.  A car that I had been driving for a year…vanished. I was told it was a “company car” that I was no longer entitled to drive.  No warning, no conversation, just gone!

Everything changed overnight. 

I was no longer the primary caretaker of our children.  He went from running a family business fulltime to instantly becoming 50% dad, bringing and picking up the kids from school, and when he couldn’t he enlisted his family’s help during his “custodial time.” There was zero communication in raising our children.  It was your time and my time, and on my time, I will do whatever I please. Mind you it was never my intention to take the kids away, I believe children need both mom and dad in their lives. None of this was a topic of conversation, just action taken fueled by shattered pride and ego.

We were both instructed by lawyers to stay in our home until the divorce was finalized, which lasted a year.  It was excruciating. It felt outer body. I was a stranger in a home we built ourselves, a home we raised our children in, and where we hosted many family gatherings. Nothing felt comfortable anymore.  We both avoided being home when it wasn’t our custodial time. Everything was calculated and documented down to the day and the hour.  It was what I call divorce purgatory. Stuck between two worlds; life before divorce and life after divorce.

I write this in no way to place blame or to make myself out to be the victim because to be completely honest, my attorney advised me to do the exact same thing, but I didn’t want to believe that we had become these people.  I didn’t want our children to be placed in the crossfire of two people who felt the need to defend their ego and pride, but I also wasn’t going to stand around and allow someone to pull the rug out from under me.

My story is in no way unique. 

I have heard countless women in this exact predicament, especially when it comes to finances.  Begging for money in order to buy tampons. Meanwhile, their lawyer is unable to do a darn thing without getting in front of a judge, which could take months. Withholding money is financial abuse, and I don’t wish it on anyone.  I was grateful that I had other sources of income that he was unable to withhold from me in the long run, but not everyone is that lucky.

This is what many bulldog lawyers instruct their clients to do… ACT FAST, PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR ASSETS, MINIMIZE FINANCIAL LOSS, and in some cases make the other person out to be unfit and unreliable.  It’s not a lawyer’s job to do what is in the best interest of all parties involved, including the children.  Their only job is to “WIN” for the client. They have no interest in who gets burned in the process. I say this having experienced it firsthand.

I want stay at home moms to be fully aware of the possible outcomes.  If you are financially dependent on your spouse and you want out of your marriage please be aware of the situation and consult a lawyer, preferably a lawyer that isn’t out to win at all costs.  Don’t ever think to yourself that this will never happen to me, that was my first lesson. This can easily be you, too, if you are in a relationship with someone who is fueled by fear and has a bruised ego. Remember healing doesn’t happen in courtrooms, that’s your own personal journey.  Until you are in a desperate state of mind, you have no idea what you are capable of doing.

If you find yourself in this situation feel free to reach out to me for a complimentary strategy session.  Do not try and handle this alone.

Sign-up on my mailing list to get weekly content that will support you in your journey towards healing, and also get notified of my upcoming program coming out soon…Untying the Knots of Divorce.

The post I Was a Stay-At-Home Mom: I Didn’t Regret That Until I Went Through a Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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4 Ways to Build Your Single Mom Community of Support

4 Ways to Build Your Single Mom Community of Support

single mom community of support

 

None of us can do everything by ourselves. We need friends, family, and community. But how many of these people can you reach out to who have an understanding of your life as a single mom?

How do you create a community of support when you’re juggling your children’s lives and all their activities, working, running your household and all that goes along with being a single mom, right?

You need a tribe, a group of friends and even some family members who’ll be there if you need a shoulder to cry on, someone to bitch about your kids to or help with childcare.

And, don’t forget that person to share a glass of wine or cup of coffee with. Someone you can talk about your latest relationship with, the new jeans you purchased or how damn broke you are. It all helps but when it comes to being a single mom and building that kind of community, it’s beyond difficult.

Ways to Build Your Single Mom Community of Support

Babysitting

Create a babysitting network with other single parent friends, offering to supervise someone else’s kids for an evening on a rotating schedule with all people offering same. Not only do you gain time away from the kids you build relationships with other single moms.

Facebook Page for Local Single Moms

Use social networking wisely. Join or create a Facebook page for local single parents. You can swap ideas, services, potluck dinners, meetups, the list is endless and can provide connections if you don’t have built-in ones through family or your kids’ friends.

My local single mom’s Facebook group has 63 members. We go hiking, kayaking, out to lunch, to movies, museums and have a book club that meets once a month. Since we’re all single moms’ effort is made to schedule activities based on member’s availability. If there is an activity that can’t be scheduled to suit everyone, we’ll do that activity twice to make sure everyone is included.

Church

Join a church. Even if you don’t consider yourself religious or the church-going type. Churches often have mother’s groups and provide daycare. Then you’re meeting people who are in the same phase of life as you and your kids get to have fun and make friends in the process too.

The church I go to has a once a month meeting of single parents. On the third Thursday of each month, we have a pot-luck dinner. We share a meal and have a gathering where no topic is off the table. We’ve talked about dating, sex, networking for careers and childcare amongst many other things. We even gave ourselves a name and had T-shirts printed up…Cornerstone Singles. Next month we’re all running a half marathon!

MeetUp.com

You can create your own single mom group on meetup.com. Or, explore groups in your community and join one that has already been created. The great thing about meetup.com is that you’ll find groups for all kinds of activities. If you’re into quilting, wine tasting, or just hanging out with singles in your age group, you’ll find it on meetup.com.

2-1-1

If you’re in a bind, and it’s not a traditional emergency, try dialing 2-1-1. Many states help through 2-1-1, which operates much like 9-1-1, but provides free referrals to local social service agencies, groups and organizations. Simply dial 2-1-1 from any phone and tell the operator what kind of help you’re looking for, and they might be able to connect you to community programs for single parents.

Building your supportive community as a single mom is critical. No one can do it all, and as single moms, we feel like we are expected to do everything.

A friend told me that this generation of parents is really the first generation that believes that we have to do everything. We work, take care of the home, take our kids to activities, review and help with homework, and everything in between without asking for help.

As a matter of fact, another friend posted on social media about how her mom was coming over to help her with her laundry and another woman with children scolded her for being a burden. We are conditioned to do everything alone and refuse to ask for help because asking for help shows weakness.

If you haven’t heard this yet, let me tell you that this is a lie! Don’t buy into the idea that you need to be strong, need to be able to do it on your own! Don’t miss out on critical rest or peace of mind because you are trying to be Supermom.

The post 4 Ways to Build Your Single Mom Community of Support appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Divorce & The Stay-At-Home Mom: She Needs to Take These 7 Steps

Divorce & The Stay-At-Home Mom: She Needs to Take These 7 Steps

Being a stay at home mom while going through a divorce can be stressful and difficult, but you can stay ahead of the game and keep prepared by following this guideline and meeting a lawyer sooner rather than later!

The post Divorce & The Stay-At-Home Mom: She Needs to Take These 7 Steps appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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Being a Great Mom

Balancing YOU While Still Being a Great Mom

Being a Great Mom

 

Being a mom isn’t easy. You deal with stress, frustration and having to be patient with your children and yourself. There are a million tasks a mom has. The biggest task often times have to be taken care of on a daily basis.

There are sports practices, PTA meetings, church activities, school homework, band practice, errands, meals to prepare, a house to clean, children to care for and other items on that bottomless list of things to get done.

A mother commonly doesn’t leave much time for herself in a day. The only time she might get for herself might only be when she’s in the bathroom or the shower, but who knows if that is true even then.

Balancing YOU While Still Being a Great Mom

Ways to Cope with the Stress

Most moms have a habit of putting the needs of others before their own. That is the job most of the time, but with that, there needs to be room for some “Mom time” where she can relax and de-stress. Going to get your nails done, going to the spa, going to the salon to get your hair done, are just a few ideas in finding ways to de-stress. Allowing yourself to breathe is very important and be kept in mind.

There are also other ideas to think about, many places to travel these days are kid-friendly and can add to good childhood memories. With the idea of a vacation, there are plenty of deals and packages to look for which can make going on vacation more economically affordable, and easy. It is a great opportunity to get away from your world for a while and relax.

Working with the Craziness of Life

It is also okay to make time for yourself and to plan a time to just to be alone. There are so many things that come with having children and many that can also help you stay happy and healthy, to strengthen your relationships with them. Creating seasonal traditions with your children can be something that brings joy to the art of being a Mother. Decorating the house for the holiday’s, making cookies and allowing your children to participate in those things can keep them occupied and take your mind off of your responsibilities for a while.

Another thing that a mother can do for herself is to allow herself to get ready and feel good about her appearance. It is a natural and beautiful thing to know that even when you are a Mom you can still look great when doing all a Mother does. It is the little things that go a long way.

Take the time to allow yourself to get what you need to get done, but still, look stylish while doing it. Looking good and feeling beautiful will help your days run a lot smoother. When mom is happy, everyone is happy. She will have the confidence in herself to know that she can complete all she needs to that day. It will give her that little daily boost that we all know she needs to accomplish what seems to be impossible.

One last tip for feeling and looking great is trying your best to eat healthy and well. Make it a priority and it will happen. Maybe not every day, but some days it will. You do so much as a mom and like what was said before, you do the impossible and that means you can do another impossible, eating well.

With this said, remember who you are as a mother. Remember what great work you do and the great care that is required for your job. As they say, with great power, comes great responsibility. Mothers are powerful, but that doesn’t mean that they can leave themselves to stress and not de-stress. Their wants and needs need to be met too and that cannot be left out.

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