Crying “Uncle!”

According to Wikipedia: The Roman Empire theory says, Roman children, when beset by a bully, would be forced to say the Latin phrase, “Patrue, mi Patruissimo,” or, “Uncle, my best Uncle,” in order to surrender and be freed.

Common, Kid, just do what I do, and you’ll be fine.

I’ve learned over these single parenting years, especially, not to be ashamed when I hit a brick wall.  I mean, everyone hits them…that place where, left to our own devices, no clear path presents itself.  I usually have to hit the same wall a few times, no, maybe several times, befor I cry “Uncle!”

“Patrue, mi Patruissimo!”

As my daughter approaches her teen years, I find myself continually perplexed by my parenting inconsistencies.  One minute things are fabulous, and I’m sledding smoothly down the hills of Mt. Pinos, the next minute Mt. Everest shows up, and I lack any sort of mountain climbing skills.  Yesterday I was singing “Riser” by Derks Bentley, and today I’m a Yahoo News headline: Single mom drowns in a sea of tween drama.

I can be calm, cool, and collected, and in ten seconds switch to screaming, ranting Mommy Dearest.

All it takes is one trigger, one button push, one hot spot (and I don’t mean AT & T).

Whoa, Nelly, I didn’t ask for this!

I’ve also learned through various trials that, typically, it’s what I’m doing that is the biggest part of the problem. I whole-heartedly believe in looking in the mirror. No, I’m not taking full blame for every attitudinal tantrum or smart remark made by my pre-teen, but I am willingly admitting that when I step outside myself and take a deep breath, I usually mitigate the situation.

I’m the adult. I’m the one who’s lived the life, been a kid, been an adolescent, teenager, 20-something, etc, etc, etc.  I have the experiences of decades to remind me of the turmoil and trials that pervade these developing years.  Sure, I can tout, “Well, that’s just the way it is.  We’ll get through it.   We all survive and turn out okay.”  Fairly true, but as y’all probably know by now, that’s not my style.

Case in point…with horses in training, the more you force them to do something they don’t want to do, the more they plain and simple will not do it.  Sound familiar?  See any correlation?  On the contrary…as soon as a horse believes that what you’d like him to do is actually his idea in the first place, it happens.  Sure, it might take more than one try, one baby step at a time (usually it does), but it does indeed happen and in a much nicer fashion than, “I said do this!  Do it now, dag-gummit!”

Now you’re gettin’ it.  Good job!

Not that my daughter should be compared to a horse (although, I don’t think she’d mind, knowing how much she loves them), but I am at a place where I’m asking myself, “What on earth am I thinking?  Why am I acting like this?  What can I do to change myself and to help us both along?”

I’ve been so frustrated trying to make my kid do what I want her to do (basically, I want her to do things just like me, duh), with ZERO REWARD, instead of looking for a different path.  Brick walls abound, and I am humbled by the ever-present realization that my way is not the only way or the necessary way, and her way may be different but equally worthy and sufficient for success.

So, I am embarking on some parenting research to help me cope with my own insecurities and fear and to help guide me through these unchartered waters.

A friend of mine posted a quote on Facebook today by Ian Leighton, a renowned horse trainer, which says this:

I wonder what it is about some people that find unpleasantness rewarding.
I can’t think of an animal that thinks that way.

I do not find unpleasantness rewarding, and I know that my kiddo doesn’t either.  I will not settle for things “just being” because of her age and my inexperience as a pre-teen parent.

I ordered book on Amazon called Wise Minded Parenting: 7 Essentials for Raising Successful Tweens + Teens by Laura S. Kastner.  Her parenting techniques go along with the “Mindfulness” movement.  I reviewed the book and scanned the intro, and it completely hit home.  When I read the following statistic, As of 2010 more than nine million families with children under the age of eighteen were being maintained by single mothers, I knew this person had done her research and was going to address things from a real world perspective-not a glorified, shiny, “quick fix” perspective.  Not only will I have the book for reference, but there is an online community to reach out to for support through the author’s website, entitled the same.

We will see how it goes, but one thing is for sure, I already feel hopeful by taking this step.  And, I have faith that while there will be ups and downs, they will certainly be better than hitting brick walls.

Mom may not always get it right, but she’ll always love you.

Have any of you had to cry “Uncle!” with your kids?  If so, what measures did you take at that point to encourage positive change?  Please share!

Life is short…too short not to chuckle about the journey, so c’mon, give it a try. Oh, and thanks, Google, for the awesome photos!

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

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9 Days

“What!?! I’m going to Dad’s for 9 days?!  9 WHOLE DAYS?!”

As winter break ensued two weeks ago for the school district, as always, I had to make plans for my daughter’s long three week vacation.  And, as always, I secured one week off for the holidays to spend with her, but the other two remained up for grabs.  Unlike always, this year her dad received a full two weeks off from work.  With visits few and far between for Maycee and him, we agreed that since he had her for Christmas this year, he would keep her through New Year’s Eve, and I would pick her up on New Year’s Day.

Maycee considered this carefully. “Mom, how many days is that?”

“I think it’s about 9 days.” (I knew it was exactly 9 days.)

“MOM, THAT’S NINE DAYS…NINE DAYS!!!!”  The caps do not emphasize excitement and jubilation, just sayin’.

That said, it was not intended as Christmas coal….it was intended to be a time for both Maycee and her dad to be together.  Never during the course of the past 8 years of separation and divorce has her dad spent more than 3 days with her.  In fact, a typical visit every 6 to 8 weeks consists of about 32 hours.  It was time….time for Maycee to grin and bear it, time for her dad to step up, and time for me to get a break.

Even in winter rain and cold, no rest for the weary!

For 9 days.

We celebrated Christmas Eve and Christmas two days early.  It was a wonderful time spent with makeshift family (friends), and besides the dates being slightly off, one would never had known it wasn’t actually Christmas.  Santa came and everything (Yes, I still believe.)

Welcome, Finn, our newest furry family member.

On the “real” Christmas Eve I traveled to Southern Cali to drop off my bewildered child at her dad’s house….new bunny in tow, at least.  I kissed and hugged her good-bye, telling her to make the most of it all and to have fun and enjoy some much-needed down time. I ventured to my mom’s for the evening, Day 1, then home on Christmas Day-Day 2.

Over the years being without my daughter on Christmas has not gotten easier.  There is something melancholy that sinks down deep.  It was quiet.  The drive was quiet. My home was quiet.  I decided to keep my shift at the barn and work, which at least took up some of the afternoon and evening.  Settling in later under a warm blanket I felt really alone, although I knew that wasn’t the case.

One quick message from Maycee before bed…Christmas was fine, but long day and boring.  Love you, Mom.

Day 3

Text messages flooded the cell phone waves.

Mom, I am SO BORED.  I’m watching TV in my room and playing on my phone.  I already played with the bunny.  Dad isn’t feeling well.  This is terrible.

I felt a little bit of terrible, too, only because the loneliness was still heavy in my heart.  I reponded with a positive

Well, it’s good to do nothing sometimes.  It’s only been a couple of days, so cheer up.

I proceeded to take my own advice and stay in my jammies for half the day before working at the barn again.  I cannot remember the last time I stayed in bed watching movies until noon.  Many, many, MANY years ago-if EVER.  Then I got to ride a new horse at our barn, Traveler.  He was such a good boy!

What a cutie…Don’t worry, Chief, it’s only temporary.

After work I went on a dinner date with my neighbor, who’s been trying to kindle a relationship with me the past few months.  It was nice.  I began to feel my loneliness subsiding and my freedom reaching the surface.

Day 4

Mom, I wanna come home.  I am so bored. I miss my horse.  I’m WASTING MY VACATION here!

Maycee, you will have to deal with this. I’m sorry.  It’s either stay there or go to winter camp, which I know you don’t want to do.

Fine. It’s okay. I’m just mad.

REALLY? 

I cleaned up Christmas stuff, did laundry, took the dog for a much-deserved long walk, worked at the barn again, and went to dinner with my bff-another “me” thing I wanted to do.  Grown-up girl time.

As a single mom living away from family, it is rare that I am not with my kid.  Now that she is getting older she spends more time with friends, has sleepovers once in awhile, but typically those sleepovers are at our house. She rides her horse on her own when we are at the barn and likes to do her own thing there without my hovering.  In general, with child, I have more freedom now, certainly, than I did when she was younger.

But, true freedom to just be me, seperate from the mom-me, to do a few things I enjoy on my own, to be meditative, watch tv shows I enjoy, splurge on dinners out, or go to grown-up movies is a small gift.  A necessary one, in my opinion, for I believe we are better mothers the more we harness who we are individually.

2015-a wonderfully busy year!

Day 5

Back to work I went, and I was glad.  I love my work, love the people there, love my job, love my routine.  That evening I simply stayed home, bundled up, and watched my newly installed Netflix after chatting for a couple of hours with my roommate who returned after the holidays.

“I wondered how you were handling Maycee being gone, ” she said.  “It’s such a long time.”

“Yeah, takes me a couple of days to get used to it…and, this IS the longest she has ever gone for a visit.  I think it’s good, though….good for both of us.”

Maycee and I also talked on the phone,

“I am so tired of screens, Mom!  I am tired of looking at my phone and watching tv A LOT, so I  decided to get busy while dad slept this morning.  I washed and put away the dishes and cleaned the house, and then we went out to return some stuff.”

“Wow, way to go, kiddo!  How nice of you to do that and a great idea to occupy your time being helpful!”

I was beaming inside, proud of my girl for taking the reigns, so-to-speak.

Day 6

Movie night!  Freedom mode was in full swing. I invited my neighbor to join me for a movie after work, which just happened to be playing at the old theater in town, my favorite.

JOY

I related to Joy so much…minus becoming a superstar and financially wealthy.

Day 7

Tonight after work and the barn I will go shopping for a belated Christmas gift for my neighbor.  I asked him during our dinner on Day 3 what he got for Christmas, and he said, “Nothing.”  Oh, this made me so sad.  I decided right then I was getting him something.  Everyone deserves a gift at Christmastime!

Maycee is spending the day with my mom and step-dad, and taking a riding lesson with an instructor I know down south.  I am sure she is having a wonderful day, hallelujah.

Maycee gets to ride Tango for her first jumping lesson!  Woohoo!

Day 8

New Year’s Eve.

I have a date.  With my neighbor….again.  But, I HAVE A DATE.

Let Freedom ring!!!!!!!!

I haven’t gone out or done anything besides watch Time Square on tv for several years, celebrating with Martinelli’s and seeing if Maycee makes it to midnight (longest she has made it is 11:15).

This will be interesting and fun–dinner out and live music in a little seaside town.  Holy cow, I have no idea what to think, except, what should I wear?  Oh, ya, jeans and boots…that’s all I own! E.A.S.Y.

Day 9

New Year’s Day.

I will pick Maycee up, and while I’m already grateful for the time I’ve had alone, I am also grateful to be the mom of one special young lady who I miss tremendously.  Who year after year, traded holidays or not, makes every struggle or stumble worth it.

Once home the world will be right again.  Maycee will forget she had rough patches, I will forget I needed a break.  Life will return to normal as we embark on 2016.

Nine days have certainly been good reminders about the role I love and hold dearly: Single Working Mom.  Nine days have reminded me I wouldn’t trade places with anyone for anything.

Nine days have reminded me of the myriad of blessings I experience ad infinitum.

Maycee has stopped the mad texting about 9 days.  It has been hard to stay steadfast in the plan, hard not to rescue her from being unhappy in the moment, knowing that while she may be unhappy, she is not unsafe or uncared for-she is loved.

As much as I like to believe this break was a good lesson for my kid, it was most definitely a good lesson for me, and that, Readers, is a win-win!

So, plan for breaks, take some needed time for yourselves, and welcome in the New Year with NEW HOPES AND DREAMS.  And, don’t forget to give a chuckle!

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

 

More Than Surviving

I just received a new follower to my blog, and when the notice came to my inbox, I admit I was super pleased!  My little blog is still alive and kicking even though I’ve neglected it in the worst of ways for the past three months.  Oh, my gosh, and WordPress has changed things, too.  At first I shuddered, but now I appreciate how easy it is to maneuver!

In addition to the other fall festivities, I moved Chief to a new home where I can spend more time with him!

This was my first harvest working in my new role as a vineyard technician, and thus, my first harvest running what is affectionately called “The Sugar Shack” where we test all of the grapes for their acid and sugar levels prior to being picked.  Yes…ALL OF THE GRAPES, covering approximately 1,600 acres plus of fruit over 12 ranches, traversing the rows via quads and trucks to pick and crush bucket-fulls by the dozens each day for two solid months.  And, with record breaking heat, many of those days were spent in triple digit temps-unheard of for the Central Coast.

I never get tired of harvest.  Ever.

In conjunction with harvest, this year my daughter joined AYSO soccer for the first time as a newbie U-12.  One of my dearest barn buddies offered to coach her team and take her to practices, so how on earth could I say “No”???  Every single Saturday from August through November I played the soccer mom role, and also ended up being the steadfast snack bar gal before several games, as no other parent stepped up to help.  Maycee LOVED playing soccer, and while I LOVED that she LOVED it, the season seemed never-ending, and lord knows I was one tired mom.

First-time soccer kid!

Through this busy-ness I realized something very important, however.  No longer was I simply surviving my life.  No longer was I so exhausted (at least not 24/7) that I couldn’t enjoy the harvest or enjoy the Saturday soccer games.  Once upon an earlier time, say about five years ago, this was not the case.  I often began each morning dreading the hours ahead, sometimes feeling as if my feet were made of lead, and putting one in front of the other appeared fruitless for the catastrophes to come.

Harvest was a blast being in and around all of the hustle and bustle for the first time, and soccer was a budding new experience (for both me and Maycee).  Balance was fleeting during the past few months, but as the dust settled, the balance returned.

Patience.

In a chaotic world in a country that thrives on instant gratification, the history of my single mom years has proven that patience and perseverance are key.  The old addage, “Good things happen to those who wait.” rings true.  Sure, rough things happen, as well.  But, this is the seesaw of living.  Keeping the faith when the mountain seems insurmountable is crucial.  I know, and we all know, that life can change on a dime.  Never once did self-pity project me forward into positive outcome.

I took this photo while I was filling my car with gas.  Here these ducks were, waiting patiently.  Not sure for what, but, nonetheless….

I’m a single mother.  I’ve been a single mom since 2008.  I didn’t want to be a single mom.  I didn’t choose this path, but it was laid before me.  In the beginning I fought it, about a third of the way in (to present) I truly surrendered.  Now I look back and feel gratitude for the struggle, for the scary moments, for the strength that came from nowhere, for each piece arrived me here today.  Those who helped me along the way gave me hope and heart not only for my own situation but for humanity.

When it feels like you’re hitting a wall, all it means is you need to change direction.

And, to those who said, “You can’t do this (to many different this’s)!” I retorted, “Yes, I can!”  I did and I will.

So, thank you to all who read here and to my latest follower who inspired me to share once again.

Remember: life is short, and time is a-wastin’, so give a chuckle and don’t give up!

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

 

Getting honest about being single

On a trail ride with my friend (I’m in the rear). Freedom!

I’m coming up on a year since I made the decision to cut out dating from my life.  The resolution came after disappointment upon disappointment and the impending feeling that what I was hoping to find just may not exist-for me.  I know it exists “in general”, but perhaps it is not in my particular 52-card deck to find.

I had taken “breaks” from dating before….so what was going to be different about this time?

I accepted my fate.  I was tired, truly tired, of hoping, looking, and wondering.

I let go.

And, I meant it.

What happened afterwards has become the year of change for me.  Not bulldozing, gonna be no matter what I want kind of change, but directly intentional, freeing change.

I became able to focus more of my energy on me, my behavior, my goals, my dreams, and how all of that plays into raising up a strong, independent young girl, my daughter.  In doing so I’ve had moments of implicit euphoria.  Feelings of, “Oh, my gosh, so THIS is what happiness, honest to goodness, deep down from the bottom of my tummy happiness feels like!”

I had forgotten.  I had really forgotten the purity of joy that comes from being free.  I felt it when I moved away from home, I felt it when I got sober, I felt it the day my daughter was born, and I feel it now.

Choosing to eliminate this sore spot from my life opened up new doors.  No longer did I need to save a part of myself for someone who didn’t exist, someone who didn’t care, someone who didn’t love or even like me for me.

I embraced my bed covers!  I embraced snuggling up with my dog!  I embraced going to bed early and not feeling “guilty” if I was too tired for anything else!  I embraced not having to finagle a sitter for Maycee just so I could have some “alone time” with Mr. Wrong!  I embraced the simplicity of only answering to myself!  I embraced knowing that I could handle everything on my own-I had been for years-why did I think a partner would make any of this better?!

And, this year, I took on working harder than ever BECAUSE I could….because I had the time….and I acquired not one, but TWO, horses. ME-on a single mom’s budget.  I changed career paths and seized the opportunity to grow and learn.  I focused every extra moment on the stability of my child’s lifepath, and she’s soaring into the blue sky amongst the clouds today. I worked down my debt and have been able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Breathe….breathe.

Most of all, however, I realized my own self-worth.  How low had I set my price tag towards the end of my dating career….and for what? For whom?  Why?  Short hair, long hair, blue jeans, make-up, no make-up, dirt under the nails, or painted pretty-we are ALL beautiful and deserving of respect.  We have value.  I have value.

And, now, I am me.  I am free.  I am at peace.  And, with all of that….if I’m truly honest, which I am, I do still hope to find a romantic love one day.  A hand-holder, a gentle soul, funny, down to earth, genuine.  But, maybe I better re-phrase that…I hope he finds me because I will no longer be searching.

I will know when he does.  I will know it’s right.  I will feel calm, relaxed, and undoubtedly certain.  There will be no need to compromise.  He will be the one.

In the meanwhile, this current deck of cards is dealing a full house, and I’m really blown away with the hand!

Blessings abundant, and gratitude swells.

Readers, if you are currently in the dating conundrum, I suggest letting it go.  I suggest loving yourself and finding freedom in just being you. Explore, believe in yourself, take advantage of new opportunities. Being single is quite different from being alone.

Life is short…let your wings take you high!

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XOXO,

Kasey

A Different Road

Back in mid-December on a puffy cloud day, Maycee was home sick.  We spent the hours resting, me by de-fault, and in the afternoon I decided to head over to her school to pick up her homework.  I left a little early to make sure I got there in time to find a parking space.  On my way, however, instead of going straight something within me said, “No need to rush….take a different road…”

I don’t travel, at least not in the way folks think of “traveling”.  I haven’t gone anywhere more than two hours away since, well, since I don’t know when.  To my mom’s, to my dad’s, to my sister’s, up the road, down the road, around the block….that’s the extent of it.  Mostly, this is because of money and time (in that order), and over the last couple of years my daughter’s anxiety has also played a part.  Honestly, it doesn’t bother me much, probably because I’m too busy to dwell.

I also have come to love where I live and still feel like a tourist needing directions.

On this puffy cloud day I took my curious mind’s advice and turned left onto a road I had always wanted to drive.  It was clear once I made the left why I was drawn to go this way, denying myself the opportunity for the past six years since moving to the Yellow Submarine.  Denying no more.

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For a gal who has a small-town heart, it’s befitting that I live within minutes of what is still considered an actual “town”.  Halcyon is the foundation of what became a bigger city, but the post office still operates today.  I had never gone inside until a couple of years ago, and now on this day, I traveled the road on which it sits.

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I felt a magical, whimsical presence within me…I imagined myself living in this quaint cottage.

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As I drove I marveled at the neighbors’ quiet contributions and the eclectic nature of design within each space.

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To have your horse in the backyard, well, that is every horse person’s dream.  My momentary escape began, and I could smell the coffee brewing in the morning while Chief grazes on sweet green grass.

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Sunday morning services at 10:00.  The Temple of the People sounds like my kind of place.  I couldn’t see inside, but I wanted to…..

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I wondered…did a dad, playing with his children, decide to lean these logs up against the big old tree in teepee form?  Maybe a single mom?

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After coffee in the morning, I’d jump on Chief and ride up to my art-teacher friend’s home, pictured here.  We’d work on abstract water-color paintings, using the puffy clouds as our inspiration.  Then, I’d head back in the afternoon to work in the garden.

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Upon pulling up to the cottage I’d see that Maycee had come for a visit.  I’d enjoy hearing all about the latest horse she was training, and I’d bring out homemade chocolate chip cookies, her favorite.

The garden can wait.

I so enjoyed my 10-minute drive on a different road.  I pulled up to the school just before 3:00, the end of the day…why did I wait so many years to see what was simply around the corner?

Funny how we are.

Now I wonder, what will I find the next time I decide to travel a different road?

Life is short, so don’t wait to do what presses on your heart, and every chance you can, give a chuckle!

XOXO,

SWM

When I think I’m done here, I’m not

So, so, sooooooo much to say!

I’ve really been on the edge of telling you, my Readers, that it is time for me to move on.   This blog has been a place of healing, a place of learning, a place of refuge, and so much more.  I’ve made friendships across the written line, and I’ve been inspired by others almost every day.

But, I’ve experienced this before with my art, my music, and many other hobbies or passions–it seems there comes the time when I’m done.  For whatever reason, the necessary point of it passes, and I look toward the next phase of my life.

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What, I guess, is difficult about leaving my blog is that as much as it is a bunch of thoughts converted to words and notsocautiously placed into cyberspace, it is also a bit of my exposed soul.  The ideas, hopes, dreams and struggles I’ve chosen to share.  These are parts of living that will never die.  They continue to ebb and flow, and so, there is always something to think, do, or say about them.

I began writing to find a voice as a single working mom.  I felt alone, I felt angry, I felt overwhelmed, I felt abandoned, I felt suffocated, I felt…..so much….and voicing this to an unknown audience helped-still helps. I figured, heck, if I was feeling this way, perhaps sharing about it would also give voice and insight to another.  My feelings have transformed over these past four years.

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Today, I don’t feel alone.  Today, I don’t feel angry.  Today, I don’t feel abandoned or suffocated.  Certainly, many moments I do still feel overwhelmed.  This, I’ve realized and accepted as the nature of single parenting.  It doesn’t take me over anymore.   It only looms slightly upon my back with a tidbit of constant pressure.

This year, 2015, has brought with it some exciting changes, and thus has kept me busy from reading my favorite blogs and, also, from writing.

After six years at my job, I was able to transition away from being an administrative assistant to a field position that takes me into and through the vineyards we manage.  With the mentorship of our assistant vineyard manager I will be studying all that goes into growing wine grapes successfully and sustainably.  I will also be signing up for an on-line certification course in viticulture.  For an “artsy-fartsy got a C in Science type” this is pretty darn cool!  The past six years of learning everything on paper have groomed me to be able to do this, and the support of my superiors allowed it to happen.  Gratitude and excitement fill my heart.

I’m a horse set free to pasture galloping through the hills to the perfect spot to graze on fresh, green grass.

My horse and pasture when I’m at work.

In addition to this wonderful work opportunity, I was also given my precious Chief, that I’ve been leasing for about nine months.  The owner is moving her other horse away from our barn, and she willingly and sweetly gave Chief to me because she believes (as do I, of course) that we belong together.  Just after this news, I found out that our barn is up for sale.  Mixed emotions consumed me, as the only way I am able to afford keeping two horses (Chief and Star for Maycee) is if I work off the board.  What if the new owners don’t need my help?  What if they don’t want to keep the boarding business?  What if they are mean (I don’t do mean.)?  Ha, ha, ha….what if’s will drive us nuts!

Instead of panicking (too much), I’ve done some due diligence and have a couple of back-up options ready to go in case of such what-ifs.  This type of tentative planning I’ve become accustomed to as a single mom.  No longer do I even entertain the idea of giving up (NO WAY), and no longer do I fret to no end when I’m in the hallway.

Progress.

The reason I’m not dating, and the reason I’m happier for it: CHIEF.

2015 is certainly shaping up to be interesting.

And, so, I’ve been in a place of contemplation.  Is my time here at WordPress slipping away?  Should I abandon ship and move on to new lands?

For now, it appears not.  Once again, just when I think I’m done here, I’m not.

I want to share some of the blessings that have occurred in my life-not just this year, but over all of these years.   Because….in the beginning of this blog I was desperately afraid and broken.  In the beginning the hard knocks took precedence.  Now, they don’t.  Singleworkingmomswm has grown into her own, and isn’t that all we can really hope for in a world that is crazy, scary, and uncertain?

Blessings, to only name a few…

Family, friends, and neighbors who’ve sustained me through the good and the bad.

My daughter who gives me a zest for life at just the perfect moment.

Horses.   Their spirits are like no other animals.  Pure beauty.

Our pets, for their unconditional love.

Learning to embrace change.

Finding strength in the smallest of places.

Resilience.

Hearing the crickets, and seeing the birds, jackrabbits, and butterflies in the field.

A home and a job that provide a sense of stability.

Tuning out the voices that say, “You can’t.”

Simplicity.

Just being me.

I don’t know how often I will get here right now, but I do want to tell you, ALL of you, that I’m grateful for this forum.  I’m so grateful, and that is enough to keep me hanging around, if even on the perimeter.

I’ll see ya!

And to other single moms who may be reading my blog I say this: Yes, you can.  You and your children are worth it.  Ask for help.  Be gentle to yourself.  Press forward and have faith because there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it will show you the way to new beginnings.

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XOXO,

SWM

For me and for her

It is a fact that hurtful words and actions can have a lasting impact on a person just as much, if not more so, than empowering words and behavior.  If this weren’t the case, I don’t think the campaign against bullying would be at the forefront of media attention and such a focus across school campuses today.

Honestly, my gut (and not a 10-year study) tells me that very few of us grew up evading even small amounts of persecution in some form or another, sneaking through high school hallways without mean looks or derogatory comments.  A greater majority of us dealt with a lot of negativity, even abuse, when truths be told.

And, as women, we grew up under additional pressures, if I may be so bold as to say, that included fitting within certain molds for body, hair, and face type, style, behavior, career paths, and more.  We learned to scrutinize over fitting in and becoming what was expected from our families, our friends, society, and certainly, the opposite sex.

When I decided to divorce, I explained to my ex how un-attractive I felt, and I questioned him as to why he never seemed to want to be with me any more (physically).  His response I have never forgotten, and I think, moreover, I have never quite gotten past to a degree: “Maybe if you hadn’t cut your hair.”

Yep.  That simple (not).  Cutting my hair made me unattractive to my spouse. Cutting my hair because I had a baby in tow that awakened numerous times in the night day after day, and I was too tired to deal with fashion faux-paux’s, lessened his libido. His baby, too, mind you! Ya, well, I know that it wasn’t my hair that was the problem.  But, nonetheless, the comment has stuck with me for over seven years.

Until now.  No more sticking.  Little by little these negative pieces are being tossed and replaced by new positive pieces. With my daughter’s telescope in full view of my choices, I’ve made many changes in how I do things since that conversation.  And a couple of days ago, I added one more change…

I’m here to tell you today, that I WANT MY HAIR CUT OFF!

Hello, Happy Me!

With every step I take, or every haircut I get, I do so knowing that my own empowerment gives power to my daughter.

There are NO MOLDS to fill that aren’t meant to be broken.  Make the positive overshadow the negative, and a whole world of possibility stands ready.

Life is short, so lop of any unwanted locks, break the mold, and while you’re sweeping away the pieces, give a chuckle!

XOXO,

SWM

“Don’t tell on her, Mom!”

This past Monday my kiddo turned eleven. ELEVEN.  We had one of the biggest turnouts for Maycee’s typical “at home” party (held on Sunday) we’ve ever had, including all five of her besties, Grandma and Grandpa, her dad, and a few of our closest barn friends.

The entire time I felt as if I was having an out-of-body experience.  The laughter was different, the girls were quiet and reserved (much more than we grown-ups!), the excitement of balloons and games and eating cake lower key.  In fact, this year Maycee wanted ICE CREAM CAKE-a totally new experience for both of us!  There were no big messes to clean up-each person being old enough now to throw away their trash and help out. I guess you could say it was “easy”.

I quietly observed my daughter during the hours we celebrated.  I saw my little girl, my baby, enjoying herself-being a pre-teen with her besties.  After the cake eating was done, wanting to take her posse to the park and have free time, I had to let her go.  This is what healthy kids do-they leave the nest, explore, figure things out; I know this even though in the moment I want to have my toddler back with her messy fingers and littler friends who only eat frosting and throw napkins on the floor.

She’s eleven.

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Last night after I picked Maycee up from The Club (where she goes during winter break while I’m at Job #1) we went out to the barn to do Job #2. I finished all the stall mucking and dumping and loaded the hay trailer for the morning when she told me that one of the staff members there was sharing about her experiences as a teen mom in an abusive relationship.  She apparently gave Maycee and a couple of other girls some pretty graphic details of what she endured, and Maycee was relaying this conversation now to me.

I felt the hairs rise on my back. I felt a lump form in my throat.  I felt anger well up within me as the protective Mother Bear came out of its cave. Why would this lady tell my kid these things?!  What on earth kind of discussion had been forming to lead to this?!  Who thinks it’s appropriate to talk to 5th graders about their own personal issues to this degree?!

I asked Maycee.  She said, “I don’t know.  I think we were talking about bullying.”  She could sense the irritation not-so-well hidden in my inquiry.  “She always talks to us about stuff, Mom.  She says things like, ‘See….this is why you do well in school and stick with the kids who are good.’  Don’t tell on her, Mom, please!”

She’s eleven.

I wanted to be mad.  I wanted to call up the Boys and Girls Club of America and yell at the director and tell her this is not okay with me.  Her staff needs to keep their tales of woe to themselves.  These are kids for goodness’ sake! They are supposed to be playing and having fun, not listening to tragedy.

But, I had to make Mama Bear go back in her cave.  It wasn’t the woman’s story that bothered me at all.  I have my own history I’ve had to share with Maycee along similar lines, so there is no judgement.  It was knowing that the older my daughter gets, the more she is going to be exposed without my claws there to protect her.

Kids, eleven or twelve…may not get lessons such as these from their own family.  Some moms and dads don’t sit down and talk with their children as frankly as I do with Maycee.  Perhaps a young adolescent girl might hear this woman’s story, and it will be the catalyst that sticks in her mind when faced with a similar situation.  She will decide against settling for worse and go for better.

As much as it bothered me that Maycee was hearing unpleasant details about a staff member’s journey, I had to respect her plea.  “Don’t tell on her, Mom, please!”  Because she wants to know. She wants to hear.  She wants to experience and feel beyond what I tell her, beyond what she learns in school, beyond what is nice, beyond what I allow her to view on the TV in our home.

I need to keep reminding myself and pay attention to my own fleeting sense of control. I didn’t tell on the woman; instead, in my heart, I thanked her for caring.

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Maycee is eleven.

After the party ended and her friends went home, Maycee said she had “the best birthday”.  My heart warmed, but a part of me still was feeling contemplative.

I know we are in movement, a time of wide transition, and I guess this mom is starting to dig her nails in, trying to hold back the hands of time.  Partly because I miss the Elmo birthday decorations and partly because I know of the potential abuse within the big, big world.

Neither cause should stifle Maycee’s ability to blossom, and I will always be there to celebrate with pizza and [ice cream] cake.  Always.

Readers, if you have children, have you had trouble with letting go?

Remember, life is short, so eat ice cream cake, and give a chuckle.

XOXO,

SWM

Bloggedy, blog, blog, blog in 2014!

The Word Press status monkeys are at it again.  Each year, like the scary monkeys in the Wizard of Oz flying through the sky, they make their way to my blog, hovering, coming at me with this’s and thats, pointing out the obvious as well as the obscure.

Even though I don’t write for stats and never will, nor will I probably ever glean the “likes” of some of the larger fan-based blogs I subscribe to, I did enjoy noticing this year that traffic across SWM went up, more people signed on, and I gained quite a few new blogging friends along the yellow brick road.

My purpose for blogging is two-fold and will remain as such so long as we both shall live: to carry the message of survival with a smile to other single moms and to share my journey with those who’d like to join me-no matter what boundaries we cross.   Both of these, in turn, help me find my way each and every day as the tornado carries me to different lands.

I have no longings of meeting the Great Mr. Oz; there is nothing so big that I truly yearn for…only a little bit of peace found in between the lines and the ability to be the best mom possible-the most precious gift of any there is in this world.

So, Readers, I wish you sparkling red shoes, crowns of joy, and lots of chuckling in 2015!  Now, enjoy checking out my “Year in Review”, and also, meet the newest addition to our furry family, Katy.  Happy New Year!

XOXO,

SWM

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,700 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 45 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Many Titles….Horse Cookies

Each week I think about writing here many titles go through my mind.  I have lots of stories that also go through my mind that I would like to share, and these stories prompt titles. If only there was more time, of course.

I thought that I would write about my experience in church this past Sunday.  I was going to call the post “When in Church, I Cry”.  It doesn’t seem to matter how long I’ve been a Christian (and compared to many-not long at all), but when I enter a church-any church-I get emotional.  I can be in a good place, a bad place, or an indifferent place, but when I enter the sanctuary it happens.  The preacher may stink, but I still hear a message.  The music may not be “my style” but I still sing a song.  I may feel an outcast, but I know deep down I’m not.  My daughter has taken to watching me to see how long it takes before the tears start flowing…

I also thought I might write about the rain.  It’s falling now, right now, pouring in gushes and cleansing the earth.  We’ve needed it so badly, and I love listening to it.  Last night we had a huge wind storm as the rain came, and it was scary.  I envisioned the trees behind our house crashing down on the little Yellow Submarine, or the water lifting us up off the jacks and carrying us away down a newly formed river to another town.  Once Maycee was asleep I turned off the TV and just listened.  Snuggled up in a Christmas blanket on my tiny couch with the tree lit, I listened. The wind settled down, and the rain fell quietly as the night tick-tocked minute by minute. The title might have been….”Listen to the Rain”.

I enjoy my time to write as if I were a thief stealing a precious jewel and hoping no one notices.

Today I went to run an errand on my lunch break and found the grocery store to be closed due to a downed power line from the storm.  This changed my plan, so I ended up buying grain for the horses instead of Christmas cards for the family. In the store my favorite clerk, Liz,  was working.  Liz has known me since we rescued our horse Fancy.

She asked me how I was doing and if was surviving the holidays so far. I looked at her with a cringed face and muttered, “Kind of…”  I told her how when the holidays come my shoulders raise and I get so worried about how I’m going to keep up financially and still provide something nice for my kiddo under the tree.  I put on a happy face and hum along with the Christmas Carols, but inside my tummy churns until December 26th.  She said, “I know, I know.  My husband and I keep things real simple since it’s just the two of us.  We see what all of this (referring to the sale racks) does to people.”

I said that I try to do the same since it’s just me and Maycee, but it’s hard when I enter a store and find my eyes wandering, my hands touching, and my mind thinking “She’d like this” or “She’d like that” or “I wish I could just buy it!”  I have to stay focused and shop like a speed demon-in and out-to avoid collapsing under pressure.

I reminisced about how when I was married to her dad, and we had two incomes, buying gifts was never an issue.  Liz asked me, “And, how long ago was that?”  I answered, “Almost seven years ago, and it’s never been easy since.”

Liz looked at me, smiling.  She always has a twinkle about her.  Then she said, “You hold on here a minute.”  She walked away and grabbed a bag of horse cookies, my favorite brand, and said, “Here….give these to your daughter for her horse from me.  You’re such a nice person; you deserve it.”

And, here goes the title for this write.

I may not have time to blog about every thought that crosses my mind, but whenever I can share the kindness of another, human nature so rarely experienced amidst a world of chaos and commerce, I must.  It may be small to some, but it’s huge to me.

Horse Cookies.

Readers, I hope you enjoy the weekend ahead, and remember: life is short, so be happy, and give a chuckle.  Ho, ho, hooooooooo!

XOXO,

SWM