Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Confessions of a Single Mom

Does anyone else ever feel like this woman?
image via google images
Parenting in and of itself presents so many single parenting can sometimes seem a bit overwhelming.  Each of us has our own style, our own set of rules, our own way of doing things.    Here are a few personal confessions of things that I do (or don't do) that may be a little against the grain...

1.  I sometimes use our TV as a baby-sitter.  If you have a television, which I'm sure most of you do, don't tell me you don't do this!  Don't get me's not like I actually leave the house with my daughter parked in front of the TV.  But if I need some time to get some things done - whether it's cleaning the house, paying bills, or completing a craft project - sometimes the best way is for me to turn the tube on.  And since I've always been a solo parent, this started when my daughter first showed an interest in television.  Although it was almost seven years ago, I distinctly remember when she first watched the Teletubbies and was glued to the screen.  I was in physical therapy school at the time and there were projects, papers, group work that had to get done.  As a single parent, you do what you've gotta do!  (I also want to mention here, in my defense, that she is only allowed to watch television on the weekends.  Absolutely no TV on school nights at our house!  Unless you're the parent and the kiddo is in bed...)

2.  I actually like to have some time away from my daughter.  Please don't be appalled by this! 
Hopefully if you're a parent, you can relate.  Sometimes I feel like single parents are expected to be super parents...doing all work with no play.  And sometimes I fall into that rut myself.  Because I don't have a significant other to leave my daughter home with when I feel like I need a girls night or want to go on a trip, it takes a little more planning.  I realize that some married women have a hard time getting a night out too but it's different when you actually have to pick up the phone and call in a sitter or a grandparent.  Not to mention the fact that baby-sitters require payment!  (I have yet to find anyone to swap baby-sitting with but that's definitely an idea to look into if you're a single parent too...)  Needless to say, I savor these moments.  Whether it's a weekend away or a few hours at the mall, having some "me time" rejuvenates me and helps me to be the best single mom I can be!

3.  My house is not clean.  I'm working really hard on this one...using daily chore lists and trying to keep up with the laundry more frequently.  But if something has to go, cleaning house is usually it!  I love to go places and do things with my daughter, we love to travel and go on trips, and I try to stay actively involved in both her school and team functions and our church.  Amongst our harried life, keeping an immaculate house is at the bottom of my priority totem pole.  I try to put on a good show by doing some quick tidying before company (which sometimes just means grabbing things and piling them in our spare bedroom or storage room!), but for anyone that just drops by on a whim - let's hope they don't pass judgement!

4.  I don't let my child participate in every single activity she's interested in.  While I realize that there sometimes appears to be a rat-race to see whose child is the next biggest athlete/star/genius, I've made the choice that my daughter will not be vying for the title.  I want her to have a well-rounded education and to develop interests and talents but what I don't want is to become her personal taxi...driving from soccer practice to piano lessons to gymnastics and Brownies. our house, it's one weekly activity/sport per season.  With the weight of other obligations, I can't handle anything more.  If I tried, it might just push me and her over the edge!  And to think, I only have one child! 

Single or not, what are your own parenting confessions?  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's fat Tuesday...

Happy Mardi Gras, ya'll!

Growing up, Mardi Gras really had no meaning to me...I remember celebrating Fat Tuesday in my high school French class.  I heard of the crazy partying in New Orleans and the beads that people had to "earn."  But it wasn't really until my college years that I really learned the meaning behind the celebratory day.  And I learned about Ash Wednesday.  And Lent.

I was raised in a good ol' Southern Baptist Church and I'd never even heard of Lent!  But when I opted to attend Bellarmine University, a private Catholic university that sits on the hills of the Highlands neighborhood in Louisville, KY, one of the many things I would come to learn about would be the tradition of Lent.  Between my high school sweetheart, who was raised Catholic, and some of my newfound friends, I became educated in the Lenten tradition that first spring that I spent at Bellarmine.  And, although I had no plans to convert to Catholicism, the Lenten tradition made sense to me - God made the ultimate sacrifice by sending Jesus to die for me and my sins; I make a miniscule sacrifice over a short period of 40 days to remind me of the sacrifice that God made for me.  Plain and simple, yet powerful.  And thus began my appreciation for and participation in Lent.

This year, in the most simplest of terms, I tried to give my daughter an explanation of the "Fat Tuesday" celebrations and the meaning of Lent.  I asked her if she wanted to give up something.  And (bless her 6 year old heart!), she has chosen to give up our candy bowl, which she has affectionately renamed "the sugar bowl."  :)  A great sacrifice for a young child that eagerly looks forward to delving into some leftover Valentine/Christmas/Halloween/any-other-holiday-you-can-think-of candy every night after dinner.  So begins another tradition in our household...

As for me...I've thought long and hard about what I'm going to do this season.  I would like to say I'm giving up soda but I rarely drink soda anyway.  I could say I'm going to give up sweets/desserts but I rarely eat those too...and besides, we have several family birthdays that are coming up!  So here is what I've come up with...
  1. Techno-free Tuesdays.  A friend of mine mentioned that she knows a family that gives technology up each year during Lent.  Phew!  That's a long time to go without e-mail, iPhone, television, Facebook, texting, Pinterest, etc, etc, etc.  Just giving those things up one day a week is going to be challenging!  Especially going without the cell phone!  But it wouldn't be a sacrifice if it was going to be easy...I'll still keep my cell on me in case of emergencies but I am planning to make a concerted effort NOT to use it.
  2. Thankful Thursdays.  I recently read an article about John Kralik's journey through a year of giving thanks and the tremendous impact that the simple act of writing thank-you notes had upon his life, and the lives of others.  While I have yet to read Kralik's book, 365 Thank Yous, (it's on my to-read list!) his story was inspiring.  I don't always do the greatest job letting people know how much I appreciate them...this is going to be my opportunity.  (And, truth be told, maybe I'll write my "Thursday thank you notes" on Tuesday...since I won't have any technology to distract me on those days!)
Are you celebrating Lent?  If so, will you be doing any fasting or sacrificing?  I'd love to hear!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Booking It in February

I don't know about you, but I love to read.  And, as I mentioned in a recent post, I'm trying to make a concerted effort to make more time for the things I love to do.  So...less TV, more reading...and, oh, how I've forgotten just how much I really LOVE to read! 

I'm going to be Booking It in 2012 and as I'm doing so, I'll be sharing my current reads once a month.  I feel like I read a wide variety of books so please don't expect to see loads of books on single parenting...these are just books that I happen to be reading...and my thoughts and opinions on them.  You can feel free to take it or leave it but here goes...

 The Story: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People
I happened to be visiting my previous home-church in Louisville when they began a sermon series on this book.  And while I don't get to frequent that church very often since it's now an hour and a half away, I decided to join them and read along.  They will be covering one chapter each week so even with my crazy hectic life, I figure I can keep up with that pace!  The book is the Bible written based on NIV scriptures in a chronological format that reads much like a novel.  It's definitely a compelling way to hear one of the greatest stories of all time!

One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler
One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler
This book was actually the suggested book for January's edition of Booking It I'm a bit delayed in sharing my thoughts on it.  But I've opted to take a leisurely approach with this one...since author Tsh Oxenreider shares 52 ways to simplify life, I'm taking 52 weeks (or 1 year) to read through the book.  It makes it much more manageable for me to focus on one task each week.  And so far, so good...definitely some helpful pointers here!  And I think we all know that if anyone needs some help with simplifying life, it's us single parents!

The Hunger Games
When I started this one, it was SO hard to put down!  It's the first in The Hunger Games trilogy and I'm determined to finish the book before the movie hits theatres in March.  If you haven't started reading it and you enjoy a good fiction, I strongly recommend it!
My Single Mom Life: Stories and Practical Lessons for Your Journey 
 My Single Mom Life: True Stories and Practical Lessons for Your Journey
I LOVE this book!  I'm still not quite finished with it (shocking I'm sure, considering I've already listed 3 other books I'm reading!) but I really enjoy Angela Thomas' writing's like she's right there telling you her story in person.  She has an uncanny ability to make you laugh and cry and there are so many stories that she shares about her own journey that I can relate to!  Thomas is a Christian author and speaker and happens to have been a single mom not so long ago.  When I'm finished with this one, I plan on posting a full review to share more with you!
And lastly,
the February recommendation for Booking It, (which I have actually finished!)
The Money $aving Mom's Budget
Crystal Paine, who blogs at, shares her pointers on frugal living in 9 easy-to-read chapters.  While many of her principles are very basic, I found it to be a good refresher course.  I'm a huge proponent (and graduate) of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, but recently re-discovered my credit card and had a bit of a relapse.  So reading this book was really impeccable timing for me!  And thankfully, I didn't get too out of control with the credit card and will be paying it off this week (and promptly hiding it from myself to prevent future relapses!).  Yay!  Anyhow, even if you already have a good handle on your budget, Paine also offers some tips on goal setting and, maybe my favorite section, "embracing today" (which resonates with one of my previous posts).  But, if you cringe at the sound of the word budget or are truly living paycheck-to-paycheck and wondering how you're going to pay the next bill, this book is a great place to start!
So that's what I'm reading right now.  I'm curious to hear from any good books lately?  Do you have any more that I need to add to my "to read" list? 
 *This post is linked to*

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Searching for "The One"

Well, that lovely day is upon us...the one holiday that most of my single friends dread...

Single Awareness Day.  Also known as...Valentine's day. 

Last week I posted about loneliness.  But now I'm moving right on to the one thing (if you're at all like me), you pray will someday help to curb your lonely feelings - a relationship.  Before you can have a relationship, I think it's so important to first consider what you are looking for in a person.  If you go into a relationship blindly, it's like shopping without your shopping list - you bring home all kinds of things but find that when you put them all together there's nothing you can make. 

A friend of mine once suggested that I make a list of all of the qualities I'm looking for in my "Mr. Right".  She suggested that I refer to it each time I date someone.  I know it may sound silly know what?  I thought it was pretty genius!  So I made my list on a small index card and tucked it away in my Bible.  Because I don't know about the rest of you, but when I marry someone, I want them to be the real deal.  So if they don't qualify...well...they don't even make it past the interview, so to speak.  Maybe this is why I'm so particular about the guys that I date.  Maybe this is why so many guys that I have dated in the years since I've become a mother haven't made it past 1-2 dates.  Regardless, I am sticking to my guns on this one!

Image via StockArch.

Here are my qualifications for "The One":
  • Funny/Good sense of humor.  If he can't make me laugh (which if you know me, this is not necessarily a hard task!), he need not apply.
  • Loves God.  I want someone that can walk the walk and talk the talk.  I want to share church with someone.  And, most importantly, I want a relationship that can be built on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ.
  • Loves people.  I want someone that is thoughtful and cares...not just about me and my daughter, but about the world around them.  Whether it means striking up a conversation with a stranger or volunteering some time to a worthy cause, I want to date someone that wants to make a difference.
  • Honest.  No lies.  No cheating.  Period.
  • Motivated/driven.  He has to know what he wants in life and be willing to go out and get it.
  • Prays.  You may have heard the saying, "The family that prays together stays together."  I kinda believe it.
  • Family oriented.  We live in a fast-paced world where technology dominates not only our jobs, but also our personal lives.  It's so much easier to bring work home when you never get away from it between e-mail, cell phones, Internet, etc.  But my guy knows when to get away from work and focus on his family.
  • Passionate about life.  I don't want to live just any ordinary life.  I want to have fun, try new things, go places, and live life in the moment!  Hopefully I can find someone that can keep up!
As Valentine's day approaches, rather than wallowing in your sorrows of the single-parent life, get out and have some fun with your child(ren) that you're so blessed to have! 

And when you get home, think about the kind of person you're looking for and make your own list, tucking it away somewhere safe, for later reference. 

What are your qualifications for "The One"?  I'd love to hear them!

Happy V-day/Single Awareness Day!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

When loneliness calls...

"Since my baby left me, I found a new place to dwell
Down at the end of lonely street at heartbreak hotel
I get so lonely baby
I get so lonely, I get so lonely I could die"

"Hey there, lonely girl"

"But only the lonely
Know why I cry
Only the lonely"

"Ah ----- look at all the lonely people
Ah ----- look at all the lonely people"

"I've done alright up to now
It's the light of day that shows me how
But when the night falls, loneliness calls"

image via PhotoBucket

Musicians have such an uncanny ability to bring music to the feelings that so many of us experience.  Among those feelings...loneliness.

It almost seems uncomfortable for me to even say anything about loneliness because in writing this, I'm essentially admitting that, yes, I feel lonely.

Just the name of this blog references the loneliness that I feel like so many of us, as single parents, feel - the bouts of pain that we experience along our journey of solo parenting.  Because even in a world where single parenthood abounds, we can still feel "singled" out. 

The irony is that I've found that some people think we can't be lonely.  I've heard (more than once), "I know you're single but at least you have a child."  Unless you're walking in the shoes of a single parent, I'm not sure that you can really grasp this...but having a child is not the same as having a spouse.  A spouse is an adult companion.  And if you have children, a spouse typically shares responsibilities and participates in decision-making.  But us?  Well...we do it all.

For me, the sting of loneliness has lessened over the years.  But I still get struck by it from time to time.  Sometimes it even feels like I'm drowning in it.  It mostly strikes me at night, when my daughter has been tucked in.  I typically have the TV on for background noise in the living room as she's falling asleep; despite the noise of the TV, loneliness can still echo in my heart. 

I'm certainly no expert, but in case you're wondering, here's what I do to ease the loneliness:

"Make new friends, but keep the old"  (Sorry, couldn't help but throw another song lyric out there!)  I'm a pretty outgoing person.  For me, this one is simple.  Other people might have to try a little harder here.  But it's vital to have a good network of friends.  People that you can call when you feel lonely.  People that you can talk to about the loneliness.  People that know you so well, they know you're feeling down-and-out before you even speak of it.  People you can get together with and have some "grown-up" time (which I strongly believe we all need to keep our sanity!). 

Cry.  Ugghhh...I kinda hate this one.  But sometimes we all need to do it.  And so...I do.  Not often, but sometimes the tears just have to flow.  And when they do, sometimes I feel better afterwards.  I just need a minor pity party every now and then.  That's all.

Laugh.  Watch a funny movie.  Even better, watch a funny kid-friendly movie with your little one.  I find laughter coming much easier when my daughter is in stitches next to me!  Just the sound of a child's laughter is music to anybody's ears! 

Talk to other single parents.  Share your worries, your advice, your stories.  Vent.  And make plans to get-together sometime so you can combat the loneliness bug together!  If you don't know any other single parents, make it a mission to find some!  Not in a creepy, stalker sorta way...I don't recommend stopping just anyone with a child in tow that appears even remotely single.  But keep your eyes and ears open, because believe me - we are everywhere!  You could even check to see if your community has any sort of single parenting groups.  I found a wonderful peace when I went through a program at my church in Louisville called DayBreak: Encouragement for Single Moms.  And now, it's a program that I've had the privilege of helping to form in my smaller community.

Do something you love.  I love to organize and to craft.  Since my daughter was born, I rarely make time to do these things anymore.  In fact, if you saw my house, you certainly wouldn't guess that I enjoy organizing!  But I'm learning to make more time for these little things that make me happy.

Any other suggestions?  What do you do to fight the loneliness? 

And just for kicks, can anyone name all the songs that I've quoted?  :)