Relaxation

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Here I am. Lying on the floor……..

No, wait!

I’m in the lake doing the dead man’s float. The only other sound I hear is the sound of the water lapping at my ears and the sound of the birds nearby chirping in the trees……….

I wonder if the babysitter remembered to give my step-son his medicine this morning. I had better call her………

No, wait!  I’m supposed to still be floating in the lake!

Connnnncentrateeeee…….

I feel weightless……….Not a care in the world right now, just relaxing in the water, with only the sound of……

Snoring……

What the……

I open my eyes and just as I expect, my husband is sitting behind me with his arms cradled around my very large pregnant belly.

And he has fallen asleep in childbirth class during the relaxation exercise! I elbow him hard in the gut…..”REALLY!?” Is all I manage to say to him.

Relaxation…….ain’t nobody got time for that!

Our Bradley childbirth coach says relaxation is the most important tool to have at your disposal during natural labor and delivery.  I have tried everything I can think of to practice relaxation techniques, apparently this helps to perfect them. None of them seem to work.  It is extremely difficult for me to relax!

For instance, even on days when I am absolutely exhausted, it still takes me at least 30 minutes to fall asleep once I’m in bed.  My brain just will not shut off.  I am always thinking of things that need to be done, how much I dread going to work the next day, bills that need to be paid, a house that needs to be cleaned, my step-son’s ball practices and projects that we need to work on for school, etc.

The first thing our Bradley coach instructs us to do during relaxation exercises is to clear our mind.  So, I cannot even get past the first stage of the exercise.  Epic fail!

Needless to say, a wrench was thrown into my very detailed birth plan when I went to my 38 week checkup.  My blood pressure was through the roof.  They tried a few mild invasive ways of inducing my labor that did not work.  This should have been my first clue that my first born child was just as stubborn as I was.  They had no other choice than to start me on Pitocin.  They started off with a low dose, then gave me the max.  It still did not kick me into labor.  The only other options left were to try breaking my water.  If that didn’t work, I would have to have a C-Section.  My birth plan at this point was completely null and void.

The minute they broke my water, my entire stomach and back filled with excruciating sharp pain.  To try to describe it, is just impossible.  So, I’m not even going to try.

Okay……breathe…..clear your mind….HOLY $%#&!

I tried to convince myself that I could handle it.  If I can just have a minute or so from one contraction to the next…..OMG!!!!!!

Apparently not!  My contractions immediately went from non-existent a few minutes ago, to one right on top of the other.  The anesthesiologist could not get there fast enough.

Less than an hour later, my son was born.  I couldn’t help but think about how disappointed I was that nothing about this experience turned out the way I wanted it to.  Then, I saw his face and they placed his bare skin on my chest.

He was here.  He had all of his fingers and toes.  He had color.  Everything was as it should be.

Well, at least I got one thing I wanted out of my birth plan.  They didn’t whisk him away from me once he was born, they gave him immediately to me and told me I could hold him as long as I wanted and even try to breastfeed if I wanted to.

Without immediately realizing it, the point of ultimate relaxation hit me and I was at peace………

Then, this beautiful, perfect little being pooped all over me and him.  Well, so much for that………

Relaxation just isn’t our style.

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If I Could Have a Do-Over

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I’m not typically one who reflects much on the what ifs in life.  I’m also not one to dwell on mistakes that I’ve made in the past.  Time spent worrying about the past is truly one of the most pointless ways to waste present and future moments.  We cannot change the past.  Everyone has one.  Just because we have a past does not mean that we have to chain ourselves to it; that we allow ourselves to be defined by it.  We should not allow our past to rob us of our future, because it can and it will.  Even the most repulsive choices that we make have meaning and purpose.  The trick is that we must seek out the meaning behind it all and learn to embrace the lessons that come along with it.

It matters not that we have a past.  It’s what we choose to do with it.  Do we learn from it or do we simply keep making the same choices over and over again expecting a different result?  Change is a fundamental part of life.  We should not be the same today that we were ten years ago.  It always amuses me when I ask someone who is going through a divorce why they think their marriage didn’t work.  Too often, I have heard people say that their spouse changed; they were not the same person that they married.  Granted, I know that there are times in our lives when we do not necessarily change for the better.  Then again, maybe that is why, “for better or worse”, is a part of the vows.  Regardless, you get my point.

I am hoping that what I have to say will have some effect on some 20-something year old out there who is in a similar position as I was once upon a time.

At twenty years old, I had already been on my own for two years.  I would soon be reaching the end of my service obligation with the Army.  I had experienced things and matured more than most my age, but that didn’t keep me from making poor choices.  Most of my poor choices were made because I was in love with a boy.  Oh the things I would do for love!  Due to many factors that I won’t get into, I had a very distorted view of relationships at that age.  Unfortunately, it got me into some unhealthy situations emotionally, mentally, and physically.

At 18 years old, freshly arrived at my first duty station in the Army, I met the boy I would marry a year later.  I was the only female Military Police Officer in my unit, therefore, it was my job to process all female detainees that were arrested.  I can still remember the first day that I had to respond to a shoplifting call at the Post Exchange.  (For you non-military folks, the Post Exchange is a lot like Walmart minus the grocery side.)  I had not even been issued my gear at this point, because I had just arrived at my duty station a couple of days ago.  When I showed up at the station, this tall, blonde, dashing looking Specialist quickly took interest in me and was more than happy to let me borrow his gear to respond to the shoplifting call.  As he was pinning the brassard on my sleeve, he asked me if I knew how to properly frisk a suspect.  Of course I knew how to perform a proper search, but it was the first time I would do it officially and not as a trainee; I hesitated.  He pounced on it, “Stop by my barracks later and I’ll show you the proper technique.”  At this, the Sergeant standing next to him punched him in the arm quite hard and I’m sure he was seething at the thought of having to be involved in a sexual harassment issue with the new Private.  Lucky for them, I simply took the comment for what it was; that boy was hitting on me and he was cute!

It’s a very cute story, I know.  But, we were young and dumb.  He wanted to enjoy being young and dumb, and I fell for him; I fell for him really hard.  He didn’t treat me very good, he always spent all of our money, drank a lot, hung out at the bar with every free ounce of time that he had, and yes he even cheated on me.  He never, ever told me I was beautiful, or even pretty. Yet, I stayed.  I even married him, knowing deep down that we were all wrong for each other.  I just couldn’t bring myself to walk away from him.  He was not a bad guy and was not a bad person.  All we were focused on was that we loved each other and we thought it would be enough.  It wasn’t.

Fast forward a couple of years to when I met my son’s father.  There were many warning signs, and I chose to ignore them all.  There are so many stories I could share about him, but even now, after we’ve been divorced for three years, it is still painful to talk about.  Everyone thought we were perfect for each other.  He was the master of manipulation and I do take comfort in the fact that it was not just me who was fooled by him.  I genuinely thought he was my soul-mate.  It nearly killed me when he left.

I learned something through both of these failed marriages.  I learned a lot about myself, and I learned a lot about love.  My biggest mistake in both of these marriages was that I lost myself.  I let myself become wrapped up completely in both of these men.  Everything in my life revolved around them.  With the first, I tried everything I could to make him love me the way that I wanted him to.  I chose to marry him and put my own dreams on hold.  I had the opportunity to reenlist in the Army and go to investigations school.  The retention Sergeant handed me everything I asked for, plus offered me a promotion to stay.  I turned it down because I knew I would lose him if I took it.  With the second marriage, I went from a carefree single life with no responsibilities, to a family in a very short time.  He had a son from his first marriage and his relationship with his ex-wife was volatile.  I was constantly in the middle of and the subject of their fights.  He came with a lot of baggage and a lot of debt that he had no way of paying.  Within a month of dating, we had moved in together.  He was in a bad place and I was all he had, or at least that’s what he lead me to believe.  I gave up everything that I was; everything I wanted and dreamed and replaced it with what they wanted and what they needed.

You should not EVER have to give up who you are to be with someone else.  Love is meant to enhance our life’s experience, not leave us feeling empty, broken, and used.  Of course, we can’t be in a relationship with someone and not be willing to make some sacrifices.  But, it is impossible to always be the giver in a relationship, just as it is impossible to always be the taker.  It must be balanced.  Real love is when a partner knows your dreams and does everything they can to make them a reality.  They encourage you to achieve them, not hinder you or discourage you. Sometimes we have to love ourselves enough to know when to walk away.  I didn’t love myself enough.  If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is that we really do teach people how to treat us.  If we constantly lower our standards, bend our principles, and don’t love and respect ourselves, nobody else will either.  Anyone can say that they love you, but it’s when the rubber meets the road that we find out just how much.  Don’t let someone else dictate and control your choices.  You are beautiful.  You are worthy of love and respect.  You deserve happiness.  Be the you that you want and need to be.

 

10 Things that Suck about being a Single Mom over 30

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With Valentine’s Day looming around the corner, I decided to make a post in honor of the lovesick holiday.  I never quite understood the significance of Valentine’s Day.  I guess I just have this idea that when you love someone, you should show them every day how much they mean to you, not just put on the dog and pony show for an anniversary, birthday, or Valentine’s Day.  I mean, sure….I totally understand that we can’t live each and every day in a state of bliss with our partners because of work, kids, and other responsibilities that we must take care of on any given day.  However, I think that telling and showing others that we love them should be a top priority to us and not just assume that those we care about know how we feel.   We truly show others that we love them when we invest in them.  We all know that investments have a better payoff when consistent deposits are made over an extended period of time.  Relationships are no different.

Naturally, it is around holidays like Valentine’s Day when I am reminded of the things that I miss most about being in a relationship.   While most of my posts are touchy feely, I figured I would let everyone see my sarcastic humor as well.  So, without further ado this is my list of the top ten things that suck about being a single mom over 30:

10.  Trying to put lotion on your back.

Okay….so once upon a time I could put lotion on my back by myself with no problems.  All of a sudden, I’ve noticed that I am unable to reach the middle part of my back!  What is up with that?  I seriously just noticed this annoyance the other day.  Speaking of moisturizing….when did my skin start to feel like a dried up prune in the winter time?  I swear my skin sucks up lotion worse than Obama sucks the life out of the economy.

9.  You ever tried cooking for one?

Yeah, I know, technically, I am cooking for two since I have my son.  My problem is that the boy doesn’t eat!  I swear, my child has weighed the same since he was about 9 months old.  He keeps getting taller, but has no meat on his bones.  “But you have a lot of leftovers!”  I know, right?  You try eating the same dish three days in a row and tell me how excited you are to eat it again.

8.  Everyone trying to play matchmaker

You know who you are!  I have no problem with people setting me up on dates, but, there are rules.  Don’t just give my name, number, email, etc. out to some random person without giving me a heads up first.  Also keep in mind that I am a single mother.  If you are trying to set me up with someone who just broke up with someone else, does not have a steady job, has constant baby-momma-drama with their ex, or is twice my age, please…..DON’T!!!  I know you all have the best intentions and are just trying to help me find that special someone, but I do have standards.  Here is a good rule of thumb:  If you wouldn’t date them, I can promise you that I wouldn’t either.  I am not that desperate and I am content to remain single until I find someone who can meet my standard.  After all, they are not that high.

7.  Being the go-to babysitter

When someone wants to go out on Valentine’s Day and not have to pay for a sitter, they always know I’m a sure thing.

6.  All of your friends are married

Yes….even the ones who aren’t that happily married are still married.  Even if they don’t make sense as a couple, it makes sense economically and logistically.  Trying to have a night out with friends suddenly takes on a pain that can be worse than a hemorrhoid.  Of course, they have to clear it with the spouse/significant other, be home at a decent hour typically, and make/receive several phone calls just to check in.  Sometimes for extra fun all of your married friends will invite you to go out only to realize when you get there that you are the only one who doesn’t have a date…..fantastic.

5.  Household fixer uppers

I know ladies…..we moan and complain about men a lot!  For instance, one of the things that used to drive me up the wall about my ex is that he did not comprehend the purpose of a laundry basket.  We had laundry baskets in the bathrooms, bedrooms, and (duh) the laundry room.  Where would he put his dirty clothes?  On top of the laundry basket because it was apparently way too much effort to lift the lid to throw the clothes in there, or on his side of the bed in the floor.  I do not have to explain to you the many torturous things I fantasized about doing to him on laundry days; I’m sure you get it!

Fast forward to the present and I will tell you that there are days, no matter how few they are, when I do miss having a man around the house.  Particularly the ones who know how to use a hammer and screw driver.  If yours knows how to use a power tool, even better!  One that knows how to change the oil in a car and do basic preventative maintenance, worth his weight in gold!

4.  Nobody to share bills with

While this has always been a trial to overcome since day one of becoming a single mother, no other time that I can recall has been as frightening as when I received the last two utility bills.  I get that everyone is experiencing the same thing, however, it is not just a gripe from my perspective.  Consider that the paycheck that I bring home is less than what two people working minimum wage jobs make.  At least you have someone to help carry the load when you have a spouse or live with your significant other and you’re hit with a $450.00 utility bill.  And for the love of Pete, please don’t gripe to me about how broke you are!  I love each and every one of you who reads my blog, but if I hear you complain about being broke, it makes me want to Judo chop you in the throat unless you are in the same or similar boat that I am in.

3.  Balancing the checkbook

I’ll admit it.  I loathe managing finances.  This has actually gotten worse since becoming single.  Now, instead of trying to figure out where all the leftover money needs to go, I’m trying to figure out where I’m going to get all the money needed to make ends meet.  My solution is to not balance the checkbook.  Why stress myself out by putting in black and white what I already know….there are no leftovers.

2.  The only person to be affectionate with is your 5-year old son who thinks girls have cooties

1.  Lack of Intimacy

Yep….even a 30-something single mom has needs folks!  I will spare you anymore details.  You’re welcome!

 

Infinite Love

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“Mommy can I sleep with you?”  The question doesn’t come very often, typically because he already knows the answer. I think about the question longer than I should. Once he sees my hesitation, he pounces on it. Here come the tears, and he begins to lay it on thick. We’re both exhausted. He hasn’t had a nap today, and I decide that it just isn’t worth the fight. “Yes, Lucas. You can sleep with me tonight, but you are sleeping in your own bed tomorrow. Dry it up and lay down. If you start the picking, digging, flipping and flopping, I will send you to your room, understand?”

This boy takes forever to fall asleep, he definitely gets that from me.  What he does not get from me is this habit of his in which he sings and fidgets himself to sleep.  Even when he does go to sleep, he talks, laughs, and sometimes cries in his sleep, depending on the dream.  Even in a separate bedroom, I can hear this because I am such a light sleeper myself.  Sleeping next to him is pretty much impossible for me, which is one of the reasons that I do not let him sleep with me often.

As we are both lying there, he manages to stay still and quiet for a few minutes.  I feel his little hand touch my cheek and pat it ever so gently.  Then, he starts to stroke my hair.  He places his hand on my cheek again and just holds it there.  I open my eyes and stare into his brown eyes, and he smiles that big grin that makes the dimples underneath his eyes appear.  I feel my heart begin to melt, and I can’t help but smile back.  He leans in closer and gives me a sweet little kiss.  “I love you, Mommy; I love you infinity.”  “I love you infinity, Lucas.”  As I expect, he replies, “I love you infinity times infinity.”  “I love you infinity times infinity, Lucas.”

He knows just how to butter me up so that he can commence to talk until he falls asleep.  He expresses to me how he hopes that Sandy gets to him before Pitch does so that he doesn’t have bad dreams.  He talks about school and his friends, how he wishes it were summer and how fast his new running shoes allow him to run.  He tells me he will buy me a new pair of sunglasses when he gets big since I broke mine the other day and promises that he will clean his room tomorrow.  Then, he talks about our house in Alabama, the brick one, his dog Beau, his brother, and that he misses his dad and wishes that he could see him.

No matter how many times the subject is brought up, it’s the same effect.  That same familiar feeling of anger, sorrow, and guilt creeps up in the pit of my stomach.  I want so badly to say what I think and how I feel, but I don’t.  As I am thinking to myself that his dad is selfish and ultimately won’t come see him, call him, or do right by him because it would be an inconvenience, I kiss my son on the forehead and instead provide words of comfort and tell him that I’m sure his dad misses him too.  As I begin to choke on the emotions of resentment and bitterness, I swallow it up.  This is a precious moment between me and my sweet, innocent 5-year old.  I refuse to let the crappy choices his dad made haunt or ruin this moment between me and my son.  I’m a better mom than that.  We snuggle, I kiss him and pat his back as he hums himself to sleep.

I lie awake, staring at his sweet little face, envious of his innocence and those long eyelashes.  I can’t fully understand how it is possible to love him as much as I do.  All I know is that I would do absolutely anything for him.  I know that if there were ever a time when I was faced with a life or death situation, I would die for him without hesitation.  I cannot imagine what life would be like without him.  I try to wrap my head around how I would have coped these last few years had I not had him with me.  He has kept me going when I felt like I had no other reason to.  When my motivation bottoms out and my give a damn is broken, he is what keeps me pushing forward.  He keeps me on the straight and narrow, without even realizing that he is doing it.

I often wonder why I’ve been trusted to do the task of parenting on my own.  But, I have learned that I can trust myself to do a good job.  My son keeps me grounded.  I am his mother and I refuse to do a mediocre job of it.  If that means that I have to bite my tongue and speak nicely about his dad, I’ll do that.  After all, if I chose the other route, the only person I would really be hurting is my son.  I couldn’t live with myself if I hurt him just to try and make myself look superior or to try and feel vindicated.  My son comes first and that means that I have to set the example that I want him to follow.

I’m sure he will have questions about his childhood and his dad as he gets older and understands more, but one thing that I never want him to question is that I love him more than life itself.  I love him more than I dislike his dad.  Therefore, I vow to not be the voice of negativity when he wants to talk about him.  In everything that I do, my son and his best interest is always at the forefront of my mind.  I think that is more profound than any negative statistic that I have read about children who grow up in fatherless homes.

Welcome 2014!

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I’m going to start by saying that I did not ring in the New Year as I had planned at all!  In fact, I did  not even make it to midnight.  I spent New Year’s Eve on the couch, slathered in Vick’s Vapor Rub, nestling a mug of chicken broth between my hands.  At least I got to snuggle up next to my favorite guy.  Of course, he is sick too, so both of us ended up being party poopers.  The flu decided to visit our house last Friday and apparently has decided not to acknowledge that it has worn out it’s welcome.

In between naps, medication, and fever-induced hallucinations, I have only managed to put minimal effort toward my list of New Year’s Resolutions.  With my current state of health, I’m certainly not getting a good start to the year in accomplishing any of them, and to be honest, I really don’t give a squat.  I was just sitting here examining my list this morning, thinking to myself that mine is probably very similar to everyone else’s.  At the top of my list is to lose this last 10 pounds.  Following behind is to read 10 books that I haven’t read before, stick to my diet, be a better parent, read the Bible from cover to cover, stop swearing, and start a blog. Well, at least I’ve completed one.

I’m not sure whether it was my current state of cynicism that brought about my next realization, or whether it was just my brain coming to some sort of reality out of this flu-induced fog.  I realized, after reflecting on my list of resolutions, that I am striving for perfectionism.  Well, perfectionism for myself anyways.  My idea of perfection is to be 140 pounds, look good in a bikini, be intelligent and independent, be the best mother on the planet, and to have a personality like the Virgin Mary or Mother Theresa.   While this would certainly not be my complete list of attributes that are important in achieving perfectionism, I believe they are the main ones that I think are lacking in order for me to be perfect in my own eyes.  

This really got me thinking.  Where did this idea come from that we all have to be “perfect?”  Think about it.  Whether consciously or subconsciously, we are obsessed with perfectionism.  I think it is safe to say that every woman is self-conscious; of course, some are more so than others.  I have known so many friends, co-workers, even relatives that I have thought were breathtakingly beautiful and am always surprised when I hear them talk to me about what they feel to be imperfections.  Some think their arms are too fat, their boobs too small, the list goes on and on.  

Why do we always feel as if we aren’t good enough?  Why do we always focus on changing so much about who we are?  Take parenting, for instance.  I feel guilty because I know I’m not the best parent I could be.  Being a single parent not only increases the challenges, but also has increased the guilt I feel, even though this was not my choice.  Not all the time, but periodically, I battle my own inner demons on how I measure up as a mom.  Like many other moms, I also work.  I have to.  I don’t have the option of staying at home with my child.  Every aspect of managing my household and raising my child is on my shoulders.  I don’t get the luxury of having a husband to help with bills, cleaning, cooking, laundry, or taking care of Lucas.  I know all of this, yet I still feel guilty when I’m not the picture perfect vision of a mother.  I don’t get to buy him what he wants at the store, or take him to the movies as often as he or I would like, because we are on a very tight budget.  I struggle to make myself go to the gym sometimes after work because I feel guilty about not having been with him all day.  I don’t get to spend as much quality time with him as I would like.  Whether I like it or not, I have other responsibilities that have to be handled too.  For my own sanity and well-being, that also includes making some time for myself.  That’s something that we don’t talk about a lot…..Moms and dads, or just people in general needing time for themselves.  

We feel guilty because we are constantly looking outside of ourselves for the answers.  We look through the pages of a magazine to find beauty tips to make ourselves prettier.  Working moms feel insufficient compared to stay-at-home moms; and stay-at-home moms yearn for someone to understand that they are more than “just a mom.”  How do we choose to deal with these feelings of guilt?  By pointing the finger at someone else’s “short-comings” to distract us from our own.  We are constantly comparing ourselves to others. Why do we worry so much about what someone else is doing?  What’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander.  We shouldn’t be judgmental of others just to make us feel good about ourselves.  

I think that we should all have goals and standards, but we should start small and make sure that they are achievable.  Striving for perfection is only going to leave us disappointed and feeling like failures at the end of the day.  So, that being said, my resolution to myself this year is to leave myself room for error.  I’m not going to worry about tomorrow, next week, or a year from now.  My focus is for me to take things as they come.  I am not Mother Theresa, and I never will be…..and you know what?  That is okay!  I’m not supposed to be.  I’m not the best mother, but I’m sure this sickly little boy laying on the couch beside me sure thinks that I am.  At the end of the day, the end of the year, and even at the end of this journey we call life; that will be enough for me.  Happy New Year everyone!