Saturday, April 21, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: S

S = Strength

Strength.  This is a word that made my stomach turn when I first became a single mom.  I had so many friends who told me that they weren't worried about me or that they knew I'd be okay because I am "stronger than I realize".  Literally, I got told that so many times that it came to a point where I was concerned I would fly into a homicidal rage toward the next person who said it.  You know what?  It was true!  I really am stronger than I initially realized.  I'm also more resourceful than I knew I was.  By feeling more secure in my ability to meet mine and my son's needs without having to rely on a significant other, I feel like I'm a stronger person.  I feel more capable and that makes me more independent.  I am also aware of the fact that I pull strength from my friends and family.  Initially, I felt that by allowing my friends and family to help support me through these tough times, that it somehow only lent me artificial strength.  I was under the false impression that in order to have real strength, I needed to somehow bear the burden on my own.  This could not be any further from the truth.  Any strength that you gain from any positive source (i.e. "liquid courage", a.k.a. alcohol, is not a positive source of strength!) is still strength. 

What are your sources of strength?  How have you found strength during tough times?

Friday, April 20, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: R

R = Relaxation

Aaaah. . .that beautiful (yet, elusive) word. . . RELAXATION.  While I most definitely do not get an opportunity to relax as often as I would like, I also recognize that it is important to take some time to relax and rewind whenever possible.  There are always a million things that "need to get done" but I have to find time to relax for my sanity.  I'm a better mom when I have had a moment to rest and recharge myself.  Sure, it might mean that the dishes don't get done right away or there are dust bunnies (more like dust buffalos!) hiding in my corners but I am learning that those things don't matter nearly as much as a happy kid who is well adjusted and a Mommy who has some modicum of sanity left. 

What do you do to relax? 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: Q

Q = Quiet

I'm finding that having a dose of quiet time each day. . .or whenever I can manage to find it!. . . has been both very therapuetic and very scary for me.  Having pure peace and quiet even if for a short time is a foreign concept to me.  I'm always on the go.  Always having something else to work on or try to get checked off the to-do list.  Therefore, when I find myself with some quiet time, I don't fully know what to do with it.  Also, it scares me.  When its quiet, my brain has an opportunity to slow down and think about all of those things that often times get pushed to the back.  You know, those things that I push away because I don't "have time" to deal with it at that moment.  In reality, I just don't want to think about it.  Maybe it hurts too bad.  Maybe it makes me angry.  Maybe it's embarassing.  Whatever it is, I try to avoid having to deal with it.  Having quiet makes it come to the front.  It forces me to deal with it.  That's a scary thing.  But, it's necessary in order for me to process the things that I have going on right now.  It's necessary in order to start/continue the healing process. 

So, how do you find quiet?  What do you do with it? 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: P

P = Phenomenal Woman

Today's post is slightly different than other posts in this challenge.  Today, I'm posting a poem written by Maya Angelou which I have always found to be very inspirational to me.  It's true that I'm a sappy and emotional person but this poem strikes me on the deepest level of my being.  I truly admire Maya Angelou and can remember "borrowing" an autobiography book that she wrote from my mom and reading it when I was quite young (12ish?) and being in awe of the struggles that she overcame in her life. 

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
-Maya Angelou-

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: O

O = Optimistic

This post falls on the most perfect (or ironic?) of days.  You see, I'm having a breast biopsy done in a couple of hours to try to get to the bottom of a health issue (scare) that I've been dealing with for the last few weeks.  During a routine OB-GYN appt, my doctor found a lump in one of my breasts that she was concerned about.  So, she ordered an ultra sound.  Coming from a family of women who seem to have the lumpies and bumpies in the chest bump area, I tried not to be too concerned.  Plus, I didn't have a million other things already going on in my hectic life or anything (sarcasm).  However, at the ultrasound for the boobie bump issue, I learned that the initial lump that landed me in the ultrasound hot seat actually wasn't anything to worry about.  Whew! 

However, there was something that they found that they are concerned about.  It's a solid mass that was hiding behind the non-issue cluster of cysts that my doctor originally felt and sent me off to get checked out.  So, today, I'm back for a biopsy.  I'm trying to be optimistic.  Let's put it this way: In my opinion, I have two choices in this matter. . .I can either freak the freak out and spend my time fretting over what may never happen OR I can try to positively self talk myself into believing that I'm fine and that I have no reason to worry until the doctor delivers news that there is, in fact, reason to worry.  I'm trying really hard to stay in the space of the latter.  That's not to say that I didn't have a mini freak out session this morning. . .because I did.  That's not to say that I didn't stare at a picture of my precious Baby Bear this morning and wonder if today was going to be a day that changed my life forever. . .because I did.  And, that's not to say that I didn't go through my filing cabinet last night just to reassure myself that I was appropriately covered by enough life insurance just in case anything were to come of it. . . .because I did.  But, now that I've done all of those things, I hope I can focus on just getting through today and figuring out what this thing is.  Right, wrong, or indifferent. . .I keep telling myself that 29 year olds don't have major breast issues and that this "mass" has no choice but to be benign.  How's that for being optimistic? 

Have you ever faced something that was scary and uncertain?  How did you get through it? 

Monday, April 16, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: N

N = Now

As in, Live in the NOW.  I've spent a lot of time and energy during my lifetime living in the past.  Hung up on things that have happened in the past.  Reliving and Rehashing them.  It is with the help of my friends and therapist that I have started to realize that you can never relive the past so there's no use trying.  You can't change it.  All you can do is live in and focus on what's happening right NOW.  This is alot easier said than done.  After all, I have things in my past that have caused me a lot of hurt and angst.  Things which aren't all that easy to just "heal" from and put away forever.  The worst thing that I can do (and I've learned this the hard way) is to put something away and not allow myself to heal before trying to move forward.  However, by not living in the NOW, I'm bypassing too many opportunities to experience joy and the great things that my blessed life has to offer. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: M

M = Motivation

This post today is going to be very short.  Motivation.  Here is a short (read: NOT all-inclusive!) visual list of what motivates me:

The T man. . .he motivates me to get out of bed on those mornings where I'm sure that its impossible to do so.  He motivates me to work harder, push through it, and provide him with the best life that I possibly can. 

I'm not going to lie, I'm totally motivated by money.  Anyone who says that they aren't is either lying or has too much of it.  Money buys stuff and stuff makes my life easier.  It's true, money may not buy happiness. . .but having some of the conveniences in life that having money makes possible does make me happier.  I'm nothing if not brutally honest.  Money = Motivation in my book.  More Money = More Motivation.  Easy Squeezy.

The beach. . .the sand. . .the water. . .the sun. . .it motivates me.  It revives me.  It rejuvenates me.  And in many cases, it burns me.  Well, the sun does.  But, I am motivated by it, nonetheless.  

What motivates you? 

Friday, April 13, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: L

L = Let Go

Over the last few months, I have learned that letting go of the hurt and anger is a very long and difficult process but that eventually, it's important that I find a way to let it go.  I have come to the realization that holding on to that much negativity only hurts my own well being.  Allowing myself to feel the pain and anger of what I'm going through allows me to start my healing process.  It sounds counter-intuitive,  I know, but both my mom (a mental health professional) and my therapist have advised me not to try to rush through it.  Take the time that I need to process the emotions.  Believe it or not, following their advice has made the healing process (so far, at least) alot easier.  I'm not going to lie, it sucks.  IT SUCKS BAD!  To basically force yourself not to reach for the band aid (whatever your "band aid" of choice might be) when you're feeling the worst pain you've ever felt.  It takes time for the pain and anger to subside enough that you can see clearly but when you can, it's amazing.  It really is alot easier to start letting go of the painful emotions and negativity in your life when you've given yourself the time to really feel them and process them. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: K

K = Knowledge

"Knowledge is Power".  That's a quote that I've heard several times throughout my life and it never had as great of an impact on me as it has in the last few months.  When D. moved out and we were during one of our periods where we weren't speaking or seeing each other, I started to realize that there were alot of things that I relied on him for.  Whether it was fixing something around the house or just having a second opinion on something, I relied on him alot.  At some point, I made a vow to stop letting that dependence on him run my life.  I needed to start finding the answers to whatever questions that I would have asked him or figuring out how to do things on my own.  That is when I began harnessing the power of that little thing called the internet.  What a big bad world of power that little gem is!  In the past few months, YouTube and have been my buddies!  I've gained a new sense of independence and strength that I didn't have before but I've also gained knowledge.  I'm finding that I'm less stressed out because all the knowledge that I need can likely be found just by Googling whatever the issue is.  It's true. . .Knowledge IS Power!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: J

J = Joy

Being a single mother brings alot of challenges.  There's no question there.  While I wouldn't wish for anyone to find themselves a single parent unless it is specifically what they want, there is also a lot of joy in being in this situation, you just have to find it.  For one, I'm alot stronger than I ever imagined I could be.  I find joy in this.  I have found joy in being able to accomplish tasks that I might have otherwise asked Ty's father to complete for me.  There is also a lot of joy in the one on one time that I get to spend with my son.  He has these moments of pure sweetness that I just adore and he typically only brings them out with me.  When he's around his dad, he acts all macho and "manly" but with me, he sometimes lets that act slip and shows mommy what a softie he is on the inside.  I've also found joy in the fact that I can run everything in my household again.  If I don't want to do laundry. . .I don't.  If I don't want to pick up after myself. . .I don't.  If I want to eat oreos for dinner. . . I do. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: I

I = Instinct

There's not a whole lot that I can say about this other than. . .you've got them, you need to trust them.  We were blessed with instincts and too many times, we overrule our instincts.  Being cheated on by my son's father proved to me that I need to trust my instincts.  In my head, I already knew I was being cheated on.  There were too many signs.  I allowed my heart to overrule my head and my instincts.  "He wouldn't do that to me". . . "He loves me". . . Instincts told me what was going on but I didn't want to believe them.  I sure as hell do now.  After all, it was instinct that drove me to get into my car and drive to his house the night that I caught him cheating on me.  Instinct told me that he was lying about where he was.  Instinct told me that I needed to find out once and for all. 

Trust your instincts. . .they (YOU) know more than you think! 

Monday, April 9, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: H

H = Healing

Healing from those things which have hurt us in the past.  I am in an extended period of healing right now.  There are a number of things which have hurt me and have caused wounds/scars in my past.  Some of these things, I have dealt with very quickly and have healed easily.  Some of them, however, have been long lasting wounds which have caused a delayed healing.  For example, I was sexually abused when I was a child by a non-family member.  This abuse went on for three agonizing years.  Once I did speak up (at the age of 12 or so), I was immediately put into counseling by my mom.  I can't remember exactly how long I attended counseling but it seemed like a short amount of time.  I quickly moved past the abuse and went about my teenage years thinking that it was behind me.  It wasn't.  It wasn't until I was an adult that the lasting effects of the abuse came back to wedge itself into my personal life.  It affected my self image, my relationships and trust in people, and my sexual relationships with the men in my life.  Rather than be promiscuous like some sexual abuse survivors are prone to doing, I became extremely closed off.  I didn't trust people not to hurt me so I had extreme difficulties with the most intimate of activities.  It took years of therapy and individualized work to begin the healing process from that experience that I had as a child.  Even now, 20+ years later, I still won't go as far as to say that I'm completely healed from that experience but I can say that I've put it behind me.  Unfortunately, there are other things in my life that I'm working on being able to heal from. 

Throughout all of these experiences, I have come to realize that healing is something that only you can do for yourself.  Yes, there are therapists, friends, and family who can help you through the process.  But, you cannot heal from anything until you are ready to do so.  Until you have opened yourself up to healing.  Healing also takes time.  Time has sometimes been my worst enemy.  I'm an instant gratification type gal.  I don't like to wait for things.  I have come to (somewhat) understand that I can't rush the process.  Another really shitty point to it is that there is no timeline.  Nobody can tell you how long it will take.  It takes as long as it takes and you just have to be patient.  Difficult for someone like me.  I don't do patient very well.  I'm learning.  I want to heal bad enough that I'm learning how to be patient. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: G

G = Grateful

Grateful for what I do have vs. what I don't.  Sure. . .I don't have a lovingly devoted hunky husband that comes home to me every night and helps me cook dinner while helping our insanely gorgeous children do their homework, I don't have insanely gorgeous children ("children" = plural, I only have one insanely gorgeous child), I don't have a huge house with fine furniture and expensive cars in the driveway, I don't have the pleasure of taking luxurious vacations in exotic locales, I don't have a never ending flow of money,. . .I don't have a lot of things.  And the fact that I don't have these things isn't specifically because I'm single or a single mom.  It's just a fact of life.  But, I do have a lot of really great things in my life.  It's for those things that I'm grateful.  I have my moments where I get down on myself (we all do, don't we?) and labour over the things that I don't have  But, for the most part, I make a choice to be grateful for what I do have.  I'm much happier when I focus on those things instead of what I feel that I'm lacking in my life.  After all, I could one day find that lovingly devoted hunky husband to make those insanely gorgeous other children with, but he could be dirt poor and then I still wouldn't have the other stuff that I don't currently have.  So, what's the point?

Friday, April 6, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: F

F = Forgiveness

I'm sure you thought I was going to choose "Finances" for this letter, right?  I mean, the other side of the blog is basically dedicated to money and how to make less of it go further.  But, I figured I'd mix it up a little bit.  Plus, I can talk about money all day long any day.  Today, on the lone day of the week that starts with F, I want to focus on Forgiveness. 

Forgiveness is a concept that I'm not entirely sure I've understood very well up until now.  I've always heard the term "Forgive & Forget" so I always just kind of thought of those two concepts as existing in tandem.  It wasn't until recently that I realized that this just isn't the case.  Its possible to forgive without forgetting.  I am just now coming to the full emotional realization of what this means. 

It's not secret to anyone who knows me well that D. and I have had our issues for years.  I understand that most of you who have been following this blog since its inception don't even have the full story yet.  I've put out there the very beginning of our relationship story and then one post dedicated to something that was discovered in the recent past.  Would you believe me if I said that there's even more recent history that may possibly indicate that we could move past the crazy shit that I walked in on?  Yeah, I'm not sure I fully believe it either. Trust me when I tell you that our relationship is hard for even me to understand so I can't begin to think that anyone else could understand it. 

Anyways, after being hurt by D. on a level that even I'm not sure I fully comprehend on most days, I'm starting to understand what it means to have the ability to Forgive.  The journey down this incredibly screwed up road has taught me that I'm not in this thing alone.  I also didn't get to where I'm at on this journey without some action and culpability myself.  Don't get me wrong here, I'm not excusing or even forgiving anything that D. has done.  What he did and what I walked in on was an act of true selfishness and betrayal.  However, I feel strongly that he didn't get to the point where he made the decisions that he made on that ill fated night alone.  Our relationship had been struggling for quite some time and I'm not without my share of responsibility in that.  Did he have other options?  Yes.  Could he have spoken up and officially broken off the relationship? Absolutely.  Do I think he's an immature asshat for doing what he did?  You bet your ass I do.  I'm not at all saying that it takes two for one partner to cheat on the other (well, technically, I suppose it does take two people. . .but, you get what I'm saying, right?) and I'm in no way saying that every scorned woman (or man?!) who has been cheated on should do some self reflection to identify their own responsibility in their partners' infidelities.  Nope, that's not it.  What I'm saying is that in my relationship, I had a part in allowing our relationship to become as caustic as it was.  The cheating is all on D.. . he made that choice and I won't own any part of that.  And in some ways, on some days, I idolize that Bobbit lady who cut off her ex's schlong.  I have a newfound respect for her.  But, I can't honestly say that when the cheating occured that our relationship was all sunshine and roses either.  We were in a rough place.  Not the kind of place that was causing me to go out and seek anything with anyone else but that's my own ethics at play.  D's moral code is obviously more questionable than mine.  And he's obviously not that bright if he thought he'd get away with it. 

With all that being said, I'm in the process now of realizing that forgiveness isn't for the person who has done wrong.  It's for the person who is still harboring the hate, hurt, resentment, or otherwise toxic feelings that come along with being wronged.  I'm not seeking forgiveness to set D's heart or head free, I'm doing it for my own.  I don't want to live the rest of my life with all of that toxicity in my space.  So, I'm seeking out the path to forgiveness so that I can be set free. 

As far as forgetting. . .not a chance in hell.  I'll never forget what he did.  There aren't enough environmentally unfriendly chemicals existing in this world at this time that could erase that from my memory.  Some days, I wish for Alzheimers.  Until then, I have wine. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thank God for (Not Always So) Little Blessings

As I have started to settle into this Single Mom thing, I've started really paying attention to the situations of other single moms (Note to Single Dads: Dude, I get that you guys are out there.  Hell, if you're reading my blog, I'm THRILLED.  I mean absolutely no disrespect in always referring to something as a "single mom" issue, but for me, that's what it is.  I'm sure you encounter many of the same issues as us single gals.  And for that, we love you.  We respect you.  And we beg for your forgiveness.  Thanks!) around me.  Right now, I'm being more observant than participatory in nature but I'm noticing that even though our "situation" of being a single mom might be shared, our actual situations with our baby daddy (or daddies?) are all very different.  So, in trying to find something positive to post in what feels like a very unpositive time in my life, I will share this.  A list of the sometimes tiny, sometimes not so tiny blessings in my single mom life right now:

  • My son loves his father and his father loves him.  There's no denying that.
  • D. does not try to back out of his parental duties and would (and has!) gladly taken our son on extra days whenever I've asked (maybe to study, go out of town for work, or just have the occasional night out with girlfriend whose custody/visitation schedule is opposite of mine) and his schedule has allowed
  • He's involved--whether that be as the football coach, Scout Leader, MVP (Men Volunteering @ P******- the school where my son goes) member, or all around Daddy of the Year, he's active and involved in our son's life.
  • He doesn't tolerate Ty disrespecting me--even though D. finds no fault whatsoever in disrespecting me in front of Ty, he at least steps in whenever Ty is being especially sassy, disrespectful or just an all-around Pain in the Ass.  At times, I feel like D. is underestimating my ability to handle my own son, but I know think that he's doing it more from the place where he knows that boys shouldn't treat women that way.  Great job, Mama to the D. . you did a wonderful job in teaching your son that he can disrespect the mother of his child in front of said child but that the child should never show his mother disrespect.  Makes perfect sense.  In any regard, I'm thankful that he doesn't allow Ty to show me disrespect.  Even if it does mean that I have to explain to Ty later why Daddy said the same thing and he didn't get in trouble. . ."No, honey. . .it's just that Mommy has recognized that your Daddy is a total asshat.  But Mommy wants better for you.  And for my future Daughter-in-Law.  So, do as Daddy says. . not as Daddy does.  Mmmkay, Baby?"
  • While I do not get any child support from D., he is usually pretty good about reimbursing me any medical expenses that Ty has that I've had to pay out of pocket.  It's not always paid back in a timely manner but as long as I keep the proof to remind him that he owes it, he usually pays it.  I wish D. had a better sense of style and could dress our son a little bit better (or recognize when Ty needs new clothes because he's outgrown the old ones) but at least he buys clothes for Ty to keep at his house and doesn't put the burden on me or expect me to pack a bag for Ty to go over to his house every other weekend.  
  • In relation to the last point, D. has even paid for activities for Ty to participate in that I simply can't afford at the time.  Typically, if D. wants Ty to do something (usually a sport) and I can't afford to pay the extra costs involved, D. will pick it up if he's able.  Granted, I may get reminded 48123571125840 times of his immense generosity in doing so but at least Ty still gets to participate in these activities whereas he might not have if his father wanted to stick to the "split it or forget it" mentality. 
  • Ty has a great time when he's with his dad.  Sure, he misses me when he's there and he misses his Dad when he's with me, but I'm fairly confident that he is happy and secure when he's at either house.  I thank God that my son doesn't get upset when he's got to go to his house and I'm very thankful that I don't have to witness that kind of emotion.  It would absolutely break my heart. 
  • I don't have some crazy new girlfriend/wife/mistress/hoebag/bitch that I have to encounter or battle with.  Yet, at least. 
  • As of yet, there has not been some sort of knock down drag out custody battle which has made me want to serve consecutive roundhouse kicks to D's crotch and slash the tires on any one of his multiple prized vehicular babies.  For the most part (notice that I didn't say "in absolute total completion" or anything else that had valid finality to it. . .because this rodeo sure as hell hasn't been without its bucked off cowboys--that bull can be a bitch when it wants to be), we've been fairly civil with one another and have (mostly) seen eye to eye in how we wanted to proceed regarding our son.  I cross my fingers that it remains this way but I have to find a healthy balance between agreeing with him for the sake of our son in whats fair and right and placating him just to avoid what could be (or would be--this Single Mama can spit fire and poke some eyeballs out if she's backed into a corner--there's a reason why my son refers to me as the "Mommy Dragon"!) a nasty court battle.  Let's just play nice in the sandbox and we won't have to go there.  Mmmmkay?
I'm sure there are more things that I should be thankful for but when it comes to my Baby Daddy, I realize that even though he makes me crazy 99.9999% of the time, he's not the worst thing that could have happened to me.  Oh no, some of you other ladies have kindly demonstrated that.  Thank You!

April A to Z Challenge: E

E = Efficiency

As a single parent, we quickly learn the concept of Efficiency.  After all, there is only one body trying to handle the task list of what would (normally?--as if anything is "normal" these days!) typically be handled by two people.  While another lesson that I've learned being a singel parent involves knowing when to let go and stop beating myself up over the fact that I didn't accomplish all 10,287 things on my to-do list in any given day, I've also learned a great deal about efficiency.  Some things still need to get done (you know, like eating. . .and showering. . .occasionally) so it helps to be able to attack things in an efficient manner.  Here are just a few things that I do to try to make everything run more efficiently in my house:

  • I try (okay, I fail miserably most times but the actual concept still works!) to menu plan our meals at least a week in advance.  That way, I can pull things out of the freezer a day or two in advance or pick up necessary items at the grocery store that I might need.  By doing this, it helps tremendously in my grocery spending (I don't spend hours at the grocery store buying random things that I don't need that week or trying to menu plan a weeks worth of meals while standing in the produce section) and how much I spend in eating out.  You see, I have this horrible tendency to stand in front of an open fridge/freezer and immediately become discouraged or tired and say to myself "Screw it, I don't feel like cooking/there's nothing to eat in here/I don't have time to make something. . .we're going out for dinner".  Plus, I hate to waste food, so when there's chicken already thawed out for a meal that I've planned that night, I am less likely to pull the eating out card.  Also, by menu planning, it allows me to recognize what nights we may need to eat out on account of an activity or something that we have going on (which makes cooking difficult/impossible) so I can either pre-plan a "brown bag dinner" of sorts and bring it with us or I have more time to figure out how to eat out cheaper by using coupons or a "Kids Eat Free" restaurant.
  • We pick out our clothes for any given day the night before.  This allows Tyler some extra time to figure out what he wants to wear (who am I kidding?  He's six and he's a boy. . he doesn't care what he wears!) and eliminates the time spent in the morning trying to pick out clothes and any battles over what he might wear.  Plus, he's at the age where he can dress himself so I just get him up and out of bed and he can do the rest.  That allows me to actually get myself ready and out the door.
  • We pack any lunches the night before and get our breakfast "halfway ready" the night before.  Ty can pour milk into a bowl of cereal but I don't want him attempting to stand on a chair to actually get the box of cereal down.  So, I pour cereal into a bowl the night before, put a paper towel over it and put milk into a cup for him.  The cup of milk goes into the fridge and the bowl (with paper towel over top of it) sits on the counter over night.  In the morning after he's dressed, he pours the milk into his cereal and eats his breakfast.  This, again, gives me time to get myself ready in the morning.
  • All errands are ran on a schedule that works for me in terms of timing and less gas usage.  As we all know, gas is getting ruh-DONK-ulously expensive.  Therefore, I try to conserve wherever possible.  But, my time is extremely important to me too (HELLO. . .we're talking about efficiency!) so I try to run all of my errands on a schedule that allows me to spend less in gas and keep more of my time to myself (or to the other 10,286 things on my to-do list!).  For example, we grocery shop on Thursday nights.  There's no specific rhyme or reason to why it's Thursdays. . .it just is.  I also fill up my car with gas on Thursday nights after grocery shopping.  If there are any other errands to run, I either try to coordinate them so that they can be ran on my way to/from work (saving gas) or I save them for a day when I have other errands to run (if at all possible) and try to pick the most central location that has all of the places that I need to hit in close proximity to one another.  My friends have been subjected before to the irritable-ness that ensues when I have to drive across town for a one off errand.  I HATE THAT!! 
  • I spend any "down" time (waiting at doctors offices, Tyler's school, sports practices, etc) doing whatever I can to be "productive".  That may mean that I'm cleaning out an email inbox from my phone, surfing the internet (again from my phone) to find deals and steals, or writing ideas for things in a notebook that I carry with me everywhere.  Whatever it is, I try to spend those few moments in between things being productive. 
Those are just a few tips/tricks that I can think of right off the top of my head.  What kinds of things do you do to be more efficient with your time or money?  Please share!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: D

D = Dependence

Becoming a single parent was a harsh wake up call on how dependent I had become on D.  On many different levels: financial stability, emotional stability, an extra set of hands to help with Ty or housework, the muscle necessary when things are too heavy or a project was too overwhelming, the knowledge that he has (and I lack!) about cars and how house stuff works, etc.  The list goes on.  Once our relationship and communication started falling apart, I quickly realized that I had allowed myself to become dependent on what he offered in just being around.  This has led me to a place where I feel like I have to start taking some of that dependence back and learn how to depend only on myself.  Of course, this makes me feel as if I'm shutting myself off from ever being able to open up and allow anyone to offer me anything in the future.  But, for the time being, I recognize that I need to learn how to depend on myself, and only myself, for the things that need to get done. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: C

C = Change

Like it or hate it, being a single parent means being accustomed to change. Whether it be the change that one must go through during the process of becoming a single parent (and I have yet to meet someone who didn't go through an enormous amount of change during this process!) or just the fact that things sometimes change drastically daily, change is simply a part of a single parent's life.  To add insult to injury, we're often caught between managing change that's happening around us or to us and trying like hell to maintain some sense of structure or consistency for our kids.  After all, kids need structure.  They need consistency.  Right?  Yeah, I think some parenting guru mentioned that at one time or another. 

Whether it's big change or small change, we single-tons are having to manage it constantly.  I totally recognize that change is a natural occurence regardless of whether there is one parent or two. . .it's just that when there's only one of us to tie the shoes, fix breakfast, button up the shirt, put on the bandaid, feed the dog, clean up the spilled milk, switch the laundry, check the homework, pack the lunch, and turn off the coffeemaker all in the next five minutes before being dreadfully late to that early morning meeting. . . well, nevermind, the plans just changed!

Monday, April 2, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: B

B = Ball Busting Busy (Do I get extra points for multiple 'B's?)

As a single mom, I'm Ball Busting Busy all the freakin' time.  I'm often overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that I have on my to-do list at all times.  With the need to compartmentalize almost every aspect of my life in order to get everything accomplished, I've found that I actually start to feel very lost whenever I have a free moment where I don't have what feels like a million things waiting for me to get done.  Being busy is just a part of my life.  Love it or Hate it, it seems like it is a constant state of being for me.  At least for the foreseeable future.

For example, it is now the 2nd day of April.  For most people, that would be inspiring. . .the second day of a new month.  For me, it's terrifying.  For one, I haven't paid my monthly bills yet.  I HATE sitting down to pay bills.  Not only is it a task which I find utterly boring and far too adminstrative, but it truly sucks to see a large-ish sum of money in my bank account quickly dwindle down to mere dollars (and we're not talking double digit dollars here!) once the bills are paid.  It's stressful.  It's painful.  It makes me cry 11 months out of 12 (with the one exception being the month after I've received my tax return).  In addition, I'm also always thinking of the homework assignments that I have due for the month.  Then, there's the different appointments that either Ty or I have in the month.  How many days I need to "re-arrange" things at work to accomodate appointments or other conflicts that I have coming up.  Of course, there's the list of neverending home improvement or DIY decorating projects that I seem to always be in the middle of.  Rarely ever "just starting" and never ever ever "finishing up". . .always "in the middle".  For once, I'd love to get finishing some of them up.  On top of all of that, I've got SO much work to get done this month in preparation for graduation in the beginning of May.  I have family coming in town and am planning on having a BBQ over at my house for friends and family afterwards.  Of course, this is adding to my neverending to-do list and causing me great anxiety and stress. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: A

A = Acceptance

Acceptance for things that I cannot change about my situation or BD.  Being a single mom has shown me that there is alot of joy and alot to be thanful for but it has also shown me that some things just down right suck.  I have a choice between fighting against those things that suck and ultimately being exhausted 24/7 or just accepting that some things are going to be hard, unfair, or unpleasant.  I wish I could say that I've mastered this, but that's just not true.  I'm trying very hard to learn more and more each day how I can be more accepting of those things that cannot change and not allow them to interrupt the great opportunities that I have around me. 

April A to Z Challenge: Get the Low Down. . .

WOW, it's hard to believe that I've been out of the blogging saddle for almost a month.  A month ago I started on what has turned out to be a very very rough journey for me.  I've done alot of hurting, thinking, healing, and changing in this short month.  As much as I hate to admit it, the blogs had kind of faded from the forefront of my mind over the last month.  It wasn't until I was checking my email yesterday that I realized that the April A to Z Blog Challenge was starting today.  I made a commitment back in March to participate in this event and I think it might just be the perfect reason to get me back on the blog and participating on a regular basis.  After all, we all have to get back in the saddle eventually, right? 

You may be asking yourself what in the world I'm rambling about. . .What is this April A to Z Blog Challenge?  Well, it's pretty simple, actually.  Each day in April (with the exception of Sundays--but since today is April 1st and it's a Sunday, even that is an exception!), bloggers who are participating in the challenge will put up one post that starts with the letter of that day.  Each day, we move through the alphabet until we get to the end which will also coincide with the end of April.  Cool, huh?!  The challenge is already up to over 1500 participants and there's still time to join in if you want to jump in with us!!  For more info or to add your name to the list of participants, jump on over to the Challenge home page to get the real skinny on what we're doing here:

With all of that out of the way, I'm going to focus each of my monthly alphabet posts on something that I've learned or experienced as a result of being in the situation that I'm currently in.  Some may be deep and serious and some may be easy breezy. . .we'll just have to see how it goes.  So, I hope you'll join me on this journey. . .cuz it seems like it's going to be an interesting one!