Archive for gratitude

Mother’s Day Approaches…

Posted in blended families, Mother's Day, Mothers, Parenting, parenting after divorce, raising daughters, single moms, single parenting with tags , , , , , , on May 5, 2016 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Mother’s Day is Sunday and the retail circus is in full-court press when it comes to trying to increase sales. I, of course, start thinking about what I want to do for my own mother, as well as the other mothers in my life. How can I honor them?

That led to wishing I had a partner who would help the kids do something sweet for me…or buy me flowers…or take me out to lunch. Before I knew it, I’d gotten myself in a funk. I thought about the time when my kiddos asked me what special thing I was going to make for dinner and dessert to celebrate Mother’s Day (which is actually kind of funny), because they got the concept that Mother’s Day was about celebration, but they were too young to understand what that meant. I was always the person who planned celebrations, so why wouldn’t I be the one to make this special too?

So, on a PMS low and still smarting from some recent ugliness, I got in a feel-sorry-for-myself funk.

It lasted for about an hour, long enough for me to ask my other single and divorced mom friends if they ever had Mother’s Day sadness. Everyone who answered came back with “yes”. As usually happens when I talk to friends, not only did I feel supported, but it also allowed me to take a step back and see things a bit more clearly.

The truth is, I’m amazingly lucky. I’ve got two children who are healthy and gifted with so many wonderful things: Intelligence, creativity, humor, beauty. They have a father who wants to be a part of their life and who assists me financially. They have a stepmother who tries to be a meaningful, positive presence in their lives. I have a tribe of family and friends who are there for us when we need them. My own mother is still alive and healthy and a constant presence in my life.

Not everyone has these blessings.

There’s my friend who lost her firstborn to cancer when he was a very young boy. I know she has a constant ache in her heart that will never leave.

There’s my coworker who had two miscarriages within a year, who still grieves those losses. She’s still dreaming of the day when she’ll become a mother.

There’s my friend who is a divorced mother of three, two of whom were diagnosed with Autism. Not only does the father not provide any financial support, he also makes no effort to be a part of his children’s lives. This mother does whatever she has to do to support her kids and give them every advantage she can, while also being the one daily who cares for their needs. She’s stated before that she’d be grateful if her one child was even able to verbalize “I love you”.

There are the women who’ve lost their own mothers and every Mother’s Day is a remembrance of grief.

Then there’s me. Two living, healthy, amazing kids. An ex-partner who despite our many differences still supports his children and wants to be a good parent. A mother I get to talk to daily if I want. Yet I grieved for the breakfast in bed or flowers I wouldn’t get. I felt sorry for myself that Mother’s Day ends up feeling like every other day.

Perspective is a wonderful thing and I went from sad and feeling sorry for myself to grateful within a very short span of time. I’m blessed and I need to realize it every single day.

Being a mother is amazing…and hard…and very often a job where the recognition of all the effort put in can be scanty. A day that honors mothers is nice, but it’s only one day. It’s the unexpected look of gratitude and the soft “Thank you” that comes with a hug that recognizes me. It’s the surprise cards, poems, and acts of thoughtfulness that touch my heart. It’s the sincere, “I know you do so much for us and we appreciate it.” that I get once in awhile that gives honor to the effort I put in. Most importantly, it’s watching them grow and become lovely, strong, capable young women. It’s knowing that if I do my job well enough, they’ll get to a point where they can stand on their own.

To all the mothers out there putting their heart and soul into raising kids into healthy, happy, competent adults: You are amazing. You are worthy of breakfast in bed and flowers, gifts and cards; I hope you get them. You are worthy of honor, respect, and gratitude. No matter how you came into being a mother, you are special. So happy early Mother’s Day, Sunday and every other day of the year.

 

 

Advertisements

Finding the Gratitude

Posted in Dating, intuition, love, Relationships with tags , , on November 28, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

It’s the eve of Thanksgiving and I always like to reflect on the wonderful things I have or have had in my life. It’s so easy to focus on the negative–the things I don’t have or the people who have hurt me in the past. So much of this blog is about processing all the shit. Frankly, there’s been a lot of shit in the past decade. For tonight, I’d like to just think of the good things. So tonight I’m going to take a walk down memory lane with my relationships, focusing only on the good from each one. I’m going to focus on both something I loved about the relationship and a life lesson I took away as a result of it.

From my ex-husband I took away two beautiful, brilliant, amazing kids. I will always be grateful that out of the love I once had for him, my two favorite things in life came into existence. From our relationship, I learned that it’s better to leave no matter how impossible the leaving seems, or you risk becoming someone you don’t recognize. I also learned that no matter what my own insecurities might be, to never let them hang out with a partner. It’s not sexy or attractive to look to your partner for your own self-esteem. I learned to start looking for my own.

From Z, the man I loved right after my marriage ended, I will always love the humor we shared. I love the deep thoughtfulness he brought to our conversations. I love that he loved me, even if it wasn’t enough in the end.  I also got my first lesson in not pretending something is enough, just so you won’t have to say goodbye.

L gave me a flirty sort of fun that made me think I might have found “the one”, at least for a couple of months. I loved how tender and protective he could be sometimes. There were many, many times that even after our breakup, he made me feel as though I had someone who cared enough about me that I could call and say “I need you to be there for me.” He was my second lesson in the failure of pretending something is enough when it’s not, just so I wouldn’t lose him. Maybe with enough lessons, I’ll learn! I also learned that if something went wrong the first time, a second or third time of trying is probably not going to make it right.

I had to spend more time thinking about D, to try to remember the good. Tonight is the two year anniversary of our first breakup. Interestingly enough, the good from the relationship is also tied to what it taught me. D was the first man with whom I saw the hope of a lasting relationship, who seemed to progress the relationship to a committed level that appeared as though it could go the distance. That was, briefly, a reassurance I’d badly needed. The life lesson came from learning that when it feels like a man is barely contributing to the relationship, it signals something that shouldn’t be ignored, no matter what excuse he gives for why he can’t give more. People put time and effort into what they value, yet I rarely felt valued. The life lesson is to not settle for something mediocre when you know you want and deserve more, out of a desperate desire to have someone willing to love and stay with you. If you don’t feel loved and desired, what’s the point? I also got a reminder in why trying to make things work multiple times, when the person broke your heart the first time, is a very bad idea. The gratitude comes in having the pain finally eased to where it doesn’t feel crippling and in knowing I learned so much about what I don’t want the next time.

With J, my barely born relationship, there were many things to love and feel gratitude for. I am grateful for the feeling of radiant joy I felt during the two months we were together; it was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. I’m grateful for the easy physical affection he always established; he was quick to hold my hand, put his arms around me or kiss me at times when it wasn’t just about trying to get me in bad. In fact, walking hand-in-hand with him is the memory that comes to mind for me first. Well…after the sex! I am grateful for the fun and child-like joy I experienced on every date with him. I’m grateful for the deep sexuality that he brought out in me that managed, ironically enough, to feel healthy in a way some of my others have not. In the end, the life lesson I learned was to trust my intuition. Listen to the voice within that tells me when loving someone, although tempting, is a really bad idea.

In my life right now I have many things to be grateful for:

My children, with whom I share a deep bond of love. They are amazing and wonderful, even in the times when they drive me bonkers. They’ve made me a better person and I can only hope I’ll help them grow into better people.

A job that I enjoy and that I’m fairly good at, that also means something besides just a paycheck. It’s not every person who can find fulfillment and meaning in their work, outside of just making a living. I’ve found it.

A cozy little cottage home that shelters us. A car that still runs well. That all our basic physical needs are met and many, many beyond that. That on the Maslow hierarchy of needs, I’m at the top and have the luxury to sit here and ponder my life and the meaning of it.

I’m healthy. That the medical issue my youngest child has is treatable and that between her father and I, we can afford treatment that keeps her symptoms mostly at bay, most of the time.

That I have a community of friends and family to help be a support system for myself and my children. That I have some dear friends in whom I confide the secrets of my soul, whom I trust to keep them safe.

For everyone tonight and into the holiday weekend, I wish you joy and peace. I hope the list of good things in your life outweighs the bad. We all have our burdens to bear and sometimes they feel very heavy. May your burdens feel lightened by the grace of the good.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The Must Have “Look” For This Fall: Joy (And How To Wear It)

Posted in Dating, self-improvement with tags , on November 8, 2012 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Since my last post I’ve been doing a lot of intense soul-searching. I’m sure this is shocking to most of my readers…

As I suspected, the intense sorrow I was feeling on Sunday passed and by Monday I was feeling more grounded and less bleak. Everyone has their demons and faces darkness occasionally; I’m trying to face mine head-on and deal with them. I’ve learned the hard way that repression has ugly consequences.

I posted a video of a poetry slam a few weeks ago, by a poet named Katie Makkai. She talked about women knowing how to find the right cocktail dress, but not having a clue how to wear joy. So I started wondering…

Do I know how to wear joy?

Of course there are moments I feel joyful, but too often I get bogged down in the day to day monotony of life and the list of “should’s” that runs through my mind constantly. I “should” have a spotless house. I “should” be feeding my children home-cooked, organic food for every single meal. I “should” look a certain way. I “should” be socializing more, or taking a class, or doing more spiritual reading, or doing more yoga, or dating, or not dating. I “should” train for and run a marathon (despite the fact that I despise running). I “should” definitely be doing all those cutesy crafty things with my children that I see other mothers doing.

The list of things I beat myself up with is endless. While all of those things I listed are things that matter to me to some degree, why do I allow the times when I’m not doing them as fully as I want to drain me of my joy?

Of course, there is my biggest joy zapper: The trials and tribulations of dating and relationships. The worry and time I’ve put into that particular aspect of my life is ridiculous.

So, I’ve started putting some simple changes into place in an attempt to learn how to wear joy.

  1. When people ask me how I am, I’m going to respond positively. I’m going to stop giving vocal confirmation to anything negative going on in my life. This isn’t to say I plan to be fake. For most people the question is a rote greeting to which they expect a rote reply. To give a negative response might prompt people to view me as a negative person, thus affecting how they treat me, which influences how I feel and perpetuates a cycle. If I have a situation going on in my life,  I might choose to reveal it to close friends and family, but my standard reply is going to be positive instead of “Okay, I guess” or “Tired”.
  2. I’m going to be kind and compassionate to myself, not just to other people. In an ideal world I would have a spotless, organized house; I would be Jamie Oliver (only organic!) in the kitchen for every meal. I’d work out six times a week and eat salmon and salad constantly. I’d read Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra for my recreational reading (instead of trashy vampire novels) and meditate daily. I wouldn’t drink as much wine and I would take my vitamins faithfully. However, I don’t live in my ideal world. My reality is a full-time job throughout the week and a small job every Sunday morning, two kids, 3 pets, a house, a yard, a car and a lot of evolving I’m still trying to do as a person. If my kids eat fast food once in awhile because I’m exhausted at the end of my work day, so be it. If my brain is numb and all I can manage after the kids go to bed is sitting on the couch, drinking wine and reading some version of “50 Shades of Fucked Up”, the world will still go on spinning. If I decide to sit and read with my kids, or watch a movie with them, or just be a mom instead of a domestic whirling dervish, I don’t think my kids will look back in twenty years and think “Mom was such a failure! She should have cleaned house more!” If I let them watch tv throughout the school week (a big no-no) sometimes, it really won’t impede their progress substantially. Allowing myself to occasionally just be “good enough” rather than beating myself up over not being perfect WILL make a big difference in my current happiness.
  3. I will make the time to do things that make me feel good. I’ve been exercising at least five times a week. If my children are starving (which they always are), I make them a snack and then I take 30 minutes to work out before I plunge into the flow of the evening. When I’m done, I feel more energized mentally and physically. I am trying to walk my dog more: I feel good about it and he is definitely more joyful. I am making time to write, which helps me feel more like a creative, beautiful human being. I am taking longer to cuddle my kids at night. When they ask me to stop my work and come see a drawing, hear a song, give them a hug: I do it. So often in the past, I have felt like a tiny cog in the machine of life. No more. I WILL do the things that are important to me.
  4. I will behave like I am the prize. So often when it has come to love, I have been willing to bend over backwards so the other person will love me. I’ve always believed that if I am constantly willing to accomodate their schedule, not make a fuss if they disappoint me by not keeping their promises, be sweet and giving at almost all times and be LOW DRAMA AND LOW STRESS, that somehow I’ll be viewed as the ultimate girlfriend. By doing that, I was relegating myself to a position of less worth than the man I was involved with. Why? Because if I inconvenienced them, they might stop loving me…or never love me at all. I’m done bending over backwards (sexual positions not included in that blanket statement). I AM a prize and I deserve to be treated like one, the same as I would (and have in the past) treat a great guy like a prize. My behavior needs to underscore that reality. I don’t need a relationship to be beautiful or sexy. I don’t need a man to fulfill or complete me. Yes, one day I want a relationship. The quality man who can bring his best self and win my heart, mind and body will find me one day. He will shake his head in bemusement that the other men let me slip through their fingers. Every single time he wraps his arms around me, kisses me, makes love to me, he’ll feel lucky. When we share our day, inspire each other and celebrate our successes, he’ll know I was worth the wait. When I can forgive his mistakes (and my own) and make life easier, not harder, he’ll know I’m the best woman for him. In return I will give him all the pleasures of my mind, heart and body. Not because I can’t live without him or could never be happy on my own. It will be because he makes my wonderful life even more wonderful.  While this man makes his way to me, I’ll be working on making sure I never put the burden of fulfillment, happiness or joy on any relationship. I’m going to make sure that responsibility rests squarely where it needs to: Upon me. Until then, I’ll be living my life with joy!
  5. I will wear my joy openly, so that others can see it and feel joyful. I’m going to work harder on smiling at people. Happiness is contagious; who doesn’t love to see a smiling person? Letting my laughter ring out frequently is one of my new goals. Even if I’m having a crap day, I’m going to try to get out of my head and offer up my best self.
  6. Practice gratitude daily. Every day I will pick at least three things I am grateful for. If I can do that, it will make goals 1-5 feel easier. I have a tremendous amount of beauty and goodness in my life. It’s time to focus on them!

A Post of Gratitude And Thanks

Posted in Dating with tags , on October 26, 2012 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

I have a friend who makes it a habit to post “gratitude” on his Facebook page. Practicing gratitude is one of the things I’m working harder on; isn’t it just a bit harder to feel low when you force yourself to stop and think about all the things in your life that are wonderful? So today I am grateful for…

Beautiful children that delight and challenge me, whom have forced me to grow up and rise to the challenge of being a better person, so I can be a better parent.

An amazing set of parents who continue to try to grow in consciousness as human beings, support me in my quest to do the same, and provide a refuge of warmth and love when I need it. Siblings (I’m counting their spouses too!) who are there for me when I need them, make me think deeply about things (even when they are pissing me off), make me laugh when I need it, or can listen to me cry when I’ve lost my laughter.

Friends who have seen me at my worst and still love me, who say I look fantastic even when I don’t, who try to not judge me when I’ve managed to make a mess of things again and with whom I have shared some of the deepest secrets of my soul. Thank you for being there, for being wonderful, for being honest and human and ready to lend a hand or a shoulder when I need it.

The lovers with whom I have shared my heart, mind and body: You have taught me immeasurable things about love and life. Despite the dissolution of our love affair, you left me with lessons I couldn’t have learned any other way. Thank you for the pleasure of conversation, kisses, laughter, love-making and different viewpoints. Thank you for the tears I wept, sometimes during and sometimes after, our relationship. They let me feel, they made me think and they helped me realize how strong I truly am. Without you I would still have so much  relationship work ahead of me. My next relationship will be stronger and healthier because of the things I learned while I was with you.

Finally, I’d like to thank the individuals who have taken the time to read this blog or “like” my Facebook page. You have opted to share part of this journey of self-discovery with me. For those of you who have done so, I am grateful. Knowing you are reading makes me step up my game, not be lazy and work on my creativity. It helps me continually remember and clarify my values, yet be open to hearing other opinions. It helps me remember how important it is to me to grow as a person and not live my life in fear. Instead of just sitting on my couch and reading 50 Shades of Gray and drinking copious amounts of merlot, I’m often thinking of blogs and having to deeply examine (and research) topics. You keep me excited about writing; that is a gift to me and I truly appreciate it.

So, may everyone go out and have a wonderful weekend. I am grateful to have you in my life!