Father’s Day

It has been just over 14 years since I lost my Dad.  Over time, I’ve been able to see the importance of flow — of respecting the Dads of this generation of children — of honoring the past while anticipating the fantastic future — of knowing that it’s time to let my Dad rest and cherish his legacy.

That realization is hard won.  Many days, I’d give anything to have another afternoon with him.

But… here’s what I truly know:

  • Just as he told me shortly before he passed that he knew I’d be a wonderful mother, he also told me that if anything happened to him, he knew I’d be okay.  And I have been.  Somewhat broken, perhaps.  But healing…and okay.
  • My children, though born after his passing, all know of him.  They know his favorite movies — they know the “Granddad Tuck” at bedtime  — they know he was a teacher and a performer and of his love for music and dancing.
  • The lesson I most clearly remember is “I think I can, I think I can” … as we pedaled up the ridiculously steep hill in our neighborhood.  I also remember that I did, in fact, make it to the top.

I also know that my children are truly blessed.  Their dads love them with everything they’ve got.  And even more wonderfully, the Dads all love my kids… whether biologically theirs or not.  Life surely has its ups and downs, but I’ll take them all — especially if the sum total is love.  Because it is.

I wish the happiest of Father’s Days to every Dad.  Be a blessing to your children.  It’s the most wonderful of heart lessons a child can have.

(Much love to you, Dad.  Thank you for being my Daddy.)

 

 

Addiction is Fear’s Bitch

A while back, I wrote a piece about how anger is really just subdued fear — that it is rooted in fear.   Anger leads to another thing, too: excuses.  Sneaky bastards, they are.  You’ll either find a way or find an excuse is absolutely right.  Also very fitting for today.

Despite my path to forge ahead and try things I never would have had the courage to try, to become the person I’ve always been too afraid to be, I am finding that now, more than ever, I am becoming angry.  Then frustrated.  Then a fuck-it-all attitude tries to set in.  I am quick to recognize the fuck-it-all phase and nip that shit in the bud.  I truly DO give a fuck (lots of fucks, actually), so that state doesn’t resonate with me at all.  The frustration, though, and the anger… they are more difficult to navigate.

I promised myself that whenever I felt frustrated or angry, I would ask myself: what are you afraid of?  I have not been doing that lately.  The build-up of frustration and anger (read: fear that I will not become who I intend to become, fear that I will not accomplish what I have set out to accomplish) caused me to disengage in the situation that was bringing about those feelings.  Subsequently, I was never actually IN any one moment… at least not for long.

I became addicted to multi-tasking.  I became addicted to chaotic production (which of course gives no true production to anything).  I had gotten into the habit of trying to get so many things done at once because of THE FEAR that I’d never get any of it done at all — even if I kept a singular focus, even if I stayed in the moment.

Addiction to something — anything — happens when you use that thing to substitute for the lack of joy in things… when you use something — anything — so much that it becomes a habit.  It is far easier to give in to the habit, the addiction, than to confront what’s really going on.

I even started to blame my situation.  Albeit a better place than one of blaming others for where/what I am, it’s still highly ineffective as a change agent.  I kept thinking, well I have three children, for crying out loud!  I can’t afford any more than six hours of preschool for the littlest one, and the other two are home when not in school, too.  They all need my attention, need help with something, need guidance … and DAMN IT! I am NOT a maid, and no matter how much I try to teach them about chores and helping out and keep the routine of it going, they just DON’T DO IT!

See all of that right there ^^^?  Excuses.  Every damn one.

Instead of kicking fear’s ass to the curb, I’d invited it in.  I was dancing with it, even.  I allowed it to bring about frenzied action.

I believe in path.  I believe in the power of intention.  I believe in my ability to bring about my vision.

I also truly believe that all we ever have is this one moment that we are in … and if we lose sight of that, joy will be forever out of our reach.

Greg’s Story ~ “It Wasn’t Just MY Struggle”

Melissa Harrison:

This is one amazing family. Love love love.

Originally posted on My Sudden Attack of Conscience...:

This story was written by Greg, my super hot and super sober husband ;)  Tomorrow he will celebrate 365 consecutive days of not picking up a drink.  It’s a day I never thought I would see come.  I don’t think it’s a day he thought he would ever see come either.  Greg’s story is very real.  It was not written and shared for anyone to judge.  It was written to help, to give hope, and to inspire.  Although you may identify greatly with his struggles and triumphs, not a single one of you has thought the EXACT same thoughts and felt the EXACT same feelings as Greg in his situations.  Please keep that in mind before you think it’s acceptable to judge him.  It’s not.  And if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.  Today, it is only okay to support.  It’s okay to sympathize

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Quiet

There’s a certain madness that accompanies any situation in which you believe your child is in danger.  You know you need to remain calm… for their sake, and for yours.  So the madness, while it may eek out slightly, must forever stay inside your head.

As a result of being unable to fully express that madness, we begin to question ourselves.  Our past decisions.  Our past motives.  What constitutes our belief systems.  How can we make things better next time?

I am going to tell you right now:  STOP. THAT.

I have spent the majority of my life questioning every move I’ve made.  Even the moves that were repeating actions that brought me success.  I’ve experienced (read: perceived) so much failure in my life, that I’ve come to expect that most attempts will give me results I don’t want.  Then, of course, comes the “why bother” mentality.  I am thankful that I push past that – quickly now.  But desperation is an ugly state in which to live.  And it sure as hell is NO state from which to parent effectively.

You are doing the best you can, every single day.  You are learning.  You are growing.  You are trying.  You are changing.

When you know better, you do better.  There is absolutely nothing useful in kicking yourself in the ass for past perceived mistakes.  Not one useful thing.

What is useful, however, is defending your child.  Children makes mistakes.  They are supposed to.  We are all supposed to.  It is our job as parents to guide them so they make better decisions the next time around — decisions that stem from a strong sense of self, an unwavering belief that they are loved, and the realization that an ACTION does not make THEM good or bad.  At any time they can choose to act differently.  And when you know your child — when you know the traumatic shit she’s been through, and the struggles she’s had, and that she’s remained truer to her core than just about any adult you’ve ever known, all while CHOOSING BETTER BELIEFS and ACTIONS in her own damn time — defending that child against adults who clearly don’t know any better is key… because THAT is a true danger.

I will always hold my children accountable for their actions as I see fit.

I will always encourage my children to act in ways that align with their belief system, as age-appropriately as I can.

I will always — ALWAYS — defend my children against people who refuse to see the bigger picture.

I have decided that in the quiet of madness that must remain in my head, I will use the lesson to become a better parent — to develop new ways of communicating with my children so they WILL see the bigger picture – and how we are all connected and should be FOR each other, not against.

(P.S.  Do NOT fuck with my children.)

 

 

Becoming

What I want most is to be a good mother.  It’s not the entirety of who I am, of course.  The title “mother” does not equal my whole identity.  But it is absolutely the most important thing I have done and will do with my life.

There are far too many theories about what makes a woman a good mother.  So many, in fact, that we mothers can easily get hung up trying to either fit into one good-mother-mold, or make changes to our lives to seem in line with another good-mother-mold, all while missing the entire point.

No two women are exactly alike.  No two mothers are exactly alike.  Parenting techniques and what is taught to a child revolves around the mother’s values, what she desires to expose her children to, and what she is aware of that can be taught.

The most important thing, though, that a mother can do is love her children.  Just love.  Unconditionally, and with consistent understanding and empathy.

Although I understand that now, it’s been an interesting ride to get to this point.

I have no baseline understanding of what love truly means.  As a child, I did not experience unconditional love.  Love was the weapon of choice, in fact.  If I did something wrong – or rather, not to someone’s liking – love was taken away.

There were excuses and there was blame and there were tantrums and silent treatments.  Not by me, you see.

The confusion was (and still is) maddening.  When I became a mother myself, I was told I was doing it wrong – that all the things I had experienced as a child were all of a sudden not okay, so long as I was the one who had caused them.  I was not only an inadequate daughter, but now also an inadequate mother.

All I wanted was to give love and receive love.  But how the hell do you do that if you don’t know what love really is?

I have spent my life feeling inadequate, unworthy, and incapable of experiencing love.

But damn it, that’s over.    I don’t have all the answers.  I feel a constant sense that I’m spinning my wheels.  But I am more careful now with my words and my actions.  When I feel angry, I take deep, deep, long breaths – and I pause.  I make a concerted effort to shift my focus back to what is truly important:  not the one action that is frustrating me – the LOVE that I want my children (and everyone in my life) to feel.

I long for the rock-solid foundation of being a calm, loving spirit.  I have never known this, though, so I also need to be patient with myself as I travel this journey toward becoming who I want to become.

That is the key, I’ve found.  Focus on who I want to become – the type of person.  Do I want to be the person who angers easily?  Who is always mopey and complaining and critical?  Hell, no.  HELL FUCKING NO.  I have lived with that and it’s awful.  I have been like that, and it’s even more awful – because it affects the people I truly love and want to lift up.

The saying goes, if you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.

I have experienced such growth since I truly started this journey toward my new story… toward the life I want to be living.  Before, I would have thrown in the towel.  I would have stayed living with doubt and fear and anxiety.

Now, I choose to keep fighting.  I choose to charge right fucking through the pain.  Bust it wide open, recognize it without judgment, internalize it without allowing anyone else to feel the pain, and then make it disappear.

I choose happiness.  I choose hope.  I choose love.

Superpower

This mothering thing is so hard.

I want so much for my children to be happy. To feel loved. To feel accepted and supported and encouraged.

Ironically, when I sense that they aren’t experiencing those things, I begin to behave in ways that only perpetuate the lack that I so fear for them.

My fear drives more of what I DON’T WANT for them. How the hell does that work?

Now that I can see that, though… now that I recognize what’s happening… I can change it. Because I love those kids in a way I never knew was even possible, and damn it, I will do right by them.

The love I have for my children is fierce. So fierce, in fact, that it has caused me to take a long, hard look at who I truly am and how I’ve behaved in the past. It’s caused me to admit to myself that I’ve behaved badly – and it’s caused me to dig deep enough that I’ve found the courage and strength to change.

Change is hard – especially when it requires breaking lifelong habits. But it’s essential in order to live the life I want to live. It may take more time than I’d like it to, but I’m going to keep trying. Keep. Trying. And believe that the change will happen – and it will.

The fierce love I have for my children — that’s my superpower.

Mama and Emsy

Stay at Work Mothering and Launderable Items

Please, please… do not EVER tell a woman who stays home with her children that she doesn’t work.

Stay-at-home mothers don’t ever get to LEAVE work.  THAT’S the reality.

Mothers who work from home… double whammy. There’s guilt when we’re working and not paying *enough* attention to the children and the nevereverever clean house. There’s guilt when we’re paying attention to the kids and doing chorey-type things that we aren’t working, therefore we aren’t making money.

Money? Why worry about money? That’s not important, right? I mean, so long as you can “get by” all’s well. WRONG. Life is expensive. Especially with kids. I mean just regular life, like, you know, SURVIVING. Nevermind extras.

It’s true that one has to put mad kinds of focus and perseverance and follow-through and dedication into something to reap rewards. But how the hell can I put all of that energy into children, a career, a home? How can I give enough value to get back the value I desire while I have to wash dishes and do 25,789 loads of laundry a day and mediate fighting siblings and guide children through learning life lessons and make meals that no one likes anyway and oh yeah, maybe shower without a child screaming off in the distance once in a while? Did I mention keeping my sanity intact? (Thankfully, sanity is subjective.)

The answer is this: I can’t. I can’t do it alone. AND it’s not only okay to recognize this, it’s essential.

Guilt is a motherfucker. Just like fear. And they both grab a hold so sneakily and so tightly that by the time you realize what’s wrong with your brain, you’re caught in a vicious funsucker cycle. I’m afraid I’ll keep feeling guilty that I’m fearful the stuff I feel guilty about will never change. Um, brain? SHUT. UP.

So here’s my screeching halt. I CAN’T DO IT ALONE.

I used to think asking for or accepting help was weakness. I should be able to do it all, do it all well, keep a smile on my face, keep chugging no matter what, sleep enough, eat well enough, and do it all without any help… right?

WRONG.

Accepting help was never the problem. Beating myself because I needed and accepted help was the problem. You can’t help everyone else and not accept help for yourself. That’s burnout central waiting to happen. Apparently we’re in this together, and no two people have the same needs for help. Condemning myself for needing help of a certain kind is ludicrous. And damaging. I forget to enjoy anything at all because I’m so busy judging and then hating myself for not being able to get everything done that I assume I should be able to get done.

Happiness is a decision. Definitely. But it’s more about deciding to stop condemning yourself for not being happy and thankful and hopeful all the damn time. I am happiest when I accept myself and forgive myself. And then love myself. Even if I just throw out the dirty freaking laundry and move on with life.

Simple.

It’s simple, right?  Maybe not easy, but simple.  To go ahead and pursue your passion and make something worthwhile happen in your life, I mean.

Well no, it’s fucking not.

Especially when you’re a single mother, trying to be everything.  Breadwinner.  Guidance Counselor.  Homework nazi.  Boo-boo kisser.

I am all about staying thankful and positive.  I’m also about calling a spade, a spade.

Two people can have the same amount of burning desire to truly live out their passion, but if one is a single parent with little to no help from the other parent(s), it is MUCH MORE COMPLEX.

I love hard work.  I love to figure out new ways to do things and then take action.  That action is way different, though, when you’re handling sibling conflicts, caring for each child’s developmental needs, trying to honor each child’s independent spirit, trying to maintain a home, trying to make money without having to pay exorbitant amounts of daycare costs and feel the guilt of not being there for your children while you’re at it, and having one issue after another come hurdling at you.

It zaps energy.  It is soul-crushing at times.  And sure, I keep getting back up.  EVERY DAMN TIME.  But I’ll tell you something.

I’m fucking angry.  I’m angry that people don’t honor their commitments.  I’m angry that I seem to trust people way more than they deserve.  I’m angry that I’m alone in this and I can’t always see the light at the end of this fucking tunnel.

Make no mistake:  I AM NOT GIVING UP.  Ever.  Ever ever ever.

But I am tired.  I am angry.  I am done with negative people and their lies.

Now that right there, sure as hell is simple.

Create Peace

I am a firm believer that we create our own reality.  I believe this now because I spent far too many years believing I was at the mercy of others, and blaming other people for the way my life was turning out.

I do not believe that any longer.  I never will again.  You gotta grab life my the balls and create what you want your life to be.  Unlearning old ways of thinking and reacting, and learning new ways to believe and ACT is difficult.  Yes, it is.  Especially when you have children along for the ride.  But it is possible.  And wonderful.  And fabulous for them to see, too.

Feeling out of control — like others are in charge of your life path and your soul is being crushed – or at the very least subdued —  is maddening. Violence (through actions or words), or the threat thereof, is the quickest way for someone who feels out of control to feel in control again.  This occurs in so many homes – domestic violence and emotional abuse can be devastating.  Most people back down when there is a threat of violence – we truly do naturally gravitate toward peace and love.  That backing down, that allowing violence to win, causes a feeling of perceived control in the aggressor, and a feeling of utter helplessnes in the victim.  Helplessness — perceived loss of control over one’s life — is the next step in the cycle of violence.  The cycle might continue with the victim becoming an aggressor toward someone else, or toward herself.   Until we know that true control is over our thoughts and actions, and CHOOSING not to accept the invitation to an argument – to violence, the vicious cycle continues.

I am determined to help educate others about this – and about how to regain control over your own life path.  That’s the only control that exists: over your own thoughts, your own actions, your own journey.

I am endeavoring to support organizations that are already in engaged in helping others caught in the cycle of violence.  This month I am involved with a fundraiser for a local organization affiliated with Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.  I’ve set a goal to raise $500.00.  I greatly appreciate any donation you are able to give to this cause, or if you will share this post with others who will donate.

Please help BREAK THE CYCLE  – every donation counts.

Thank you, all.  Peace, love, and light.