Round Two

I have spent most of the day yelling. 

My kids are in that stage where all they do is tell on each other and fight. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but a vast majority of our day is just that.

I try to be that calm mother. The one who doesn’t raise her voice, but ‘frustrated’ is putting it nicely. 

Like, really nicely. 

I try to hide somewhere, currently I’m in my bathroom, and I try to pray, but I struggle. 

I struggle because I can still hear the crying. 

The yelling. 

And all I want is one minute’s peace, y’all. 

Just. One. Minute. 

I’m frustrated because this single mom stuff is hard. It exhausts me. It defeats me. It literally cuts me to the core. 

I don’t get every other weekend off. I don’t get a break. I don’t get a moment to myself, unless it’s bedtime or I wake up early to soak in the quiet. 

I have no one who gets it. When I try to talk, to just be heard, I don’t want advice, I just want someone to talk to, instead, I get excuses as to why their life is just as hard as mine. 

Cue eyeroll. 

It’s not that I want to whine. It’s not that I don’t love my life. Most days I do. Most days I can’t help but be grateful. 

Even right now, I’m grateful. Grateful that I have a bathroom that I can hide in. 

But sometimes, sometimes, it just gets to me. 

Today is one of those days. 

I remind myself that this season will pass. I remind myself that life is good. I remind myself that this is exactly what I wanted when I spent years on my knees praying to Him, begging Him to ‘just listen to me’. 

But you guys, this is hard. 

Raising these two kids on my own is hard. Locking myself in my bathroom just to have a minute to myself so I don’t say something I’m going to regret is hard. Acknowledging the fact that there is a very good chance I could say something I would regret is hard. Doing my best not to be jealous of my friends who have no idea what it’s like to be in my shoes is hard. 

Finding the strength to pray when you are exhausted and completely at your wit’s end, is hard. 

But it’s still doable. 

So, as I sit now, against the bathroom door. As I hold back the tears that are so desperately trying to ruin my charcoal mask. (I’ve learned to multitask.) As I imagine myself anywhere but here, I pray. 

I pray because even though I feel alone, I’m not. 

I pray because even if I can’t be calm, He is. 

And I pray because even when I can’t take one more step, He carries me. 

Guys, do something today. Know a single mom? Send her a word of encouragement. Let her know that you’re thinking about her. 

Single dads too. 

Because this is hard. And sometimes she just needs ‘Jesus with skin on’. 

And you just don’t know, but maybe that’s what’s going to help her unlock the bathroom door and come back out for round two. 

Love, Mom.

Happy Birthday, sweet boy. 

I can remember this day, 7 years ago, like it was yesterday. That was the day everything changed. 

I remember anticipating what I thought it would be like to see you for the first time.

I was completely wrong about the whole thing. 

The minute, no, the second, I laid my eyes on you, I knew love. I had never felt that way about anyone else. Even though, I had claimed to love many. 

You were my first. 

I know this last year hasn’t been ideal. I have spent many nights awake wondering if I was doing enough. Being enough. 

I don’t think I ever actually came to a decision. 

You’re one of the best things that’s ever happened to me and I just hope that you know that you are so loved, every second of the day. 

 No matter the circumstances. 

No matter the kinds of messes we adults get ourselves into. 

Sweet boy, it may just be the 3 of us now, but I can promise you this, there is no little boy as loved as you are. 

And I don’t know about you, but this past year was pretty sweet. 

It makes me excited about all of our upcoming adventures. 

Of course, feel free to slow down a little. Year after year, I watch you grow and I can’t help but think ‘I wish I could have a little longer with you.’

I just can’t believe I have a 7 year old. Seriously, when did that happen?

Because last I remember, I was just laying eyes on you, falling in love for the first time. 

Happy Birthday, Jax. 

Love, 

Mom

The Sweetest Thing Ever

Being a single mother has been the most difficult challenge of my life so far, and most days I wonder if I’m doing it the right way. I worry that I’m messing something up. Messing them up. And then there are moments like this and I realize, I must be doing something right.

XXOO!

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The Bad Guy

So it began.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t quite ready for it. I didn’t expect it. And when it happened it completely threw me off.

I had been doing so well, actually. A lot better than I had even anticipated. That was Him and I knew it, immediately. But I wasn’t ready for this.

I don’t think anyone would be.

It started in the Walmart parking lot. We had just parked the car. We needed to run in a get a couple of things. I get it, no one actually likes to go to Walmart and so I took it, at first, as an innocent comment.

“I wish we had a dad to do our grocery shopping,” he said.

I keep forgetting that for over two years we did. We were stuck at home without a car. Running errands and running to the grocery store were things we never had to do. I told him we should be thankful that God has given us a car so we can do these things. I even offered to buy them a treat if they were good.

It didn’t work this time.

I’ve always thought that he understood why I did what I did. Maybe I put too much pressure on him, but I have an open approach. I don’t want to be the parent that lies or covers things up. I keep details at a minimum, but when you live in a 1,200 square foot apartment, it’s not always easy to keep things to yourself.

“Why did you do this? Why couldn’t you just not fight with him? Why couldn’t you have been nicer? Why did you make him leave? Why can’t daddy live with us anymore?”

The tears began to roll. I sat there, unsure of what to do next. What to say next. I knew that none of it really mattered. This was his moment. Not mine. And so I sat, quietly and I just took it.

It was in those moments that I realized I was going to be the bad guy. I was actually going to be the bad guy in this. I think I knew deep down I would be, but I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you there was a sense of betrayal.

What I wanted to say was “Seriously?? My fault?? He left. He chose to leave. I didn’t kick him out. I didn’t tell him to go. He did that. I tried. Gosh, did I try. I have been miserable for years because I’ve been doing it on my own and now you think it’s my fault?? He was the one who decided he didn’t want this anymore. Not me. I fought for a long time for things to be different. He gave up. Not me.”

But I didn’t. I just sat there.

I didn’t want to become defensive. I didn’t want to say anything about their dad. Regardless of how I feel or how he’s treated me, he is still their dad. And to them, he is amazing. He is incredible. And I will not be the one to take that away from them. Because I know how much they love him and how much they need him.

And so as the accusations continued to fly at me, in every direction, I began to pray. Lord, what do I do? 

‘Love him as I have loved you.’

And so I took it.

I let him say what he needed to say. I let him get it all out. Much like God lets me dish it out to Him. I just took it.

I knew he still loved me. And I knew that he wasn’t actually mad at me. And thanks to someone close to me they offered some amazing insight that when he does lash out at me, it isn’t because he blames me or because he’s mad at me, but it’s because he knows that I am a safe place. He can say those things, any of those things, to me and I will still love him. Unconditionally. And I won’t leave. Nothing will change. And right now, that’s what he needs. He needs to know that not everything will change.

So I’ll be the bad guy. I’ll take the blame. I will let him say whatever is on his mind. Because I know one day, just like it happened with me and my Father, one day he’ll get it. And he will know that everything I did was out of unconditional love for him.

And one day, I know, I’ll get to be the good guy.

Lesson Learned

I’m still not sure that I know what I’m doing most days. Chances are I probably don’t, but what I do know is that I’m just going to keep taking it one day at a time. 

One day at a time. Because that’s really all I can handle. 

This is hard, y’all. 

The tantrums. The tears. The whining. And then let’s talk about Jaxsyn. (See what I did there?) But seriously. 

While I wasn’t expecting homeschool to look like I just pinned it off of Pinterest and into my own home (okay, maybe part of me wishes that that would happen), I thought it would, well, look like something. 

Anything. 

But it’s just sort of everything and nothing all at the same time. 

From the outside it probably looks like we aren’t doing much. We start at 1pm. We end at 2pm. We just kind of do stuff. Some days we read more. Other days we work on the computer. And then there are days where we just cry and pout and sob about how much we don’t like school. 

I often wonder if I’m doing a disservice to Jaxsyn. He has been more than vocal about wanting to go to ‘real school’, but I just can’t help but think that’s not really for us. 

Had you told me 10 years ago that I would be homeschooling I would have rolled my eyes at you, but I can’t imagine not doing it. 

Whatever ‘it’ is that I’m doing. 

From the inside I see the progress. I see the hard work. I see the lessons learned, even those that are strictly meant for me. 

I hear the patience in my voice and I get to watch the moments where he not only makes me proud, but where he is proud of himself. 

I get to see the accomplishments. The moments between ‘having no clue’ and ‘knowing all the answers’. 

But most of all, I get to ask for help. I get to constantly rely on Him to get me through it. To get us through it. 

If nothing else, it will be the reminder that I desperately need Him. 

No matter what it is that I’m doing, I can’t do it without Him. Whether that’s teaching my children their ABC’s or forgiving my enemies, I need Him. 

Well now wait a minute and look at that. I think we’ve already learned a little something. 😉

 

Scratching Your Head

I’m still in disbelief that my baby boy lost his first tooth last night.

How in the heck did this happen?! Wasn’t it just yesterday I watched those teeth grow into their rightful place, dating and jotting down notes in his baby book each time I saw something new?

I can’t even comprehend him growing up. I’d be lying if I didn’t share with you how selfish I wish I could be, keeping him small forever, well maybe not forever, but at least for a little while longer.

Each day he seems to want to do something else without my help. “Don’t worry mom, watch I can do it.”

He’s even old enough to recognize when mommy just really wants to help, not because he needs it, but because I do. “Okay fine mom, you can help.”

Y’all this goes by too fast. And since we can’t stop it or slow it down, my prayer for us is that we never look back thinking we missed a single minute. Everything else can wait. Cherish the moments even the ones we wish would hurry up and go away because before you know it kids are loosing teeth and you’re just left scratching your head.

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Photo Credit: Lauren Falber

Stoplight

For the most part, I have been pretty blessed with Jaxsyn and Adelaide. They have both been very laid back, sweet, and just easy to take care of kids.

Well these past few months have been months of pushing boundaries and discovering limits. As a busy mom who works from home, I don’t always have the patience to deal with kids who want to push boundaries.

I’ve been thinking of new ways to discipline without losing my temper or getting frustrated (i.e. having to repeat myself, dealing with small attention spans). But I wanted it to be quick too. I don’t want a lot of steps or explainations. I just wanted him to understand what his boundaries were and understand what behavior leads to certain consequences.

And I have found just that. The Stoplight. (Cue superhero music)

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier. We’ve been using it for a couple of days and it is perfect. He is behaving better. He is more conscious of his actions and he is starting to really understand actions and consequences. I don’t have to spend time getting upset. I simply walk over and place his name on the next light and bam. Attitude changes. And he becomes aware.

Now I know teachers have been using this idea for years. I know because I had it while I was a kid in school, but I have revamped it just a little bit. So all day long we go from light to light or if we’re good we stay on the same light for a long time and at the end of the day, depending on where you landed for the night, decides the next step.

If you are on Green you get to pick from the ‘Treats’ bag. I just wrote down a couple of ideas on paper and placed them in a baggie for Jaxsyn to draw from. I have things like sweet treats, stay up 30 minutes later, sleepover in mom and dad’s room, no clean up duties, favorite dinner, etc.

If you are on Yellow you don’t get to do anything.

And if you are on Red you get to pick from the ‘Bummer’ Bag. Just like the treats I wrote down punishments that are age appropriate for Jaxsyn. Things such as going to bed early, losing his phone, TV, or Xbox, Mom’s Choice, Dad’s Choice, etc.

I wanted Jaxsyn to feel a part of the whole entire process of his behavior. I wanted him to have something to look forward to if he was good and something to remind him to be good. And again, I wanted to do this without yelling, or getting angry, or any crying. And so far, so good. He enjoys the reward, he accepts the punishment, and I may have found a way to make this parenting thing a little easier.

Do you have any great parenting tips? I’d love to hear them!

To Jaxsyn. Love, Mom.

Oh boy, where do I even begin??

Just thinking about where to start already has me in tears because we have had some good times together. (Geeze, and this is just your birthday, just wait until I have to drop you off at school.)

Jaxsyn, you have brought such joy to my life. I have never loved this way before. I didn’t even know that it was possible to love someone else so much, but I do. And it just grows and grows and grows. Each day I love you a little more than the day before.

I cannot even believe that you are five years old. Seriously!? Where did the time go? I always knew it would go by fast, but no one can ever prepare you for just how fast.

I can still remember meeting you for the first time, like it was yesterday. I pushed and pushed until you finally made your arrival. (After 26 hours of labor) The room was perfectly still because we just couldn’t even prepare ourselves for what was happening. You were changing lives that day. There wasn’t one person in that room you didn’t change.

I counted fingers and toes (they were all there!) and couldn’t take my eyes off of you. You were absolutely perfect and I was perfect because now I was a mother, your mother.

You know, I’ve been through a lot in my life. I’ve not always done the right things, but when I finally held you in my arms for the first time, I knew, at that moment, that I had done something right. There are days when I still wake up and I can’t believe that God has given me this precious life to take care of and love. But He knew exactly what I needed and He made us perfect for each other.

At 8:32 pm on September 14, 2009 a 9lb 1.3oz baby boy forever changed my life.

You are my best friend dude, and while I wish you would slow down just a little, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you how exciting it has been to watch you grow into this fine 5 year old that you are.

I know you might not remember much from today, but just remember how loved you are and that no matter how big or how old you get you will never stop being my little boy. Nope, never.

I love you so much Jaxsyn Feenix and I hope you have the happiest birthday ever!

Love,

Mom

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Welcome to the world!

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Your First Birthday!

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Second Birthday: Dinosaurs!

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Third Birthday: Dirt and Trucks!

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Fourth Birthday: Trains!

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Fifth Birthday: Minecraft!

“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always.
As long as I’m living,
My baby you’ll be.”