Sustainably Single Parenting

Making the most of life's journey alongside my three!!!

Blogging Hiatus June 21, 2013

I love this blog.

A little less than one year ago Sustainably Single Parenting (SSP) began. My goal was to be candid about my life as things progressed; from the end of my relationship with my abusive husband to whatever lied ahead for me and my kids. I was pregnant, in school full time, broke, and terrified. I wasn’t sure if I’d be homeless by the end of my pregnancy, I wasn’t sure how I’d manage to pay for things. I lived on two-four hours of sleep almost every night. But three nights a week I’d write.

I’d write about what I was feeling, how I missed him, how I grieved. I’d write about the children, their transition, and counseling. I’d write about my terror, and my methods for finding peace. I’d write about the disappointment of losing a dream. And through everything, people listened. People read, and reached out, and responded, and gave advice. People showed genuine empathy, told their stories, gave encouragement, and helped me to revitalize my self-confidence.

This blog has been a lifeline, a therapeutic outlet for me. It has been a chance for me to come forward about my situation, and hopefully, to inspire other victims to find the strength to leave their abusers. This blog has been a way for me to connect with amazing people, read heartwarming and heart-wrenching stories, and stand strong as a survivor who is certain of her ability to thrive.

I do not plan to give up blogging. I will return to SSP. But for awhile, I’ll have to take a break to work on other things. I’m in my last semester of graduate school, and though I only blog two days each week, finding the time and energy to keep on that schedule while single parenting three babies and taking two classes and maintaining a household is proving much too stressful. I want to keep telling my story, keep connecting with readers and meeting new people, keep on helping the DV community in some small way.

My plan is to come back once I graduate (August 2013) or sooner if I can manage to find more balance before I finish my Master’s degree. Until then, you can stay updated on our journey via Twitter. I hate to have to leave, but I have to sacrifice some things if I want to graduate without repeating my last semester. I’ve come this far…I have to do what is necessary for me to finish.

I know you all will understand. I will miss you until I blog again :)

 

A Visit from My Mother June 17, 2013

My mother and my daughters :)

My mother and my daughters :)

Over the weekend we were able to spend some time with my mother. It was a really nice visit. She hadn’t been able to visit me since my birthday last year, so it was her first time meeting the baby and only her second time visiting since my husband’s arrest. Over the years, especially during the eight years that I was with my husband, my mother and I have had our difficulties, but I love her and appreciate what she has done for me. I know that her life hasn’t been easy.

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My girls were so excited to see her. They absolutely love my mother :) It was nice to see them so excited for family to be around. I wish I lived closer to people who truly loved my children and could assist me in raising them. I wholeheartedly believe it takes a village to raise a kid, and the better the people in that village the more likely my children will become well-rounded, healthy, productive, hardworking members of society. For now I’m focusing on being consistent in my parenting, understanding the goals of negative behavior and how to properly respond, and securing suitable childcare for when I start back working outside of the house. Baby steps.

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My mom stayed from Friday night to Monday morning. We didn’t really do too much, but that was fine by me. I had the most fun on Saturday when we went to the beach. Amara and Terra collected shells and buried one another in the sand while Mom and I figured out how to build the beach hut and set up the beach umbrella I’d purchased earlier that day. It was fun working together, even though the girls only spent several minutes in the shade after we’d assembled everything.

All of us girls at the beach (Terra, Me holding Nohra, my mother, and Amara)

All of us girls at the beach (Terra, Me holding Nohra, my mother, and Amara)

On Sunday, my mother took my big girls to the movie theater. It was their first time ever going to a movie theater and they saw Epic. They loved it! All in all we had a great time. I learned a lot more about how I can enhance my parenting, my mother spoiled me with gifts and time apart from my babies, and everything pretty much went as it should’ve. I’m happy that she was able to visit me!

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Art In The Barn June 14, 2013

Today we had the pleasure of going to Essex, Massachusetts to model some jewelry for Art In The Barn, an annual art exhibition and sale where artists donate 50 percent of their proceeds to a land conservation community called the Greenbelt. The event was held at a beautiful reservation with a marsh and a lot of rocks to climb. The modeling portion was a favor for a photographer friend, but we had so much fun that it didn’t seem like work in the slightest. I got to wear a beautiful earring, part of an artist’s set that cost over six thousand dollars, and a bracelet by the same artist that was priced around $32k. I just about wore the cost of my house today :) It’s probably something I will never have the chance to do again.

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My favorite pieces of art were the head sculpture, the spoon holder with the elephant and the word “Journey”, the sculpture of the cardinal with the flowers, and the painting of the woman vacuuming the flower. Some of the artists were actually present at the reservation, so that made the event even livelier. Being around such beauty and creativity really fed my soul. I have a lot more of the east coast to explore. I really enjoy being in this part of the country, it suits me well.

 

A Few Good Things June 10, 2013

I’m trying more and more to look at the positive things that are happening instead of allowing myself to get overwhelmed and depressed by the bad. I cannot guarantee that this time next week I’ll be smiling (as I am now, on three hours of sleep, with an impossibly long to-do list for tomorrow morning), but I hope to at least still be building my “Good Things” list.

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1) I found a couple of babysitters!!!

After months of not having anyone but my neighbor and one girlfriend to rely on to watch my kids, I finally interviewed and hired a babysitter! Don’t ask me where I’m going to find the money to keep paying her…but I figure it’s a good investment. I’m paying nearly $10K to take my last two graduate courses, and should I fail them it will be money down the drain, so it seems feasible to pay a babysitter so that I can have quality study time. I’ll make it work somehow…

Also, I followed the advice of a friend and found teenaged girls willing to babysit through a homeschooling group. Bright, energetic, responsible, level-headed teenaged girls. Yay! I knew some of those types of girls had to be out there somewhere :) I feel such a weight lifted from my shoulders even though I’ve yet to leave the house and let anyone watch my girls yet. It just feels better knowing these people are willing to watch my girls should I have the need. And there may certainly be a need soon, because when Terra goes to castings, I am not supposed to bring the other two children along with me. What’s that? Castings? YES!

 

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2) Terra was chosen by a modeling agency!!!!

My four-year old is a model! Isn’t that adorable?! The Casting Call day wasn’t a huge, rainy waste of time. The agents at one of the places we went absolutely loved her, and are now representing her! I’m so proud of her and happy for her! I knew she could do it. All of my daughters are beautiful, but Terra’s personality and temperament are well aligned for showbiz. This is just the beginning and she hasn’t been booked for anything yet, but she had a professional photo shoot to build her portfolio and she did so amazingly well. It was incredibly cute to watch her, and she had a lot of fun. My oldest, Amara, was a little jealous at first, but she really only wants to do it because Terra is doing it. I’m still willing to shop around for agencies that want to represent Amara and my baby, Nohra, but I may take it slow as just having one child in the business can be consuming and I’m not known for having the most time on my hands.

 

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3) I’ve managed to meet my deadlines for my classes these past two weeks. Way-Too-Much-Homework-954x1024

Okay. Okay. Maybe I managed to meet some of the deadlines by rearranging the syllabus, but hell. I still finished what my professor expected me to have finished. I’m doing alright with it all. It’s a lot of work, and I’m staying up late and I’m waking up in the middle of the night sometimes to get it done, but…I’m getting it done. I know this isn’t the best way to go about completing my Master’s…but under the circumstances, what’s another two months of not sleeping? I’ll have the rest of my life to catch up on sleep. Right now I need to finish this degree!!! I’m so happy that I chose the professors I chose for each of my classes as well. Both are perfectly suited for the projects I’m pursuing.

 

4) I get to start going back to therapy!

Now that I’ve found a few babysitters I’ll get to start going back to see my therapist regularly! What a sweet relief :) “Nuf said.

 

5) I’m getting better at being nonchalant

Back when I was pregnant with my first child I thought it would be so easy to practice attachment parenting and that if I just loved my child and showed her that she was safe and encouraged her to express her emotions things would be alright. I never expected thrashing arms and legs, spitfire comments, and utter defiance. I am still a very gentle disciplinarian; actually, their therapist suggests that I be a little more stern…I’m trying to set more limits, to explain consequences, and to be consistent, but with all that’s going on it’s hard to have the energy for every tantrum. Still, lately I’ve done alright. I’m still a softy, but I’m not allowing things to get to me so much anymore. Yes, my daughters still act out, and I still rack my brain thinking of ways to deescalate the situation, but it’s not making me angry or flustered as much anymore. I’m keeping my cool, and not wearing my heart on my sleeve around them is actually working in my favor. It’s hard to not show emotion when things are going downhill, but I have to be the bigger person, and lately I have been.

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I’m proud of myself. Last week was a hard one, but I took it in stride and I came out alright.

 

Allowing Myself June 7, 2013

I’ve had some really hard days lately. I don’t know if it’s the fact that his birthday is right around the corner, or if it’s the pressure from the load I carry, or if it’s the stress of another divorce hearing fast approaching, but I’ve felt a hopelessness come and go with great intensity over these past two weeks. NTummyTimeI’m trying to allow myself these moments of sadness without being overcome by them. It’s a tough balance.

When my baby smiles I am overcome with such joy and such turmoil all at once that I physically ache from within. She is the happiest baby I’ve ever known and I feel like I don’t deserve her sometimes, because I cannot give her more at the moment. I cannot give her a stress-free mommy. I wish I could.

Sometimes I wonder if it would’ve been better to keep him around, to deal with his rage, wrath, and degradation. Maybe it would’ve been better than this? Than this mama who cannot smile without threatening the levees that hold back the tears. This mama who cannot balance cleaning the kitchen and getting her homework completed. This mama who, after a year alone and lots of therapy, still wishes there was a way to have her husband be the man he was in her illusions.

I’m allowing myself to miss him. I’m allowing myself to remember. FarmRICI’m trying to allow the bad memories as well though, because I also need to remember why it was better to let him go.

This has been a hard year, but I’ve gotten through it. I’ve cried more than I thought I would, but that’s another thing I’ve allowed myself. I have every right to cry sometimes. I’m allowed to feel sad. I’m allowed to feel let down by my situation. I’m allowed to take a time out from my kids. I’m allowed to hire a babysitter. I’m allowed to keep loving the bands he introduced me to. I’m allowed to change my hair, wear makeup, and find myself attractive. I’m allowed to watch what I want, eat what I want, and go where I want to all without being punished.

I’m taken aback by my newly acquired freedoms. I went from living with my mother to one year of college dormitory life and then moved in with him. This is the first time in my entire life that I’ve been in complete control of my decision making.

It’s difficult, but I’m allowing myself to let go, and in that sense I am allowing myself to grow.

 

Back in the Groove June 3, 2013

Maybe it was the hours spent with an old friend or the visit from my great Aunt and third cousin.

Maybe it was the immense creative effort put out toward my Master’s Project over the last few days. I completely changed what I’d planned on doing and had to start from scratch, but I’m much more excited for what I’m doing now, and almost caught up to where I should have been with the other idea.

Maybe it was the fact that I’d been feeling so low there was nowhere else to go but higher. I don’t know.

Whatever it was and for however long it lasts I am happy.

I’m trying to battle my perfectionism. I just got off the Getting-Your-Groove-Backphone with a friend who helped me to consider ways I can do things more habitually and focus less on doing them perfectly.

Like with my writing…I tend to wait until the deadline before I get anything done, but it’d be better for me to just write for little bits at a time than waiting for the big epiphany to come. My friend suggested relying on a timer, and it makes perfect sense to do so. I felt a weight lift from my shoulders once I’d created a schedule for myself to go along with my daughters’ homeschooling schedule, but after Nohra was born I didn’t actually follow it anymore. I should start back again. I cannot just wake up and rattle off the things that need to be done and then be okay with not accomplishing them. I need an action plan.

I would be much more satisfied to know that, no, I didn’t get my entire novel written today, but I worked on it for 45 minutes, cleaned for a total of 2 hours, exercised for 30 minutes, spent 45 minutes folding laundry, etc.

Maybe it’s how freaking adorable my baby is when she smiles at me, or when she rolls over and gets her arm stuck beneath her chubby belly.

Maybe it’s the unbelievably optimistic force that plagued me during my pregnancy…but if it is I see why I believed it. Everything will be alright. All I needed was a little coffee creamer, some good times with dear friends, and an egg timer.

 

Great Expectations May 31, 2013

Some terribly unrealistic force of optimism cursed me during my pregnancy. This mystical force convinced me that I’d be capable of achieving everything I set my mind to accomplishing. I was so certain of this power being mine that it confuses me every time I’m forced to accept reality. My reality these days is quite bleak.

I wake up early to get going before my girls get out of bed.

I have energy and big plans for getting through my to-do list.

But… the baby wakes up as I’m doing my morning chores and I spend 30 minutes or more nursing her back to sleep.

Then, just as I’m leaving the baby, my middle daughter wakes up with the energy of five elephants trapped  in a room full of mice, and wakes the baby.

I calm the baby, play with my preschooler, and go about doing my morning chores with “help” from my second born.

My oldest daughter wakes up, typically in a bad mood with a bad attitude, and gets things moving downhill at an accelerated rate.

They eat breakfast, and I keep cleaning, and somehow through it all I still believe I’m going to get a lot done.

Then, before I’ve had the chance to catch a breath, it’s time for lunch.

I create, serve, and clean up lunch, and then I try to get some homework done, but alas…my big girls need rest and cannot play without fighting.

They also refuse to rest.

This makes my outlook on the rest of our day take a nosedive.

Two hours later, after many failed attempts to get them to do anything together without fighting, I realize that my attempts have been in vain because all they want to do is play with me.

I play. I enjoy their company. I play for as long as I can without having to leave to feed the baby or work on something.

But it is already nearing dinner time, and I am running out of energy fast.

I yawn through dinner. I clean their plates.

We do bedtime business and I promise myself I’ll stay up after they’re in bed to get my work done.

I am too tired throughout the day to stay up late to finish things.

I realize that this is my reality.

I am too tired to freak out, but if I weren’t I’d be screaming, “How the hell am I going to pass two graduate courses on top of all this?!”

 

 
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