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 🙂

 

Negative Attention January 18, 2013

I was raised with corporal punishment, but I don’t believe in using it.SpankingECard

I never wanted my children to respect me because I am bigger than them and I can make them feel pain. I didn’t ever want them to see me as a bully. Growing up, I swore to myself that when I became a mother I would have unconditional empathy for my children. I would never forget how it felt to be a child and get “the look” from my mother or how unjust it felt every time a belt struck my backside.

Having been a mother for going on six years now, I must admit that I see why some parents decide to use spanking as a method of getting their children to behave appropriately. In the end I don’t think that inflicting pain on someone smaller and weaker than me will have the positive outcome I’m seeking, but in the moment it would certainly bring about proper behavior through a physical release.

I’d be afraid to spank my children.  I wouldn’t want to hurt them and I already hate it when they cry. If I have the urge to use corporal punishment I am already pushed past my limit of self-control and I can only imagine what could unfold were I holding a weapon. I wouldn’t chance it. I will not spank.

CalvinHobbsTantrumAmara, my oldest daughter, really thrives on negative attention. It’s extremely difficult at times to not give in, but the more I keep my cool, the more she realizes that making good choices gets her the response she’s truly looking for. Dealing with her negative behavior is the hardest to handle at bedtime; she and her sister share a room so Amara will be purposely disruptive. She’ll jump on her bed, say “Mama!” repeatedly in a loud, comical tone, get down from her bed and bounce a ball, call over to Terra to ask her questions like, “Are you asleep yet, Terra?! Terra!?”

When this happens I feel I have no other option but to move Terra to my bed so that she doesn’t have to be accosted. Though it’s unfair to make Terra leave the comfort of her own bed, the girls see my bed as a sanctuary, and the point I’m trying to get across to Amara is that if she’d behave herself she  wouldn’t have to sleep in her room alone. I hate these power struggles.

If I ask Amara to sit on her bed and use her calming methods (blowing out pretend candles -I light real ones for the major tantrums, using “buzz breath”, scribbling on a pad of paper, screaming into a pillow, etc) she’ll typically refuse and then follow me around the house making odd noises. She follows me so closely that if I stop abruptly she rams my body. I know that she wants me to scold her, so I say nothing.

I know that she wants me to hug her, but I cannot bring myself to giving her a hug while she’s being utterly disrespectful. I’m working on hugging her when I’m upset by her behavior, but it’s very hard for me to give a genuine hug when I’m repulsed by her actions. Also, at this point I’d have already offered her a hug, and possibly have given one, to deescalate the situation when I saw it starting, but she sometimes takes that as a cue to move ahead with more bad choices.

I want her to know that I love her unconditionally. That even when I want to slap her across the face to make her stop yapping and to just think about her actions for a moment, I still love her. I want so badly for her to realize the consequences of her actions because I love her. I would not try so hard to teach her things if I didn’t care.

NoSpankingZoneBut I will not give in to her pleas for negative attention. I refuse to lose my cool when she’s purposely playing me. I will practice what I preach and lead by example. We do not hit people. We do not bully people. When we are angry we do not scream or break things. When we feel bad we have ways to positively deal with things. If we need to take a minute to calm down before confronting someone about something we should find that peace. We should strive to show empathy.

I didn’t know much about handling my emotions before I had children. I was so used to being intimidated and not being validated that I didn’t know how to express myself, especially when faced with something that angered me. It is difficult to teach my children how to deal with their emotions at the same time as I am learning, but it is so rewarding to know that I am providing them with a strong foundation for self-control.This basis will help them to understand more about themselves and have positive relationships with others in the future.

Being loving, staying calm, and providing children with ample methods for handling BIG feelings is time-consuming. Much more so than spanking them. However, I believe that the benefits of teaching children to take responsibility for their actions instead of stripping them of their power will lead to well-adjusted, confident, mentally-stable young adults.

 

Uno. Who Knew? January 9, 2013

UnoOur family has a new nightly ritual. Between dinner and Bedtime Business my girls and I play two or three games of Uno. Just months ago I couldn’t have imagined sitting around the coffee table with my three and five year old daughters, laughing at the hands we’d been dealt, marveling at their use of strategy, and looking forward to the day I can teach them to play poker.

It started on Christmas. Amara was eager to play with the deck she’d received as she had some experience with the game already from playing with her teacher at school. After watching Amara and I play a few games Terra was interested in learning how to play as well. I started by showing Terra the cards and explaining to her what they were and/or meant she could use them for. She already knows her numbers and colors, so she quickly picked up on the use of wilds, reverses, skips, draw twos and draw fours.

Once Terra knew the basics she became a phenomenal player; she won games 5-9 with little assistance although her cards were lying face up on the table (she has difficulty holding them in her little hands). Not only is she doing wonderfully with the rules, but she is also learning when it’s alright to be compassionate toward another player and when it’s necessary to worry more about saving herself from defeat. Amara is an aggressive player. She gets very competitive and isn’t bothered by how another player is going to feel when she whips out skip after skip after draw four.IMAG0104

The first couple of games that each of them lost was very difficult. I wanted those players who didn’t win to not feel completely defeated by the outcome of the game. I wanted the winner to be able to enjoy her victory without gloating. I wanted everyone to be empathetic toward the other person’s position. There’s this song that I like to sing, “Played hard, played fair, treated other kids with care. No matter what the scoreboard said that kid came out a winner! Always won the game.” It really helps the girls to keep their focus on enjoying the game instead of being the first person to run out of cards.

I lead by example. When I win I smile and say “Yay! Go me!” or something similar, but I stay in my seat, and I compliment the girls on how well they played. When I lose I congratulate the winner and compliment her play, but I also tell the other player who did not win that I think she did a great job playing fairly and being a good sport. Then we tend to discuss what might have happened had cards been played differently, or if more had been drawn, just for fun.

The games run smoothly without tears and without jealousy now. Terra still plays with her cards face up, but since Amara began using Terra’s handicap to her advantage I let Terra start using a box to shield her cards from her sister. We have all won and lost so many times that it’s no longer worth counting. Now, instead of the number or wins vs. losses we marvel at each other’s strategy.

Who knew? Uno has brought a new sense of unity to our family.