Sustainably Single Parenting

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

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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Incredibly Close April 26, 2013

I’m proud of myself. I’ve managed to stay in graduate school throughout this ordeal and I am almost finished. I will have my Master’s degree in Publishing and Writing this summer. Getting my MA from Emerson College has been a dream of mine for quite some time, and within a few months I will have accomplished my goal.Goals

Moving to the Boston area was difficult enough. I knew around 2006, when I graduated with my BA in English, that I wanted to attend Emerson. Five years, two children, and a wicked roller-coaster of co-dependency and manipulation later I finally made it to my first semester as an Emerson student. It was magnificent. I was meeting people in the industry, I was learning the history, I was witnessing and mastering the revolutionary technology affecting publishing. As the president of an organization I hosted events and ran meetings, I attended readings and collaborated on projects with my talented classmates. Graduate school was everything I’d hoped it would be.

Then…The Big Incident changed everything. It’s not as though my marriage had been peaches and cream before that night. No. Far from it. But after that night, after his arrest, after the restraining order, it has been a different type of hard. Finding a way to pay for things, staying healthy during the pregnancy, dealing with the insomnia and the court cases and the uncertainty, dealing with the loneliness, the embarrassment, and the grief. Finding support and regaining my strength. Working constantly to become a better mother, and doing my best to help my babies transition smoothly.

Igoals2t has been very difficult, but very rewarding. So when I look at the mountain of coursework in front of me, as it is finals week…and as I look at the massive amount of assignments I still have yet to complete before I graduate…I try to think back on everything that I’ve already accomplished. I look back and remember how incredibly impossible it all seemed. Then I cannot help but to feel proud of me, because I’ve already done such amazing things, and I know that I will get through these next two courses because I am too close to finishing to stop fighting.

 

Back to Basically Alright March 25, 2013

Nohra is over 11lbs at four weeks old! That's a gain of 4lbs+ since birth :)

Nohra is over 11lbs at four weeks old! That’s a gain of 4lbs+ since birth 🙂

Today is my first day of feeling good again.

I was able to use various natural remedies (warm, moist heat and massaging, increasing my Vitamin C and taking Echinacea, increasing my fluid intake and resting) to beat mastitis without antibiotics. Yay! It also helped that Nohra is going through a growth spurt and was begging to nurse almost constantly these past few days.

I was in so much pain at times, but several things helped me to push through. One was knowing that I couldn’t afford to get any worse as there wasn’t anyone to care for my daughters. Another was that if I had to take antibiotics and transfer them to Nohra by nursing her I’d feel incredibly guilty. Another was that no one was here to comfort me regardless of how much I complained so it was better to stay tough (very similar to birthing). I’m happy to have won this battle. Thank you all so much for your kindness and advice!

Terra and Amara modeling their new sunglasses and outfits courtesy of my sister :)

Terra and Amara modeling their new sunglasses and outfits courtesy of my sister 🙂

Today was spent cleaning, trying to get back on track from several days of letting the girls go off their schedule and wreck the condo. It was bad. It still isn’t perfect, but today alone I got everyone bathed, the gerbil cage cleaned, the cloth diapers and the dishes washed, the bathroom cleaned, a load of laundry folded and put away, and a draft of my Master’s Project Prospectus completed.

The plan was to stop and celebrate every small victory along the way. Every cleaned body, room, dish, diaper and whatnot. But I was too busy scurrying to clean as quickly as I could each time I was able to put Nohra down to stop and enjoy each accomplishment. I can certainly say that being a single mother of three young children has made me much more efficient. I have no time to do anything slowly anymore.

There’s still a lot of cleaning to be done. My summer semester proposals need to be finished this week, there are bills to pay and appointments to make it to and Terra’s fourth birthday on Saturday. I cannot wrap my head around it all. When I dreamed of my adult life I never saw it being like this. I thought that I’d have babies, yes, but everything else was inconceivable. I do enjoy having children, I’m just eager to reach the period of our lives when I can share so much more with them.

There’s still so much I want out of life, but days like today I am certain that we’re going to be alright.

 

Death to the 4.0 December 19, 2012

NoB+I know that I shouldn’t be so incredibly disappointed, but I am. For the first time since graduate school began I received less than an A for my final grade. In one of my courses this semester I got a B+. For me, a B+ isn’t good enough, and I am terribly distraught.

I know that grading isn’t systematic and we’re basically relying on each teacher’s subjectivity; if I’d had a different professor I may have easily gotten an A for the same performance and the same work. That doesn’t really matter at this point, however, as I had the professor that I had and she gave me a B+.

Bummer.

I know. I should be proud of myself just for being in graduate school, trying my best, and attending classes these past 15 weeks while juggling being a single parent, being pregnant, and dealing with the mix of emotions that have surfaced since separating from my abusive husband.

I know. It’s graduate school, and I unless I’m planning on going for my PhD (which I’m contemplating) it won’t really matter what my grades were as long as I get my degree. But getting a 4.0 meant a lot to me. Maybe it’s because I didn’t try my hardest in undergrad? Maybe it was just because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I like challenging myself.

This feels like failure.

I know that I have excelled at so many things. I suppose the mere fact that I’m keeping my head above water lately, and surviving off of three hours of anxiety-filled sleep each night for the past seven months is…something similar to an accomplishment. But the B+ saddens me.

I know that I will still proudly walk the stage, content that I did the best job I could do in every course I studied. Ten years from now I will not think  about the B+ that I received and how much it tormented me. For the next few days, however, I will be sulking. Death to the 4.0 GPA.

The loss of another dream.

 

28 down, 12 to go December 14, 2012

I cannot really believe it, at this point I am still in shock.

degreeMy last final for the semester was due at 8pm and I got it in at 7:59. Complete! 28 credits of my graduate school coursework down, and only 12 more credits to go before I have my Master’s!

Despite all of the negativity in my life at the moment and all that it took just to get here, to stay here…I am so close. I know I’m going to make it.

Yes, next semester I’ll have a newborn and two other children. I’ll have even less money, no job, and no one helping me, but I will still take a class. Such is life when you’re living off of loan money. During the summer I’ll take two more courses, and then I will finally have the degree of my dreams!

I am so excited that my three daughters will get to see me walk the stage at my graduation. I know they won’t quite understand the significance of graduating, nor will they be able to contemplate the complexity of my journey, but one day they will be extremely proud of me, and on my graduation day I’m certain that they’ll cheer, “Go Mama!” like always. I love their encouragement. I couldn’t push through this without them.

Amara Sleeping - Less than one week old

Amara sleeping – Less than one week old

I made it through the semester, and not by the skin of my teeth. I’m quite sure that I will receive an A in both classes, I successfully handed over my student organization presidency without letting the organization fall apart, and I bonded with several classmates.

I functioned on three hours of sleep for more than 75% of it all, somehow. That was very unhealthy of me, but I survived it, and now I will take the next few days to do absolutely nothing (except light household chores, and things that really interest me). I will try to take a short break from the overwhelming state of my life and just recuperate.

In eight short weeks I will be having my third baby, and plenty needs to take place before she arrives, but for these next few nights I want to revel in my glory. I did something amazing. I didn’t let myself quit. I deserve a bit of sleep for it.

 

M.A. Candidate – Publishing and Writing November 16, 2012

I’ve always been fascinated by the Book Publishing industry.

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When I was a child I was enamored by books; their creation was such a mystery and I was interested in everything. Who was the author? How did the author get the idea to tell this story? Who was in charge of making it a book? How was the book manufactured? How is it that the book is available for us to purchase? How did they get that shiny gold edge on the pages of our bibles? How do people get into this business?

Upon acquiring a new book I would look first to the copyright page. I wanted to know as much as possible about its origins, I wanted to somehow unravel the mystery, but for some reason it never occurred to me that book publishing was a tangible career possibility.

Not until my senior year of undergraduate college, while interning for a journal published through my university, was I introduced to the behind-the-scenes of publishing. I found it fascinating. From acquiring works, to selecting which pieces to include in the journal, to editing the pieces, to electronically formatting the works for print publication, everything was enthralling.  I enjoyed it so much that the journal’s Editor suggested I intern for the university’s press. My university had a press? I hadn’t known a thing about it, and I was ecstatic.

During my time at the university press I began to see the mysteries of book publishing revealed right before my eyes. I wanted to know more; I wanted to learn everything. There are only a handful of universities in the country which offer Master’s degrees in Publishing; I knew that Emerson College would be perfect for me. Five years passed before I was able to attend; one mortgage, two children, the roller coaster of my abusive marriage, and the continual lack of finances all attributed. Nevertheless, I was determined to make it to Boston, to learn even more about the ins and outs of the industry, to meet and network with people who actually work in publishing, to further unravel the mystery, the magic, of bookmaking.

Being here has been wonderful. I love the city, I love the school and the people that I am surrounded by, who are as enamored by good writing and beautiful manufacturing as I am. I have met people on all sides of the industry, from authors, to editors, to marketing folk, from agents, to booksellers, to those who are brave enough to do rights and permissions, from traditional booksellers to eBook professionals, from printing facility personnel to distribution managers. All sides of the spectrum are being shown to me through this program, and I feel so fortunate to have made it here. I love that I am getting my Master’s degree in a field that intrigues me, fulfills me in a way that no other profession has the ability. I belong in this industry, I breathe publishing.

After this semester I will be three courses away from obtaining my M.A. in Publishing and Writing. Just three courses away; I am going to make it. I will have no choice but to stay in school through the birth of Baby #3. I will not be able to take a break as we are currently living off of my loan money. It scares me a little, but I have the support of my program’s faculty, and I hope to be allotted flexibility. I will not give up, I will not drop out. If I quit now I will probably never finish; I am too close to quit. And I want this.

career-opportunities

I don’t know what the future holds for me as far as it goes with me actually working in the publishing industry. I have learned so much throughout my schooling that I have a wide range of interests in various aspects of the trade. I absolutely love marketing, but I unexpectedly fell in love with production as well. I think that trade books would be exciting to sell, but I am compelled to work for a scholarly press. Then there’s always novelty books, textbooks, electronic publishing, or something else.

Only time will tell which direction I may go. Right now my focus is on graduating, taking care of my three babies, and stabilizing our lives. One thing I can count on is the industry still being around when I am back on my feet. Only three more classes and I will have a Master’s degree in the field of my dreams. I must find the strength to keep going. I’ve come so far. I am so close now.

I will succeed.

 

Losing the Baby Weight x 3 August 22, 2012

I am determined to exercise throughout this pregnancy, and to get back in shape after birthing Baby # 3. I was determined to stay in shape during my first two pregnancies as well, but those plans sort of fell through. I was busy, working, depressed, and a little too reliant on how my years of athleticism remained obvious on my 5’4” frame.

In 2006 before getting pregnant with my first daughter.

Pregnancy # 1 my starting weight was 110lbs. I was in great shape and walked a few miles every day. I took a water aerobics class and allowed my husband to dictate what I ate (which was a lot). I ended the pregnancy at 155lbs.

In 2007 a few weeks after giving birth to Amara

Pregnancy # 2 my starting weight was 120lbs. The only exercise I got was when I’d take my daughter out for walks and running back and forth at work all night long. By the end of Pregnancy # 2 I was again, 155lbs.

In 2010 a year and a half after having Terra

Pregnancy # 3, I am currently 16 weeks, my starting weight was 130lbs. I am eating healthier than I have ever eaten in my entire life, and since the second trimester began I am no longer constantly doubled over with nausea and fatigue. I know that simply thinking about exercising isn’t going to get me going, I rely on routine, and this week I’ve begun one.

I bought a new-to-me treadmill from someone through Craigslist last week, and I’ve been walking for one hour each morning before the girls wake up. I love it! I used to do track and field, play soccer, be a cheerleader, and have rock hard abs, but I hadn’t sweat from doing cardio in so long that I’d forgotten how good it felt. I’m not going crazy with exercise, but I hope to keep on walking every day. I don’t want exercise to come as a shock to my body after Baby # 3.

It’s only my first week, but I long for the day when I look down and don’t see my thighs jiggling. They never used to jiggle. They used to be defined. I actually liked my thighs at one point in time because of how strong they looked when I would run. My arms as well; I got teased because of how muscular they were when I was younger, and now I know what Oprah meant by “waving flags” with one’s arm fat. It’s not about being skinny, it is about being fit. I feel most confident when I am physically capable.

With 24 more weeks of pregnancy ahead of me, I don’t plan on entering any triathlons soon. For now I’ll stick to walking and prenatal yoga, stretching and incorporating weights into my treadmill time, but nothing extreme. I won’t even be running until I’m several months postpartum. This time I’m thinking realistically. It has taken me nearly six years to put this weight on, and I’ll be in my seventh year before I can begin to work at taking it off. I figure that by the time I’m 30 I will be in the best shape of my adult life (that’s a little over three years from now). I’m setting my goals high, but I know that I’ll reach them, one inclined step at a time.