Sustainably Single Parenting

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

Break Time May 3, 2013

This has been an awfully busy week for me. I had to go to court on Monday for my divorce (a frivolous pretrial hearing, let’s just say I’m still married), and my final project for my eMarketing class was due today. I’m low on sleep, my house is a disaster, and my to-do list steadily grows…

Tomorrow we’re going to get our pictures taken by a professional photographer friend, and on Sunday our town has a Kids Festival, but starting Monday I have two more weeks before the start of my next two (last two) classes, and I am elated for the break. Sure, it’s only two weeks before I dive back into my last 8 credit hours of study, but two weeks is all I need.

IceCreamI’m going to clean like crazy, and I’ll try to not complain because I don’t have homework to complete on top of housework for awhile. I’m going to get back on my schedule, stop eating Häagen-Dazs, start exercising, spend a few hours watching TV since I cannot afford to keep the cable on (our promo ends next week), and soak up as much sunshine as my body will allow.

I’m going to spend time cuddled up with each of my babies. I’m going to work on making my natural hair behave. I might take a bubble bath and play with makeup, just for kicks. Two weeks without classes?! I’m going to love this!

I have so many things that I need to accomplish, but for these next two weeks I’m going to try to focus on rejuvenating. I’m still going to get the necessary things done, but being frantic is going to take a backseat to me spending time with nature, laughing as much as I can,  and calling a few old friends.

Boy, am I going to enjoy this! Two whole weeks. TWO WHOLE WEEKS!!!

 

 

Nobody Said This Was Going To Be Easy March 15, 2013

I am incredibly overwhelmed.

I put off my coursework to care for my kids.

I do my housework since I’m not doing coursework.

I put off my housework to do my coursework.

While doing my coursework my kids wreck the house.

The baby will not let me put her down.

I am constantly nursing, changing diapers, leaking milk, burping, soothing, being spit up on, peed on, pooped on.

I am constantly serving meals, washing dishes, pre-washing cloth diapers, grooming my children, educating my children, feeling guilty that I cannot find the time for educating myself, running errands, running myself into the ground.

I want to cry like my baby. Her cry is so committed, wholeheartedly unabashed.

I want someone to hold me, to rock me, to love me, to shhhhhhhh in my ear while I cry.

I want so badly for things to be alright.

 

 

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.

 

Just A Tad Bit Overwhelmed October 3, 2012

I should be balancing my checkbook.

I should be doing my reading for my Column Writing course.

I should be writing my paper for Teaching College Composition that’s due on Friday.

I should be reading the 300 pages worth of material that I need to have read by Friday for Teaching College Composition.

I should be writing the Blog Post that was due on Tuesday for Teaching College Composition.

I should be drafting the 6 page Idea Generation Assignment that I have to complete for Column Writing by next week.

I should be writing the paper that is due for Teaching College Composition on Friday, October 12th, because between October 6-11 I will be busy with a four-step peer review process during which I will complete four mini-papers and will not have time to start a new one.

I should be comprising an email to the people who hosted the Printing Facility Tour field trip for the organization I’m President of, to tell them how much we appreciated them and enjoyed it.

I should be emailing the chair of the department to see if he’ll override the restriction to do more than two Directed Studies.

I should be filling out my Master’s Project proposal.

I should be filling out my applications for for my MFA and my PhD for fall 2013

I should be filling out my attorney log (my spreadsheet of times we’ve talked, emailed, or texted so that I can have a detailed record of it, so that when I get her bills I can compare everything).

I should be folding my laundry. I should be washing more laundry. I should be drying more laundry. I should be making more laundry detergent because I’m dipping into my stash.

I should be cleaning the gerbil cage…again. It always stinks to me, even though I clean it twice each week.

I should be running another load of dishes. I have to make more dishwasher detergent first. I should be doing that.

I should be planning the girls’ outfits and lunches for school tomorrow.

I should be contacting the people I plan to interview for my next column which is due in a few weeks.

I should be ordering a few boxes of checks.

I should be working on my Master’s Project now to make less work for after I deliver Baby # 3

I should be more active with blogging. Reading other people’s posts. Commenting when things intrigue me.

I should be cleaning the bills, homework, papers from the girls’ school, and whatnot off of my kitchen table.

I should be resting, because I am under the weather, and my throat is hoarse.

But I do not have time to rest, because there’s too much that I should be need to be doing.

I should get going…

 

 

[Insert popular lyrics from classic rock song about school here] September 17, 2012

Lately I wonder if sending them to school is actually more consuming than keeping them home. I no longer have the option to keep them home, as life goes, but I think now about all of the people with the financial stability to stay at home, but still choose to send their little ones off to school. True, it gives you a few hours to tidy up the house and prep for dinner. You may even be able to get some shopping done, or blogging, or have the chance to contact that long forgotten friend, exercise!

Still. I hold tight to the pride of educating my children, I miss homeschooling them (and I sincerely miss sleeping in)!

Getting ready for school entails:

Having the girls bathed, hair braided, and in bed by no later than 10pm: I wish I could get them to bed by 8pm, but that just doesn’t happen around here yet. I have to be awake by 5am and I typically wait until 6am to wake them. Back when we stayed at home they’d sleep a good 10-12 hours straight, but those were the old days. I have to braid their hair because if I fail to we all suffer in the mornings. The girls do not like having their curls detangled and I don’t like the hassle. If it has been braided I simply have to undo the braids and give them a headband or redo the braids with hair ties and barrettes.

Having their lunches packed (and sometimes breakfast, and sometimes snack – depending on what their school is serving): My daughters don’t have allergies, but they’ve been on a fairly strict diet since they were babies and I don’t intend to let their school attendance ruin that. Every week the chef makes me a copy of the upcoming week’s lunch schedule. I look it over and decide which items they will be allowed to eat and which items I will be substituting. I try not to be too picky, but we do not eat much gluten, we limit sugar, and we stay away from nitrates in our home. We eat organic and local foods whenever possible, and I don’t want school to become associated with juice boxes, high fructose corn syrup, and starchy noodles.

I cannot simply plan their breakfast, lunch, and snack, but I have to prepare for dinner as well. If I’m allowing them to have gluten for breakfast that means they will not be having it for lunch or snack or dinner. I do this with my own packed school lunch as well. It is consuming, but I am satisfied in knowing that I’m sending them to school with healthy choices.

Having their homework done: Don’t teachers know that sending a three and five year old home with an assignment means the parents are being given an assignment? As if I don’t have enough homework of my own to do. I know, I know, it’s teaching them responsibility, and goodness forbid we don’t get a sticker on the homework chart!

Having their backpacks packed: Packing backpacks is simple enough, but I have to make sure to wash the linen every weekend so that their washed fitted sheets and blankets are ready to be taken (in labeled, plastic storage bags, of course). I put their backpacks in the trunk before waking them.

Having their clothes picked out: It’s bad enough that one of them is going to scream and cry no matter what reassurances I give her about possible upcoming enjoyment. If clothes are not laid out on the couch in the correct order of wearing (underwear, shirt, pants, socks, accessories) we are going to be late and I am going to miss my train to MY school. So far so good. I have the girls pick out their school clothes right after they brush their teeth the night before we need them. If they refuse to do so then I get to choose everything they’re wearing the next day, and they aren’t allowed to complain.

Having a mother who has had enough sleep to get up in the morning and make the magic happen again: We’re working on that…good night!

 

First Day of School September 5, 2012

I swore that I wouldn’t cry after I’d dropped them off. I wouldn’t think about the them losing their backpacks or the lunch lady getting their lunchboxes mixed up or the teachers putting them in the wrong classrooms. I wouldn’t think about their tears…they will not cry, they will not cry. I would not think about them having potty accidents, but just in case I made sure to oversupply their teachers with extra outfits, and training undies for rest time. I would not think about the teachers forgetting to use our fluoride-free toothpaste, or our chemical-free sunscreen, or the organic cotton bedding…I would not worry about a thing. They will be just fine. They will be just fine. I will not cry.

The girls were ecstatic for their first day of school. My sister supplied their ensembles, which they loved, and I took about a zillion pictures of them (and all of their gear) before we left so that I’d never forget a thing!

My little school girls!

First Day of School Meals

Snacks to keep at school

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rolling Disney Princess backpacks

 

All in all the day went well. One short teary-eyed transition into I-cannot-do-what-I-want-all-the-time land, one potty accident, one stolen/misplaced/lost Disney Princess lunchbox, one teacher each that they adore, and one anxious (but tear-free) mama who was happy to complete the test run before she starts school as well (tomorrow).

So far good enough.

 

Sibling Rivalry September 3, 2012

I know that I cannot force my daughters to love one another and that to a certain extent their rivalry is perfectly normal. But am I horrible for saying that it drives me CrAzY?!

I cannot stand their bickering.

“No I didn’t!”

CRASH!!!

“Aaugh! Sister hurt me!”

“STOP IT!”

“Mama!”

And the crying. There are so many tears that I think I’ve figured out why I hardly shed them in my adult life. I must have used them all up between the ages of three and five.

I cannot believe some of the things they’ve done to one another. Hair pulling, kicking, punching, spitting, purposely urinating on the others belongings, stealing, biting, lying, crying wolf, and breaking toys among other things. I often wonder if the negativity of my marriage influenced these behaviors, or if this is just the way of young siblings. It bewilders me.

I try so hard to teach them how to show one another respect. I try to wisely choose the battles I step into. I try to lead by example, to explain how valuable a sister can be. I pray that they will outgrow their disheartening rivalry, but at the moment I am annoyed beyond belief.

I want to scream with them. I want to run away. It’s extremely difficult to handle these days because of my severe lack of patience. I am too tired and stressed and borderline depressed to deal with such insensitive unnecessary madness. I just want to tell them to shut up and shake hands and show love, but that would be inappropriate.

I am trying harder to not not play favorites. To not compare them to one another. To let them be who they are trying to become and encourage them to express their individuality while showing them that I love them unconditionally. I try to make sure that every one is well fed, well rested, and working as a team. Still it seems that they are constantly competing.

I am counting down the days until they start school. I imagine that having more than one playmate will cut down on their constant battling. I fear that they will both be their class’ bully, but I’m hoping that once there are other children around, and more than one authority figure, they’ll straighten out.

Or, at least they’ll practice being kind in public and save all of their negative energy for me. I’ll work on finding solace in the breaks in between.

 

Mythical Welfare Queen August 24, 2012

I could’ve lied. I could’ve said I was in undergraduate school. I didn’t have to mention the house. I could’ve pulled all of the money from my bank account. I could have let them process my husband for child-support (though they would’ve taken that had I received any). I could’ve gone so far as to get a fake ID, fake social security card, and have someone cover for me when I list theirs as my address. But alas, I am infallibly honest. There goes my shot at being a welfare queen.

The system may seem too easy, but it is in fact not as simple to get help as you may think, and those who get help are not getting a lot of money. I have disagreed with the idea of government welfare all of my life. I do not like the system, its record of being abused, or the way that the people who use it feel compelled to succumb to the rules of remaining destitute.

People’s reliance on the government has cut down on the reliance of people in one’s own community and that makes it much harder to determine who really needs help and who is simply looking for a handout. Shouldn’t there be something on the applications which can determine whether or not you are an upstanding citizen who is really just going through a tough time and could use the assistance? No one I associate with would prefer to be on welfare or stay on welfare or condone living off of the government as a lifestyle.

I have done my duty as a citizen my entire life. I have given to the poor because I had extra at the time. I have completed community service simply because I enjoyed it. I have never complained about my position in society as being due to my ancestors’ enslavement, or blamed my hardships on “The Man”.  Upon beginning graduate school I reestablished and became the president of a student organization (which received the award for Most Outstanding Graduate Student Organization of the year), was nominated to be on the board of directors for a prestigious organization in the city, and have received an A in all of my courses thus far. Everything fell apart a little (okay, a lot) in May of this year, but I do not plan to stay in this indigent condition long. For the first time in my life I could actually use a bit of help and it’s nearly impossible to obtain.

One of the top reasons why women stay in abusive relationships is because the male partner is the breadwinner and/or they do not want to lose their financial stability. I admittedly overlooked several years of unacceptable treatment as I was determined not to enter the impoverished single-mother statistical category. I can put up with his mood swings if it means being able to stay home with my new baby, I convinced myself. I’ve been through this for eight years already, it’d be better to stay together while I finish grad school; at least while I’m in class the babies will not have to be cared for by a stranger. If I leave him I won’t be able to afford the Montessori or have the freedom to homeschool. I don’t want to be like those other single mothers.

I stayed with him to stay off of welfare. I stayed with him to maintain the illusion of a two-parent home. I stayed to keep from needing to weigh my options. How was I going to survive on my own? How do other mothers make it possible? I no longer think there’s such a thing as an authentic welfare queen; the system demands that you be insolvent before you qualify, and I don’t know too many people who would give up the little they’ve got to get a lot of flak. But how could anyone stoop so low as to deceive…no…it’s not so unbelievable. I suppose if someone got angry enough with the fraud being committed by others and desperately needed assistance she might think to go to extremes. But alas, I am unfailingly truthful. No crown for me.

 

Amara’s Antics August 17, 2012

I feel like I’m losing this parenting game. I’m trying so hard to do everything perfectly, to be what my daughters need me to be, to fill them with love and positive energy and help them to build the strength that they’ll need to survive in this chaotic world. Lately, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but my oldest is constantly rebelling against me.

I try incredibly hard to give her the space she needs, to explore behaviors and ideas and choices without scrutiny, but even with her unprecedented independence, I feel like a failure. Am I just trying too hard to make her secure and content? Am I expecting her to understand concepts that are beyond her years?

It has always been important to me to nurture my children in a way that doesn’t interfere with who they are or who they are becoming. I try to guide them without stifling their creativity. I try to teach them social constructs without demanding they conform, but when your five year old is making high pitched noises in the middle of the grocery store, picking up trash all over the floor “for her collection”, and running around on all fours because “she’s a Dalmatian”, I find it hard to not feel a teensy bit perturbed.

Gentle discipline and attachment parenting were so much easier before my daughter started telling me that she likes to make messes, she likes to make me feel bad, she likes to throw sand in her sister’s face, and she likes to pretend that she cannot hear me calling her name. We cannot go outside without Amara finding a patch of dirt to rub her entire body into, even if she was just bathed, and even if we are on our way someplace where I’d prefer her to look presentable. Usually I don’t mind her getting good and dirty, I encourage puddle jumping and digging for worms, but if we’re not outdoors for outdoor play there is a limit. If she’s not filthy she’s making contorted faces with wild, unfocused eyes and twitching her head from side to side in jerking motions while raising her arms to her chest like a tyrannosaurus rex and walking on tip-toes.

AAUGH!!!! Is this just childhood? Is this how it feels to be five? I don’t remember life before the age of nine so I cannot recall a time where I behaved in such a fashion. Is every child at some point their parent’s precious little tantrum throwing, annoying, back-talking little *&%!*^!???

What drives me the craziest is her utter lack of response to every method I use. I’ve been there done that with getting angry, raising my voice, and punitive responses. I don’t want to revert back to that, it always made me feel sick and guilty and cruel. I want to be kind, empathetic, friendly, and humorous, but she finds a way to challenge absolutely everything I say and I refuse to enter into senseless debate with a kindergartener. I hate feeling like the enemy.

It’s not that her behavior is dangerously extreme, at times she does risk damaging property, but usually it’s simpler things (i.e. running across a parking lot without me and before looking both ways, constantly creating a delay, and just being generally irritating). The problem is that if I say even one thing to try getting her to temper herself she acts flat out crazy! I don’t feel like I should just back down and never say anything, but I cannot even suggest better choices lately without her rebelling.

If she rebels against me at five years old I can hardly wait for when she’s 15! My theory has always been that if we can have a solid bond while she’s growing up, we will be better able to deal with bigger issues when she’s in her teens. I want her to feel like she can talk to me, that I respect and understand her completely, but lately I feel like my child got swapped out with some demonic otherworldly creature sent here solely to test my patience and torment me.

I suppose no mother knows quite what she’s doing or if what she tries is right or will ruin her children eventually. I can certainly say one thing; I never thought I’d see the day where I’d be relieved that she would soon be going to school. Since our plan was to homeschool I had only considered her going away to learn as something surrounded with negativity. Now, I am elated. I will enjoy these last three weeks of her being home with me, even if she’s filthy and walking through stores like an alien, because soon I will probably miss her antics and maybe, just maybe, long for them.