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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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.

Babysitter

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.

 

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?!”

 

Tough Week May 10, 2013

This has been a really tough week for me. I tried to relax and enjoy the fact that I’d have two full weeks between semesters. I tried to take it easy and just work slowly, calmly through my to-do list. I tried to keep up on self-care and CBT and even toyed with the idea of doing some guided meditations. But none of those things happened.

TheKillerSpeaksAfter a few days of cleaning I wound up freaking out that I was running out of time to get things done. I had that horrible nightmare (I mentioned it in my last post) and sleep has been impossible ever since (I’m not staying awake all night, but committing to sleep isn’t easy. Once I am asleep I have intense, violent, and exhausting dreams). I got an A in my class (yay!), but the joy faded quickly. I saw myself in a friend’s mirror, and within hours I was picking apart the image I’d seen. I’ve been watching The Killer Speaks way too frequently. It frightens me. The killers’ personalities are eerily similar to my husband’s.

I am feeling all out of sorts. Things are just swimming through my head. There’s so much to accomplish, but I have so little energy, and so little desire. Everything I do with my three young daughters takes an entire day. Every trip to the grocery store, every support group, every karate class, every therapy session; I only plan to do one big thing each day, if at all, because the simplest things take us five hours.

Even when we stay at home we’re busy from breakfast to bedtime business. It’s insane, and I’m completely drained. I would never really, but I wish I could just run away and do absolutely nothing for a couple of days. I need to rejuvenate. I want to rest. But that’s waaaay too much to ask. It’s tough to think that this will be my life, more or less, for another two decades.

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Okay, maybe I’m being dramatic. Maybe it will get easier over time. No. Not maybe. It will. I  am just very overwhelmed with right now. And to be completely honest, right now is not all that bad. I get to be at home with my daughters. Yes, the housework is endless, and everyday presents new challenges, but everyday I’m presented with their smiles and bright eyes, everyday I get to kiss chubby baby thighs, and when I do finally manage to get some sleep at night it is in a safe place.

There are people who care about me and my daughters. I am two courses shy of finishing my Master’s degree. No matter how hideous I feel there are people who reassure me of my beauty. I know that I still have the potential to go after my dreams. This week has been tough for me. I’ve been feeling low, but this week is just one more hurdle. I refuse to drop out of the race.

 

Nothing Went As Planned Today April 15, 2013

Thankfully, we hadn’t planned to attend the Boston Marathon. My heart goes out to everyone affected.

I’d planned to do my homework. I’m nearly one week behind on turning in my assignments. I’m trying to keep from being stressed out about it, but there are only two weeks before the end of the semester and I’m not ready to do my final project, nor am I ready to dive into my next (my last) two courses.

PlanningI’d planned to wake up and get to reading my lessons. I wound up waking up and getting some laundry started, made breakfast and straightened my kitchen, then contacted my lawyer, led the girls through their learning assignments, took the girls on a walk past a pond (where we saw seven sunbathing turtles) to a playground (where I learned that pushing them on the swings while wearing two pound wrist weights is a great arm workout), and then back home where we played Candy Land and Barbies after lunch, then I cleaned the condo some more and had Mommy and Me time with each of them before dinner and Bedtime Business.

Things didn’t go as I’d planned for them to go today. Around lunch time though, I gave up on getting any homework done before the girls went to bed, and although I was disappointed it became easier to accept. I admitted to myself that what I’d wanted wouldn’t be happening, and slowly but surely I felt the tug of self-defeat loosening. Every activity then became a valued experience instead of another nuisance task keeping me from my studies.

Sometimes things just don’t turn out the way I hope, but the more flexible I become in dealing with whatever I’m thrown without freaking out the more capable I feel about controlling the only thing I really have the power to control, myself. I truly believe in leading by example, and I want my daughters to know me as the mother I’ve always wanted to be. Lately I’ve been making a lot of progress, and although nothing went as planned today, I am pleased.