Sunday, 10 December 2017 09:47 In Latest Articles

What If You Fly?I write. A LOT. You might not think so, because very few articles have shown up on this site... where I keep promising to add more. My writing is mostly personal. I have journals packed full of the meanderings of my mind. Lately, I've been struggling with a few things, so pages and pages have been filled. It's my therapy. Occasionally, I will have a break-through, like I did this morning; and I feel an urgent need to share with my close friends who may benefit also.

Let's get right to it; shall we?

At the tail-end of this past summer, matters of the heart suddenly jumped to the forefront of my everyday life. After seven years of desert conditions, it felt like giant waves of cool, refreshing water just filled every dry, cracked area of my heart. Yep! I met someone. It was wonderful while it lasted! Then it was over. Just like that. My point has nothing to do with the actual relationship itself, so those details are not important here. I will tell you, it was good. I have emerged with a fascinating new friend, whom I will always think of fondly.

Because the relationship was always positive, I found it very difficult to cope with the loss. I am a deeply emotional person, and he was... not. It's okay. People are different. Honestly, I think that was the attraction. You know what they say about opposites. I went through all the stages: denial, rationalization, self-deprecation, blame, anger, hurt... A close, personal friend of mine could tell you what a roller coaster of personalities I have been over the past several weeks.

I believe all of this is a good thing. Those steps are important. They should not be left out. Healing is messy sometimes. Okay, it is probably always messy if we're honest. But, healing is the end goal. It must take place before moving on. You can't drag all of your old wounds around with you into the next relationship. It will be flawed right from the start. Every new person you meet will have to deal with your old hurts... directly or indirectly. That is not fair to either one of you. Some people get stuck here, and decide all relationships are hurtful, so they stop hoping. I refuse to do that. I know I am not here on this earth to be miserable.

Here is where I tell you, there is always a silver lining. Always. You have to look for it. Sometimes the clouds are so dark, and so big that it's hard to see past them. But... they are movable. They're not solid. You can push through them, or skirt around them. They really only look like monsters. It's an illusion. Has anyone ever told you, "This too shall pass"? Believe them! It's true!

I have a very objective inner voice. It likes to play hide and seek though. Fortunately, it has very good timing. Just when I think, 'I can't do this. It's hopeless', my voice tells me, 'You've got this! Have faith in yourself.' That's what happened this morning. 

Here is the analogy that played out in my journal:

Your heart is like your child. It is YOURS to take care of, nurture, teach. It is your responsibility to protect it. You are its caretaker. Just like your very own child, there will come a time when you need to let it go out on its own, to find the place where it belongs. You cannot place it there. It has to find its own way. If you truly love your heart, you will be less likely to just let it go prematurely. You'll weigh the decisions affecting your heart more carefully. You'll watch out for its well-being. What it boils down to is... self love. You have to love yourself first. If you don't, your heart will not be prepared for the great big, real world out there.

Okay, so this all sounds a little daunting. No matter how you come to parenting, at some point you realize this is your baby... literally! It's your ballgame. You call the shots. You are in control. You have to be. Yes, it is a huge responsibility to parent your heart; but, there are also tremendous rewards waiting for you. I fervently believe this! Parenting requires faith. 

One of my favorite quotes: "What if I fall?" "Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?"

If you've been nurturing, paying attention to what your heart's needs are along the way, it will grow wings. When you get to that jumping off point, you'll be able to fly. 

Up to this point in my life, I can tell you... my heart has only experienced this wonderful, soaring flight pattern once or twice. I've had a few false starts, and had to fly the plane back to the runway for refueling. And, I've had some pretty long flights, full of turbulence. I've even crash-landed a few times.  But, I refuse to close the airport just because life gets rough sometimes. 

As for those hurts and scars - healing. Healing takes time and attention. This applies to all kinds of grief. Some things are just not in your control. I've lost a few loved ones in the past couple years. I thought my heart would break right in half, and be unrepairable. It's hard when you can't control the outside situations that affect your heart. The key is to build up your heart to be strong. When things like that happen, you'll be able to withstand the blow. It's like wearing a bullet-proof vest. Yes, there will be bruises, but you won't die.

Love yourself. Nurture your heart. Be a good parent. Don't stop caring about other people. These things make your heart strong. When the time comes... you'll be ready for take off! ;)

As for me, I can now return to my regularly scheduled life. All those emotions have been sorted out and placed in their respective cubbies. They make sense to me now. Sometimes, one of them will crawl out and try to wreak havoc; but, because I'm paying attention, I can wrangle it back to where it belongs without too much trouble, hopefully. In the meantime, I will be preparing for the next... or last flight.

 

 

 

Sunday, 07 December 2014 13:47 In Latest Articles

Super Heroes are Us! 

"You are so strong." "I don't know how you do it all." "You can do anything!" "I couldn't do what you're doing."

These phrases are meant to encourage a struggling, single mom. But, to be brutally honest, they come across as an insincere, canned response to... "Oh, you know, I'm okay... "

I am not strong. I'm a fake. I'm constantly terrified that I will forever damage my kids somehow. I go into my bedroom and bawl my eyes out more times than I will ever care to tell you about. I work really, really hard; I have no clue how it comes across as effortless. I'm exhausted, spent, done. I can't do anything right. Will you please tell the phone company about my super powers? All they ever think about is money. They just don't get it!

Here are a few tricks I've stashed up my sleeve since I became a single mom four years ago - my little contribution to the hopeful future of broken families.

Embrace 'same ole, same ole' 

Develop a routine... it will save your life on high-stress days. It will help you to stay focused on the important things. Keep doing what works. Change what doesn't.

I just finished my nightly routine of setting the coffee maker and the alarm clock. These are things I do every weeknight. It's expected. It's noticeable. If I forget, someone will remind me. Mom's autopilot is broken. Someone switch the old girl back on please.

My car practically drives itself to work every day. Before I know how I got there, I'm opening my travel mug of coffee, and tucking my spare behind the monitor on my desk. I set my phone to vibrate, so the kids can message me at work (for important - or not so important - details of their lives) without disrupting my coworkers. I can focus on my job without wondering constantly about what they're doing, and "do they need me?"

I cannot stress enough, how liberating this routine thing has become. I actually feel like a "normal" person sometimes!

Pay the mortgage/rent first 

Have your mortgage payment automatically withdrawn as soon after payday as possible (or pay your rent first out of your paycheck). Once that money is pulled out of your account, it's gone. You can't spend it on something else. Your mortgage is THE MOST IMPORTANT bill you will pay. It keeps a roof over your head. It gives your kids a place to come HOME to. It's very, very important! At the end of the day, when you come home after work, you can relax, knowing you've at least accomplished one thing. You've given your kids a safe place to hunker down and regroup. The 8-10 hours you just spent away from them was fruitful. You did THIS for them.

Accept help 

If you're anything like I used to be, it will be very hard to accept help from anyone. After all, you have your superhero image to uphold. You can't have anyone knowing how desperate you are. Get over it! You are in a desperate situation. You will learn humility, or you will be miserable for the rest of your life. It doesn't just make YOU miserable, it makes your kids miserable, and your parents, and everyone who ever cared about you. They want nothing more than to be there for you. Accept their help. Be grateful. A grateful heart sleeps well at night. A well-rested mama can focus on the important things. Who needed what sewn, and what day is that parent/teacher conference?

Protect quality time 

Caution: Don't spend all your hours working. Keep time for the kids. Knowing how important that dollar is to your family, the temptation will be to grab every single one you can get your hands on. Don't fall for it! Your kids NEED you! You will reap rewards later if you protect that bonding time with them now.

Know that there is hope 

I have five kids. Two are up and out, three are still living at home currently. I really am not anxious for them to move out. I hope they stick around. They encourage me, even my most critical, tell-it-like-it-is, even-if-it-hurts child. "Do what you know, mom. You're good at it! Even if you don't make a lot of money, you'll make a little." The support of my kids... priceless!!!

Evidence: They leave me personal notes - on my desk in my home office, in my purse, on the kitchen counter. They're encouraging. They see me trying very hard to meet their needs. They see me struggle. They see me fail. They see me try, try again. They know I am doing everything in my power to make their lives comfortable. They know they are valuable, precious to someone... me. In return, they try to do the same for me. They try to make my life easier. Sometimes they feel guilty for asking me to do things for them. They know I'm busy, or tired, or frustrated. They sometimes forget that they were trying to encourage, and instead whine. They're human. I whine sometimes, too. I expect it... occasionally.

Don't put it in park 

One last thought for the "still marrieds": Don't sit idly by, expecting that you will always be taken care of. Take care of yourself too. There is a chance, no matter how strong your marriage is, that you'll have to do things on your own someday. Maybe you won't get divorced; but what if your other half dies? Or a bear carries them into the wilderness, never to be seen again?

Be smart. Be prepared. Learn things. Do things - NOW, while you can. If you don't need money, volunteer. Go to school. Be useful. Do things that you can put on a resume later.

I know. I know. You won't need it. You can always do it later. That doesn't apply to you.

Don't be fooled. Develop your skills. Do something you love. Later, you can use it to make money, pay bills, support your family. Just in case. Please, I'm begging you. Do NOT be idle!

Hey, life will hand you lemons. Take them! Use them! Worst-case scenario - you have contributed to your family's well-being. You can NEVER go wrong there!

Tammy McConnell was a stay-at-home mom for 19 years! Then, the unspeakable happened. She found herself at a crossroads, with 4 teenagers and a grown daughter to pilot into and through adulthood, alone. It IS possible to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on! She uses her website, growing-home.net, to encourage others like her, to do just that.