Sunday, June 15, 2014

Things No One Tells You About Being a Widow With Kids

1. No one actually understands unless they have been through widowhood too. It will frustrate you.
2. You will feel as though everything you know has been ripped out from underneath you. Because it was.
3. You will feel cheated by life. Because you were.
4. You will feel lied to by the powers that be and angry at them too. It's normal and I assure you it will not go away for quite some time.
5. The enormity of the responsibility of being a single parent will overwhelm you at times. It's okay to cry. It's also okay to ask for help.
6. People will try to compare their divorce stories to your spouse dying stories. It is not the same. By any means. They may or may not understand that. Love them anyway.
7. When you stop wearing a wedding ring and you're out in public with your children, strangers will look at your finger and they will judge you. Smile and feel no need to explain. Judgement is their problem, not yours.
8. Many people you love will not know what to say to you and may seem like they don't care. Remember that some people cannot put into words how they feel, and they cannot comprehend your pain.
9. You will sometimes hate "happy" families. Remember that the grass is NOT always greener.
10. You will feel guilty when you find things that make you happy. Remember that your loved one would have wanted you to be happy. Carry on!
11. You will see signs that your loved one is with you. Pay attention. Talk to him. He's listening.
12. Your children will have fond memories of their dad. Cultivate them and soak up their smiles as they remember.
13. Your children will be spiritually more stable than you are. Encourage them and listen to their wisdom.
14. You will have rough days. Especially around holidays. It will blindside you. Be prepared.
15. You will find that your physical health directly affects your mental health. Exercise daily and eat healthy foods. You deserve it and your kids deserve a healthy mother.
16. You will not feel worthwhile. The catastrophe of losing your spouse will make you feel as though you are not enough and don't deserve happiness. You ARE enough. You DO deserve happiness.
17. Nothing will ever be the same.
18. You will never stop loving him.
19. People will expect you to go back to your normal life because they get to go back to theirs. It doesn't work that way.
20. Your job is to take care of your children. Make it a priority. Remember you have to be healthy to be the best parent you can be. It's okay to put yourself first sometimes.
21. You will survive.
22. You will forever be changed.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Out of the woodwork

Over the last year and a half, I feel as though I have been surviving and doing well, but not really doing my very best. For those of you that know me, I usually put 110% into everything that I do. For some things I have been doing that, but not for anything that really puts me in the limelight. I've been trying to hide I suppose as part of my healing process. I have watched others take opportunities that I should have taken, and would have taken on a normal day. Loss has changed me. It has turned my world upside down and changed my view of the world around me. You see, I don't have to take all of the opportunities that are paraded in front of me, because I have something that is more important. My children. They are my real responsibility right now despite what others may see. I only get one chance to raise them and shape them into the men that will all too soon enter the world as adults. I am proud of the little men that they are, and will continue to be there to raise them first hand. If that means that I don't get to perform as much as I would like,  or have a grand career, then so be it. All of that will still be there when my kids are older. I am trusting that I am where I supposed to be right now. I may be a widowed mother of two children that now has to start over, but that's okay. I am in no hurry to "find a man" to take care of me. I don't need a man to validate my worth. My worth has already been set my my maker, my children, my family and instilled in me by Rob.

As I continue this road, I can feel myself reawakening and becoming ready to come out of the woodwork. My inner leader is eager to re-emerge. I know my talents and skill set and am ready to use them. My teaching, administrative and leadership skills are mine to continue to cultivate. This summer I have already traveled to 3 states, trained to be a Zumba instructor and affiliate, became an ambassador for Plexus products and am training with my boys for a 5K. Summer school starts next. Bring it on life. Team Barefoot Bob is ready!

P.S. If you're interested here are the links for my Plexus site and my Zumba site. If not, disregard this post script :) - I'm not teaching yet but hope to very soon!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tunneling Inward

Yesterday, I just needed to write. Four pages of writing until it was time to go to class. I am often frustrated at the lack of understanding for the difficult journey I face. Sometimes hearing that I am doing a good job is not enough, when all I want is to know that it will be ok someday and perhaps a hug to accompany it. Sometimes the condescending or blank look I get from people if I'm having a down day frustrates me. Then I remember I am generally surround by less life experienced beings (I'm not convinced all of them are people sometimes, so I'll just call them beings).  This is some of what I wrote:

No one truly understands my angst, my grief, my loneliness. You. You were what I lived for, what I poured my heart and soul into. A life was built with the two of us. Then there were three and four. We fought to make sure we had a world of goodness and security for our children, for each other. One day, one fine day we reached the top. The pinnacle of our achievement together. Then it was quickly stripped away. All of it gone in an instant. I resented that my hard work now had to be put to the side, again. After all, I had given so much of me already. How could it be that I was being asked to give more? I didn't have more for a while. I gave what I could but I somehow felt that it wasn't enough. That I was being selfish to keep doing what I had worked so hard for. Escalation into deeper, darker, sickness where I could not and did not have any other choice but to drop it all for fear that I would miss a single moment with you. But still, the annoyance at me being tired, of me trying to be strong but sometimes failing. And then, you were gone. I stepped out of the room and you were gone. I woke the children, told them of you passing. And then I screamed, my soul screamed and wept from the abyss that had now been formed. I buried you in the ground alone with all of our hopes and dreams. And there they will stay because you are gone.

Now in the silence I sit and ponder. I see all that I have experienced and to fully comprehend is sometimes still crushing and brings about a sense of hopelessness. But yet in the dark there is still a light, glistening in the fallen tears I cry. The hope that all will be well one day. That my struggle has not been for naught. Seeking to find purpose in this lonely barren place. But I, I think it should be so that I walk this road alone. The vast road that lies ahead is for me and my sons. It is out for the taking. I only can hope that the pain is worth the prize that I hope will be at the end of this dark, deep tunnel or nothingness.
Sounds dark. It was. It was a time that I was feeling dark, with a latte that was made incorrectly, and weather inappropriate attire. I was cold, and uncaffeinated. Figuratively and literally. It happens. I am dark sometimes and not easily understood. It doesn't mean I'm going to drive myself off a cliff, but it might mean that I need more sleep, alone time and that I may eat my feelings while I regroup. As an introvert, I generally need more quiet and alone time anyhow. My energy reserves are pretty depleted in general due to the enormous amount of stress I have gone through in the last couple of (ten...) years. I have found that I have to keep an careful eye on them, and take the time that I need as I need it, and not after. Self care is something I can say that I am improving in. Point for me.

Today, after an interesting and enlightening conversation with ma meiullerure amie, I began to read about learning to be alone. I realized that part of my struggle is the loss of Rob, and part of it is process of learning to live alone. Most of my life has been spent living with someone else, whether it be my parents, friends or lover. Although I live with two little people, it is not the same as living with an adult that is capable of taking care of themself.  Due to my duties as a mother, I am not often left with real time to myself or solitude. Even if they're gone for an afternoon or evening, it is not enough time for me to decompress and go inward. A trip somewhere, by myself, may be on the horizon. I think it's time I focus on learning to really love myself.

While reading I also came across a few things. The first was an interesting saying that when you get married you are also signing up to be a widow someday. The second was that most the women writing were significantly older than I, meaning they had overall been married longer, had grown children, and had already had significant time in life to settle into a career etc. Really, the only similarity I share with most of these women is that our husbands died. I wonder how many more facets of this process I will discover as time moves on. Random ramblings of a few days. It may not make sense to anyone, but in reality, this blog is as much for me as anyone else.

Summer is free to hurry itself along and kick winters behind out of my life. Here's to warmer weather, a correctly made latte, weather appropriate clothes, going inward and the journey of learning to live alone. Namaste.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Taking It Back

I have recently decided to cut the time-suckers out of my life. I opted to cut out Facebook and television. Let's face it, most of us spend too much time with our faces in front of a screen. One of the main things that caused me to think about the time-sucking ability media has in my life was the giant stack of books that I have yet to read in my house. I love to read. I am always getting books from Amazon. Books are everywhere in my house and I long for the day that I have a library in which to put them. As a child, I spent my summers either at the pool or curled up with a book. I would stay up to the wee hours of the morning reading. So much so that my father bought me a book, and jokingly wrote on the inside of the book cover to not stay up too late reading it. In my adult life, I have found that I don't read as much for enjoyment as I used to or even should. Most of my reading is research or homework based, meaning some of the reading is useful to me, but not necessarily exciting.

It has almost been a week since I cut out the time-suckers. I have been on Facebook twice and half watched an episode of Dr. Who with my sons. Considering the amount of times a day I would check my Facebook or even post, that is a triumph in and of itself. My experience has thus far been interesting. I found that the first few days were difficult. I was so used to getting on Facebook in spare moments or watching Netflix, DVR or the Food Network to entertain me, that I found myself actually craving them. I did not give in, but instead picked up a book instead.

I wanted to finish reading "The Tenth Insight" by James Redfield. I had started it years ago after reading its prequel "The Celestine Prophecy". I quickly found that I wanted to re-read the prequel because I had forgotten what insights one through nine were. However, before deciding this, I read a few chapters and was struck by some things that I read. There are times in your life where you realize that you were supposed to do things at that moment in time. This is one of those times. Without going into the story, you can read it if you so choose, here are phrases that struck me as I read.

"We were learning the value of remembering"

"But faith is a certainty that comes from knowing how things should be."

"Each person must experience the valley alone. I can't help you now. It's my own vision I must find."

And again as I began to re-read "The Celestine Prophecy"

"Working to establish a more comfortable style of survival has grown to feel complete in and of itself as a reason to live, and we've gradually, methodically, forgotten our original question... We've forgotten that we still don't know what we're surviving for."

"How many people do you know who are obsessed with their work, who are type A or have stress related diseases and who can't slow down? They can't slow down because they use the routine to distract themselves, to reduce life to only it's practical considerations. And they do this to avoid recalling how uncertain they are about why they live"

So, as I go along this journey of taking back my time, and reaching, grasping and claiming what I know is meant for me, I will expand upon my thoughts. Especially in memorable quotes such as these. Another post to come with my thoughts, but for now, I challenge you to read them again and think about their meaning. We are not just physical beings. One of my favorite sayings is that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Have you forgotten this in your own daily grind?

I should add that since I'm not on Facebook right now (only to put this link on there), feel free to comment here.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

I wonder

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to disappear into the wallpaper again.

I often wonder if there will ever be a time that I don't look at my boys and think of how they have been cheated.

I wonder if there will be a time when the responsibilities of being a single parent won't at times be suddenly overwhelming and crushing.

Or if the memories of times past will not unexpectedly overwhelm me when entering a familiar space.

Or if the unconditional love that I feel from my boys when they wrap their arms around me when I cry or when they walk by me and stop to say, "You look beautiful mom" will last much longer.

Or if I will always feel that I am floating through life, waiting for it to blow me whichever way I'm supposed to go.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A louder amen has never been heard

Single motherhood. It's been on my ever churning brain a lot lately. For the most part, I feel like I tackle the hardest job of my life with gusto and do a pretty good job at it. But there are times, when I just feel overwhelmed because I know that I can't do it all. I set limits for myself as soon as I began the journey into being a single parent. I know myself, and know that I have a very large tendency to take on too much. My children's activities and my personal activities were whittled down to what was manageable for me. Yes, I have a fantastic network of people who would help me at the drop of a hat, but what I didn't want was to be asking all of the time. So, soccer on Saturdays stayed, the overwhelming task of being the mother of a Cub Scout (and soon to be two Cub Scouts, in 2 different dens!!!!) went. You see, I'm not trying to limit what my children do, but I am trying to keep my sanity, so that when I do bring them to their activities, I'm not a crazy person everyone stares at wondering if I've gone off the deep end. My job situation went from three part time jobs, to graduate school. Less time away from home, less need for a babysitter, but more time studying.

I try to forgo studying until the kids are in bed so I can maximize my time with them. Consequently, after they go to bed I am exhausted and am ready for bed myself, but, I digress. My bills get paid on time and my house is in good shape and (usually) clean. Sure, there might be a bunch of stuff that needs taken to goodwill and an fair amount of recyclable goods in my garage. My basement could use some more shelves to put "stuff" on. My backyard needs shaping up, and my second car needs sold. But you know what. I'll get to it. It doesn't matter. None of it is vital to my children's well being, or mine for that matter.

Here comes the part that hurts. It's the things that I can't do for my kids because I am away at school. In all honesty, I have no desire to be a room mother or help with classroom parties. I will send you some paper goods or snacks, but that's about all you'll get out of me, even if I am available. I am taking a moment of silence to say a prayer of blessing for the mothers that do all of the room parent/PTA/whatever other made up organizations they have at the school, stuff.... Amen. The hurt comes from my kids asking me, why don't you do this, or why don't you do that? So and so's mom does. They understand that I can't for the most part, but one of my sons came home the other day and very honestly said "So and so said you won't help with the festival so I can't go". Excuse me? I quickly cleared that up, and it seems to be a misunderstanding, but for a child to say something like that... there had to be some sort of seed planted. That is the kind of thing that hurts, and makes me tear up.

I am not a perfect mother. I never was. You know what I am is a good mom. I am proud of my amazing children. They are wise and brave beyond their years, and at the age of 40, when I allow them to get married, they will make the women  they love very, very happy. I do the very best that I can. I don't pretend to be someone I'm not. I know my limits, and stick to them, because as every mother should know, single or not, we can't do it all. As the saying goes, do what you can with what you have. A louder amen has never been heard.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

For Good

There are people in life that cross paths at just the right time, and whether or not they are physically present, they are always there.

Upon first reading, most would think of the positive people that have entered into their lives. Most would not then turn their attention to the negative ones. 

Today's post is about both. 

I am not a social person and don't find many people I connect with. I'm a different bird. I don't like small talk, I'd rather get down to the meat of who someone really is before entering into a three part conversation that goes something like this: "Hi, how are you?", "I'm good! How are you?", "Good!". End of conversation while first person walks away. I am usually the one to add a fourth part to the conversation, "That's great!" I try not to sound sarcastic, but sometimes it doesn't work. 

That being said, I have wonderful friends. I have small circle of close ones and some are even related to me.

There comes a time in life where friendships are examined. You find that all are friends, but on varying levels. There are the friends that you can talk to about anything, listen to you no matter what, give sound advice, have fun with and that you know are always there for you. Then, there are the friends that only contact you when they need something, that have to go whenever you start to talk about something important to you, and/or you know you can't rely on. Not that you haven't tried, that person just rarely or never comes through. Maybe they aren't capable of a two sided friendship, because it's not that they don't care about you, they just care about themselves more, or at least that's what you tell yourself. 

Friendships examined, lines drawn in the sand, niceties tossed out the window... the exhaustion and disappointment of being in a one sided friendship has to end at some point. Sometimes you have to say no to people who aren't good for you and make them an acquaintance with a history.

The question of why that person entered into your life is then posed. I do not believe in coincidences. Everyone and everything serves a purpose and has a lesson to teach us. Some friendships are in your life for a short period of time, others longer. People evolve, friendships evolve, decisions have to be made not for the person you were in the past, but for who you are today and who you strive to be in the future. No matter how they end up, friendships are always good in the beginning, and all end up for the good somehow. 

I've heard it said,
That people come into our lives
For a reason
Bringing something we must learn.
And we are lead to those
Who help us most to grow if we let them.
And we help them in return.
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you.

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun,
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood.
Who can say if I've been changed for the better
But because I knew you.
I have been changed for good.

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime.
So, let me say before we part:
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you.
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart.
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you'll have rewritten mine
By being my friend.

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea.
Like a seed dropped by a sky bird
In a distant wood.
Who can say if I've been changed for the better
But because I knew you...

Because I knew you...

I have been changed for good.

And just to clear the air
I ask forgiveness
For the things I've done,
You blamed me for.

But then,
I guess,
We know there's blame to share.

And none of it seems to matter anymore.
Like a comet pulled from orbit
(Like a ship blown from its mooring)
As it passes a sun.
(By a wind off the sea)
Like a stream that meets a boulder
(Like a seed dropped by bird)
Halfway through the wood.
(In the wood)
Who can say if I've been changed for the better.
I do believe I have been changed for the better.

And because I knew you...

Because I knew you...

Because I knew you
I have been changed...
For good.