lastmandystanding

Mother. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Blogger. Aspiring writer. Smartass. But you'll probably still want to be my friend.

Archive for the tag “single parenting”

An open letter to all moms

“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out WHY” – Mark Twain

I first became a mommy a little over twelve years ago. I had “a touch” (<–said with sarcasm) of the baby blues after she was born, and I would just cry at the very sight of my baby girl – of course, I cried when the wind shifted directions, too (post partum nonsense). But mostly, I cried because she was just so amazingly perfect and beautiful, and for the first time in my life, I realized WHY I WAS BORN. This tiny, beautiful, perfect little girl was my purpose. I was born to be HER mother.

Because of life-long female medical problems, I wondered if I would ever be a mother. I had one miscarriage before my first daughter was born, and another miscarriage between my first and second daughter. To say I had rough pregnancies would be an understatement. My second little miracle came three years after my first. She came blazing into my world two months ahead of schedule and spent the first month of her life in the hospital. As I spent every single day, all day, at her side, I kind of had an inner dialogue with myself that perhaps pregnancy is not for me. Motherhood, yes. Pregnancy, not so much. It hated my guts. But I have always been, and always will be, eternally grateful for the two amazing little girls that take up space in my heart and in my arms.

As wonderful and rewarding as it is, this being a mom thing is NOT for wussies. It is not for the faint of heart. It is not for the weak in spirit. It is not for the selfish. It is not for the weak-stomached. It is not for the weak-minded. It is not something to be taken lightly. It is wearing your heart on the outside of your body, and praying that you just don't screw up. It is being the only one in the house who can clean up puke without puking herself. It is being pooped on, peed on, puked on. It is picking baby boogers out of their nose with your long pinky nail because it's the only thing small enough to get it – screw that booger-sucker thing. It is sneaking into a sleeping baby's room like you're 16 and it's past curfew. It's the legitimate desire to throat-punch anyone who disturbs your sleeping baby. It is the sharp-tongued pre-teen whose words can cut like a knife. It is the same pre-teen who comes crying to you and needs to be hugged because they got in a fight with their best friend. It is going without things for yourself so you can provide things for your kids – and being ok with that. It is rarely getting to eat a warm meal at the same time as everyone else. It is sometimes rarely eating a meal while actually being seated. It is sometimes being the bad guy, the mean parent, the "heavy" to your kids because that is what's best for them. It is pride-swallowing. It is humbling. It is relishing every opportunity to escape for 30 uninterrupted minutes to read a book, take a shower, talk on the phone, hear yourself think. It is giving up your boobs to a baby who wants to be constantly attached to them and when THEY aren't on them, a breast pump is – making you feel less like the sex kitten you used to be, and more like a momma cat nursing her kitten. It is giving up your right to sleep in your own bed with your husband alone. It is being questioned and judged by other parents. Sometimes it means giving up or doing without. It means trying to explain the unexplainable to the little faces looking to you for answers you simply don't have. It means standing in the middle of the store, literally rendered speechless, watching your 9 and 12 year olds act like they've never been in public or have any concept of manners, and only being able to muster up the words very slowly "Have..you…lost…your…minds?". It is leaving your child at their very first apartment and feeling pride and sadness all at once. Sometimes, it is realizing that your child has special needs – different from other children. It is realizing a hundred times exactly what your mother meant when she warned you of certain things 25 years ago. It is beating yourself up for forgetting an important school function. It is being so overwhelmed with love that you feel your heart just might burst. It is realizing that you should've told your mom more often how much you appreciate everything she did for you. Sometimes, it is realizing that there are no more chances to say or do the things you should've. It is realizing that if you have a 9-year-old, they are half-way to being "grown". It is realizing how precious time is. It is realizing that someone always has it worse. It is feeling pain for a friend who has to bear the unthinkable and bury a child. It is feeling hurt (and in a way guilty) for a friend who cannot conceive a child of her own. It is feeling invisible sometimes – like you're just the man behind the scenes who make everything happen but no one really pays attention to. It is constantly questioning the choices you make as a parent. It is facing criticism as a single parent. It is being a model for your showing your son or daughter how to pick the right partner for them — and teaching them to be the right partner for someone else. It is having your children be the first thing you think of when you wake up, and the last thing you think of before you fall asleep. It is realizing that you aren't perfect – and that's ok. You aren't the perfect parent, but you are the best one for your kids — however they became yours — because that is YOUR purpose. No one else can do what YOU can do for them. No one else can take YOUR place.

I will lay my head down tonight, once again grateful for my two little blessings, and grateful for my mom and ALL the wonderful women in my life who have made me who I am today.

No…this being a mother thing is NOT for wussies. I am woman. I AM A MOTHER. Hear me roar.

Starting Over and Stopping.

I’m going to apologize now for the (very uncharacteristic) serious tone of this particular post, and for the delay since my last post.  This one has been in the works for a couple weeks.  I promise the next one will be more like my usual comedic self. So, without further ado…

I was reminded recently by my 8 year old daughter just how simple love really is, or rather, should be.  With timing that couldn’t have been more perfect, she gave me a little handmade card that said “I love you” on the front, and on the inside, it said “I love you because…” and she put the following: “you help me get through problems, you make supper, and you love me.” Nowhere in there did it say “because you buy me cool things and take me places all the time” – just the basic needs:  kindness, food, and love.

Do you even remember when it was that simple? When it used to be as easy as “Do you like me? Check yes or no.” When people said “I love you” – and meant it, in every sense of the word.  A time long before a rampant divorce rate. Long before social media. Long before societal pressures reached a fever pitch. I’m talking about way back when…like when your grandparents fell in love, and even though they went through some really awful times, they stayed together, no matter what, until the day they died.

Somewhere between the innocence of an 8 year old and becoming an adult, we (grown-ups, collectively) have royally screwed things up when it comes to love and relationships.

When you break it down to its simplest form, the basic needs haven’t really changed. We all need a little kindness – both to have it and show it to others, and to receive it from others.  We all need “food” – as in, “to be fed” – to have every part of our being taken care of.  To be fed emotionally, physically, spiritually, socially, professionally, etc.   And we all need LOVE. Plain and simple.

So how did it get so damn complicated?  Why is it so hard for two human beings to make it work? Do we get caught up in infatuation and idealism? Do we expect too much? Do we put too much pressure on each other? Do we get strangled by envy? By selfishness? Are we consistently fooled by the proverbial “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome?  Do we just give up too easily?

I think it’s all of the above.

As a woman who’s been through a divorce with young children involved, I speak from the heart when I say there have been times in my life over the last few years when I honest-to-God thought that the heartache just might do me in.  I’ve dropped to my knees in utter despair, cried until I gagged, thrown my fists up in anger as I cried and screamed through clenched teeth, re-lived every second of my failed marriage to try and find an answer for what happened, cried to my mother/sister/best friend that I just didn’t think I could survive it. It was the worst heartache I have ever been through. And mine wasn’t just an “over and done” type of pain. It was a long, drawn-out, holding on out of desperation – kind of pain. The kind that leaves scars.

I tried to limit my heartache to when my girls weren’t with me, and keep it together when they were around, but when the waves of emotion come, sometimes you just have to ride them.  I recall one particular night when everything just got the best of me all day long, all week long, and culminated with a gallon of milk dropped on the floor only to splatter all over every square inch of my little apartment kitchen.  I was literally crying over spilled milk…and a failed marriage, and feeling sad for my girls to have to go through all this, and feeling broken and alone and exhausted in every sense of the word.  Once I got the milk cleaned up, I just collapsed in a heap of sobs and was consoled – in the very same tender, loving, motherly manner in which I do them – by my two young daughters. 

That was a sort of wake-up call for me.  I told myself then and there that I would never allow them to see me that upset ever again – at least not if I could help it. And certainly not when a man was the source of my hurt.

I know that pain and heartache is not unique to me.  It is universal.  And no matter the source of the pain and heartache, the thought of making yourself vulnerable to ever being put through the same situation again is nothing short of terrifying. Becoming serious with someone new is hard.  It’s hard not to think they are going to do the same crap to you that the one before them did.  It’s hard not to group them into the same categories that everyone before them has been grouped into.  Starting over is hard and it sucks. But it’s a necessary part of living and growing.

I certainly have said “never again” more times than I care to discuss — I’ll never let someone in my heart like that again. I’ll never trust someone like that again. I’ll never believe another man.  If this relationship fails, I’m done for good, I swear it. I will never do it again. Ever.  I say that, but I know myself too well, and know that I won’t actually give up on finding the right person for me. I like the good parts of an honest, healthy relationship far too much to say “never again” and actually mean it.

Often times, when I am at my lowest of lows as far as loneliness, it’s usually in a crowded room full of people – surrounded by people, but not that ONE who just gets me. The one who knows what makes me tick, and can read my face from across that crowded room – and either shoot me a wink and a smile that speaks volumes, or know from my expression that it is time to wrap things up so we can go home. The one that looks at me across the room and just feels content in the idea of me being his girl – whatever that means. The one who would walk across that crowded room just to give me a kiss on my forehead. The one that I can trust – trust with my heart, trust with my mind, trust to let into my life – and know that, no matter what the day brings each of us, at the end of it, I can rest assured in the fact that I’m the only woman he wants to be with, and that he cares what I do and how I feel.  And vice versa. I don’t want someone perfect.  I want someone perfect FOR ME.   

I’m not foolish enough to think that available men my age aren’t going to have some of the very same wounds I have. Most are going to be divorced, and from what I have observed in the men I’ve dated or talked to, a large number of them were cheated on.  That wasn’t an issue in my marriage, but I have experienced it in my dating life. And I absolutely hate – no, I detest – that feeling.  The feeling when you first find out about it.  And then every time you think about it afterward (and get re-pissed, re-hurt).  Even if it happens before the relationship has been clearly “defined”.  It still hurts. It takes awhile to come back from that. But WANTING to come back from that is key to being successful at it.  If you want to move past it, you will.  But it may take time.

If you’re wondering what my point is, don’t feel bad – I’m wondering the same thing.  I know what’s in my heart and my head, but sometimes, getting it all to come out of my fingertips onto this keyboard is difficult to do.

I guess what I’m getting at, is that we all just need to STOP.  Stop over-complicating everything.  Stop taking people and things for granted.  STOP passing up something or someone really great because we think it might be just a teensy bit better on the other side.  I’m not saying we need to become stagnant in life and settle or lower our standards.  I’m saying that, if you find yourself sitting back in your life or your relationship and thinking “man…this is pretty damn good.  I’m not sure what I did to deserve this, but I like it” – then just stop.  Stop there.  Stop and take it all in and just…let it be. 

Don’t run when things are going good just because “that’s what you do.”  Don’t walk away for a possible “what if?” Stay right where you are and just take it all in for a bit. And whatever it is – a relationship or something else – if it’s working, do everything in your power not to screw it up.  And if you do, then do everything in your power to fix it and make it right. Because the person you hurt may have put everything in his/her entire being on the line in letting you in in the first place. It’s not easy, but in my heart of hearts, I have to believe that in the end, it’s going to be worth it.  

I read something the other day that kind of stuck with me. I’ve already forgotten where I read it, but I can’t forget what it said: 

“Everything will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, then it’s not the end.”

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