Life as a single Mother-Empty nest, Dating, Ex-husband, Best Friends, Full-time Employment, Unemployment, night school...How do these all relate to one another? Come with me:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Single parents who also attend school

I have mentioned a time or two on this blog that while I raised my kids, I also attended night school while working a full-time job.
Ever since I started this blog, I have been told by a few, that I should write about the struggles that went along with that. I have been attempting to write about it. I was concerned I wouldn't be able to word it in a way that would make sense. Two or three nights a week of classes, another four or five nights of homework. Juggling with children's' sport events, PTA meetings, Parent teacher, school plays and concerts was difficult. Keeping up my own grades while ensuring that my children keep up with theirs. Family events, babysitters, house cleaning, bill paying, grocery shopping, birthday parties, something has to give there aren't enough hours in a day.
But today I read a guest post on a blog I frequently read and I hope that she doesn't mind my posting a link.
This is exactly what I lived for nearly eight years time.
Single parents juggling school- thank you to Rich Single momma and her guest poster, Abhishek Agarwal.

If you know a single parent, pat them on the back and let them know you understand. If you know a single parent who also attends school, offer to help them out. Shop for them, babysit, take them a hot meal, anything to help take the edge off. - warning: if they are stubborn like me they may refuse to take it. Try anyway.
(not me in the photo)

Monday, April 27, 2009

The new home away from home

Today was my first day at a new job. It gets a little easier each time. I have only had two jobs since I was twenty-two years old and so change is hard for me.
Although this job is pretty close to the other jobs, it is a step up. With my new degree, and my experience, I am in a better position, better pay and a little more responsibility and expectation. I am excited about it though.
The only part I don't like is the potential for some late hours and some weekends. It is probably the best time this could happen, as a single mother. My son is in Kansas and soon to be deployed to Iraq for a year, My older daughter taking a summer job working in Texas for my cousins company., and only my youngest still at home.
Juggling one car may prove to be difficult but we can work around that. She will also be quite busy this summer with plays, theatrical training and she will be practicing her singing and monologues here at home sans audience. She will be able to belt out her songs until the neighbors come knocking. And since we live on a busy street, I don't see that happening.

But- the job. Of course today was day one. And I wont have the freedoms of staying home and being able to run daily errands, but there is also something to be said for working.
I seem to have more energy when I have a reason to awaken in the morning. I seem to have clearer thoughts when I use my brain during the day. As crazy as it sounds, - except when there is terrible traffic- I love the peacefulness of a drive home solo. I can roll down the window for a breeze. I can turn up the radio for my own mobile karaoke bar if I choose. I can ride in complete silence and just enjoy the beautiful scenery in this state I live in.
I actually come home with a second wind. I get some cleaning done and am fresh for the evening.

First day is no indication but I think I will like this new chapter in my life. Sometimes you just have to grasp change and go with it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

When you think they will make a Mistake

I believe one of the hardest things to do as a mother is to support your children even if you know it may be the wrong choice so that they can learn for themselves.

Last weekend while my parents were in town, we made a stop at the store for a wrap that would match my daughters new prom dress. It is a halter neck and the school dress code requires that shoulders are not bare. It was a fun but quick trip to the store and also a three generation group with my mother, I, and my daughters.
This may sound absolutely absurd, but when we couldn't find any material or short jackets that matched the rainbow of colors in her gown, we happened by the housewares and linen section of the store and believe it or not, a curtain panel in the exact colors, and fabric as her dress... strange I know, to wrap a curtain panel around my daughter, but it is just a panel of material and already hemmed. I will post pictures in a future post and you can judge for yourself.
But- the point of this posting is far from that. The issue is a boy my daughter, a senior in high school is dating. I try my best to be there to listen to my children, to be a sounding board, and offer up my opinions and suggestions but I also try not to meddle. They are all getting old enough to make their own decisions with a little guidance from me.
I have mentioned on this blog before the difficulty having dating age daughters without a father figure in their lives, this week is no exception. Although that is not to say it would be any easier if there was a father here.
Here is a synopsis of the discussion:
Me: "I have not heard you mention _____ lately. What is going on? Everything o.k.?"
Daughter: "He is mad at me right now."
Me: "Why is that?"
Daughter: "He doesn't like that I am going to Texas to work this summer. He says he doesn't DO long distance relationships and it will never work"
Me: Well I was proud to hear that you told him you were going anyway and that if it was meant to be that you would be together when you got back. That it was important to you."
Daughter: "Yeah but I don't want him to be mad at me."
Me: "I know, but you will regret it if you give up your dreams for him. Especially at the age of 18. You have to follow your own path and if he is with you then that is great."
Daughter: "It is hard. He also doesn't want to take me to Prom. He hates dances, says he feels stupid when he is dancing, like everyone is watching him. So he wont go. The last dance he went to with me, he was a jerk and ruined the whole night."
Me: "I know. But if he doesn't like to dance, he should support that you do, and that your senior prom is a very important day to you. That really isn't fair of him."
Daughter: "Well, another friend of mine found out that I would be missing my prom and offered to take me, but ______ said If I go with him, we are done. Then he told me that his ex girlfriend asked him so he should just go with her, and then I can go with ______ and we will both get to go. I told him that was stupid, that if he was going he should just go with me, that the only reason I would go with _______ was because he wouldn't take me."
Me: I think this is all jealousy talking here and jealousy can be a terrible thing. Even more so at age 18. You are too young to go through this stress. High school is for fun and joy. You need to do what you think is right, but I think you will regret it if you miss your prom, because HE wants you to. I love you and hate to see you hurting but I think this is controlling behavior on his part and it is abuse.
Daughter: "Yes I know. But I don't want to make him mad at me."
I walked away and let her have some space, I had told her all I felt that I could. a Little later, she mentioned something about buying prom tickets in advance. I Asked "Are you planning on going to your Prom?" Then she said yes, I don't want to miss it. ( I think she is going with the 'friend' not the boyfriend.'
Senior Prom is next Saturday, one week from tomorrow. I am hoping with all my heart that it is a fairytale of an evening for my daughter. I will post pictures and hopefully a great story of her evening here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Winner winner chicken dinner

Just a quick thank you post to Rich single momma for hosting a giveaway on her sight last week.
She is giving away a copy of her book 100 secrets of a successful single mother. And yours truly is her latest winner! I am so excited and cat wait for my copy to arrive.
Even though I am reaching the end of my stint as a single mother in its most real sense, I will always be a mother.
check her out! She has great financial advice for single parents and everyone really.

On a second note another favorite read of mine is the antics of Single parent Dad and his son Max. Thier daily adventures take me back to being a kid again. He is also having a givaway here. ‘ Single Parent Dad is offering readers a Wii’ and

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Employed Once Again

I just accepted a job offer yesterday morning. It is a great job. I cant help but feel a little bit bittersweet. Being a single working mother, I have worked full time since I was 18 years old. I love to work. I'm not really a stay at home type. Sure I have enjoyed being able to sleep in if I wanted, and to run errands in town which are a bit of a hassle when working and they are only open during work hours. I have also enjoyed very much being home when my girls get home from school and able to run them to and from school on the bad weather days.

The job I have accepted will be a full time job approx 30 minutes each way from home. They mentioned that there will be some late nights and some working Saturdays.

I am really OK with working, even long hours. I love what I do. But I also love spending weekends with my kids. I am one of the lucky parents. One who's kids don't abhor hanging out with them. And each day that goes by, I realize it is a short matter of time until they are too busy with their own lives, jobs and eventually families to have as much time to hang out. these days are precious and I don't want to work them away.

Of course all of this is projection. I don't even start the job until next Monday. It is great pay, it is fun and challenging work, and it pays the bills and keeps me from going insane with boredom. There will be challenges: sharing a car, getting to daytime appointments, and others.

On the flip side, (sorry it is the Libra in me) I have always had these same struggles. But for the job I have worked for the past 3 years, I have always had to juggle appointments and getting home from a commute.

One previous job I had which was a commute, I worked at most of my adult life, was far enough away from home that I had to work out a lot of arrangements if the kids were sick or had performances or doctor appointments in the daytime. At that time, my parents were also close and helped out on occasion. They are no longer in the area.

But, regardless of all of this, I am excited to start this new job, this new chapter in my life. It seems from my interviews, that I can make a real difference in not only the design of new products but also the productivity and efficiency of the company and manufacturing itself. If that is the case, there just may be no more weekends and late nights.

I hope that all these years of work and school, doesn't make my children resentful of my lack of time but rather teaches them good work ethic and that you can truly do anything you set your mind on.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Taxes and the most important man in my life.

Today is April 15th, the worst day of the year for some. This year as is usually the case, I received a decent refund from the federal government. However this year as a first, I had to pay a chunk to the State Government. But- taxes are boring subject matter. We all pay them, and some of us, myself included thanks to unemployment, actually benefit first hand from tax payments. Such is a democracy and I think that is a good thing.

But, April 15th is also my fathers birthday. My daddy is still monumental in my life. When we were young, my mother did most of the child rearing, and discipline, she took care of our needs. Dad was more of a background kind of dad. But the times when it was just us girls (my sister and I are the only kids) and dad, those were cherished times. My sister and I still giggle when we talk about days with dad.

With only two girls, no boys, and being raised hunting and fishing, there was really no other way than to take your girls and that is what my dad did. He could be harsh and gruff, or soft as a kitten and he really didn't know what to do with us when we shed a tear.
One of the hunting trips my sister and I recall often is when dad got us up in the wee hours of the morning to take us deer hunting. We were young, tired, not sure about hunting anything, and bored out of our minds. I remember sitting on the top of the hill, on an uncomfortable rock, and waiting. It was a bit chilly and we began to complain, 'How looong til we see a deer?' But Dad would shush us. 'You'll scare them all away.' Daddy I'm coooold.' 'Here put on my shirt. But be quiet.' He would be patient with us, but as the day wore on, he would get more aggravated.
My sister and I would horse around and get rowdy. Not sure how he ever thought he would get a deer. And I am sure mom was home with her feet up and a good movie she could watch all the way through.
Then my sister began looking at rocks, and nature things. No matter where we went camping, my sister loved bringing home bits of nature. Pretty rocks, snake skins, animal bones, and plants. Once she begged to bring home a tiny cactus that was in the shape of a heart, my parents agreed and when they sold their house this past summer, that thing had grown to enormous proportions and nearly taken over a potion of their yard.
On this particular trip, my sister spied some long white hollow sticks. We just knew they had to have come from an animal. When my sister showed my dad, he explained they were porcupine quills. 'Awesome!'
My sister held them until her fingers hurt. She wanted them as a souvenir. As the day dragged on and the afternoon heat was setting in, dad decided it was time to retreat from our unsuccessful day of hunting. And we began hiking back to our SUV below.
My sister could not hike and carry the sharp quills at the same time. I think I recall my dad telling her to toss them. But they were too cool to just discard like that!
My dad always carried a dark red mechanics rag when we were fishing or hunting. He had one in his back pocket as we hiked. He pulled it out, and wrapped the quills carefully in the rag, preserving them for my sister. She beamed thinking about how her Friends would react when she returned home. We hiked a little more and although my memory is fried from too much night school, it seems we stopped to have a sandwich my dad had made and packed for lunch.
When my dad handed out our sandwiches and settled on a large rock to eat his own, the quills punched their way through the red rag, through his jeans and right smack into his backside.
Oh the fire in his eyes! The rage of a father... who didn't want to take the quills home in the first place, who was frustrated with two daughters who were clearly not interested in hiking or hunting, tired from rising so early in the a.m. and then, to be pierced in his more sensitive bits by aforementioned sharp quills. He blew his top! Threw them on the ground, said they were not going any further and we were gong home.
Thinking back to this day makes my sister and I giggle to no end. I don't remember much more of the day, I cant tell you if the quills made it home or not... I do know that neither I, nor my sister said another word on the hike back to the car. We just gave each other that knowing smile that sisters in trouble do.. best to let dad simmer on his own time.
But these are memories. This is but one short story of times spent with my dad, memories to be cherished forever. When we have family get-together like we will have this weekend, sometimes these stories come up. Sharing with my own children helps me to share my dad with them.
There is something to be said for a father of girls. and my dad is the best!

My parents on on their way to my house for the weekend as I write this and we are so excited to see them. Maybe I will share more anecdotes from my childhood her on my blog in the next few posts.
But today with this story, I celebrate my close relationship with my dad. And wish him a very Happy 65th Birthday!
Love you dad!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Sunday

Easter was a nice relaxing day this year. Absolutely a beautiful day!

The girls will be home all week this week on spring break, and my parents and sister are coming to town at the end of the week it will be nice.
Sunday morning we cooked up a ham, some potato salad, and asparagus for a late breakfast, brunch. After eating we watched Mama Mia.

I had just watched it the night before but I loved it and the girls had not seen it yet. What a great mom- daughter flick to watch!

The weather was pretty warm, a bit windy, and we were stir crazy. We decided to go to the park and stretch out our limbs. We had a kite that had not been used already in the house and packed it in the car with us.
It was a perfect day to fly a kite. We ended up making a quick trip to the store to pick up two more box kites. It was relaxing and refreshing to fly kites.
There were three small kids at the park, attempting to fly a small battered kite together while their father played in a softball game nearby.
Although we offered to let them fly our kites, they most wanted to
fly their own. We were able to get theirs into the air for a while too. So much fun.

The day had a bittersweet ending as we were packing up to leave the park and I received a call from my son, who is stationed in Kansas for military training. He had bad news. It seems he will be heading to California for a month of training, then he will get to come home again for a short visit. But then, he is being deployed, this September to Iraq. It was a punch to the gut! I never thought I would celebrate my 40th birthday sending my only son into a war zone. It is my worst fear coming true.
I am as proud of him as I can be, and scared to death!

All I can do is to pray that he will be safe, that Obama will get us out of there, and that this all turns out well. Until then, I will be a nervous wreck.

I am ready! Bring on the good news, isn't it about time? Seriously!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter isnt just for kids

Just a short post to say Happy Easter to all the friends and family I cannot be with this holiday.

Easter brunch wont be the same without you.

We are cooking it up now. I would post pictures but we didn't really dress for the occasion.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Struggles are lessons

Although I have been a full-time single parent for a very long time, and certainly busy with other activity both working and night school, I have hesitated to ever use it as an excuse or a crutch. Rather the opposite. If a professor knew I was a single mother, or that I was juggling a full-time job during the day, he/she had not heard it from me. Because I was attending night school there were many classmates with spouses, or children, and many with full-time jobs. I am not sure how many were doing all of them single handed. But I often heard excuses.
Such as:
My wife and I are going away for the weekend, I can’t get all that homework done.
My kid is sick, my boss kept me late at work, and any other million and one excuses.

I hated to use it, I hated to say it, I guess I am stubborn in that way. When my kids were sick, when they made me sick, when the boss needed something extra at work, when there was a school program or Parent teacher meeting, I always managed to make it all work. I never took time off work with a sick child without using up precious vacation time. Usually ending up sick myself and struggling through work with that.

I am just not a NO person, sometimes I wish I were. I hate when people think I need help and I hate more than that, to take it.

In some ways the need is due to stubbornness, and insisting I do it alone. In other ways, such as repair and improvements to my house, or my car, it is necessity usually due to funding. Who wants to ask for money?

I have been known to blame my ex husband for not paying support on time- under my breath. I have been known to blame my boss for keeping me late- under my breath. It always seemed I actually would truly blame myself when things didnt work out perfectly. Always trying to prove to myself that I could do it all, all by myself. So I would not openly tell anyone reasons why I couldnt do something, I would just find a way to do it. Sometimes falling into bed with less than five hours sleep, or missing out on my own activities with friends in order to get it all done.

But the older I get, the longer I live, the more stress and struggle I encounter, the better I am at taking advice, accepting help, insisting on help from the kids, and taking less of the blame on my own shoulders.
I have become a stronger woman, I have become more outspoken, and I am beginning to reap some reward from that.

I hope that I can continue to do that. I don’t want to come across as a b-i-o-t-c-h but I do not want to be a doormat either.

In my teens I was scared to be me; in my twenties, I was unsure who me was; in my thirties, I have been discovering the real me; I will be forty this summer and I am ready to just enjoy being me!

If you know someone who is carrying a large load, and telling you that s/he is fine. Help them anyway. Take off some of the burden they wont ask for help and they will probably not agree to the help. But sometimes it is just nice to hear, 'let me do that, while you go take a hot shower.'

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A second chance

I have not had much time for posting the past few days as I have been diligently working in my yard while we had a few days of nice weather and while I still have some free time not working.

There is a storm coming in today in the next hour or so, should bring rain and some snow in the higher elevations. Just in time for me to pull out my dress-up duds, my nice shoes and get ready to shine once again.

I have received a call last night from the President of the company I interviewed with last week. Yes the one that I left with an uneasy feeling. They must have liked me. But because my first interview ended up being held with many departments in the company, I had to ask just which position this was for. And he didn't have a straight answer. This leaves me wondering if perhaps they are combining the positions into one position.
If that is the case, it means two things. They may like my credentials enough that they want me and will be willing to pay me what I think my employment is worth. But also, they may be thinking that they can get me to do two jobs, at the pay of one.
I think that I am OK with that. I like a challenge. If the price is right, this may turn out to be the best for both of us. One of the positions, the interviewer mentioned that she couldn't pay much for and that in the beginning, may be a little boring as there was not much to be done. The second, didn't mention a pay, just took notes when I offered up my own bid.

I am not so naive as to think that I am a shoe in for this job. Or even that it is a drop in the bucket that it will be offered to me. But a second interview is a good sign. The awesome references that were forwarded to them from my colleagues cant hurt and I have a good feeling about it.

Job interviews are a little bit like a first date. You dress up, you are polite and cordial, you ask questions of each other in order to learn more about each other. You try to impress and sell yourself in the best light you can. Your nervous and scared. Your face hurts from smiling. You always say the wrong things and give more information than you probably should (ok maybe that one is just me). In the back of your mind you are wondering if you want to give your entire life to this person- company. Your hands are sweaty on the handshake. They are very similar.
But at least on a first date, I can order a drink to quench my dry throat. I can talk about my kids (is that too soon?). And it doesnt matter regarding paying the bills this month.

Needless to say, I am still very nervous. Still hate interviews, even second interviews. I'm excited, and nervous and even a little bummed out that my days of being a bum could be coming to an end.
But Spring is a time of new beginnings and I am ready for this. I am ready to take on a new project and show them what I am made of.

I feel as though good things are coming. My daughter thinks it is hilarious that I call my new suit my power suit... if it gets me the job, she wont be laughing.

But now I need to find something else to wear. Better dig into the closet.

Wish me luck! One more time!

OH! and I just became a great auntie for the second time on monday. Little baby John Michael my sisters second grandbaby. Cant wait to see the cutie.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Nice weather can change your whole mood for the better

Since February when I was laid off from my steady job, I have been in a bit of a personal fog. I have not really been depressed but more of a stupor. I have more than maybe I should have, enjoyed being able to take my time getting up and moving each morning, relaxing with my coffee. I have been watching silly daytime TV and just plain hanging around by myself.

I have worked a full time job since I was 18 years old and for 8 of those years I also went to night school. I have also been the sole physical parent of my three kids during the past 11 years as their father lives too far away for visits, weekend or otherwise. I have enjoyed being a mom on the go. I like the work ethic my children have witnessed and I like staying busy.

But I have to admit, it was trying, it was tiring, it was exhausting. I just didn't have a lot of ME time. And although I feel a bit like a slug, I have really enjoyed the past two months just vegging out. The weather has been pretty chilly the past two months also which just put me in the mood to curl up with a book or to watch an old movie. In between job board hunting and interviews of course.

This changed yesterday- and today as the weather warmed a bit, I stepped outside and got some heavily neglected yard work completed. Two full eight-hour days shoveling heavy soil and grass that has built up in an approximately 50x4 foot strip of my yard. It was exhausting, it was hard work, it was also a bit unnerving with the cat-calls from passersby (A draw back of living on a very busy street.) But on the flip side what a refreshing couple of days. Able to feel the soil, to clear the land, and to clear my head while getting my tired body out of the house and breathing the clear air. The first two pictures I have posted are the before - You can see the piles I created from the mess in the last picture in this post.
What you cant see from these pictures, is that my grass was growing on such a mound of dirt, that it was near impossible to mow it in the summer. When mowed, the blade would hit into the dirt causing the grass to burn and die. Ugly! So I dug the dirt into many piles, which will be carried away by others who need it, and also to some planting boxes in my own yard. I will plant new grass here at a height to the sidewalk that will be eastier to roll over.

Regardless of how the past few paragraphs sound, I have not been a total recluse. We leave the house often. We just took a three day trip to see my parents, went hiking, I went rollerblading with a friend, and have been out with the girls. This was different.

It was more the first time I have done good hard work in a while and it was good for my soul. I may be sore in some of my small muscle groups for a day or two, my fingernails may not recover for a while, but I feel as though my body and soul are glowing. It may not look like much- until the excess dirt is gone. It will be even better when the weather is good for more than a day or two and I can get it planted.

On another note: Still nothing yet on the job front. Today I received contact regarding the last interview I posted about. I think she really wants me to take the job, but it will be such a pay cut I'm not even sure I could live on it. But she is attempting to work something out with management. Time will tell. If it is meant to be, it will be. Until then, I will continue to enjoy this strange freedom I have missed.