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:

Monday, August 29, 2011

"For over two decades my number one pursuit was raising my children well, and now the job is over, and here I stand like a high level, high stress but low paid CEO who's company just got bought out."- T-shirt design on

I have been a mom for twenty-two years this week. I became a mom just one month before my twentieth birthday.
I am still a mom.

The leash is a lot longer now, but the connection is still there.

My house is near empty now. Just one child home. These are the days I have talked about for years. When their father and I decided to start our family young, there were many friends who were also starting families. There were also many who thought we were nuts.
We were often told we were giving up our own youth. And to some degree maybe that had some truth to it.

Our response was most often

 "If we have them young, we will have the energy to keep up with them. And then, when they are grown, we will be young enough to go and play and enjoy our own freedoms."

And here we are. We certainly never expected that we would be a broken family. Funny how the future doesn't always come out the way we expect.

Moving into the empty-nest stage of my life as a mother is also not how I had planned it would be.

I can remember when Baby Boomers- my parents generation were the target audience. I find more and more that advertisements and sales are geared to my own generation. One hit wonders from the 80s on clothing and food advertisements. Many fashions I recognize from my teen years once again on the shelves. They know what they are doing. Raising kids.

Most of my friends have school age children. Ranging from kindergarten to college students. And we are the parents who are watching those ads. We are the parents sending them to school. And picking up the bill in turn filling the pockets of those companies selling the wares.

But when your children leave the house- out on their own, how should you feel? What are the emotions that come with this stage?
I speak to friends who are in such a hurry to start their childless lives that they insist that their kids move out on their eighteenth birthday. Make their own way and grow up. Many from parents who just recently grew up themselves.
Or there are the parents who just cant let go. They make their children go to the local college so that they can still wake them, drive them, and pack their lunches. Doesn't this lead to the aforementioned Peter Pan syndrome?
I suppose I am neither of those.

If I were still married, or married again... maybe I would feel differently about an empty house. It does feel empty. I do miss my kids. Terribly.  I am concerned about how they will fare on their own. And of course I am so proud of the adults they are becoming.

But for a single parent- it is a whole different feeling I suppose.

The emptiness is more than just the empty bedrooms I pass at night, no sleepy eyes peeking out at the sliver of light from the hallway, It is more than the absence of sleepless nights waiting for the click of the front door lock signalling they are home safe. And it is more than the empty seats around me as I curl up for a movie on the couch.

It is a peculiar kind of empty.

I have gone it solo for over fourteen years. I had four schedules in my head. I had four mouths to feed. I had four bodies to get to bed. Everything I did or thought was in Fours. I ran on adrenaline most of the time. I didn't have time for rest. I had a job to do and did it.
My mind has been for many years focused on three children while I attended and studied for night school.
My mind has been focused on being the best employee I could be in order to provide for the four of us.

And now.

I no longer keep four schedules, meals or bedtimes--- just one.

I no longer focus on my education--- that is done.

At the moment, I do not focus on my employment I have none.

My world has changed. It is my time to have fun- sure. I am emotional- sure.

But I am also a little bit lost and confused.

All I know is being the best mother I can be. I still strive for that.

But my full-time jobs- Mother, wage-earner and student- are no longer full time.

And so. I Exist. I am, I always will be mom. I will always be a student and I will once again be a wage-earner.

It will just be a new mom role. A new Student role and someday soon, I will be a wage-earner once again in a new role.

And now I will learn to have my life back as my own as I once learned to make it theirs.

Keep on keepin as they say.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal. John F. Kennedy

My heart goes out to those facing the wrath of Hurricane Irene. It seems it was not as bad as feared and the casualties are low. However there were some casualties and that is more than you hope for.
There will also be possibly months of clean up following the storms. Thank goodness she decided to rear her head in fair weather rather than the dead of winter.
If you are in the area, I wish you well.

We were expecting our own storm (much smaller of course) here on the home base. My best friend was celebrating a milestone birthday and as we are both low on funding these days, decided on a day at the lake about a mile from her home.

A beautiful day and a much needed break. Fresh air, friends and nothing to do but enjoy the day.

It was a bit warm and we ended up swimming with the fishes. riding in the boat and just enjoying the sunshine.
Those are the times when you know things have to turn out ok. A great chance to breathe the fresh air, enjoy others company, soak in some Vitamin D from the sun and just let the worries leave your mind for a day.

And that is exactly what we did.
My daughter had to work and came up late in the day. She got her hair cut short and she looks fabulous. But then, I am biased and could never see any of my kids not looking fabulous.

Rounded out the day falling into bed a little early. Absolutely exhausted. Only to be woken up an hour later by my frightened dog. The storm we had expected earlier had hit and the thunder was too much for her. After approximately an hour of dog wrestling in my bed, I drifted off again.

Followed by the strangest dream I have had in a long time. I do not usually remember my dreams. This one had a lot to do with my ex husband and his taking over in my life. I literally woke up confused. He is a very small part of my life and has been for a long time. So I really don't understand the meaning of this dream... if there is one.

However, this Sunday morning, coffee and computer in hand, I am relaxed and hopeful. The air is fresh and clear from the late night storm, my mind is clear also. Ready to take on another week...please let it come with a job offer.... a PAYING job offer.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

She's Gonna Make it After All

First week in college for my baby and she is doing fine.

Still looking for a part-time job for monthly utilities and essentials but no panic attacks yet.

As a recent student myself, I realize that the bulk of the work does not come in the first week. However, she has made good friends and seems compatible with her two roomies. She has completed her coursework and even worked a little ahead. She has walked the campus and is aware of those offices which will offer her the aid she will require.

And- she is happy. She loves it there.

Thank goodness for social media sites such as Facebook and for cell phones. We have been in touch often.

That eases my mind quite a bit.

This house? It is definitely empty. My older daughter is here although she works and has her own agenda and activities.

I even went on a date. It was more for fun and to get out of the house than a date that might go somewhere.. he is MUCH too young for me. But it was nice to get out and just let loose for a night.

 "The times they are a Changin'.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

If you don't believe in ghosts, you've never been to a family reunion. ~Ashleigh Brilliant

I come from a very close knit family. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and sister were always within a short drive. Many holidays were spent with large groups of extended family from summer picnics to Christmas Eve dinners. I have passed this on to my own children and attempt to keep the family tight for them

However, after losing my maternal grandmother while in her forties, very near the age I am now. And also the loss of my paternal Grandfather who committed suicide in his fifties and before I entered this world, leaves empty emotions and questions about those relatives I barely knew.

As I get older and my children are turning into adults themselves, I've become more curious about the past I know little about. I am the youngest child of two and don't remember a lot of the things my sister is old enough to remember. Both of my parents have wonderful memories in grand detail.

It is rare that we are out with my mother, sometimes in cities far from home when my mother doesn't see someone she knows. Is it because she knows a lot of people? Perhaps, she is a very sweet socialite. Or is it that she just remembers better? When our memories do not grasp the past as well as we would like, do we walk right past those we know from our past not realizing? I believe there is some truth to that. My mother seems to be in tune with those from her past.

I find myself asking my parents a lot more about the past. I find myself more curious about where I came from. I lost my paternal grandmother when I was still young. Pregnant with my second child at her funeral I was just 20. Busy with my life as a new bride, husband overseas serving in Desert Storm. I had plenty going on and way too young to care or take the time to ask about my grandmothers youth. And now I wish I had.

My grandparents and my parents are luckily slight hoarders. They don't like to throw away memories. And I love them for it. Between my mothers mothers hope chest full of memories, my dads moms hope chest and so many other boxes filled with pictures and letters encapsulating the past. I have much to learn.

A few years ago my parents moved from the house of my youth. We cleared, packed, sorted, and moved 20+ years worth of stuff. In the back recesses of their basement were boxes from my grandmothers house. Old memories perhaps too packed with emotion to be sorted at the time of her death.

In one of the boxes, hidden buried in some old dance cards, photographs and report cards were two small leather bound treasures. One a tiny ring binder no larger than a wallet, my grandfathers journal. The other a small leather diary complete with locking clasp. My grandmothers journal.

I have read them once before, just after my parents move. Each ends with a proposal and a marriage. The coming together of my own paternal grandparents. A glimpse into their dating and falling in love.

On our last trip south to drop off my youngest at school, I picked up the journals once again from my dad. I am reading them again. I am recording them into digital format so that I may share with other family more easily. I also found some old letters. A small glimpse into my own fathers youth.

I am more and more curious. I hope to get a lot of information in the near future. While it is still available.
I live in a Genealogically rich state. There is access to research already completed for me. But there is more to family than dates of birth or death. There is more to my heritage than who we came from but who those people WERE that we came from.
I hope I can answer some questions and discover more about those who came before me.
I am excited to live a little in the past, learn from it and pass it on to my own children.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you. " Walt Whitman

The day has come.
I dropped my youngest off at her first apartment yesterday.

She is surprising me in so many ways. So responsible.

If you had asked me about her perhaps a year ago, I would have said she would never make it.

She will begin her first semester next week.

She is a bit nervous but ready. She has gone through a gamut of emotion this week. Crying emotionally, before we left home, saying she was not ready to leave home. Excitement at walking the campus, purchasing books, decorating her new temporary home.

I am not sure it has hit me yet, how empty this house will be. There is one left. My middle child. She is rarely home herself.

The house seems so much bigger.

Moving her felt as though we were moving a circus. packed until the poor truck could hold no more. And yet, most of her room is still as she left it. Most of her furnishings are here ready to see her at holiday breaks. The difference being no clothes on the floor. The room is the cleanest it has been since she took over the room when her brother moved to the basement.

I will miss waiting up for her at nights. I will miss her sleepy face with tousled hair waking on the weekends looking for coffee. I will miss snuggling with her on winter Sundays while watching movies.

And yet, I cannot wait for her to experience this new phase in her life. I cannot wait for our Sunday morning scheduled calls to catch up. Or other unscheduled calls when she needs just a little bit of help from home.

We (my father and I) tried to make her stay as comfortable as we could. Take away the stresses that would hold her back from having the most rewarding and fun experience thus far.

It is not easy on her. It is not easy on her mamma either. But it is also so exciting.

I love her and I am proud!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

“Many doctors pay their grocery bill with the money of folks who have eaten too much”- Doctor's Quotes

It has been a while since I have posted any recipes or food posts.
An extremely tight budget is to blame. That- and the fact that cooking is just not near as fun when you are playing pantry bingo... A little B- a little I, combine them and make something edible.

Sometimes it is soup out of a can, gasp. haha

Today I left the house, went to an interview with a temp agency, a job is a job after all. Then another phone interview with a job service.

And I got a little yard work done. And it was a bit exhilarating. A feeling I have not felt in a while.
Of course I do not know if I have a job still and the heavy shadows and burden still hover. However, it was a bright spot.

And so, I cooked. I fired up the old beast of a grill and threw together a mighty fine and healthy meal while simultaneously watering the lawn. A lawn which requires manual movement of a sprinkler and a hose.

It was delicious and I will now share with you all.

If I had to name it? Perhaps

  Mexican grilled chicken?

I used one single boneless skinless chicken breast, and served three.
Cut it into four equal pieces of chicken. Then pounded the chicken out to a thickness of one half.
I do not have a meat mallet so I use my heavy marble rolling pin.
 The chicken seems to stay together better if you place a piece of plastic wrap over it before pounding.

Then season heavily- I used some jerk seasoning and some dried herbs. (Note: Do not salt while cooking as it will dry out the meat)

Place the chicken pieces onto a warm grill. Works best when set to low or med.

Cook on one side just until the outside edges start to turn white. 

Carefully turn over with tongs or metal spatula.

Spoon your favorite salsa onto the top of the chicken pieces. 

( I think you could really change this up for different flavors by using chopped tomatoes with olives for a Mediterranean flavor-  or possibly some basil and Parmesan for an Italian flavor)

Place slices of cheese on top of the salsa. I had colby-jack on hand but again... you can get creative.

Close the lid on the grill and cook just until the cheese melts.

(If your grill doesn't have a lid, you can cover with a metal bowl or lid.

The chicken should be perfectly cooked at this point.

Carefully remove from grill taking care not to lose the toppings.


A great healthy meal served with fresh green salad or garden vegetables.

As another variation, I bake it in the oven during the cooler months.

Thought you could all use a healthy, low cost and low maintenance meal. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A few months ago I posted the above video on facebook. 
There were many comments about how much these words apply today. 

Ann Murray recorded this song twenty-eight years ago. If we just replace Lebanon with Afghanistan or almost any Middle-Eastern country. And Bryant Gumbol with Diane Sawyer this song could be recorded today.

In the words of the writers, Tommy Rocco, Charlie Black, and Rory Michael Bourke,
 'It's gonna get worse you see'...

and it has.

Worse all over. 

Children abused, kidnapped, starving, sick, or worse.

Economy and jobs worse than ever.

World leaders and even our own country leaders and local leaders- just disappointing 

Wars that seem to see no end. No progress.

Starvation, Genocide, Raids and Protests.

Weather- Heat waves, tsunami's, flooding, tornadoes and hurricanes.

On our own local news, drownings, killings, suicides, flooding.

We sure could use some good news today. I tear up when I hear this song.

I don't want to say that I don't want to turn on the local news or CNN but it makes an already deflated, heavy burden my my own life feel even heavier.

How often have I uttered the statement- 

'No matter how hard life gets, someone out there is carrying a heavier load.'

And although I mean to lift spirits that all is not lost... I wonder some days if I have become one of those 'someones' ? Am I the one carrying the heavy load?

I am healthy, my children are well. I am one of the lucky ones to have most of my extended family including both of my parents still here with me. And a healthy relationship with them all. 
I have a roof over my head and food (although hard to come by) in my stomach. I have good clothes covering my body. 
I can take an evening walk around my town and feel safe. 
I have good friends I can call and they will be at my side in an instant. 
I can easily take a ride into the mountains near my home and feel a little closer to God.

I sure could use a little good news today.

But I continue to have some good news everyday as well, if I choose to look for it. 

Hope you are all having a great Wednesday!
Leave me a comment and let me know how you feel? Overwhelmed? Happy? Blessed? 

And anyone else think Ann Murray is fabulous?