I'm just an ordinary girl doing ordinary stuff.

I just happen to be a single mom in the military.

My kids are part of the military too.

When I deploy, their heart breaks too.

They're strong little guys.

Being their mom is the most humbling experience I've ever had.

Follow the adventures

See if you can keep up with me as I serve my country holding my kids in my arms.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hitting is Unacceptable

“Mommy, there is no hitting in this house.  Tell Chah-wee you’re sorry.”

When Caden was a year and a half old, X taught him to beat our dog.   Whenever I took an unsafe or inappropriate object away from him, my little boy who gave the world’s greatest hugs would run away from me and seek our 25 lb mutt to take out his frustration on.  I watched in horror as he beat our family pet with little angry fists.

As soon as we left our home, I made it a promise to myself and to them that although I couldn’t erase the sad and unhealthy parts of the past, I could undo any sad and unhealthy teachings of the past.

I fostered Ginger, a one year old pit bull mix of 60 lbs.  She took to Sean, who was about 5 months old at the time, right away.  She would lay there and let him poke at her.  She was very gentle.   Three months later, I rescued a pup that was about to be turned into the pound.  Charlie.  Tall, floppy eared, big pawed Charlie.  He was wild, stubborn, resilient and Caden loved him.

Teaching Caden not to hit took more than a simple “No” and punishment.  Lots of young parents are quicker to swat our kids in the butt and tell them that what they did was bad.  But I didn’t see how that would do any good trying to teach a child not to hit… by hitting him.  Instead, I had to teach him why hitting was bad.

First, I took a knee.  Looking in his eyes at his level, I told him “Caden, hitting is unacceptable.”  My voice was firm, but not raised.  Taking his hand, I led him to Charlie.  Despite Charlie’s goofy forgetfulness of the incident, he sat on command and waited for the apology.  “Caden, you see where you hit Charlie?”  I pointed to Charlie’s back.  “He’s really hurt.  When you hit him, it hurt.  Look, see?  Check if he’s okay.” 

I watched as Caden frowned and the look of empathy blanketed his face.  He put his hand on Charlie’s back and sadly said, “Oh!  You poor thing.  You okay?”  I told Caden that he should say he was sorry for hurting him.  He took Charlie’s face in his hands and looked in his eyes.  “Aww I sorry, Chah-wee.”

I smiled and gave him a big hug and told him, “Good job honey. “

Over the next several months, I was consistent not just with teaching him not to hit Charlie but others as well.  As he got into the jealousy phase when Sean started crawling and then walking, Caden began to push his brother.  I immediately corrected him the same way I corrected him with Charlie.

So, when Charlie was about seven months old or so, he was wild with puppy rebellion.  He would constantly check the boundaries by jumping on furniture or bursting through the doorways.  He got quite challenging with the training. 

Moments before Caden scolded me, “Mommy, there is no hitting in this house.  Tell Chah-wee you’re sorry,” Charlie had just burst through the backdoor after being outside.  He galloped through the house, slamming right into an unsuspecting Sean.  My little guy landed with a thud, crying from the shock of the wreck he just endured. 

My initial reaction, not the best as Caden pointed out, was to swat Charlie right on his rump and command him to sit. 

My Caden’s big brown eyes looked up at me beneath furrowed eyebrows.  His expression was that of complete and utter disapproval.  He had a little index finger pointed at me as scolded me.

I looked at Charlie, still in the ‘sit’, his big goofy doggy smile and one ear up making him look even sillier.  The swat didn’t hurt him, I didn’t hit him hard—just enough to get his attention.  But that didn’t matter.  I had to lead by example.

What a lot of us parents practice is “Do what I say and not as I do.”  I think that’s a load of crap.  We parents have a responsibility to our children to show them that we live by the very values we teach them.  It makes us credible.

I took a knee.  “Aw, Charlie, are you okay?” I asked, stroking the back of my stubborn German Shepherd.  “I’m sorry I hit you, Charlie.  Hitting is unacceptable in this house.”

I apologized to Caden, gave him a hug and told him how proud of him I was.

I burst with joy inside when I realized I had undone the sad and unhealthy teaching of X.  More importantly, I taught Caden not just that it was wrong to hit but why.  And I applauded myself for stepping down and learning from my child, showing him that I practice what I preach.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Care Package!!

You ever have that friend who knew just what you needed?  He knew your favorite treats, what melted your heart and what brought you light.  I have just a few of those, which is pretty damn lucky of me.  Well one of those is M. 

This morning was pretty rough.  If you read the Skype blog, you know I was pretty sad.  I was pretty weepy during lunch.  But this evening, I realized God knew I was going to have one of these days.  So he aligned things in the right places and times to ensure I remembered that HE remembers me.

My boss and I were in our office when someone knocks on our door.  One of the post office workers stood there and told us that we had mail.  I’m thinking, Yay!  Another care package for the troops!  The second part of me was thinking, Crap! Now we have another box to go through and make sure we have enough space in our office to put it before we send it out to the camp.

When we got there, two big boxes awaited us.  One was addressed to me.  I looked at the sender’s info and saw that it was from M.  My heart just melted.  I didn’t care what was in the box.  Just the fact that it came on a day that I needed a little ray of sunshine was enough for me.

I opened it up and as I unpacked everything (he is very meticulous about making sure things got to me safely, friggin awesome), I couldn’t believe the care package he sent me.  It was a total surprise and I felt like a queen.  And with the morning I had, it was as if M never left-- he was there for me on a day I needed a smile. 

 This is every deployed girl's dream care package!

 First, he remembered I love red nail polish for my toes.  Second?  This manicure kit blows my cheap one out of the water.

I. Am. A. Junkie.  For all of these.  Earl Grey and French Vanilla coffee creamer?  He remembered my favorites.  Ladies, you need a man like M.

Friggin sugar scrub, body butter and body wash.  Loofa, travel mirror, lip balm, HAIR TIES, and cleanse wipes.  Genious.

Scented candle and a happy wall piece.  I'm obsessed with making my room more like home.

Smart deployment must-have-- wrinkle remover!  Helpful especially for business trips.

And the all-time stress reliever and target practice aide:  The Nerf gun!!!

My favorite thing in the box is a coin.  In the military, one of our traditions is trading and collecting coins.  It's usually done as a form of remembrance and honor.  He sent me his unit coin.  I'm a huge collector and this one will be at the top of my rack.  It means so much to me.

M, if you ever read this, thank you so much!!  Your heart is such a gift to the world.  I wish you were here!


John's Girls
If there was ever a person whom I could have no words to truly describe with words, it would be John.  He is musical, funny, intelligent, animal-loving, faithful, caring, jeez I could go on and on.  He is just amazing.  He is the one who would call you up the morning of your birthday and actually SING Happy Birthday to you.  And sound amazing.  Another thing-- he is so passionate about things that most people even think about or take for granted.  If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting him, your life just wouldn’t be the same.

I won’t go into how I met him, as that is not as important as how my life has changed because of him.  He reminded me of things I’ve loved and have had passion for that I had forgotten a long time ago.  Kind of like walking in a friend’s home and smelling fresh baked cookies and it reminds you of how your grandmother made them every day after school for you.  It wasn’t the cookie—it was the love between you and her.  John did that to me.  He brought to life all the reasons I loved the things I love and made me realize that they hadn’t died, just been stuffed in a closet for a long time.

I remember a night when I was really feeling alone.  Tired.  Stressed.  Sad.  And as if I was going through my troubles all by myself.  I hadn’t even relayed the depth of the sadness I felt to him, I think I just mentioned it in a text to him earlier.  But I laid in bed that night, hours after I had texted him, and I just stared off into space.  Feeling alone.

It was really late.  I was just falling asleep, totally beat down inside.  And the phone rings.  When I answered it, it was John.  And he barely even bothered with small talk.  He went straight into telling me how wonderful I was and started naming all the things he admired about me as a person.  And I sat there, just listening with tears crawling down my cheeks, as he told me that I’m never alone.  I am a wonderful mom, a beautiful human.  And although I felt alone as I lay in my bed, I had a friend a thousand miles away whom I could always count on.  Someone who loves me and someone I could trust.

I will never forget that night.  I am so grateful that he is in my life.

My prayer for you is that you have a John in your life. 

Your Shame vs. God's Love

Romans 8:38-39 says "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

If you're a Christian, have you ever felt like your sins are bigger than God? Like no one knows the things you've done, thought or said. And your natural instinct is to hide with your shame.

It is truly amazing to feel those things and then to be reminded that NOTHING is bigger than God. God's love is bigger than anything we can ever imagine. And no matter what we've done, he will never love us any less. It doesn't mean we won't have to face consequences. But it means that we can ask for forgiveness and give our burdens to God.

This video is absolutely beautiful. It makes me cry each time I watch it. Let it load, it's about ten minutes long. But it's so worth it.


I hadn’t Skyped my kids in a while.  The time difference and schedules make it hard to do.  And then whenever I do Skype with them, I don’t ever want to end the call.  And it makes me want to hurry up and get home. 

Usually, Caden is a busy kid with lots of things to do.  At 3, he’s got toys to tend to and colors to learn.  So chatting with Mommy is fun but only for a short while.  Except for today.  Today’s Skype session has totally put me in a different place.  It actually made me decide that I’m going to really make time to set aside whatever I’m doing and Skype with them much more often.  Maybe twice a week, so I don’t interrupt their evenings too much.

Today, Sean laughed a big laugh when I made lots of kissy faces.  And he kept saying “Mommy!” with so much enthusiasm that the word sounded more like a celebration.   Friggin adorable! 

Caden and I talked about … everything.  He showed me flash cards and told me what shapes and colors were on the cards.  He talked about his airplane.  I got to show him the toys I’m sending them.  Oh and I also showed him pictures of Charlie.  And we danced, too.  LOL  And then the question came: 

“Mommy, can you come and meet me?”

I told him that I’ll come home soon.  And the interrogation started:  “Mommy, can you get me?”  “Can you come home from work?”  “Mommy, are you going to get me?”  It broke my heart seeing his little eyes looking sad.  I told him that I have to work for a little while longer and that I’ll be home after Christmas.

And when it was time to go, he said, “No! I don’t wanna say bye bye.”  “Mommy, I don’t wanna get off the phone with you.”  His eyes filled up with tears and I saw his face turn red.  His frown tugged at my heart.  When my brother told him I had to go back to work but I’ll talk to him again, he really started to get worked up. 

Ugh.  I hate being away from them.  And I hate that he has to ask me to come home from work.  I hate that he was so sad when it was time to end the call.

I miss my kids.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ahhh Pampering

Being pampered rocks.  It does.  Manicures.  Pedicures.  Massages.  Facials.  Ahhh.  It makes me melt just a little bit inside.

Let’s face it.  If you’re single momming, sometimes it’s just not gonna happen.  If you’re on a tight budget and just don’t have the cash, there’s always gonna be something else that’s more important.  And if you do happen to save up some money, you gotta have time for it. 

And on my deployment?  I’d be lucky to shave my legs every day.  But there’s always still a longing for such things.  We deployed women usually feel less than women when we’re in boots all day, hair up all the time.  Luckily, we were able to convince leadership to allow an occasional treat. 

Once in a while, a small group of local beauticians are allowed on the camp just for a “Spa day!”  How friggin awesome is that!  Now, before you get all excited I’ll have to remind you that we’re in a deployed setting.  So how much of a spa can we really get?  I mean, hot oil treatments are cold oil treatments.  Massages are done with clothes on and no aroma therapy.  And foot spas are done in cold water.  *sigh*

But still, a treat is a treat.  And we would never let one go to waste, right?  So, I was able to get a pedicure… for the first time in my life.  Not kidding.  And it was so cool to have someone else touch my feet.  I’m a real sucker for feet stuff.  I watched as the beautician did all the cuticle work and put some vitamin oil thingy on my toenails.  And after, I noticed that she didn’t wash the tools before going on to the next customer.  Eeek! 

After that, I was a little less convinced to give a pedi another chance.  So… I went online to Walmart.com and found the cutest little thing:  the Handy Dandy Mani!

Handy Dandy Mani, only $9.97 at Walmart.com!
Although it’s not as nice as having someone else do it for you, you still get to pamper your feet.  And for free after you buy the thing!  How cool is that?  You get all the little tools and even a small bottle of polish remover.  It all comes in a cute little bag, too. 

So tonight, I gave myself a cute little pedicure.  And ladies, just because you’re deployed, strapped for cash, or have no time for a spa day, there are always ways to pamper yourself. 

Oh the Agony...

So the past year I’ve been telling myself that I need to go on Photobucket, grab all my photos and just close my account.  I’ve been using the site for YEARS.  So you know I’ve got loads and loads of pictures and videos.  Ugh.  I must do it.

So today, I actually logged on.  And it took for… ev…errrr.  Every time I click on a new page, it takes so long that it just… stops.  It’s driving me insane.  I don’t know if it’s the site or if it’s because I have so much crap on there that it’s actually too tired to turn a dang page for me.

...Page Cannot Be Displayed...

I have to get this done.  I just have to.  So one of my weekly tasks is to spend one evening downloading my pictures onto my external hard drive.  And when I finally get it all done, I will delete my account.  MWAHAHAHAHA!

Ugh.  I’ll post updates.  Tonight, I wasn’t able to download a single pic because it took too long.  I don’t have the patience.  Somebody, please shoot a dose of motivation in my veins for this.

As of today, I have 169 MB to download.  Not much, but that’s still more than a thousand pictures!!!  Ahhh!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Letters From Home

“Do you think we’ll have Christmas this year?”

I looked at the young Soldier, not quite sure how to respond.  It was an honest question.  When you’re deployed, life seems to happen without you.  You see pictures and get e-mails of everything going on “back home” and you always feel left out.  You always feel like you’re never close enough to feel like you’re right there with them.

When I left for deployment, Sean was only saying a few words.  He was so cute when he started putting emphasis on “Mommy!”  As if it was the coolest word in the world.  And he would say “Hi” and “Yay”.  But a month later, he was putting words together to make phrases.  Now?  He’s almost having a full conversation.  And it just tears me up inside to watch life happen from a distance.

For Halloween, I saw pictures of their outfits.  I learned that my brothers were going to let Caden be a knight, but Caden wanted to be a boxer instead.  Last year?  I put him in a pirate costume and he just thought it was so cool.  This year he actually chose.

A couple of months ago, a Marine’s wife had an allergic reaction to her meds and ended up in the ER for a couple of days.  He couldn’t be with her or even talk to her until she was back home recovering.  “I’m beating myself up over the fact that I can’t be there to hold her,” he said.

An Army Lieutenant was able to go home to be with his wife during the last week of her pregnancy.  She didn’t have the baby until a week after he left.  He spent the birth of his first baby deployed.

So when you’re overseas, on a camp filled with hundreds of others who are missing their friends and families, and someone asks, “Do you think we’ll have Christmas this year?” it’s a pretty legitimate question.  When the Soldier asked me this question, he wasn’t implying that he wanted presents.  He wanted Christmas.  He wanted the feel of home.  He wanted to drive around and look at the houses all lit up with the radio playing nothing but Christmas songs.

And then I got a care package in the mail filled with things just for the troops.  Things like hygiene products, snacks, coffee, and magazines.  Then, at the bottom of the box was a ziplock bag full of cards.  An elementary school teacher started a school project, having the kids write letters to the deployed troops.  As I read through the cards, my heart was touched by the sweetness of these children.
Read what it says below

And one made me sob, actually sob.  Jeez, I’m tearing up just writing about it.  Anyway, this one made me want to hug this kid, who seemed to truly empathize with us.  It just amazed me that this child, all of them really, actually touched my heart thousands of miles away just by saying Thank You.  It reminded me of why we were out here.

I posted the cards and letters up on one of our walls so everyone could see.  And it was really cool to watch as people smiled as they read what these kids wrote to them.

Thank you, to anyone who has done something like this.  Whether it’s thanking a military member up close or through a letter.  You truly do bring us close to home, make us feel appreciated, and remind us why we fight for our freedoms.

Lots of us won’t be home for Christmas, but because of these forms of encouragement we will still have our Christmas spirit!

"Dear brave Soldier, Thank you for sacerficing your life, time and joy for our country.  It is a very brave thing for you to do.  I can't ever imagine being without my family for so long, missing every moment.  But you should be proud, your family and your WHOLE country honors you!  You are a very special person.  Also, try to not think how much you miss your family, just remember all the good times you've had with them!  Thanks again!  Sincerely, Ashley."

On the fridge of an Army dad is a letter between both dad and son:
"Domenic lups you 1,00000,00000,2300000.
 I love you this much 2333300000
and I love you 122220000,00000"
At the bottom is a drawing his son did before he deployed.  The stick figure has tears falling down to a puddle at his feet and he says, "I will miss you."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lorenzo the Flying Frenchman

I really love this video. I would really really REALLY like to see this live. Lorenzo the Flying Frenchman is absolutely amazing. Horse whisperers are just beautiful people.

Single Moms Raising Boys

Someone once asked me, “How do you do it?  How do you raise two little boys with no dad?”  I just shrugged and said the only logical thing that came to me.  “I just do it.”  What else is there to do?  Not do it?  That wasn’t an option to me and I wouldn’t want to Not do it anyway.  I’m their mother and even if I can’t be the World’s Best Mom or World’s Better Than Married Mom, I’m gonna be the best mom I can be.  And like all single moms of boys, I find myself wondering, “Can I, as a woman, raise my boys to be good men?”

About a week ago, I put a poll up asking people what they thought regarding boys and fathers.  Here’s the question:

All boys….
a)    … need THEIR dad.
b)    … need a good male role model.
c)    … need a DAD.
d)    … just need their mom.

Only a few people answered and that’s totally cool.  Super glad anyone answered, really.  All voters chose (B).  I found it really interesting because I’ve come across so many opinions about this.  While waiting for my poll to end, I verbally asked various people of different backgrounds. 

One single mom told me, “Oh I’d rather have my boys’ father in their lives than not at all.  He drinks a lot, isn’t reliable, and pretty irresponsible.  But at least they have their father.”

Another said, “I’d rather have his father completely out of his life, than to see his father ruin my son’s life.”

I also asked married moms, single dads, and married dads.  Some people say boys don’t need dads and some say they need A dad.  And probably the best thing I’ve heard is this from a man, “Boys will become men.  They do need male role models.  Not that women can’t raise good men on their own, I’ve known quite a few who have.  But just like girls need a woman role model, boys need men too.  But it’s important that they have good, healthy, and responsible men in their lives.  Not just any men.”

One of my good male friends, Dennis, has three daughters and one son.  His son, six years old, is his youngest and his daughters are eleven, thirteen, and fifteen.  He and his son hold the doors open for his wife and daughters whether they are going in and out of a building or in and out of a car.  He told me, “I want my son to know how to treat women right.  And I want my daughters to find men who treat them right.  The best I can do is lead my son in his journey to manhood and show my daughters what to look for.”

I guess the best thing I can do is… my best.  In my Do Boys Need Men blog, I said that it’s my responsibility to make sure that the men in our lives represent the men I want my boys to grow up into.  And no, I’m not going to point and say “That one!  I want Caden to be like him!”  But I will feel more confident that a male friend, relative, etc. whose presence in our lives is something that is healthy, responsible, kind and just over all just what makes a good man.

Stay tuned for my next Momming topic:  What Makes A Good Man?

You might also like these outside sources:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Take That, You Big Meanie!





Those were the sounds Melissa heard over and over.  Finally, she squinted her eyes and looked on in the direction of the odd sounds toward the lake.  Her dad took her to the park some weekends and she’d feed the ducks or play in the water.  Most times were peaceful with only a few visitors.  Sometimes a turtle would plop its head out of the water and she’d quietly sit close enough to watch it look around as it took a breathing-break. 

Well, this day was the same as most days.  It was sunny with a cool breeze.  Not too many kids out in the playground.  She sat in the grass by a tree, watching a mother duck waddle with six ducklings behind her.  Her dad stood just a little bit away as he took pictures of the trees.  The sounds that drew her attention were something she hadn’t heard at the park.  It sounded like someone hitting something into the water with a bat.

As she sought out the source of the noise, she spotted a large man standing by a small rowboat on the lake shore.  He had meaty shoulders that hunched over as he looked onto the water.  One oar was in his right hand and the other lay lazily on the grass a few feet behind him.  A bucket sat on the grass to his right.

She watched as he squatted down and picked something up from the bucket, tossed it high in the air and swung the oar, sending the floppy-looking object in the air until it plopped into the water.  Wondering what he was hitting, she stood from the grass to move in closer for a better sight.

Dusting her shins of the grass that covered them, she quietly walked a few feet closer to the man.  She watched as he bent over and picked up another floppy object.  It rose quietly into the air as if it had taken a jump on a trampoline.  And then she realized what it was.

A frog.  On its descend, the sound of the oar’s wooden paddle hitting the frog’s fleshy body filled her ears.  In terror, she watched as it soared into the sky, its floppy legs dangling like broken tree limbs.  The sound of the plop as it hit the water made her stomach turn.

As it reemerged, it flopped on its back and spun slowly on the surface.  Before she knew it, another frog dropped into the water.  And another.


She didn’t know what else she was screaming.  All she knew was the wind was at her back as she raced toward the man.  As she approached him, his back to her, her little arms reached for his non-frog-killing oar.

In a flash, she was a baseball player at the bat, her right foot dug firmly into the ground.  She twisted right and with all her might she slugged that oar against that bastard frog killer’s back.  The WHACK! that oar made sounded like lightning when it struck.

Caught off-guard, the frog killer stumbled forward with a loud grunt.  Instinctively, he flung around with his eyes widened and face twisted into a grimace. 

She stood there, fire burning through her veins.  Her heart raced and her ears rang.  She knew she was a mouse compared to this giant animal-torturing meanie.

Before the frog killer could do a thing, her dad came flying to the rescue. 

As the men discussed the situation, she took that boat out and collected all the floating frogs and put them in the boat.  She sat there, sobbing because they lay dying and she couldn’t save them.

She was nine.  And I think she’d make a great baseball player, the way she swung that oar. 

One of the greatest things about this deployment is the massive amount of opportunities to meet people of all types of personalities, backgrounds, and experience.  The population here is so diverse that you will always be surprised.  Sometimes you’ll meet people you wish you hadn’t met.  And sometimes you’ll find people who grip your heart because they’ve just become your animal-loving hero.

Me, I’d cry and try to grab the animal that was being hurt.  Melissa?  She’d kick the bastard’s ass.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


It is during the times we need God the most that we are at our lowest and our faith is dangling before us.  You know the feeling.  When something bad has happened, when you’ve done something bad yourself, when the distance from home just never seems to lessen or when you’ve looked up at that mountain you’ve been climbing and all of a sudden it’s towering over you and you start to believe that maybe you’re just never going to get to the top.  You’re desperate.  You’re hurting.  You’re tired.  You’re giving God an ultimatum, or maybe begging Him to take the hurt away or to somehow undo what has been done.  It is during these times that we need our memories as proof to us that God has and always will be there to carry us. 

In Joshua, Chapter 4, after God stopped the Jordan River from flowing so that Joshua could lead the Isrealites across safely, God commanded Joshua to
“Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”  God told Joshua and Joshua told the men that these stones would be a memorial of the time that God had stopped the river from flowing so that they could get across safely. 

God is there for us through our sorrows and pains.  For each of these times we should make some type of memorial so that the next time we are in need of Him and find ourselves feeling alone, we could remember when he's been there.  We don't have to build a memorial, but we can do something in our own way so that that everytime we look at it we can remember that through our darkest times God was there for us and we'll know that He will never leave us.

There's a song called "I Will Sing, I Will Praise" by Don Moen.  When I hear it, I cry.  It reminds me that even when it's hard to have faith I know that He is there.  Here is just the first verse with the chorus:
Lord You seem so far away
A million miles or more it feels today
And though I haven't lost my faith
I must confess right now
That it's hard for me to pray
But I don't know what to say
And I don't know where to start
But as You give the grace
With all that's in my heart

I will sing I will praise
Even in my darkest hour
Through the sorrow and the pain
I will sing I will praise
Lift my hands to honor You
Because Your Word is true
I will sing

I'm starting a project for my kids and I.  I'm going to write a kids book for each time we've gone through a storm and God has sheltered us.  It will serve as our own memorial for the times God has followed through with His promises.  And it'll build and strengthen faith for God in my kids' and my life.

I'm so grateful tonight for all the times my faith has faltered and God has not.

I'll post updates to this in the Mommy Projects section.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Do Boys Need Men?

I've been thinking about my Fathers Have Power blog and decided it would be really neat to see what other single moms of boys think.  I put a poll up on my page to see if I could get some opinions.  In the meantime, I'd like to share my own experiences on how I parent my boys as a single mom.

When Caden (my older son) was just a baby, I'd panic at any clumsy move he'd make for fear of an injury.  As he grew, he climbed and ran and skipped and hurled himself off of the couch.  I learned very quickly how to handle any of his tactics without having a heart attack.  Not that I sit back and watch him climb a refrigerator, but when I do catch him in the act of doing something potentially dangerous I'm quick to get him.  If he falls and scrapes his knee at a park, I give him a thumbs up for being a boy-- after putting the band-aid on.  These boys have definitely toughened me.  But there are still things I can't teach them the way a man can.

Peeing standing up.  I don't have a penis.  Sure, I could stand him on a stool and toss some cheerios in the toilet bowl and tell him to shoot them with his urine.  But a man could show him how to do it by being an example.  And what about when he gets older?  When he starts the whole "wet dream" phase and the porn phase?  Or just the simple male society vs. good male society?

As a woman, I can teach him how to treat the ladies.  But a man understands what it feels like to be a man and he can communicate these types of things in a way that boys can relate to.  Man-things that are taught by men just have a little more weight than if they were taught by a woman.  Not that we don't empathize or comprehend man-things, but we can't fully relate to them the way a man can.  As a single mom of boys, as a mom in general, I think it's my responsibility to make sure that the men in our lives represent the men I want my boys to grow up into.

Now I can't control everything my kids see.  When we go to parks or grocery stores, of course we're going to run into people of all stripes.  But the people I bring in to our family like friends and co-workers (the military is like a family, so we're always around my unit), I CAN control their presence. 

Right now, they're living with my brothers.  If my brothers' behaviors and livestyles were questionable to any extent, I wouldn't bother will trusting my kids with them.  Fortunately, I have wonderful brothers who are great examples of the men I want my kids to emulate.  They are respectful of women, responsible with their money, work hard, are great family men, kind to people and animals alike, and are really just great cool guys.  They're fun and loving too.  And the people my brothers hang out with are of the same stripe.  It saddens me that when I return from my deployment, I'll have to take them away from my brothers and get us back to pre-deployment life.  And then I'll have to make sure that our social life only involves the same type of men.

Patrick is a great guy in our lives.  He brings the same type of "good man" qualities my brothers do with just one difference- he's in love with me.  :)  I just had to throw that in there.  :P  Seriously, though, even if Patrick and I don't work out in the future, any man I bring in to my life has to be someone that I would want in my kids' lives.  It doesn't matter whether I'm just looking for fun or I want a partner.  My choice of men really says something to my boys. 

So, ladies, what do you think?  Do boys need men in their lives?  Do you think you can lead them into manhood without a male role model in their lives?  Do you think they need their dad despite or because of his own man-qualities?  Answer the poll and leave a comment.  I'd love to hear your thoughts about this!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

We Don't Have to Do It All

... because we already do.

Here's just one of the days of the week:

Breakfast.  Baths.  Dress the kids.  Fight with Caden Persuade Caden that school is going to be fun.  Aw Sean wants a morning hug!  Running late.  Crap- Charlie needs to go out.  Charlie needs breakfast.  Good morning Yoshi!!  Change Yoshi’s food and water.  Blow him kisses goodbye.  Caden, don’t take your shirt off!  Come on, it’s time to go!  Wipe Sean’s face because he just he just smeared lipstick all over it.  Oh makeup!  Darn it.  Bring it to work and do it there.  Did I close the garage door?  I think so.  Should I go back and just double check?  No.  Yes.  See, I knew I closed it.  Caden, why don’t you want to go to school?  Hey, give that back to your brother.  That’s a bad word.  Mommy said it because the other car almost hit us.  I’m sorry I sad a bad word.  Thank you for reminding me.  Come on let’s take Sean to his class—no you can’t leave him in the car.  Let’s go, bud, Mommy’s late for work.  Bye Sean!!  Big hugs.  Damn I love big hugs.  Okay, Caden, hop on for a piggy back ride!  Let’s go, woo hoo!  Time for class.  Aw.  I miss them already.  Thanks for reminding me I need to put my makeup on.  Boss.  You sure know how to make a woman feel pretty.  Work.  Lunch—Charlie needs to go out before he pisses himself.  Grab a sandwich.  Sit outside and have a smoke.  Work.  Crappy political bull.  Drama.  Bite my tongue.  Yay!  End of day!  Dinner.  Walk.  Baths.  Laundry.  Train Charlie.  Caden, don’t share your peanut butter with Charlie- it’s gross.  Yay!  Mommy’s a dinosaur, everybody ride!  Damn I’m getting old.  This hurts.  Clean up time.  Bed time stories.  More laundry.  Text Patrick.  What is that toy doing here?  Floors need to be mopped.  Carpets need vacuuming.  Can’t anything wait?  Sit outside with Charlie.  Sleep.

When I was with X, doing it all and doing it all perfectly was a standard.  I’d be cooking dinner and he’d walk in, asking why there was a shirt on the couch or why is there a pot still in the sink.  I’d spend every moment at home rushing to pick things up, clean things, cook things, with no order other than chaos.  This transitioned into a really rough beginning of single-mommyhood.

In the beginning of single-mommyhood, I drove myself crazy trying to do it all myself and all perfectly.  I stressed everyday about the house not being sparkly clean at the end of the night.  I hit the bed at 1am feeling unaccomplished and drained.  I cried some nights because of how tired I was, mentally and physically.  Finally someone set me straight.

A mentor of mine told me, “You’re a single mom.  You are already doing it all!  This is your house, your life.  You make it work for you.  Don’t live your life revolving around it, reside in your life and enjoy it.  Make it yours.”

In order to help myself feel more organized in my household chores and parenting, I tasked each day with a certain thing.  I’d do a couple of loads of laundry twice a week.  Bathrooms once a week.  Mopping once a week.  Movie nights on Friday.  Saturday is laundry make-up day and grocery day.  Sunday is quality time day.  And so on. 

Some people use FlyLady to help them stay on top of their chores.  I use a calendar with chores assigned throughout the week. 

Whatever technique you use to help you with your chores, just keep one thing in mind:  You don’t have to do it all—in fact, you already are!  You are already doing it all; you’re rearing your kids, managing your house, paying all the bills, and working full time.  Don’t let your single mama life own you—own your life!  Give yourself a pat on the shoulder and then tackle all the clutter of demands by deciding when you’re going to do everything.  Give yourself breaks and treats.  You friggin deserve it.  Before you sleep at night, do at least one thing for yourself.  Whether it’s taking a hot bath, drinking a glass of wine, watching a movie, or smoking a cigarette outside as you watch the rain come down. 

Nothing needs to be perfect.  In fact, if you live your life feeling like anything needs to be perfect, you’re going to fail.  Give every day your best shot, accept the things you won’t get to that day, plan to get to it and put it on a calendar, hug your kids, and enjoy your evening.

Wouldn’t life be so much easier and happier if you actually allowed it to be?