Summer Break!

Do you remember the feeling you had on the last day of school when the anticipation of a summer filled with fun, friends, sleeping in and no homework, loomed over your head like a bubble about to explode?  I do; very distinctly.  There was almost a smell in the air that was different as I walked home on that last day with the full knowledge that responsibilities were a thing of the past and I was going to have carefree days ahead.  Accomplishment of another year completed was intoxicating.

I am a memory maker. I wholeheartedly believe that good memories are food for the soul and that they are what you can hold onto as the goodness in life when life isn't feeling so good.  I have a lot of these from my childhood because I was very blessed with a wonderful family.  The world wasn't as scary and I remember days of playing outside with my brother and our friends and coming home only after the street light turned on.  Those were the days! I wish that my son could encounter days like that but unfortunately our situation, although still blessed is different.   Kids nowadays cannot just play outside til the street light comes on because our world is a lot more dangerous.  Typically what summer means for a single parent home, is daycare and lots of it.  This causes increased expense and increased guilt that we are not able to be home with our children so they can experience the carefree days of summer like other children.  They still get up early with us, are rushed out the door to daycare, and spend the day in a routine with others in their situation then come home to a hurried dinner and finally get the relaxing moments before bed.  Vacations?  That isn't even an option most times with the added expense of full-day daycare.

Well all of that sounds pretty depressing but summer really doesn't have to be the day in and day out routine that we envision and presume will occur.  Here are some ideas to make your summer with your children special.

1) The night before you have a day off of work, have a sleepover party where they are allowed to invite one friend over for junk food, movies, and fun.

2) Create themed days with younger children.  For example, Monday's we will both wear blue.  Tuesdays, we will both eat the same lunch.  etc.

3) Text your older kids throughout the day letting them know how much you are thinking about them.  Tell jokes over text and give them motivation for having a great day.

4) Set aside one night a week to put all responsibility aside and have a dinner party.  The kids get to pick what is served and play word games throughout dinner.  (example: I spy something purple)

5) Leave notes to your kids throughout the entire house.  Pin them up on the mirrors, put them in pockets, back packs and lunches.  This will help them know that you are thinking of them.  I've even gone the extreme of decorating the house to liven up things.

6) If possible take a day off of work and make a big deal about it being "Family Fun Day".  Spend it with a picnic at the park, hiking, pool day, sprinkler fun...etc.  Do not be tempted to clean or do anything outside of FUN this day.  Keep the cell phone off.

7) Call them while they are at daycare to let them know you will have a special present for them when you pick them up.  Stop by the local dollar store and find something they will like that is inexpensive.

8) Play outside together when they are home.  Take a nature walk, or simply just enjoy time outside fully focused on them.

9) Make goals with them such as: "This summer we are going to read 1 book per (week) together." Build a chart to track the books read and celebrate in accomplishing those goals!

10) Finally and what I think is most important is to have one on one time with each of your kids every night.  Spend 10 minutes a piece at least and fully give them your attention for them to share how their day was (one good and one bad) and if they have anything that they wanted you to know about during their day.  Let them know at least one thing that came to your mind about them during your day so they are aware that you are thinking of them too.

School is out and summertime is here! Great memories are to be made!

We Are Not A Broken Home

I despise the phrase "Broken Home".  It just simply causes a stir in my soul.  It is common for people to use this phrase when referring to a single parent home, however this causes pain.  For the child who clearly is not at fault for their living situation, whether divorce, death, or an unwed mother, these kids pay a price already.  Using that phrase confirms to them that they are indeed broken.  Broken home?  Why can't it be "different" yet remain unbroken?

Raising kids today is an enormous task whether you are in a two parent home or a single parent home.  Single parents can raise great kids too and if adults would realize that and change our attitudes, we can show compassion and sensitivity to those in a different situation. 

My home was much more "broken" while we lived in a two parent household. I believe that there are many two-parent households that are like mine was.  They are very broken and yet are not called broken because they remain together visually.  The ideal situation of course is two parents who love each other and are healthy individuals raising their children together.  Unfortunately, without choice some of us do not live in that ideal.  We do not have to succumb to the term "broken".  Now, my son reads scripture, is thriving, and has blossomed into a great kid!  My son's dad is growing into a positive father-figure slowly but surely.  He was a lousy husband and without going into detail on our marital issues, he chose to leave our marriage.  I want my son to feel that his life can be complete no matter what the living situation because he finds his completeness in Christ.  He should not be finding his completeness in someone saying that he is not in a broken home.  How much harder do we make it for our kids when we keep reiterating that their situation is broken?

In a way, aren't we all broken to some degree.  What makes a single parent home any more broken from sin than another living situation?

Have Yourself a Mother's Day!

"Good morning Mom! Happy Mother's Day!" my son exclaims in his sweet little 3-year-old voice as he wakes me from my sound sleep.  I am greeted with a plate full of mostly burnt toast, a scrambled egg, and an Elmo cup of orange juice.  My son made me breakfast with the help of his dad.  Such a sweet start to my day.  He bounces onto my bed and hands me a card purchased at the store which reads "To my Mommy.  You are my #1" signed in scribble.  He gives me a big kiss and then quickly departs from my room to play with his toys.  That was about it.  Not sure he really knew the meaning of Mother's Day but he was sure to learn in the years to come.  Time to enjoy my day with what my husband has planned in my honor.

That was my last year waking up to breakfast in bed from my son with the help of his dad on Mother's Day- 5 years ago.  The following year, I spent Mother's Day weekend moving into an apartment separated from my now ex-husband.  The year after that I spent the day unpacking boxes again into the condo that I now live in.  Then in 2011, I finally decided that I was tired of the past 2 years of self-pity over the fact that I did not have anyone who came alongside my son to help him make me a card, make me breakfast, or shower me with extra love.  I decided that Mother's Day was going to be like any other day.  If you do not celebrate it, then  you don't feel that sting of what used to be, right? Wrong.  As the day crept closer and closer, I found myself depressed over the upcoming day and that I just didn't want that day to go unnoticed.  It seemed silly to require so much of simply another day of the calendar year but I just remembered that feeling of being so loved and I craved it. 

Well, Mother's Day 2011 came and I found myself waking up to my son already awake.  He was busy playing in his room quietly, or so I thought.  I took a deep sigh and started to get out of bed.  Before I could sit up, in he came bouncing and full of energy.  He plopped on my bed and asked, "Mommmmmmm, do you know what day today is?"  I said, "Yep I do, but what day do you think it is?"  He said, "It's Mother's Day!" and with that excitement he tossed an envelope to me and I quickly realized that he, himself had made me a card.  I could hardly control the tears as I opened the card that I still have to this day and it reads, "Hi Mom.  I'm glad you are my mom. I love you!" You can imagine that I realized in that moment, that God had heard the desires of my heart.  That through my son, he confirmed what Mother's Day was really about.  It's not about the flowers, candy, breakfast in bed, or even the fun outings.  Mother's Day is about confirmation that you make a difference; that you are loved. 

Hallmark has done a disservice to this day of remembering moms and has made it into so much of a show that when there is no one in the house to shower you with Mother's Day love it can be discouraging. I am here to remind you if you are missing that feeling for this day, that you remember that you are loved and that you make a difference.  This Mother's Day will be what you make of it.  Enjoy!