Grocery Store Enlightenment

Grocery shopping never used to feel like such a chore to me.  In my memories, it was a time of getting all of the necessary items and a few non-essential things with no time limits, during the daytime work week when most people were out of the way and it was nestled nicely between breakfast and my son's morning nap.  It helped to only have one child and a husband that was the breadwinner, but my favorite part of shopping was the conversations I'd have with my son strapped nicely in the shopping cart as we strolled from isle to isle.  We'd converse about the items that he saw and we'd take our sweet time.

Those days of easy shopping, stress-free spending and quality time while grocery shopping felt pretty much in the past. Lately, we have been lucky if we get to stroll up and down each isle. Instead it is has been a quick step from isle to isle pulling what is needed and forgetting most of the wanted items. Budgets are tighter and time is shorter.  We are usually in a mad dash after I pick him up from daycare or we are in a crowded standstill if we go on the weekend.  Grocery shopping just hasn't felt fun for a long time.

Recently I was shopping and decided to take the time to watch people around me. I stopped for a good 2-3 minutes and took it all in.  There are still the mothers strolling with their kids slowly up and down each isle.  There are a lot more dads with their kids and no mother and I am finally noticing just how impatient and rushed most people seem to be regardless of their situation.  I even heard someone say, "I'm going to kill someone" at the pause of oncoming carts.  Grocery shopping sure feels different.

What has changed for me? Does the fact that I'm a working single parent change the way I grocery shop? Not completely, although dynamics have evolved into something new.  Is it the time factor? I simply choose to not allow enough time to grocery shop with ease.  Is it the money? Does lack of funds make grocery shopping more of a chore rather than a gift?  I honestly can't dissect these questions enough to give a solid answer yet, but one thing that I do know is that the ability to go into a store and have a plethora of items to choose from, all varying in price and quality should definitely feel like a gift.  The ability to budget what I'm spending and how I'm spending is a great lesson for me to share with my son.  Grocery shopping can still be filled with memories if I choose to slow down and let it.  Where I am in life shouldn't change the ability to make memories.  They are just different and that's okay.  They are still memories.  This can apply to anything in life, really.

Everyone is in his or her own stage of parenting.  We are all experiencing our “now” version of our situation and just because mine looks different and may be cause for me to slow down and re-evaluate, is no reason to dislike something that once held great memories.  The opportunity I have now is to make new memories and that's what I'm setting out to do.  Join me.

Your Legacy Matters


This hashtag conversation is floating around social media with quite a buzz over the recent release of Dr. Dobson's book, Your Legacy.  In this book, the ideal images of leaving a legacy to your children and their children etc., are told in stories from the heritage of the Dobson family. What an inspiration to those who are desiring to leave something to their children after they are gone!  But it isn't only about that.  It is about the responsibility of legacy.  It is about the ideal purpose for each and every one of us to do our part in shaping the next generations.

Us single parents aren't off the hook when it comes to leaving a legacy, nor should we want to be. What are you showing and teaching your children today that will affect them tomorrow? How are they seeing Christ in you?  You don't have to be married with the "post card family" in order to leave a godly legacy to your children.

When I think about my son and the legacy I hope to leave him, one idea comes to mind.  When I pass on from this life, what I want him to remember most is that I am waiting for him to meet me in Heaven someday.  Hopefully I will have done my best to show him that salvation is most important.  Despite the ups and downs of our journey together, he can remember his mom on her knees in prayer, advocating for his life and salvation and being the example of a good woman and mother that he can appreciate.

Leaving a legacy sounds very heavy and full of hard work.  Well, that is mostly because it is what you make of it.  Legacy is important but the time and effort you put into it will determine the effectiveness.  We cannot let the busyness in our lives dictate the time and effort we put into our kids.  We only get one chance to do this right.  Whatever it takes, no matter how hard you work for your family, it all comes down to example and relationship. Show them through choices and actions that they are more important to you than other things that can grab your attention.

It's impossible to do it all and we tend to feel like we have to.  Life can get really busy and full of things that you are doing for your kids.  Just don't forget to also be with them. Really with them in your attention and intention. That is the key.

For me, the laundry tonight will just have to get done tomorrow. The house will just have to survive another night as is.  My intention is to give attention.  It's really quite exciting!

Remember...Your Legacy Matters!

Okay to Cry

The single parent journey is one full of ups and downs.  I've realized that even bad days have good in them and that not all days are rough.  There are times however when life just seems to be too much and overwhelming circumstances cause me to grasp at every ounce of energy and positive thinking I have.

We are all walking different lives in this journey, but one thing remains the same.  At the end of the night, after a long day, we all are left alone in our thoughts.  Alone to dissect the day and interpret what we've been through.  Truth be told that sometimes in those thoughts, I cry.

To the world we are strong.  To our kids we are invincible.  To ourselves, we have something to prove.  But in those moments when it's just us and God, it's okay to let down the expectation and the burdens.  It's okay to come clean of how we had hoped things would go.  It's okay to not be strong and it's okay to just cry.

Medically, crying is very healthy. In fact, new medical research has found that crying may release harmful chemicals from your body. Higher levels of adrenocorticotrophic (ACTH) have been found in emotional tears, thus releasing stress. 

So for yourself medically and emotionally, have a good guiltless cry once in awhile. 
It really does help.

Mom- Not Always Facebook Friendly

Single parenting sure has its ups and downs.  Sometimes it can lighten the circumstance to understand that crazy days happen and it is normal.

After falling into bed in the wee hours of the morning, your alarm clock beckons you out of bed at about 5am to finish the load of white laundry you began the night before so that your kids actually have clean socks on their feet.  (Clean socks are this mom's "job well done") You might manage to grab a super quick shower before the kids are up, then it's off to the races.  One by one, you help dress, gather items and tie shoes.  Meanwhile you've thrown your work clothes in the dryer for a quick press because, let's be real...who has time for what our Mother's called, an iron?  Looking in the mirror with a half cracked grin at the validated effort of good make-up, good hair and an outfit that matches quite well, you suddenly become the target of the cutest little kiddo who has suddenly developed a sick tummy. With soiled clothes you begin to feel defeated but you don't have time for that so you choose to suck it up.  This is NOT about you.  This is about your precious little baby who doesn't feel good.  Oh wait, she says she feels better now; just needed to throw up, or so you hope.  If she's truly sick that means you have to explain yet again why you might be late or not show up at all to work that day.

On with plan B and a second place outfit you kind of like and with a quick retouch of the make-up you think, "it's okay, I can do this."  You ARE super mom however, or at least that is what others tell you. You pile the kids in the car with boxes of cereal they can dry-munch on as you drive to daycare.  Cheerios don't need milk to still be a nutritious breakfast right? Right!  You are perfectly content in the nutrition you give your children because...well...they eat and that should count for an "A" for effort and to be truthful they probably eat way better than you do.

You get them all off to daycare and fight the feeling of guilt knowing they will be there for the next 10 hours.  It's not ideal but what are you going to do, quit your job? Not an option.  So it's off to work then with you.  Breathe time.  You turn on the radio to your favorite song and sing loudly to the lyrics as you rush down the road because, well, you are more than likely not going to be on time...again.  You might as well be late and have enjoyed your song.  The song ends *sigh* and you quickly begin thinking about all that you have to accomplish back at home.  Dishes, vacuuming, cleaning that nice stain on your Plan A work outfit and let's not forget the messy kid's rooms that have been on your "to do" list, well probably since you had a list!  You shake off those thoughts thinking there is nothing you can do about it and you are pulling into work anyhow.

You walk in the office totally wishing you had the money to buy a nice frothy coffee because that would surely be the highlight of your morning but you'll settle for your water bottle that really should be cleaned, but hey that will have to get in line with everything else.  You plop into your chair ready to begin your day and are met with another "to do" list that is sure to suck all energy and brain functionality from you.  You look to your right at the stacks of papers requiring your attention and realize that there is no power in the world that can stop those papers from piling.  It's just another thing that won't wait for you to rest.  This job is pretty great though and you feel blessed just to be able to provide for your family.  As time passes you can hardly wait for the 5 O'clock hour where you can rush back to daycare and retrieve your awaiting children.

As you drive to daycare, the thought crosses your mind that if you just get the necessity items, a quick trip to the grocery store "kid-less" sounds like Utopia.  Nope, you decide.  They need you and so they'll get to go grocery shopping with you. You exchange the desire for some peaceful shopping for love and hugs you've been waiting for all day.   You get to their center and wait for the "Mom's here!" excitement but are instead met with tired and exhausted kids.  They give you a hug in respect of saying hello and you hold their hug as long as you can....until poof it's gone! Then it's off to the store, battles over wants and needs and explaining the difference and why you can't afford the bag of candy but the milk is no problem.  You are tired.  They are tired.  You all just need to go home and relax.

You finally get home just to realize that the house smells terrible from the incident that morning.  You quickly resolve the smell issue by starting yet another load of laundry.  You make dinner with kids weaving in and out of you with questions and complaints that dinner is taking too long.  You sit them down at the table, say a dinner prayer and then enjoy the quiet moments while you all fill your bellies.  After dinner the bedtime routine is just as chaotic but not as rushed as in the morning.  You split your time saying goodnight and kissing foreheads and eventually plop onto the couch and enjoy the still moments of the evening..."Moooooooooom"...well it lasted a little while.


This is an obvious interpretation of a possible day in a single parent home and even one I've known some to have, however not every day will look like this.  There are so many positive moments in a single parent home but have you ever had a rough day and wanted that acknowledged as well as the good?  In our social media society it is normal for us to hop onto Facebook and tell the world about our lives, kids and circumstances.  When days are like this, it is cause for pause when doing things like updating a Facebook status.  Do they really want to know how my day was?  Posting a status like, "Was rockin, then moppin, then sobbin" really isn't something that people want to read.  The stigma attached to a complaint-filled Facebook page causes us to only post the good and to only post the view that people want us to show.  I for one know that after a long hard day, I sit with my hands on the keyboard wanting to update my friends and family of how I am but sometimes, it just isn't Facebook friendly.  I choose to be silent instead.
Truth is that we are doing the best we can with what we have.  You are probably doing a better job then you think...even when some days feel out of control and possibly negative.  Like I say, being a parent is the best/worst job ever.

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5 Tips to Successful Single Parenting

Single parenting has ups and downs just like any other position in life, but what are the tips to feeling successful?  I've given five and if you think of more, feel free to add them in the comments below.

Stop comparing yourself and stop focusing on the happy couples around you.  It's easy to get caught up in the feeling that everything would be easier if you just had a mate to share the chores, emotions and life's ups and downs as a parent. The reality is that there is not a perfect situation that will alleviate your feelings.  Even married couples encounter issues with raising their household, so keep it all in perspective.  Wishful thinking could lead to unhappiness and bitterness which you do not have time or capacity for.

Be kind to yourself.  You work hard and have a lot on your plate.  Be sure to take time to pamper yourself or just simply spend time doing something that you enjoy.  Beware of negative self-talk and create positive experiences you can enjoy.

Be part of a community. A strong community is vital to the success of your single parenting.  The support and sense of belonging that will come with a great community is the solution to the isolation that can be associated with single parenting.   Join a church, find a playgroup or join a bible study in your area. There are a lot of community boards with groups that meet for various reasons throughout the week.  See what groups may interest you and take a leap of faith by visiting.  You'll find that you are not alone in a big world full of single parents just like you.

Join forces with another single parent.  Having a friend who is also living the life of a single parent helps two people at the same time! Switch off caring for the kids so you both have a much needed break.  If possible have varying work schedules so that you can both take on the role of "daycare" and eliminate expense.  Some employers will let you job share, which means that two people share one job and switch off scheduling to allow for greater coverage at home and at work.  Having someone to lean on is mental lifesaver! Be sure that the leaning goes both ways.

Accept help.  Be careful not to let pride get in the way of accepting help. It's a common feeling to want to be "supermom" or "superdad" and do everything on your own but you will inevitably suffer from over-exhaustion.  This affects, not only you but your kids.  If people ask to have your family over for dinner, go.  If someone you trust offers to watch your kids to give you a break, let them.  Little helps can mean big differences in your life and in the way you engage your children as a parent.  God gave us other people for a reason.  Let them love on you and in due time you will be enabled to love on someone else who is in need of a blessing.

"The parent-child relationship is the first and most important social interaction a youngster will have, and the flaws and knots experienced there can often be seen later in life."
- Dr. James Dobson

"Be sure to take inventory on your behavior to make sure you are being the parent that you really want to be."
- Meg Meeker, MD

Stop Feeling Guilty

My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.
Psalm 38:4

It doesn't matter how you came to your journey as a single parent, most of us will feel guilt at some point during our child rearing days.  Despite my own story being racked with guilty feelings, I read some really deep stories online that had me curious as to why we allow ourselves to feel this terrible feeling.

One post I read started like this, "How can I stop feeling guilty about being a single mom?" Well, that would all depend on why this person feels guilty.  Why is being a single mom causing her to feel guilt?  We'll never understand her situation personally, but this question swam around in my head for awhile as I thought about the feeling of guilt that surely we all know, some greater than others.

Truth be told that despite our journey, even if it is glamorous and without much pain, there is always that little knowledge that is tucked away (sometimes deeply) where we know how the ideal family is supposed to look and act.  God's plan for one woman and one man to raise their children.  Single parenting although seldom glamorous and seldom without pain, is by far one of the most emotional rattling experiences out there.  You are encouraged most days and maybe you have this single parenting thing down pat, but then other days you acknowledge that you can't 100% fulfill your kids by yourself.  Where is the happy medium?  When do you fully experience single parenting without guilt?

Honestly... you probably never will. 

Uplifting huh? Well, truth be told ALL parents experience guilt and it resides on various levels.  You are up because of great kids and a great day, then you are down because of a comment or bad behavior.  Guilt over the right decisions turning out to be wrong decisions and lets not forget the sudden loss of temper that brings you right to Guilt's doorstep! Single parenting has it's own guilt-ridden emotions but so does double-parenting, as I like to call it.  It is hard to run from this feeling in any parenting situation.  I think it's really important for single parents to remember the key fact that although single parenting guilt may look differently and have different factors than double-parenting guilt, it is still guilt experienced by both situations. 

So how do you lessen the guilt in your life? Try turning your eyes to what you are doing right and how you can positively improve the things that are causing your guilt. An example that quickly came to mind is that I experience guilt when my son sits down to watch a movie of his with me and I end up falling asleep out of exhaustion.  I feel guilty that I missed out on time with him, but did he impose that feeling on me? Not at all, but if I wanted to make sure of how that made him feel I could ask him and explain my tiredness.  This can help both of us understand intentions and hopefully alleviate the guilt I feel when this accidentally happens.  I'm not any less of a mom for falling asleep as I am when I do the other numerous things for and with him.  How I can help prevent falling asleep in the future would be to watch the movie on a Saturday morning versus a Friday night so that I'm wide awake and ready to enjoy the time together.

Remember that if you are doing everything to your capability and within your means for your child's benefit, there is nothing to feel guilty about.  We all make mistakes and it's okay to know and admit that.  Forgive yourself for the reasons you are a single parent.  Forgive yourself for the impossible situation that you find yourself in.  Most of all, forgive yourself for sometimes feeling like you've failed your kids.  You haven't.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance 
that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience 
and having our bodies washed with pure water.
 Hebrews 10:22

Teaching Gratefulness

Years ago, my son was coming upon his seventh birthday.  He had been pointing out a Cars movie camera for over three months every time we were in a specific store with great anticipation that I would buy it for him at each moment of adoration.  He was beginning to show a desire for photography and for taking pictures.  I would have loved to have bought this camera for him on each occasion, but knowing his birthday was coming up, I chose to wait and let him long for it a bit to catch the true reality of receiving something anticipated.

As I entered the store one week before his birthday I was giddy.  Not only could I afford to get him this present but it was going to be a home run.  It was exactly the present he had been wishing for and I was going to see that face of excitement that every parent loves to see.  The face that says, "you know me so well mom", "you listened to my desires mom" and "you did good mom!" 

The morning of his birthday arrived and I could hardly contain my excitement for him to open the long anticipated gift. I did the normal routine of getting him out of bed and ready for school.  I had made his favorite breakfast which was looked over and almost expected and but it didn't phase me much because soon would come the moment he and I had been waiting for.  His "perfect" gift!  We sat on the couch and I was probably more excited for him to open the present than he was but he looked eager nonetheless.  Off came the bow.  Awesome!  Then off came the card.  Here we go! As he peeled off the wrapping paper to my utter shock he looked at the camera box, tossed it aside onto the floor and said, "That wasn't the one I wanted."  HORROR came over my emotions and I'm sure my face.

The present I had long awaited for him to receive was tossed aside and disregarded as something of no worth to him.  I didn't really know how to react, but in that moment I had to make a choice of what my reaction would be.  I cannot claim an amazing story of grace and mercy unfortunately because my initial response was out of hurt.  I expressed my dissatisfaction with the way he accepted his gift and decided that back to the store that camera would go.  All the way to school I expressed my shocked surprise at his ungratefulness.

In parenting you try to prepare yourself for the accidental spill reaction, the unclean room reaction and even the anger that may come your way due to a steadfast love and firmness in discipline.  Never in my wildest dreams did I prepare myself for the ungrateful attitude from a gift he had been desiring for over a month.

I spent the entire day at work feeling convicted for the way in which I reacted to his ungratefulness.  Especially since he had spent his birthday at school feeling guilty for how he reacted and worried that I was extremely mad at him.  Not a great day for our household for sure, that is until we were face-to-face again to verbally talk about everything with much milder emotions.

After school I wrapped him up in my arms and we talked about how his reaction made me feel and how my reaction could have been better.  He apologized for his part in the scenario and we both went to the store and returned his camera.  Although we both felt better about the situation and he assured me there would not be a next time and there was a consequence that he learned that day. That birthday evening went celebrated as planned but without any gift. 

Gratefulness is definitely a quality that is taught and caught.  Anytime I see behavior in my son, I take a look at my own behavior because maybe, just maybe he learned it from me.  In fact, more than likely that is a resounding yes.  So in that I stress that to teach gratefulness to our children, first we need to be sure we are acting grateful for all that is provided to us. 
                      Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp.
                                                                       Psalm 147:7

But... I'm Not Good Enough

"But, I'm not good enough." 

Have you ever said those words to yourself? I know I have numerous times.  Right after my divorce those words probably met me at every new turn and challenge.  Up until that point I had felt that I was a great woman, great wife, great mother, great friend, great daughter...etc.  You name it and I felt fairly confident in everything that I set my mind to accomplish.

Divorce has a way of knocking you off of your "confidence ladder" and requiring you to begin climbing back up, one step at a time.  It's probably one of the most difficult things you will ever do as a woman or man who has had their life turned upside down and was told through actions and words that "you aren't good enough."

Some single parents do not know this feeling exactly through divorce, but have been told by others that they aren't good enough because they choose to parent alone or were left to parent alone.  The feeling is very similar.

Even now I catch myself thinking that dreaded phrase, "I am not good enough, but after some time of dealing with this struggle, I've been able to learn how to stop myself and remember that no one is distant from this feeling. We are all in the same boat of just hanging on to hope for a better future and for better days when our suffering and trials are over.  Sure, some get to live in what could be called the "ideal life" and are seemingly very good enough, however truth be told, we all feel that the insecurity of not being enough for someone or something at one point or another.

What has helped me when that feeling creeps in and brings me down, is to analyze it.  Why am I feeling like I'm not good enough? Why am I feeling depressed over this?  What is the trigger that has caused this emotion? Is it because of what others are saying about me, what my ex thinks of me, how my kids are treating me?  Once you figure out the trigger, it's easier to find a way out of that feeling.

Remember what the scripture says:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, 
who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 NIV

A Refreshed Attitude

I completely understand those individuals who feel that a change can happen at any time and that there is nothing magic about a new year that enables one to seek change.  That is very true, however many people feel a new year acts as a start button for a better outlook, higher goals, and increased motivation to go a different direction in life. It is a great time to feel as if the starting line has once again reached our ability and that we are not playing catch up, but beginning a new race.

I love setting goals at the beginning of the year.  It seems easier and much more attainable for some reason.  For one, my attitude is better.  I have had a little downtime from normal life during the holidays and typically I've spent time with friends or family which was much needed after unsettling distance during the months before.  It is a time to think of others and take the focus off of ourselves for a bit.  When the new year hits I suddenly draw the focus back to myself with a refreshed attitude and outlook on possibilities.  Even though I know the statistics and that most New Year goals are unmet, it remains a possibility in my mind that I can and will beat the odds. 

So, what are your goals for 2014 and beyond? Even if you are not the goal-setting type, surely there is something you hope that will be accomplished in this coming year!

For me it is pretty simple.  My goal is for peace.  That I am able to find peace throughout any circumstance that comes my way.  That is a choice that only I can make happen for myself through God's promises.

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.
Psalm 29:11

Cheers to positive attitudes and goal setting!