Saturday, March 15, 2014

Overachieving as a Single Mom

I have been sitting on this post for 6 months.  To begin with, I was shell-shocked.  Then I was hurt.  Hurt by actions, words, opinions, the choosing of sides, and generally grieving the loss of a relationship that started 19 years ago.  A relationship that apparently was not what I thought it was.  Then I just didn't want to put it out there, as though doing so would...  I don't know.  Make it real?

Did I think that my marriage was perfect?  No.  Not by a long shot.  I knew there were issues.  Very Big Issues.  I knew that we both contributed to those issues, and that we would have to come together to work on them.  I thought that we were going through a rough patch - that we would find our way through that rough patch and eventually come through it with a stronger relationship in the end.  I believed that with all my heart!

But my heart was wrong.  In the end, there was no choice for me to make as far as my marriage was concerned.  That choice was made for me.  The man that I gave my heart to and intended to spend the rest of my life with was gone.  My attempts to hold onto family and friends - to make them understand - resulted in further alienation.  It's no wonder, really.  But in the moment, I just could not accept the changes to my life that I had not asked for and did not want!  All I could see was doors slamming in my face.

It wasn't long before word spread.  It is hard to say whether it was harder to endure the looks of pity that followed me, or having to explain the constant waterworks to those who had not already heard from someone else.  Mixed in were also hugs and words of encouragement from women that I didn't even realize were single moms.  They always seemed so organized and put together that I never would have thought they were doing everything on their own!  How could anyone go from where I was to so...put together?  Maybe there was hope for  me!

Slowly, I have been figuring things out.  I am finding new ways to do things so that I can at least make sure that the basics are covered each day.  My little family of 3 has adjusted old routines and settled into new ones.  The boys miss seeing Daddy every day, and one of them is still convinced that Daddy moved out because of brotherly arguments or too many "Daddy! Daddy! Daddies!"  But they are also somewhat appeased by getting to do things that they never got to before.  Like staying for after school care on days when I simply cannot be in two places at once.

There have been moments of frustration when time has run out and there is still too much to be done.  Or when Mom just can't do something the same way that Dad would do it.  Or when they want attention but I am too busy to take a break from the increased responsibilities of single parenthood to play a game of Irishopoly.  But then comes the break that we need, usually just when we need it the most.  Sometimes it is an "Aha!" moment that leads to increased efficiency.  (An hour of drawing up liquid medications for a week makes for sore thumbs, but mornings are sure a whole lot easier!)  Other times it is a "laugh or cry" situation.  And since there have already been too many tears in recent months, laughter is the standard response when things go awry.  My Super Productive Morning gave me one of my first big laughs as a single mom.

Slowly but steadily, I am regaining a sense of community.  Acquaintances and even former strangers have stepped into roles that were vacated by others just 6 months ago.  I still miss the friends and family that walked away or distanced themselves under the guise of not picking a side.  I still experience the grief attached to the death of my marriage and so many dreams.  But sadness is no longer my primary emotion.  While my legs are still shaky at times, my feet are once again under me as I take one step at a time into the next chapter of my life.  This new chapter is

Conquering Single Motherhood

The emotion?  


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bunches of Thanks for my Dietitian

Today is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, and therefore a day on which I want my Registered Dietitian to know just how much I appreciate her.*  Of course, I should be letting her know that anyway!  Just like appreciation for mothers should not be held back until Mother's Day or appreciation for fathers held for Father's Day, I should be thanking my dietitian routinely for making my life easier.  Still, I know that I am guilty of  uttering "thanks" at the end of a phone call in a way that is more reflective of habit than a heartfelt sharing of appreciation.  Plus everyone likes to get a little bit of extra love every now and then!

So what awesome show of appreciation did I plan for my dietitian so she could feel some love before sitting down at her desk for another day of helping parents figure out how to meet their kids' nutritional needs without much more than sugar and air?

Not         a          thing.

And it's not because I didn't know that today was special.  It's because life was busy.  I was focused on my kids' schedules - their school stuff, medical stuff and extra activities, along with my own version of each.  At the same time, I was also trying to do what my dietitian has taught me even when all I want is to serve my kids a gourmet meal of hot dogs while I dive into a sleeve of Thin Mints®.  Or maybe it's just because I still have not learned the lesson on punctuality - or the ones about run on sentences or punctuation, for that matter - that my 8th grade English teacher just could not make me learn.  (Sorry, Mrs. Hammen!  I know you tried.)   But the day is not done, so I still have time to throw together something awesome(ish).

It is now my pleasure to present...

Just a few of the bunches of reasons I appreciate our dietitian*
  1. She is always just a phone call or voicemail message away.
  2. When she answers the phone, she does so with a smile - even if what she is really thinking is "Oh, Dear Lord, what can she possibly want this time?!"  (And yes, I have called her so frequently that she often knows it is me before she answers.)
  3. She doesn't laugh at my questions, ridiculous as they may be.
  4. At our first appointment, she looked silently at the huuuuuuuuuuuuge list of allergens we must avoid and resisted the urge to blurt out "What does he eat?!"  Instead, she suggested that we ignore the overwhelming list of allergens and focus on the much shorter list of foods that are safe.
  5. She doesn't yell at me for feeding my kids too much sugar.  Not even when I told her about my "Just Sugar" cookies!
  6. When I ask her if the 9 syllable ingredient that I can't even pronounce is safe, she often knows exactly what I am talking about and whether it is worth taking the chance.  When she doesn't, she takes the time to find out.
  7. Samples!  (Need I say more?)
  8. She doesn't yell at me about not eating my greens.  Instead, she works with me to ensure that I am getting the necessary micronutrients without making me feel even more self-conscious about my persnickety eating habits.
  9. She tallies the number of calories my children need to grow and develop properly, and then retallies after each growth spurt or weight gain/loss.
  10. She helps me review the options presented by the allergist to decide which food to trial next.
  11. She recognizes that what looks good on paper may not work perfectly in real life, and she helps me adjust feeding and meal plans accordingly.
  12. I think, after all this, that it goes without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway.  My Registered Dietitian is just plain awesome!

*Technically "them" rather than "her" because I actually have two dietitians that I can and do call on as needed!  But they are both women, and therefore a "her" will suffice.  I have no doubt that "they" will understand the need for me to find a way to use fewer words!