Find your purpose

Recently, my daughter and I went to a church service with friends and the topic was Personal Brand Identity. It was an interesting topic to think about. We watched a powerful video about Tim Shaw, a former Tennessee Titans player, who talked about the fact that growing up his brand identity in high school and college and for much of his professional career was that of a great football player. When his body began shutting down and he was diagnosed with ALS, his brand identity changed from a football player to a person with this ALS disease. It took this significant event in his life for him to realize that he had let other people’s perceptions of him become his identity. He came to the realization that he was who he had always been, Tim Shaw, best friend to God.

This story really struck me and I could completely resonate with his words. When my ex-husband and I first separated, I struggled with telling people what was going on in my life because of how it would look to others. Growing up in an Indian household and in the Indian culture, I knew that you keep family things to yourself and what you present to others is a great reflection on not only you, but your parents and how they raised you.  Even once we decided to divorce, it was difficult to talk about what was happening with certain people because of the fear I had about how they would perceive me. Over time, I realized that I had nothing to be ashamed of and that if these people were my real friends, they would still love me and support me because I was me, not just half of a couple. Some friends did fall away and distance themselves. This was one of the things I had feared and it made me feel sad and disappointed and question what was wrong with me. I didn’t understand it at first – I was the same person, wasn’t I? I had to learn that it was ok because they couldn’t be the kind of friend and supporter I needed; I had to make sure that I was surrounding myself with people who were positive and supportive and encouraging.

I was married for almost 18 years and my identity during that period was that of a wife and later, a mother. When the divorce happened, I lost my identity as a wife and that was extremely difficult. It was time to start over and rediscover what I liked again and who I really was as a person. I remember my friend telling me that when she got divorced, she went to the grocery store and was almost paralyzed because she didn’t even know what to buy anymore because she didn’t remember what she liked. She got so used to buying groceries that her husband liked and now she was confronted with the realization that it was just about her and what she wanted. That feeling can be extremely scary and overwhelming at first, but eventually it gets easier and can even become freeing.

For me, a huge milestone in this journey of rediscovery was my Zumba class. I had always loved to dance growing up so this was a perfect fit. At first, I was hesitant to walk into a class by myself where I didn’t know anyone (this was completely out of my comfort zone). The instructor was so welcoming and even though it felt like everyone else knew the routines so well and I had no idea what I was doing, I came back. The more I came back, the easier it got and eventually, I actually knew some of the routines. It took some time, but Zumba allowed me to rediscover my love of dance and without even realizing it, my self-confidence and self-esteem grew to the point where I went from dancing in the back of the class to closer to the front. I even lead dances in my class now and was recently certified to become a Zumba instructor, something I never thought I would do. Most importantly, I gained a whole new support system of wonderful and encouraging friends who I can count on for laughs, inspiration, good food and good times.

I have also found solace in reconnecting with old friends who knew me in high school or college before I got married. There’s an odd feeling of comfort and nostalgia that I can’t describe when I am in the presence of these old friends. I’ve made it a point over the past few years to call up an old friend and catch up or find a way to visit old friends when we’re traveling. It has done great things for my soul.

Each person has to find their own milestones and triggers in their journey, but it’s important to take the time to find out who you really are on the inside – your brand identity, or your purpose in life; God made each of us with a purpose in mind and it’s our job to find out what that purpose is. I’m still working on finding my purpose, but for now, maybe it’s being a desi single working mom who’s doing the best she can to make her girls proud and show them that they can do anything and helping friends who are struggling along the way.

 

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The month of July …. the month of change

seaport during daytime

Photo by Pok Rie on Pexels.com

Do you ever look at the “On This Day” feature of Facebook? It can be fun looking at memories from past years, but some days can remind us of things we don’t want to remember. During the past few weeks, I’ve realized that July has been a significant month in my life for the past few years.

Five years ago today, I started a new journey in my life – my divorce became final and I was about to be a single mom. I remember sitting alone in the courtroom waiting for my case to be called. My ex-husband didn’t have to attend and I chose not to ask anyone to come with me. Maybe I was being a martyr by going by myself, but I wasn’t at a place where I felt comfortable asking anyone to come with me to something that felt so private and personal. I remember texting a friend who was also going through a divorce and telling him where I was. He graciously reminded me that this divorce would not define me as a person, which was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment.

Since the divorce in 2014, the month of July has brought many new experiences …..

In 2015, the girls and I traveled on our own. That may not seem like a big deal, but for me it was. We always traveled as a family, so taking the girls to another city or state on my own or with friends was a new adventure.

In 2016, July brought my first time teaching a Zumba dance. I got certified to teach earlier that year but hadn’t officially taught my first dance until July. That was seriously stepping out of my comfort zone, but I had the support and encouragement of my Zumba family.

On this very day in 2017, I did something I never expected or planned …. I started this blog. To be vulnerable and write about my story was a big step after growing up thinking that I should keep anything negative to myself. Now, I was choosing to share my story and hopefully help others in the process.

In 2018, I was asked to speak as part of a panel about my experience as a single mom. As much as I don’t like public speaking, this was another opportunity to tell my story and hope that someone learned something from it.

This July, I took my oldest daughter to Cancun to celebrate her 16th birthday with friends, I co-taught my first two Zumba classes and participated in a dance video. I even agreed to some changes in my job.

I can’t wait to see what next July brings!

If you read my post from January, I decided to choose a word that would guide my life this year. The word I chose was “Embrace” and if I think about how I’ve been doing so far, I feel like I have lived up to my word. There were opportunities that have presented themselves along with some tough challenges so far this year, but I have done my best to embrace each of them …. Taking in and enjoying the opportunities and analyzing the challenges to determine how I can learn from them.

One of the things I have embraced lately is gratitude. A friend of mine introduced me to a book called “The Magic,” which is all about practicing intentional gratitude each day. At the end of May, I started writing down ten things that I am grateful for each morning. It’s amazing how this practice changes how you think. It makes you seek out positivity in each little thing, even if you’re dealing with something negative or challenging.

As I reflect over the last five years of this desi girl’s journey as a single working mom, there are a lot of things to be grateful for:

  • I’m grateful for my daughters – they keep me going every single day, even on those days when I feel like I can’t do it. I hope that when they look at me, they see a mom who loves them fiercely, who works hard for them and who they can look up to.
  • I’m grateful for family and friends – those who I have reconnected with, those who are new through this journey and those who have always been there. To the family and close friends who were with me throughout the marriage and divorce journey, I am grateful to you for sticking around; I know that it can be awkward and uncomfortable during this type of transition, but I am beyond grateful to those who are still in my life.
  • I am grateful that I have opened myself up to new people and new experiences because I am discovering a whole new me.
  • The divorce and the aftermath include many challenging times, but I am even grateful for those times (ok, maybe not while they were happening). Those times have made me stronger, braver and more resilient.
  • And I’m grateful for all of you who read these posts and hopefully take something away from them; thank you for your time, your support and encouragement. You have no idea how much it means to me.

Love can hurt, but it also heals

If you read my last post – The ups and downs of this single mom’s weekend– you read about the “relationship” I was in that ended abruptly. I won’t lie, I was pretty upset and had a hard time for a couple weeks trying to understand how someone could treat another person that way with complete disregard. If that weren’t enough, a few weeks after that, I found out that the two of them got engaged. More emotions again.

But through all this, I’ve learned that I have grown. When I had problems in the past with my ex-husband, I kept everything to myself, I didn’t take care of myself and I tried to work through everything on my own. This time around, I made sure to surround myself with positive and supportive people. I have made the time to do dinners or happy hour or lunch with amazing people in my life who know me, who support me and who lift me up and encourage me.

I also had a couple of really cool opportunities during this time. I am a part of a women’s networking group at work and during one of our leadership meetings, we visited Thistle Farms. If you haven’t heard of Thistle Farms, they are a great organization that gives women who survived trafficking, prostitution and addiction a place to live, a meaningful job and a support system. We visited on a Wednesday morning when they hold their weekly circle time. Anyone is invited to participate, and I was thrilled to be a part of it. Everyone goes around the room and introduces themselves and the women who are part of the program take this time to tell pieces of their story and why they are grateful for Thistle Farms. I can’t even explain to you what a moving time this was and to sit in the circle with these women was so inspiring. You could feel the love in the room that day and I walked away with a new perspective – love heals (it’s one of Thistle Farms’ mottos).
A couple of weeks after the Thistle Farms visit, my company got a group together to walk in the Pride parade in our city. We probably had 100 people from our company wearing matching shirts and waiting for the rain to pass so we could start the parade. This was the first year my daughters could attend and leading up to parade day, I sat my youngest daughter down to talk about what we would be doing and why. I told her that the Pride parade was all about love and showing love for others. As we walked down the main street downtown, I took some time to really look around and see all the people who were standing on the building rooftops and lining the streets. There were people of all ages, races, ethnicity and genders – all coming together in the name of love. The experience was amazing, and I can’t wait for us to do it again next year!

These two experiences could not have come at a better time and I knew that I was meant to be in both of those places to help me heal my heart.

But love isn’t just about loving and being loved by others, it’s also about loving yourself. During this time, I have been doing my best to workout to keep me healthy, eat right and listen to my body. If my body tells me I should take a two-hour nap on a Saturday afternoon, then I listen. The work, the chores and the errands will still be there. I even made an appointment to visit my counselor to talk things out. I have realized that if I don’t take care of myself during this difficult time, then I won’t be able to function properly …. and I need that to get myself into a better place.

As hard as the last month or two have been, it’s also been a time of growth for me. Love can be a great thing, but it can also hurt. But, if you are open to the possibilities and allow it, love can also heal you. The love and support of my family and friends, participating in these great opportunities to show love for others and taking care of myself are all ways to help heal a broken heart and spirit. It made me see that love is everywhere around me; maybe I was just focused on looking in the wrong place.

The ups and downs of this single mom’s weekend

After months of busy work, school and activity schedules, I was looking forward to a long holiday weekend to relax and enjoy some down time. We had a few things planned and my ex-husband and I were getting close to finalizing a car for our 16-year-old daughter, but I figured I would still have some time to rest and relax. On Saturday, we spent the morning signing papers for the car and figuring out logistics on how to surprise our daughter. The afternoon was spent picking up the car, surprising her with it and driving around to visit her friends. Who knew the emotions that giving your child a car would evoke? Although she’s been driving for months, giving her a car means having to let go a little more and not being able to protect her because she’ll be out there on her own when she’s on the road. It’s overwhelming to think about the fact that you’ve taken care of and driven this child around for 16 years and all of a sudden, they want to be out there by themselves and with their friends while you sit at home and wonder if everything is ok and track them on your Life 360 app. High school and driving are like tests of letting go for the parents, before the kids head off to the real world.

If that weren’t emotional enough, I was faced with more interesting information. I’ve been talking and to and hanging out with a guy for the past year; he lives over an hour away and is in the Army and was deployed a couple of months ago. We’ve never claimed to be in a “relationship” due to our schedules and distance, but we pretty much text/talk every day and it felt like we were. I won’t get into all the details, but let’s just say that I found out this weekend, through social media, that things were not what they seemed; another woman changed her status to say that she was in a relationship with him on the day after he stopped texting me. While I was worrying about his safety, he was busy playing me; I found out that he was back home from deployment and saw a picture of the two of them together. My emotions have been all over the place this weekend along with many tears, trying to figure out what in the world happened, going back and looking at old texts, questioning things and coming up with plausible theories. Maybe it’s my fault … I get truly invested in the people that I care about and can be over the top. Sure, that sounds great, but it can also be a tremendous weakness, especially when it causes you to get hurt often. And when it causes you to overlook red flags along the way because you just want to be in a relationship again.

The situation transported me back to when my ex-husband and I were discussing separating and all the feelings and emotions. Obviously, this situation is not even close to that, but I just remember constantly wondering what I did wrong or how I could have changed things, instead of realizing that it’s about him and not me and that it’s his loss or that I deserve better than this. Thank goodness for good friends who will remind you of that. I was constantly trying to keep things together on the outside for my girls while I was falling apart on the inside. When you have kids, you can’t just crawl in my bed and wallow; you just have to keep things going. On one hand, that might be a good thing because of the distractions. But, at the same time, the feelings of betrayal, loss and disillusionment are real and need to be addressed.

Ironically, the same day I found out this information, the girls and I attended my friend’s wedding. I was not feeling great about going, but I was excited to celebrate my friend. She and her fiancé both have gone through a lot in life and were each getting married for a second time. To sum it up, the wedding was just perfect – intimate, beautiful and heartfelt. As I watched them take their vows and listened to the speeches, it brought tears to my eyes; I was sad for what I was dealing with, but it also made me feel hopeful. These two had been through a lot and those experiences brought them to this point, where they were able to join their two families into one. I felt so grateful to be included in this amazing celebration of love and it gave me some hope that good things are coming.

If you remember one of my earlier posts, this year I tried something new and chose a word of the year – embrace (click here to read that post). I told myself at the beginning of the year that I was going to embrace life this year, the good and the bad. I’m trying to embrace all the changes in life as I parent a high schooler and a rising 4th grader, which is not always easy. I also embraced opening myself up to someone new and letting my guard down.

But now I wonder, what lessons am I supposed to learn from this latest challenging experience? I still don’t have the answer to that and maybe it will be a while before I figure that out. The fact that I invest in the people that I care about can be a positive and a negative. What I don’t want to happen is for these experiences to change me in a negative way. I hope I don’t become a pessimist about love and life and become cold, bitter and extremely guarded …. I worry about that. Right now, I don’t know how much more my heart can take, but at the same time, I really don’t believe that I’m meant to be alone forever. So, I guess I’ll just keep plugging along, taking care of my girls, working on myself, doing the things I love and just keep embracing life as it comes. What other choice is there?

My Word of the Year – 2019

For the past few years, I have tried to write down goals for the year – some personal, some professional, even goals for travel. And generally, I get to most of them, but I don’t really check in on those goals that I’ve written down on a regular basis. This year, I’m trying something new. I keep reading and hearing about people who, instead of making resolutions, come up with a word that will help guide them through the year. When I heard this, I really liked the idea of it. But, what one word could encompass all the things I was feeling?

After a few weeks, I’ve finally come up with my word for 2019 ….. Embrace.

What does that mean?

  • To me, it means that in the upcoming year, I am going to embrace the things that come my way – good or bad. Even if it’s something bad, I can embrace the lesson that comes along with it.
  • I also want to embrace experiences, whether that’s dinner out with my girlfriends or watching my kids play their sports.
  • I want to embrace relationships – old ones and new ones and celebrate what makes each of those people unique and special to me.
  • I need to embrace self-care and not feel guilty about it.
  • It’s also about embracing emotions, good or bad. Sometimes, I have a bad or emotional day and I must remind myself that it’s ok and to allow myself to feel those emotions when they come.
  • It also means trying to let go of controlling every situation and letting things happen and accepting them. This one will probably be the most challenging one for me, but I’ll try.
  • And accepting my life as it is today by being grateful instead of focusing on what I don’t have.

I’m a Type A, structured, planner so just sitting back and embracing things isn’t going to be easy for me. I like to be in control of situations and my emotions, so this will definitely be stepping out of my comfort zone, but that’s what growing is all about, right?

Self-Care …. What’s that?

As I mentioned in my last post, “Feeling accomplished and lonely” I recently finished up planning a big leadership conference at work. Even before that meeting, work had been pretty busy and if you add in tennis and soccer practices, matches and games and driving kids to parties and social events, you can see that the life of this single mom can get pretty busy.

In the past week, I have heard a couple of different times how important self-care is for parents, and moms specifically. I know this is true in my head, but I don’t always do a good job of it. Many times when I get overwhelmed, exercise or eating right can be the first thing to go to the wayside. I look back to the beginning of 2018 and I was doing so well ….. I was working out 6 days a week, meal prepping on Sunday nights for dinners and lunches each week, was drinking water consistently and feeling pretty good about things. Then, April hit and life got busy and slowly things started slipping. When September rolled around, and life was overwhelming, all of it stopped and I was just trying to survive from day to day.

The day my conference ended, I went home and took a nap. I had two days to myself without the kids and I wasn’t sure what to do. I went to dinner with a friend the first night, but I really spent a lot of time by myself for the rest of the weekend …. and it was wonderful. The kids came back on Sunday evening and we all had Thanksgiving week off together. We spent a lot of time together at home, but got out each day to shop or volunteer, shop, etc. This was exactly what I’d been missing and what I needed at the time …. downtime, quality time with the kids, not having to be on a schedule. It reminded me how much I needed to find time to do nothing.

Back when my ex-husband and I were first starting to have some issues, I went to counseling for a brief time. I remember the counselor giving me homework – “Do something for yourself for 10 minutes every single day,” she said. What in the world? “I don’t have time for that,” I thought. That seemed like such a difficult task. She gave me some examples – get a cup of coffee by yourself, go for a walk, call a friend. The ideas seemed easy and harmless, but how would I fit that into my already busy schedule? I promised to do the homework and I was amazed by how this small change made such a huge difference.

Once I started incorporating self-care, like exercise or some alone time into my schedule it changed my outlook. I could then feel when I was stressed and needed an exercise class or a walk or a talk with a friend. But once I let that self-care slip from my schedule, it has become so difficult to work it back in again. I’m in that process right now. Going from go, go, go all the time to a sudden downshift in responsibilities and projects can be great, but for a person like me, it can also cause anxiety. I almost can’t handle the quiet and calm because I’m used to being in overdrive all the time. It took that week off at Thanksgiving to calm my anxiety. Now, I’m trying to embrace the quiet at the end of the year and use the time to reflect on what I’ve accomplished this year and what I would like to do next year and just take time to enjoy the present.

I’ve been reminded that taking time for yourself makes you a better parent, so one of my goals for 2019 is to start incorporating some self-care back into my schedule. Let’s just hope I can keep it up ….

 

Feeling accomplished and lonely…

The last couple of months at work has been absolutely crazy. My boss left and took another role out of state, leaving his position open. Job postings and interviews happened, leading to a new boss and a coworker taking a new job in another department. Needless to say, our department was short-staffed and going through a major transformation all while our company’s annual leadership conference was coming up. For the past two or three years, my former boss took the lead on planning the conference and I was the right-hand person, handling details and facilitating the actual meeting to ensure everything ran smoothly. This year, when my boss announced his move out-of-state, I was given the opportunity to lead the team planning this year’s meeting. As you can imagine, work became extremely busy. My days were full of meetings with barely enough time to grab food, then I would go home and do mom duty – feeding the kids, going to activities – and then after the kids were down for the night, I would get back online to work for a few hours.

During the week of the meeting, I was running on pure adrenaline and caffeine – waking up at 4:30/5 am, getting to work by 6/6:30 am, facilitate meetings until 5 pm, then either head to an evening event or go home to work and then do the same thing the next day.

Thursday afternoon was the official end of the conference. As excited as I was about the completion of the conference, all I could do on the drive home and the drive into work the next day was burst into tears. I’m sure part of the reason was the pure exhaustion I felt and the emotional letdown after all the adrenaline and excitement of the week. But, part of it was feeling sad about not having anyone to share my accomplishment with.

Like I mentioned in my blog post, “Waiting for my turn”, it gets exhausting to sit back and wait for the right person to come along. Being a single mom can be extremely lonely. It feels crazy to say I’m lonely when I’m constantly surrounded by people at work and at home, but it’s just not the same. I’m trying my best to have faith that life will turn out how it’s supposed to and that the right person will appear in the right time. I’m not the most patient person and there are certain times/events that trigger the loneliness, so when that happens, I need to learn to lean on my friends and family for the support and encouragement I need.

Although I want that special someone to love, support and encourage me, I was reminded that I have supporters and encouragers in my friends and my daughters. My daughters surprise me all the time with their thoughtfulness and support. My youngest daughter made me a sweet card before the conference to say good luck (see below) and my oldest sent me a couple of texts on the first day to check in and make sure things were going ok. After the conference, my oldest daughter gave me a wonderful note that she had written (see below). As you can see, even though I may not have that special man in my life yet, I do have the most amazing girls who have the best hearts and I can’t help but feel grateful.

Some days it’s easier said than done, but I just have to keep moving forward, stay true to myself and have faith. I might just need a reminder when I’m having a rough day.

 

 

Fear is a four-letter word

Looking back on my life, I have always been very cautious – even as a child. I always followed the rules, took my time with things, made sure to do things the “right” way. And that way of living definitely spilled over into my adult life. This is not to say I didn’t have any fun, but it was almost always cautious fun.

Throughout my life, fear kept me from doing a lot of things – the fear of doing the wrong thing, of getting into trouble, of making others upset, of disappointing others, etc. I never really realized that until I got separated/divorced. Although I never would have made the decision to separate/divorce on my own, when I look back now, part of the reason I couldn’t let go was because I was scared that I couldn’t do it on my own and what it would look like to other people. It’s so true that when you have to do something, you just find a way to do it, and then maybe you realize it wasn’t as hard as you initially thought. Being a single mom definitely isn’t easy, but I’ve made it work for the past five years (with a lot of help from friends and family) and I think/hope the three of us are thriving as a family unit.

The separation/divorce has prompted me to try new things – meeting new people, attending events by myself, stepping out of my comfort zone. Sometimes now, I look at these things as challenges rather than something to fear.

This summer, a friend asked me to be a part of a panel at a sisterhood event to talk about my story. Speaking in front of a group is definitely out of my comfort zone because I’m more of a behind the scenes person. In the past, I most likely would have made up an excuse about being too busy to do it, but now, even though I was scared out of my mind, I knew I had to do it so that I could tell my story and hopefully help others. The night of the panel, I was running late from work and I was the last person to show up at the venue. We did a quick sound check and I tried to keep a handle on my nerves. When the time came, all of us walked up on the stage and sat in our seats and I waited for my turn. Luckily, I had written down what I was going to say or I might have completely forgotten everything. When it was my turn, I walked to the podium and began my speech. Although my voice was quivering from my nervousness, I made it through the speech and even managed to throw in a joke or two. I think part of my fear was because I knew my oldest daughter was in the audience and I wasn’t sure how I would react when I started speaking or how she would react to what I was saying. I guess I also didn’t want to embarrass her and I wanted her to be proud of her mom. Looking back on it, I’m glad I joined the panel – I met some other great women and was grateful to the women who came up to me and thanked me for speaking.

My oldest daughter is so much like me and is extremely cautious in everything she does. She gets really nervous when she has to do something new and I try to talk to her often about pushing herself to do things even when she is scared. I tell her how it took me until my 40’s to step out of my comfort zone, so I’m hoping she’ll push herself now rather than wait to learn that lesson until she’s older. I’m hoping that the steps I’ve taken the past few years – becoming a certified Zumba instructor, choreographing, teaching and leading flash mobs, speaking in front of a group of people, starting a blog, dating again, taking on additional projects at work, etc. – will be an example to her and show her and her sister that it’s an accomplishment to do something despite the fear you feel.

Last year for my birthday, my daughter reached out to many of my friends and asked them to write me notes, which she put into a scrapbook for me. Whenever I have a day when I’m feeling sorry for myself or feeling down, I pull that book out and read through it. I was having one of those days recently, so I pulled out the book and read through the notes. It was so interesting to me …. Some of the words that people used to describe me included fearless, courageous, spontaneous, and fun. What?! That completely shocked me! That is not how I have ever seen myself and to know that’s how others perceive me was surprising.

It all goes to show you that people can change, if they want to and put work into it. And, if they take the difficulties in life as lessons and learn from them. It’s also shown me that being brave isn’t about not feeling fear, it’s about feeling fear and pushing through in spite of it.

 

Waiting for my turn….

I was listening to a podcast on the way to work about working moms and being spread too thin. At one point, the guest speaker took a moment to acknowledge single moms because they don’t have someone helping at home with some of the things talked about on the podcast. Just that tiny acknowledgement made me start crying.

Some days, I wonder how I got here; this is not how I thought my life would be. 45 years old, divorced with two kids, alone …. Most days I keep plugging along with work, the kids, activities, etc. and don’t let myself think about it too much. But, some days, especially lately, it’s a continuous reminder. Please don’t get me wrong. I know that I am blessed … I have two unbelievable daughters, great friends and family, a great job with amazing coworkers … and I wouldn’t give all that up for anything. But, sometimes, I would just love to have a person to share my life with.

People say all the time …. It will happen when the time is right, or when you’re not looking, etc. I get that …. I hear you. And I know that the ones who haven’t worked out are a step in my journey and I should take lessons from those relationships. But right now, I am tired …. I am tired of waiting, tired of being alone, tired of doing everything on my own, tired when I don’t get a break, and tired of having to learn lessons all the time. When do I get my turn for love and happiness? I feel completely selfish and petty for having these feelings and saying them out loud when so many of my friends are going through their own tough times. But, then I remember that this is my reality right now and this is what I’m struggling with. And each person’s struggle is just as important as the next person’s.

 

Father’s Day doesn’t look the same anymore

If you read my blog post, “Is Being Strong Really a Strength?”, you know that my dad passed away when I was 17. What I didn’t tell you is that his funeral was on June 17, which happened to be Father’s Day that year (just like it is this year). No one even mentioned it, except for one person who attended the funeral. You might be thinking, “Why would that person remind a 17-year-old girl that it is Father’s Day on the day of her father’s funeral?” I know it might seem insensitive but honestly, I was so grateful. Grateful that someone acknowledged what day it was and realized how hard it was for me to be there saying goodbye to my dad on that particular day.

Father’s Day changed for me that year and has never been quite the same. After that year, I dreaded Father’s Day. Everyone else had plans with their dads to celebrate and I didn’t. All I had were the memories of his funeral on that day. It was devastating.

After getting married and having our first daughter, I was grateful and thrilled to celebrate Father’s Day again. I had missed celebrating it for so many years and it felt good to feel like I was “normal” again. For years, we did the typical gifts, cards, special meals to celebrate. Then, all that changed again five years ago. Once my husband and I separated, Father’s Day looked different again. I would still take the kids to buy cards and gifts but I was no longer part of the celebration. At first, while they were spending time together on Father’s Day, I was sitting at home by myself not having anyone to celebrate again.

Through this journey, I have met many ladies who have gone through divorces. For the past couple of years, since most of us are on our own on Father’s Day, I’ve gotten together with some of them for breakfast (I can’t wait to do it again this year). It’s a great way to connect with those who are in the same situation and it makes us feel not so alone on that day. I also try to take a few minutes to text a “Happy Father’s Day” message to the men who have a positive impact on mine and my children’s lives.

Father’s Day continues to be a tough one, but those small acts of meeting friends for breakfast and showing gratitude for the men in our lives has turned this day of dread into one that includes some happiness.

So, let me take a moment to say Happy Father’s Day to the amazing men out there who choose to love, support and encourage their kids on a daily basis.

Single Mom’s Mother’s Day

What do you think of when you hear “Mother’s Day”? Mom sleeping in, breakfast in bed or brunch at her favorite restaurant, a day of being pampered and spoiled? That’s what I think of …… but I’m learning that I need to stop having expectations and just embrace what is in front of me.

Last year, I most likely had that opening vision for my Mother’s Day. Instead, my youngest daughter woke me up at 6:00 in the morning and asked me what we were having for breakfast. Good question…. We didn’t really have anything at home because I normally go grocery shopping on Sunday mornings. After waiting a little while, I realized that I needed to get out of bed and get dressed and make my way to the store. I drove to the store to pick up some breakfast items. While I was checking out, I noticed that most of the people in the store at that early hour were dads and their kids buying last-minute cards and gifts for the moms in their lives. Let me just tell you that I was more than a little irritated and depressed that I, the mom, was at the store buying items for our Mother’s Day breakfast. On the way home, I decided to treat myself with a Starbucks coffee to go.  When I got home, my kids could sense my irritation, so they told me to go to my room, shut the door and relax. The girls decided to bring me breakfast in bed and we ended up having a fun day. Our friends called and asked if we wanted to join them for lunch and a hike, which we did, and the girls gave me presents that they made/bought with their dad.

I admit that I feel bad for getting irritated and feeling sorry for myself; it probably sounds really selfish. But, it taught me that I need to learn to not have expectations about holidays/events, because I tend to get disappointed. As a single mom, it’s not realistic to think that I can have an entire day of doing nothing. But I can learn to embrace what is and enjoy things as they come, rather than trying to make events live up to some fantasy that I’ve created in my head or seen on TV.

If I could take this lesson and apply it to all areas of my life, I would probably be a much happier person. So, for this Mother’s Day, I am going to challenge myself to let my expectations go and just enjoy the weekend with my girls. One of the things I love as a mom is to watch my girls do the things that they enjoy, so I’m going to remember this as I watch my oldest play in a tennis tournament and as I watch my youngest play in her soccer game and attend a friend’s birthday party. They don’t stay this age long, so I have to enjoy it while I can.

Being a mom is a tough job and being a single mom is tougher than I could have imagined, but I love my girls so much and could not imagine life without them. I remember when they were babies and there were times when I would look at them and cry because I loved them so much. And, just last week, after my oldest daughter had a disappointment, I couldn’t help but cry because I know how hard she works and hate to see her suffer. Or the pride I feel when I see them accomplish something amazing. Or hearing my youngest daughter tell her sister, “Good morning beautiful” when she sees her in the morning. Every day as a mom brings something new and sometimes it’s an emotional rollercoaster and every year seems to go faster than the last one …. but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

So, here’s hoping that I can let go of what I think Mother’s Day should be and just enjoy it for what it is this year. And, here’s to all the moms out there – I hope you enjoy your day, however you decide to celebrate.

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