ISO: Friends

Wanted ASAP!

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Friends for a single mom. Looking for people who enjoy the outdoors, deep conversations, the occasional total breakdown, themed events, baking, and confusing interactions that vacillate between hyper-engaged enthusiasm for the relationship, and unexpected distant awkwardness. The ideal person will have flexible time so that they can work within small windows of availability. Must have a near-Christ level of patience to endure several cancellations before eventual meet-ups. Should not expect immediate text replies or phone conversations (like, at all).

 

Scrolling through social media, I am always envious of the moms in pictures with their groups of girlfriends – at wineries, the beach, someone’s baby shower, brunch, etc. Some of you even have multiple girlfriend groups! You get matching outfits or t-shirts with cute slogans, you take annual trips; you do friendship right. It is impressive. I am jealous of you.

 

Friends are a struggle for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like people. I actually love learning about others and creating connections. But I don’t know how people do it. Between work, kids, housework, life tasks, and attempting some level of self-care, I am always either low on time or (mental or physical) energy. I try to build friendships, but I seem unable to maintain them. Here’s a glimpse into the bum deal of my friendship:

 

You’ll invite me to parties and to hang out at your place, and I will come (whenever it is kid-friendly, or I can get a sitter). But, I probably won’t ever invite you to my place, because I live in a tiny two-bedroom apartment and I’m pretty embarrassed about it. So, you’ll think I don’t really want to be your friend. You’ll stop inviting me.

When you ask if we want to join you and your kids for a movie, I will likely want to. But, we live on a tight budget, so I will probably say no. In all likelihood, I will be too embarrassed to tell you that it is a financial issue, so you will think I don’t really want to be your friend. You won’t ask again.

 

You will offer to take my kids for a while, and I will accept it. Then, you will ask for the same favor, but I will likely have to work, so I will say no. The imbalance between a partnered-mom and single-mom investment in kid-swapping, and friendship, in general, will become progressively clear. So, you will think I don’t really want to be your friend. You will find new friends.

You will do something amazing for me, and I will plan a thoughtful and unique way to show my gratitude…but then I will get busy with and overwhelmed by life. I will keep the gesture on my to-do list, but by the time I get to it, so much time will have passed that I will feel too ashamed to execute it belatedly. You will find me rude for not having the courtesy to write even a thank-you note. You will think I don’t really want to be your friend. You will move on.

Initial encounters are probably the worst. I will approach you with the genuine exuberance for getting to know who you are. But when the conversation starts to move toward future plans, I will be silently battling the demons inside my head telling me that I am incapable of being a good friend, so I will appear distracted and try to find a way to move on to the next, more-superficial, conversation. You will think I don’t really want to be your friend. It will stop there.

So, if you’ve ever tried to be my friend and felt like I haven’t reciprocated, please know that I appreciate you deeply and I have entertained visions of our Insta-stories in coordinated clothing on our annual trip to the winery. I have daydreamed about sipping mimosas and laughing with you over brunch. If you want to continue trying, I promise that I will also try. If you don’t, I understand. Either way, please know that my ISO is ongoing, redeemable at any time.

A. Smith

Worthy-Just as we are!

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As single mothers, most of us have a natural nurturing gene embedded inside of ourselves.  We want everyone around us to be “good,” and if they’re not, we want to help fix their pain (whether physical, emotional, or mental).  We want them to feel joy and happiness, to be confident and exude strength from within, and when we don’t we step in yet again to remind them of their worth.  We compliment others often, whether it is on their new shoes or an accomplishment they’ve recently made.  We get excited about their wins and feel saddened for them when they take a loss.  We cheer others on with fierceness, as we should.  However, why don’t we put that same level of ferocity towards cheering ourselves on?  When do we worry about our joy and happiness-the things that make us so darned loving and caring, an easily be depleted when you try to pour from an empty vessel.  When do we focus on whether or not we feel confident or whether or not we’re exuding strength not only for the world to see but for us to feel?  When do we compliment ourselves, not only on things such as, “dang this outfit is cute”, but also on how we kept our cool when a 3-year-old has a total meltdown in the grocery store over the $5 toy that she did not earn nor deserve and was just not in the budget to be so frivolous? When do we celebrate ourselves; our good decisions, or the ability to pick ourselves back up after a crappy decision?  When do we make sure we’re “good?

I have noticed that especially we single moms; we tend to treat ourselves with hatred, judgment, and harshness.  I personally am guilty of calling myself “fat,” or “old”; focusing on only the crow’s feet around my eyes instead of the really cool dark brown ring that encircles the much lighter iris in the middle.  I’ve focused on how many more grey hairs are on my head, instead of the really great haircut my stylist helped me accomplish when I sat in his chair.  Focusing on the negative, in turn, feeds more negativity.  It spirals out of control until you totally lose sight of who you are, whose you are and how precious you are.

Recently, I had a young client reveal to me that she had no idea how beautiful she was.  I was amazed that she had no idea of her beauty because the very moment I looked at her, I instantly noticed her big beautiful blue eyes, her deep dimples that accompanied a glowing smile, and cute girlish figure and an adorable hairstyle.  Not only that, knowing this young girl’s story, I thought to myself, wow, she’s also so brave, and THAT alone should be celebrated. I expressed all of my observations to her, and I asked her to please stop selling herself short; to realize not only how externally beautiful she was, but also her internal beauty and her endless worth.

When I returned to my office after that conversation, I thought to myself how easy that was for me to express to her, and to see in her.  However, am I not doing the exact same thing; discounting my worth every time I believe anything other than the simple fact that I am me and that in and of itself makes e worthy?  We need to learn to embrace all of our positive truths and discount those negative distorted ways of thinking.  While it may be true that I’m not 25 anymore, am I really old? No, OLDER, sure, but not old.  Although I may have gained a few pounds to go with the years I’ve gained, am I really fat? I’m more like that newer saying “thicker than a snicker.”  I lost my girlish figure but gained a womanly body.  I need to embrace my worth, and so do you.

I encourage each of you to write down three positive truths about yourself) whether you believe them right now or not) that counter a negative, distorted way of thinking about yourself.  Post it in your car, bathroom, and office (anywhere and everywhere).  Say it often. Speak it out loud.  Fake it till you truly believe it about yourself.  Then grab one or two more.  I encourage you to start seeing yourself the way others see you; precious and worthy, and beautiful inside and out.

Curvigurl

Becoming a Single Mom

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This is my story on how I became a single mom.

At the age of 24, I felt like my life was pretty much figured out.  I finally had my own apartment without roommates and a decent job working as a CNA. I felt like what I had learned in life had prepared me for whatever trials I would face. I just knew I would be able to conquer trials in my life. I didn’t have a carefree childhood. I grew up in a chaotic home with my grandparents. There was someone who was addicted to drugs who lived with us. I wasn’t taught how to drive, but I learned to navigate by public transportation.  I was being an adult by paying my bills and doing well at my job as a CNA. Life was great, but I still felt like something was missing. I was unable to hang out with my friends or go out. I thought a dating website would be a great way to tell the difference between a guy who was a fit for my life and the wrong guy.

Two weeks into having the dating profile I had received a message from a guy that was a handsome “country” guy. I was excited. He also seemed to live for the Lord. A few weeks of talking to him I decided to meet him. He was just as pleasant in person as he was online. We hit it off and became an official couple.

As time went on things were still great, we were spending lots of time together, and he practically moved in with me. The only slight change I noticed was an afternoon as I was coming home from work, he had asked me to pick up his favorite pizza. So, I stopped at the local store and grabbed it from the frozen food section. I arrived home, and as I walked in, I was greeted by a clean house. Wow is this guy for real? I was so happy with him. I handed him the pizza to place it in the oven, his facial expression changed. He directly looked at me and asked, "Are you stupid?" I was shocked and looked down not knowing what I did wrong. He said, "This is not pepperoni! This is cheese didn’t you read it?" I apologized and asked if I could take it back and get the right type of pizza. He smiled told me no, it’s okay. I was very hurt, but I didn’t say anything. He later apologized.

More time passed I realized that he started to have a “not good enough” attitude towards us. After a few months, I was met with an ultimatum that I either I had a child with him, or he was going to leave me. I told him I really want to be married first and this was sudden. I asked him to let me think about it, and he agreed. The next day I called a couple of family members and friends asking for their opinions. Everyone was shocked by his demands. Even after the advice, I have been given I was sure he must want a family because he loved me that much. I agreed, and we decided to try for a child.

A couple of months later I was expecting. The joy I had for my baby overshadowed my doubts, and he seemed very excited. He called his family and told them about the baby. His family was shocked but happy, and I was welcomed into his family.  I felt how close to them and admired how relaxed around each other they were. It made me desire, even more, to do what I could to make him happy.

In 2014, I was scheduled to be at the hospital, so I can be induced, I was nervous by that time, and I felt as big as a double-wide trailer. I have always been a nervous person as long as I could remember. He was comforting none the less to me. The waiting area for the delivery room seemed calmer then what I expected it to be. The faces of family members, husbands, or boyfriends didn’t alarm me; I felt excited and ready. As I went back, I knew he would be in the room, and he wanted to be a part of it every step of the way!

After arriving in my room, the first thing I noticed was the little baby carrier for after delivery, the smell of the hospital was familiar and comforting because of my work in the medical field. After being all setup, we were in for a long night. It seemed close to forever before Pitocin was given. A few hours later I thought I was going to die the contractions were awful. He snapped, "It can’t hurt that bad you’re being a baby!" I looked at him and cried. I asked for a nurse and a short time later a nurse arrived, I asked for an epidural. After many hours of labor and 4 hours of pushing my healthy baby girl was born.

He wasn’t very helpful for the two days we remained in the hospital. The nurses came in to take my little girl for her vaccinations, and they offered to take longer so I could rest. I smiled and slept for a while. The last day we were there we were packing to leave I lost my daughter's personalized binky. I was panicking, and he scolded me when the nurse walked in and abruptly interrupted him and offered to help look. His attitude changed. He said, "We will get another one."

We arrived home, and our plans changed, I had to quit my job, and we were to move closer to his family in a nearby town. I agreed, so we packed and moved a few months later.  When we lived in our new house, we had a lot of time with his family, and my daughter was growing more beautiful by the day. I was happy regardless. Being a stay at home mom was going to be okay. I couldn’t drive anyway, and I would be loving on her all the time.

A year later, he was very little help with her, but he reminded me that he worked, and I didn’t. I didn’t fuss at him, and I allowed him not to help. He was gone more frequently, and his absence lasted well into the nights. Even shopping at the local store was an issue because I was too slow, and he accused me of looking at other men. I was tired of being talked down to. I met him with an ultimatum of him leaving for the night, or the baby and I were going. He shoved me in a corner and took my phone. He said, "If you are to leave then say you won’t make me pay child support."  I reflected back on every evening I anticipated him coming home, I always had the house clean, and dinner sat at the table. My daughter was in my arms now I was crying. I agreed, and he left then I did too.

I was faced with uncertainty, where do I go? We were without a home. I didn’t pack much because I was thinking it would blow over. I thought things would be normal again. I stayed with my grandma for a while. Things downward spiraled. He was not only cheating on me with multiple women, but he also had numerous profiles on dating sites. He had also created a fake Facebook to hide that he even had a “family.” I was so hurt and confused, we planned this baby together. I did everything he wanted, and all I wanted was for him to be home. Time went on, and things got worse between us. After a failed attempt to get my daughters belongings and mine, we had nothing. Not even a bed. I was on the lease of the apartment, and he lured me there saying he couldn’t stand seeing her stuff and said come to get it. I was met by him and his family, and they tried taking my daughter. The police came to keep me, and my little one safe.  Come to find out, he moved in with a woman and her two kids in they were occupying our beds and had used our belongings.

We were homeless couch surfers. The home my daughter knew was taken from her. I left my friends and moved in with my father. At my father's house, I broke down. I had worked this whole time, and I couldn’t stay with people long because I didn’t know how to drive. I begged God to tell me whether I should take my daughter back and give her to him? He’s more financially stable, I’d probably never see her again. I sobbed and begged. The next morning, I received a message on Facebook. 

The message was from my old school teacher, and it was so comforting because she offered to help us. She helped my daughter, and I find a place to live. This woman and her church even furnished this house. We had a bed, a bathtub for my little girl to play in, and she had toys. I bawled and thanked the Lord for this. During the next few months, I worked and took a taxi every day. I could pay my bills again. The church came by to helped with lawn work, and they even brought us essentials like toilet paper and laundry soap. I never felt so much love before! 

It wasn’t easy. The taxis were expensive every day I’d carry my daughter, her car seat, and our bags everywhere we had to go. We went to daycare, dr appointments, grocery store. Rain, snow, ice or sunny we did it. I worked from 3 pm to 11 pm or to midnight. Then I switched jobs, and I worked 12-14 hour shifts. I was so exhausted from all of this.

I recently moved back to the apartments I lived in when I met my daughter's dad. I paid a Driver's Ed guy to teach me to drive. I obtained my driver's license, and my old teacher helped get me a car. I paid off my debt to go to college, and now I work for the school district. I did this in 4 months! I have worked so hard. I promise to all of you broken, lost, damaged, uncertain single moms that anything is possible! Work hard and take care of your babies (P.S. after the one visit with my daughter's dad he hasn’t contacted us in two years) I had some help, but I’ve done all the work! Anything is possible ladies!

Anonymous