Doozer’s Day

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As I write this, Father’s Day is looming. For single moms, the annual holiday is often better known as “Ugh. How are we going to handle it this year?”

Some of us use this holiday to celebrate our double duty. Some of us let it pass without discussion. Some of us celebrate grandparents or other important figures. In my family, we’ve done it all, including a brief stint in which my daughters claimed the day for themselves as “Sister’s Day.” But this year, at my daughters’ request, we are trying something entirely new: Doozer’s Day.

“Doozer” is my girls’ nickname for my boyfriend. It comes from the children’s show created by Jim Henson about the helpful Doozers who are famously task-oriented. If something needs doing, Doozers just “do-do-do-it.” It is an apt nickname, to say the least, and is now the only name by which anyone under 12 in our lives recognizes him. He is a great guy. Yet, it took a days-long, anxiety-ridden process for me to grant their request for Doozer’s Day.

Doozer and I have been dating for over four years. For the past three of those, I have frequently fielded questions about when we will get married, whether or not I am a “real single mom,” and if we will move in together. The answer to all of those questions is simple: “I don’t know.” There is something so simultaneously wonderful and frightening about loving again, about inviting someone to become a part of the family that you’ve rebuilt from the rubble, and attempting to trust. It is confusing.

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If relationships are typically a straight line from interest, to love, to engagement and marriage, ours would look more like the wobbly-yet-determined footsteps of a drunken man trying to walk the straight line of a sobriety test. It took a full year to get to “I love you.” In these four years, we became neighbors, but we still don’t cohabitate. He has never stepped into Father-Daughter dances. We do not share finances. We broke up almost monthly for the first three years because none of this makes sense. I know this isn’t the life he wanted. I mean, a financially ruined, emotionally unstable single mother with ex-husband drama isn’t exactly dating site profile material. In all honesty, he is not the man I envisioned loving either. This serious-faced, consistently underwhelmed introvert with a deep need for solitude? C’mon. Could there be a more opposite personality to mine? What was I thinking? He is certainly not who the girls envisioned as the fourth member of our silly, dancing, ice-cream-for-dinner crew. Yet, here we are, the three of us, stumbling into this new life – sometimes with headfirst abandon and sometimes one tepid quickly retracted toe at a time. Because as much as this was not what any of us had in mind for our future, it is the only thing that feels right – this family.

Seeing Doozer with my girls fills and softens my heart in ways that I did not think were possible. The time and energy he puts into them is one of the most magical phenomenon I have ever witnessed. I fall more deeply in love with him every time I see it. But I would be lying if I said that those feelings were simple and beautiful. In fact, they are complicated. As I watch this man guide and support my daughters, I am also terrified. I constantly fight the urge that creeps up the back of my neck to grab them and run far away to some secret enclave where the three of us live without worry that someone will break our hearts again – where we trust no one and are only vulnerable with each other.

I approached Doozer about his potential holiday, fearful that he would say, “This is too much, I’m out.” But when he responded positively, I became even more fearful about what that meant. Honestly, he could not have given an answer that would not have invoked fear. Knowing that he is taking a bigger piece of their hearts each day is, well…nothing short of terrifying.

Second Corinthians 4:7 tells us, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” I use this verse often when talking about our bodies as vessels of the Lord. Think of yourself as the jar, I tell my girls, brimming with the Lord’s treasure. You are magical and unique, like any handmade pottery, and full of God’s love. Trust Him, I always say. Trust that He made you just as you need to be, His perfect vessel. Trust that He leads you, His vessel, where you need to be. Just trust Him.  So this year I am listening to my own advice. I am trusting God as we walk this journey that is crooked and scary but is the path upon which He has set our three hearts. Instead of resisting the path because it is unfamiliar and, honestly, a bit unorthodox, we will celebrate.

I hope that all of you single mommas celebrate. Whether you have a Doozer, a dear friend, an aunt, a neighbor, or yourself. Trust that God placed you where you need to be and with whom you need to be, and celebrate THAT!

Bring on Doozer’s Day! (Or Friend’s Day or Auntie’s Day or Whatever Day!)


A. Smith

Fairness Doesn't Have to Define Your Happiness

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I have three children. They are 12, and twin 5-year olds. We have recently entered the season of life called “that’s not fair.” It’s a terrible stage. It’s taxing, exhausting and I can sincerely state that I have said the words “because I said so,” more than any other mom in the history of fairness. At times, I can approach the situation as that teachable moment we all strive to find. At other times, it is surely the 74-ton straw that broke this camel’s back. How does a mother create and enforce a sense of fairness between children, siblings, and twins… when the only fairness they’ll ever see is the fairness they create?

 

Life isn’t fair. This is a fact that we all know, have shared, stated plainly, felt, and fell victim to. Whether it stemmed from our childhood, our collegiate career, or our workplace, we know what it feels like to stare into the complicated abyss that is fairness. A good friend of mine once explained that his sons fought over everything. What direction they were looking in, or the air they were breathing— was systematically the property of one child or the other. Looking in the same direction or breathing the same air was punishable by excessive whining, crying, and pointing by the injured party. But! When instructed to share a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; they became the ultimate teammates-- nearly measuring the width of the sandwich to ensure that both sides received equality.

 

What is your earliest memory of fairness? Or lack thereof? Mine was access. Financial access, specifically. My childhood best friend was “well off” as my grandmother explained. And as the eldest of a prominent family, divorced in the early 80s, she was the first person I knew to experience the twos. Two houses, two sets of holidays, two parents were vying for her attention and affections. She had two bedrooms, two tape players, two personal libraries. It was insane. No sensible parent should exert effort or finances to win their child's affections, but the early 80s was not privy to this information. Estranged parents granted their children’s desires if for no reason than to ensure that their court-ordered visitation was problem-free (for the most part).

 

As a child, growing up with my grandmother, this access hurt me. I felt slighted by the fact that I did not have the same access my friend had. I did not have two wallets to jump into. I had one home, one room, one set of everything. I never had the newest of anything. When I felt brave enough to breach this subject with my beloved guardian, she told me “well, sweetheart, life is not fair.” She went on to explain that while my friend had access to so many material things, no one could know her true heart’s desires. They were too busy trying to impress her and keep her; they didn’t have the time or energy to expend getting to know her, engaging her, supporting her. “Things don’t make a person happy, and life will only be fair if you make it that way”; my grandmother reminded me.

 

My contribution to the concept of worldwide fairness is to raise conscious, empathetic, loving children. Children that will reach out their hand to help another because it’s the right thing to do, not because they want something in return. My hope is that the environment that we call home is fair enough that they can see a difference between how I treat them and how others treat them. My desire is that when they look back on their childhood, on me, and on our home that their only reflections will be that of love. I know it’s not 100 percent realistic, but it’s hope nonetheless.

 

Sometimes I buy one item and request that they share. Most days we decide together on what I’ll make for dinner. Other times, I make their favorite meal items, all on the same day. I do what I can to show that the fairness comes from within. It is not for purchase, for leasing, or handed down. Fairness comes from doing what is right backed up with empathy and understanding. It’s sharing the fruits of your labor with someone because you want them to know that joy. You want your fruit… to be their fair.

I want to teach my children that fairness is not about things, but the broader concept of just. It is my hope that they’ll see and know that a life guided by truth and reason will create an environment where justice and fairness can lead the way. Realizing that life is not fair, but choosing to commit to what is right is the only way I can model this behavior. I pray I’m doing it right.

Tanisha Ware

BrownSugarBritches.com

A Home Preparation Guide for New Parents with Disabilities

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Becoming a parent is one of the most joyous and exciting things a person can experience.  New parents will quickly learn that it is a continuous process and will be a lifelong adventure.  Keeping that in mind, preparing your home for your new addition is, but so is going easy on yourself when you realize just how underprepared you are once your child arrives.  That said, here are a few ideas for preparing your home that you may not have considered.

Protecting You and Your Baby

An abundance of resources exist that tell parents how to prepare their home in order to protect their baby.  They typically discuss everything from baby gates to outlet covers, as well as nursery-specific dos and don’ts.  What these resources don’t cover is how to protect the parents, or at least make their lives easier, which subsequently also protects the child.  Parents with disabilities know this is especially important and may already have made some home modifications to meet their own needs.  

Avoiding or eliminating obstacles that prevent you from providing the best care for your child is the ultimate goal in preparing your home. It is a good idea to evaluate the existing home thoroughly and consider if any previous modifications pose a potential hazard or if new modifications are needed.  Consider what you’ll be doing for or with your baby that you may not have had to do in the past.  This will help you conduct a more thorough needs assessment so you end up with a better analysis of what additional changes may be needed.  Remember, this won’t be perfect.  What might work when you first bring your newborn home may not work once he or she is a toddler, and how you’re able to handle child care may change once you get some experience.  

Room by Room

Start by working through your home room by room to identify potential areas for improvement.  For example, if you have visual limitations, consider marking products in your pantry using braille labels or textured tape to help you quickly and accurately identify the product.  This can work in any room in the house. It is also a good idea to make sure you have accurately sized measures to help you when preparing formula or other baby foods. Find measuring spoons and cups that let you measure the exact amount of product you need to help make meal preparation a snap. Adding other sensory tools, like specially designed baby monitors, might prove useful as well if you have hearing or visual limitations.  

If mobility issues are a concern, you may have already found a number of adaptive products that help you transport your baby when you are on the go. For certain disabilities, these types of products may be essential.  For others, like toys that allow you to interact effectively with your baby, you may find that creating your own is just as effective and less expensive.  Other considerations include adding grab bars to your bathroom or other areas of the home to make safely reaching your baby for bathing or changing easier.  Adding non-slip mats is also a good idea since spills are bound to happen. For more information, check out this informative guide on home modifications for parents with disabilities.  

Taking precautions and making home improvements that help you care for your child will be a learning process.  You don’t always need to focus on remodeling or big changes in order to have the best results.  As your baby grows, your needs are likely to change as much as your child’s, so don’t be afraid to adapt your approach. Keeping both the parents and baby healthy is the goal.  

  Ashely Taylor

See more information on their website: http://disabledparents.org