Take Off The Mask

Take off the mask.png

So many times, as single moms we are afraid to show how we are feeling or to tell others what is really going on in our lives because we are afraid of others judging us or talking negatively about us. We feel tired, overwhelmed, depressed, have anxiety, and some days, we just feel like giving up. However, most of us just put a smile on our face and keep going, mainly for our children. I always felt that if I fell apart, then my kids would fall apart, so I put on the mask that everything is fine. It is time for us to stop putting on the mask and ask for help from a trusted source because it is causing us to become unhealthy, mentally, and physically. Did you know the reason you keep getting colds or the reason you keep feeling sluggish and not sleeping; well is because of all the stress from not admitting that you are not okay.

For years I kept everything bottled up inside, just because I did not want anyone to know how I really felt. If I talked about what I was feeling, I knew I would lose it. Yes, I was upset about the divorce and the cheating, but I just put a smile on my face and said its fine let him go on, I'm good. I really wasn't good, but I couldn't let him get the best of me. What I should have done was to cry on someone's shoulder and release all that hurt out of my system so that I would not have to deal with a breakdown years later. I didn't let the kids know dad was not paying child support and that he was being a real butt. I put his name on Christmas gifts and made them think he was doing his part; that mess is stressful on a mom.  You are running kids to activities, working a full-time job, paying bills alone, helping with school work, trying to have a little life, and cooking meals every day; and we keep going, smiling and acting like we are okay. Take off the mask and ask for help.

 

I know all single moms have a lot of things going on in their life, and we all want to keep a smile on our children's face, but sometimes to do that we neglect ourselves. All of us need to do self-care daily. If you take time to take care of yourself, you will not have as much stress or anxiety. When you do self-care, you think clearly, and then you will take off the mask. Being a single mom makes you a strong individual, and you will find that you can balance six tasks at one time and get it done; however, sometimes it stresses you out. That is why you need to make sure that you care for your mind, body, and soul; so that you can take care of your children. I used to tell people, "I'm good," knowing that I was feeling horrible inside, but I put on my mask and kept smiling. Now, I have found a way not to have to put on that mask. 

 

When I am feeling sad, depressed, overwhelmed, or just tired, I pray, listen to soothing music, take a walk, or play speed with the girls. See we are mom's doing it alone, but we must put self-care first. We cannot take care of others if we are physically or mentally out of whack. Just think why stress over not having enough money to pay the utility bill when you can go to an agency for help, ask a friend or relative who may have it, or even work out a payment plan. It's time to slow down, take a breath and think of a plan so that you don't stress out, and the next time someone asks, "how is everything going?"; you can say things are good and really mean it. See how you look with the mask off? You look amazing, just like the awesome single mom you are, and you really mean what you say. I cheer for you, take off the mask today and be honest about what is going on in your life, say how you really feel and get a release. Remember, SELF-CARE is not a joke.

Carmelita M

Doozer’s Day

Copy of Doozer’s Day.png

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.

20190609_163604.jpg

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

Halfway There

Starting another year. Resolutions not meet or even made this year. Already wishing the year was further along and yet time slowly passes. I bring myself back to the present as I find myself wishing away time, stopping my mind from drifting further along into future dreams or dilemmas. There in the future, is where my anxieties are heightened. Where fear sets in and takes my present, latching a hold of my joy and faith slowly diminishing in the confidence I once knew. All reminding me that it’s the middle, the “halfway there” point where I find myself, forcing myself rather to keep going. It’s at this point I feel the options; do I persevere or succumb. 

Halfway There .png

I know the exhilaration well that comes with new endeavors and drives me forward. I remember times such as starting my career, buying my house, having a baby. All beautiful things, but can I just say none of those things fill like much fun right now. I feel like I am in the middle of life looking down both directions thinking I remember how I got here, but when do I get to be “there.” That place where I don’t feel so stuck in my present or dreaming about the future. I love every day, and I am beyond grateful for every single thing the Lord has brought me through. But man, this girl is tired. And it’s now, more than ever I feel the Lord reminding me, “You are half way there, just push a little further.” So I keep pushing, pulling myself back into the present. Casting fear aside because his hand is reaching for me if I just keep pushing towards what He set before me. Time might be moving slowly, but praise the Lord it is moving, and movement means I am closer to Him than I was yesterday. So I persevere. And it’s there in the middle I find that halfway is my “There.” It’s not about what’s to come, it’s what is right before me. 

Writing this entry, the image that is engrained in my mind is of Peter in Matthew 14:29, when Jesus calls Peter to walk on water to him. Peter got out of the boat with no fear and began walking towards Jesus, but in the middle fear set in and he began to sink as he called out “Lord, save me!” and “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.” Jesus was right before Peter if he could have seen Jesus for who He was. 

I feel like Peter, having the Son of God before me as a life preserver and I am crying out “Lord, save me!” Jesus knew before he ever called Peter onto the water that Peter would doubt, yet he called him anyway. The Lord is not surprised by my calls for help, He delights as a father would when He is needed. He knows my place, my halfway point and he delights when I embrace that if He is here, I have already arrived. He is reaching for me at every point. Past, present and future. My halfway is my  “There.” 

Daisy