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

Time: Its Okay for Our Children to See Our Brokenness

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Becoming a single mom is almost like becoming a parent again; there is no instruction manual. You had tidbit of information, a few shared opinions and well meaning advice; before you are thrust out into the world vulnerable and fragile. You already are raising babies, but now you have to do completely alone?!

 

As scary as it can be. I feel like many parts of life, God does not give instruction manuals because we are learning as we go. We are learning what is right for us and what is wrong. We get our hands dirty to patch up the holes and we work tenderly and heal the wounds that were left behind.

 

And as we learn to parent alone, we also learn much deeper lessons about life, our children and ourselves. One lesson I learned  on this journey is; it is ok for our kids to see our vulnerable moments sometimes. 

 

For awhile I tried everything I could to keep myself calm and collected during my separation and divorce. I followed the advice of the kids counselor and school. It was what everyone told me. “Even if you are breaking inside, don’t ever let your kids see. They don’t need that burden.”

 

Part of this advice is very true. You don’t need to dump the load of brokeness and scary concepts that come with divorce. But I also know, you can’t pretend to hide the truth. My kids knew their dad was not around and they knew mommy was working really hard to keep things held together. They didn’t hear it from me. They saw me live it out daily.

 

So many times I became overwhelmed by the chaos and broken and exhaustion, I found myself crying. I tried so hard to pretend I was ok, because I didn’t want my kids to worry. Diving into bathrooms; sending them outside, handing them my phone were all distractions to keep them from seeing the pain, I couldn’t hold anymore. However in one moment, I wasn’t fast enough to hide myself away. I sank to the kitchen floor crying. I had hoped the phone and tv would distract my kids, but my barely five year old son heard me. Coming into the kitchen I made some quick lie, I could say, but instead, he walked up to me with his strong little arms. Wrapping them around me, he said, “You are ok, Mommy. I love you.”

 

My daughter soon followed the sniffling noise of her mom and asked, “Are you ok, Mommy?” And with her arms she wrapped them around me and there I sat. Both of my kids hugging the life and energy back into me, I was able to stop crying, embrace them back and then get right back up to take on the world again.

 

That was enough. There was no need to lie or explain everything or share some big story. There is a time and moment for that. But right then, my children knew I was hurting and they needed to make sure mommy was ok. Everything was still difficult to handle and their was still too much on my plate to handle, yet through them God reminded me why I was fighting this battle. 

 

Its funny how God made small children have big hearts. Maybe this was one of the many reasons the Bible says we need to have faith like a child. Children have a lot more strength without having all the answers to life. It is ok in some moments to let our children see, we feel broken sometimes. They will see the strong example of the powerful you are as you get back up and handle the world. And they will be your reminder to keep taking one step at a time out in faith.

NaTacia Z.

See more blogs from her at her site https://blessedsinglemom.wordpress.com

Mom, Neglected

When I was in my twenties, I had a bonafide self-care routine. Self-care wasn't a buzz word then. It wasn't a movement or even a frequented topic. I took care of myself, because duh. No one had to tell me to moisturize, or hydrate, or rest. No one reminded me to decompress or relax. I did whatever I needed to do, on all levels. I ate when I was hungry, I drank when I was thirsty, I slept when I was tired. Motherhood ended my self-care journey. Now I have to check-in with an app to remind me to do anything for myself because I've given up the majority of my cerebellum to thinking (constantly) about my kids and their needs. I am a mom, neglected.

 My heels are cracked. For me, this is an all-time low. Before motherhood, I never so much as had a hangnail. My skin wasn't dry. My cuticles weren't the epithelial comparison of tree bark. My eyebrows were simply magnificent and received a plethora of compliments. My hair was silky smooth. My teeth were pearly white. My eyes were bright, without bags, dark circles, or eye goop. What the hell happened to me?!?!

 I used to shower, and then apply oil before drying off. After that, I would literally sit on a towel and moisturize my entire body with more oil, or body butter, or pretty smelly lotion. There was never any dry skin. And now, there's nothing but dry skin. It's pitiful. The other day, I had a mom-brain duh-piphany: "maybe if i put some lotion on." Are you kidding me? It's like lotion was invented... LAST WEEK!! Where have I been? What's wrong with me? Oh yeah, lost in a mom fog.

 Before the twins, I started to grow my hair out naturally. It was certainly a fad at the time, but I was just exhausted of the hair care routine that was a staple in my life for 15 years. I would pay to have my hair relaxed, blow dried and flat ironed. I would wash it weekly and repeat the heat drying and intense heat flat ironing. I would get it professionally updated every couple of months, and trimmed to keep it flawless. But the process just became too much. Perhaps I was just bored. Either way, I stopped with the chemical and heat treatments and went full on deep conditioning. I co-washed my hair daily and didn't do anything else. This worked for several years.

 Now, nearly six years after the natural hair journey began, my hair is a certifiable tornado of UH UH! It's dry, tangled, and generally unruly. It won't go straight, it won't lay down, it has a mind of its own. The curl pattern seems to be making a choice to rebel. So I decided to adopt a new routine. I applied some argan oil and braided it in the hopes of long term management. Oiling it will lock in the moisture that I've been denying it for so long and braiding it will eventually train the hair to calm the hell down.

 I've braided my hair for three nights in a row, and I swear I have arthritis.

 Do you want to talk about my eyebrows? They. Are. Caterpillars. Two giant caterpillars perched above my eyes to help me express myself without words. I used to pluck them and trim them and groom them several times a week. They were perfect, and everyone told me so. You're lucky if I pluck them semi-annually these days. Ask Tiffany. She was my biggest brow-fan. Now she just shakes her head and rolls her eyes. It's funny. AND. SAD. Mostly sad.

 I haven't put makeup on since before my twins were born. They turned four years old -- a month ago. I still have every bit of it. My guess is that it's near one thousand whole American dollars worth of MAC. I'm sure some of it expired, but I can't even mentally locate where it might be in order to throw it out. There's some kind of makeup in my purse. I don't know how long it's been there, how many purses it's been transferred to and from or why it's even in there. Some eye shadow and a colored lip gloss.

 I used to make jokes about the yoga pant clad messy bun gang of moms loitering to the front of any school. Usually, with a cup of coffee and a small person loitering about her legs. From a distance, I would mock her for smelling like bacon, broccoli, ranch dressing, and BO. But now I'm her. There's plenty of fun to be made, but now I'm on the other side of the fun, laughing at myself in the company of other moms.

 Today, my son's school had a holiday performance. I wore a more casual work shirt, and the same pair of jeans I've donned for this week. I wear them every time I have something to do outside of work hours... for basically the whole week. I also wore my son's flip flops with my (not as badly) cracked heel skin, and un-pedi'd toenails. I'd braided my hair last night, so while it was wavy, the ends were just as unruly as ever. It was kinda in a bun, but mostly not. My glasses have greasy fingerprints on them, and they're a tad crooked because my daughter snatched them off my face and threw them a few times. I'm always in a state of recovery from acne, and I never sleep enough, so dark circles, and under-eye luggage is definite. And in line with the mom crowd, I had a cup of coffee in my hand and two little people running about.

 Being a mom ain't for the weak. It's a hard job that requires unlimited, unconditional love, determination, patience, and creativity. Most of us spend so much time thinking about our kids and our love, determination, patience, and creativity that we forget about ourselves. The priorities do not lie in our appearance, smell, or general friendliness. We need our coffee, our comfort in the form of week-old jeans or yoga pants that double as pajama pants, and we need the chaos of our kids. This is the place where we thrive. We spend years of our life talking to people who can only understand ten percent of what we're saying. Forgive us if our skin is dry, or our eyebrows aren't groomed. You're lucky we're conscious.

Me and My natural hair. Circa 1979.

Me and My natural hair. Circa 1979.

This is me in 2001. Processed hair. Hydrated skin. Groomed brows.

This is me in 2001. Processed hair. Hydrated skin. Groomed brows.

x This is me two weeks ago. Me and my kids were recovering from the contagion: streph throat. I was dead on my feet. See my hair? See my brows? See my look of “I don’t care”? That’s a mom r’there.

xThis is me two weeks ago. Me and my kids were recovering from the contagion: streph throat. I was dead on my feet. See my hair? See my brows? See my look of “I don’t care”? That’s a mom r’there.

Tanisha Ware

(previously posted on BrownSugarBritches.com)