Take Off The Mask

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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

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)