Monday, January 7, 2013

The single mom life

Writing is obviously one way I cope with things.  The funny thing is I hate writing.  Well that is when I have to write for a reason.  Essays in high school and college - put those off until the very last minute.  Writing up my research so that it can get published - a multi-year process.

But writing on this blog.  So easy sometimes.  I don't share as much as I would want for obvious reasons.  But I do give some insight into what is going on.  Not just for me and my release but for others that go through similar things.

Being a single parent can be so incredibly isolating.  I know there are some of you who read this are also going through similar events.  I scoured the web for other blogs or sites to read as a way of feeling not so alone in the process.  And I hope those that land here for similar reasons can feel a sense of connection or some sense that you are not alone.

And I'm not alone.  My family has reached out beyond what I could have asked for.  Friends from around the country are checking in on me and giving me words of encouragement (have to say that is one thing FB has been good for!)

But there are still times as a single mom that I  The day that I got a nasty cold and felt awful.  I had the kids and it was a weekend, and yes I could have called for help.  But I didn't.  I couldn't move off the couch.  And the kids did ok.  They had far more screen time than they should have.  But in that moment I realized how alone I was.  There was no one else to say "go take a nap, I got this for a few hours".  No one to get me a glass of water.  No one to go to the store to get milk for the Tank when we ran out.  No one to grab more blankets for me when I was still shivering with 3 blankets, a robe, and fleece PJs on.

But life goes on.  I got better.  The kids did fine.  Tank only cried a bit for more milk and then decided that water was ok.  The Munchkin made me a fort to rest in.  She "doctored" me.  The kids are so resilient.  They have changed because of this.  They are compassionate, caring, and so tender at times.

So here is the best story from Christmas that reflects how tender the Munchkin has become.

Christmas eve we hung the stockings on the mantle.  In the morning she woke up and saw presents in 2 of the 3 stockings.  She was very sad that there was nothing in mine.  She kept saying Santa missed mine because it was on the side instead of the front.  I said that it was ok.  That Santa really just comes for the kids.  She said that wasn't true because last year I got chocolate in my stocking and that I have always had presents in my stocking.  And of course she was right.  But I told her it was ok, that I had her and the Tank and that was enough.

Well 20 minutes later while eating breakfast she brings it up again.  Then she gets a bit reserved.  She said she wished she could fit in my stocking.  That she and Tank could both fit in it so that they could be my presents.  Then she got this glimmer in her eye.  She said next year I should leave a crack in both of their bedroom doors.  That way Santa could sneak into their rooms, pick them up while they were sleeping, and carry them out of bed and put them in my stocking.  Then they would sleep all night in my stocking so that when I woke up and came downstairs Christmas morning I would see that the Munchkin and Tank were my presents.

And that is how my sweet little girl made my day.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The holiday season

I love Christmas for so many reasons.  First there is the meaning of Christmas and the celebration of the birth of our Savior.  Then there are all the traditions, festive decorations, family meals, and time spent with extended family.

Over the past few years, I put great effort into establishing traditions with my family.  This includes getting a new pair of PJs the night before Christmas, a new ornament to reflect each child's interests over the past year, adding a tracing of each child's hand to the Christmas tree skirt, and the list goes on.

Well needless to say this year was different.  Some of the traditions still happened, and others did not.  I have to get a new tree skirt and retrace all the handprints minus one onto the new skirt.  I didn't have enough time with the kids to do some of the other events that we have done in the past.  We were able to spend Christmas eve and Christmas morning together, and I am so grateful for that.

But there is such heartache and grief now that they aren't here.  The house is filled with new toys scattered everywhere.  And yet the house is totally silent.  It looks like the kids were just plucked out of the home into thin air.  The drop off today was harder than nearly any other.

How do you hand your kids over to their father and another woman who has just moved into their lives without any regard for me?  How does another woman who has never been a mother before get to claim my children for this great holiday?  It makes my blood boil and my stomach curdle.

And then I remember why today is so important, why I want it to be important to my children, why I teach them what today means as I know they will never get that message at the other house, and I try to relinquish my grief and anger.  I try to be on bended knee before the manger.  And I try to think of Mary giving birth and later watching her Son be laid in the tomb, plucked into thin air.

So on this day I try to remember the reason.  I try to exemplify the qualities I want my children to have. I try to remain hopeful, faithful, and filled with grace.  And I try to think of the unspeakable joy this day brings.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Holiday crafting 2012

I know it has been awhile.  I will write more again someday about adjusting to life as a single mom.

But for now I wanted to share my holiday crafting.  Last year I posted my pinterest related crafting attempts.  There were definitely some hits and some misses.

So I thought I would show what I was able to do this year.  I feel that this year's projects went much better than last year.  And I was able to resurrect one of last year's misses and it was much better this year.

First was the remake of last year's miss.

This year I used green fabric (instead of burlap) that I had on hand and wrapped a single large picture I had hanging on the wall.  I stapled the fabric to the back of the frame (obviously not a super valuable picture so I didn't care about staple holes).  Then I hung the same letters and stapled those to the back of the frame.  I used duct tape again to just hold them in a place a bit better.  And the result was a success!


The second project was an idea I first saw on "The Chew" but saw all over pinterest that same day.  This one involved taking cheap peppermint candies, unwrapping them, and melting them in the oven to make something.  Pinterest pins mainly showed how you can do this to make a serving plate.  But "The Chew" mentioned making ornaments with this technique.  So that's what I did.

Unwrapped a bunch of CVS peppermints.  Heated oven to 350.  Then placed peppermints on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Popped them into the over for 8 minutes.  The peppermints melt together - and voila a serving tray for your holiday cookies.  Or make small little rectangles (10 or so mints), let them cool for a minute or two, then use cookie cutters to make some ornaments.  The key to this project is you have to let the mints cool enough that you can cut/score them.  If you do it too soon, they melt back together.  So I cut them several times over and over as they cooled.  Once cooled enough that i could touch them, I could just break off the extra.  I also used a tooth pick to create a hole.
And here is the finished result!

A sibling and wife recently bought their first house.  I wanted to give a bit of a unique house warming gift.  So I decided on etched wine glasses.  I bought the glasses at Target (just didn't have time that day to make an additional trip to dollar store to buy glasses), got some armour etch from Michaels, and found a font on the computer that I liked.  I downloaded a free font, made a text box in a word document, typed the initial in the text box and blew up to size that I wanted.  And now the reason I did in a text box is so that I could use the "flip vertical" tool.  So now I was left with a backwards letter "V".  I held up a small piece of clear contact paper (still on backing) to the screen and traced the letter onto the backing of the contact paper.

Then cut out the letter/design from the clear contact paper.  Clean the glass surface with isopropyl alcohol.  Peel contact paper off of backing and place on glass surface (design will now be in correct orientation).  Use a popsicle stick to rub contact paper onto glass making sure no air bubbles are on the edges of the design.  Use same popsicle stick to stir etching cream.  Then use stick to gob some over your design.  The stick allowed me to easily make an even coating.

The bottle said to wait 1 minute - but in my trial on a mason jar I didn't think the etch was deep enough.  So I let it sit on the glass for 2 minutes, then washed off with water.  Peeled off the contact paper - and beautifully etched glasses!

Some tips: I used the clear contact paper because it was easy to trace, easy to see where the air bubbles were, and once the goo was on the glass I could look through to the inside surface of the glass to make sure there was cream evenly applied to the cut out area.  I used a small blade exacto knife to cut out the stencil.  I used my cutting mat and a straight edge to make sure I had a very neat cut out.  I used a clear ruler and held the stencil up behind it so the top of the "V" was exactly at 3.5 inches and then stuck it to the glass.  Then they were all placed at the exact same position.
To do non-straight lines you would have to use some sort of guide on the OUTSIDE of the cutout area.  Then if you slipped you cut into the area that is being removed instead of the area you don't want etched.

So that's a quick synapsis of this year's projects.  Not too many.  But I liked how things turned out.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I don't do goodbyes

I now officially live full time in a city.  I never thought I was a city girl, but I think I kind of am.  Not crazy Baltimore city, but easy going, easy access, walk to the store kind of city (without being afraid that I'm going to be shot at).  I am adjusting to my quiet, quirky, old house.  Quiet only because the kids aren't here right now.  So weird to have a quiet house hold and the only mess there is (which there is still a ton) is because I haven't cleaned up my own stuff.

And in the process of moving from one town to the city, I told friends that I don't say goodbyes.  I don't.  When I graduated from high school, I knew I was moving over 1000 miles away.  I wasn't super close to more than just a couple of people.  I knew I didn't have to say goodbye to them because they will always be a part of my life.  But other people might get all sentimental and stuff - I just walk away. I knew I wouldn't see those people ever again (well then FB came around and here I am "friends" with people I would never have really considered myself "friends" with in HS - so odd).

And then came college.  I knew I was moving 2000 miles away at graduation.  Again only a couple of people that I knew I would stay in touch with.  So after the ceremony, I just walked home.  Didn't say goodbye to anyone then either.

And the same came true after medical school.  Again knew I was moving 1000 miles away.  Graduated and just walked away from the ceremony.  Hung out with a small group of friends that night.  And walked away.

Then came the recent move.  This time I only moved 90 miles away.  So different.  I still don't do goodbyes.  And this time there is a real chance that I will see some of these people again.  But the truth is - this time I am sad to be leaving some great people.  How do you say goodbye to friends and colleagues that have been with you through SO much??  The nurses who were there the day I started 7 years ago - who showed me the ropes in the NICU - who let me hang out with them when I was on call?  Some of the same nurses who then took care of not one but both of my children when they were born?  The nurses who became my mentors and cheerleaders during fellowship. Who willed me to succeed and be better.  Who thanked me for being different than the others.

And then the few that I shared with what was going on this past spring?  The reason that I looked awful was 1) in part due to the absolute chaos going on in the unit 2) dealing with the death of 4 babies in one week - an extremely rare event 3) but then the few that knew not only was it all of that it was because my "life" had just crumbled.  Thankfully reasons 1 and 2 were enough for most people to not question my total change in attitude and usually upbeat self.

Gosh thinking about it brings a sting to my eyes.  Those days when a nurse would come to my office and just be there while I cried. Others that would know that I just needed to not be bothered for a few moments and would direct the residents elsewhere so I could.just.breathe.

How do you say goodbye to those people (and so many others that helped me rally and were there when I needed them)?  Well if you are me - you don't.  I simply said thank you. And the beauty of it all - I won't be 1000 miles away.

So again "thank you"- which doesn't even come close to what some of you reading this deserve. I am excited about the future, but this time I really am sad that it means I had to not say goodbye.

Friday, August 3, 2012

New Beginnings

Well if you asked me where I was going to be 6 months ago, this is certainly not the spot I would have picked. 
As I have eluded to in prior entries, the last year or so has been rough for so many reasons. From being burnt out of work and training and never having true control over my schedule, to having dealt with a baby who had some major problems that impacted our family's quality of life (granted nothing life threatening and I know I work with families that deal with so much more), and my own health problems.  There has been quite a bit on my plate, and I so wanted to be the person that could do it all.  But in the end, it wasn't possible.  Too many sacrifices over the years led to me becoming a shell of the person I was and wanted to be.  And the sad part, I didn't even realize the full extent of that issue until now.

So here I am. In a position I had never dreamed of, but realizing how good it will be.

As for going through a divorce (I put this out there only because few people talk about it openly and I am pretty much an open book) - well it is so emotionally tough.  My beliefs in God and marriage were such that I didn't believe in divorce.  That was never an option.  There was the part of me that over the years so wanted it to be an option. So when it became the fact, I was relieved.  The heartache you experience going through a divorce is gut wrenching, even though you know that life will be better after all.  Trying to separate your life of 10 years from someone else is rough.  It's like ripping a part two super pieces of velcro.  There are so many little hook and loops that are intertwined, and they just keep snagging on each other.

Over the past few weeks, those last little hook and loops are just about fully apart.  The reality of it all has set in.  But I am finding myself again.  There are so many little parts of myself that I had just kind of tucked away in order to accommodate someone else (or make it easier to be with someone else) that I am now finding again.  Two people do this in a relationship - I know my ex did the same thing.  But at the time, neither of us could see how much of ourselves had been tucked away.  And giving these parts of me room to breathe again, it is amazing.  I feel so much more alive and aware than I have in a long time.  I am happy and exuberant (most days- there are still some struggles).  I love my new little quirky old house.  It is so me. 

And the kids are adjusting.  The little man has no idea what has happened.  He misses the other parent when they aren't around.  But he is laid back and just so fun to watch.  Not too much bothers him (other than some super killer 2 year old molars that have made their way in).  Then the munchkin.  Well I don't know how much is being a 4.5 year old girl vs the life changing events.  She has moments of total discontrol.  These seem to happen after a parent exchange.  Then she settles in.  She still doesn't know exactly what has happened, but just that she now has 2 houses to live at.  We have lots of snuggle time, but I would say that her behavior has probably been one of the most trying parts of the whole process.

And throughout this process, I have had some amazing friends and family who have become such a great support network.  There are those that have been there over the last decade, and those that have come in to be silent ralliers.  I still have my faith and beliefs that marriages can work, that I am not a failure in God's eyes because my marriage ended, and that the future is still completely untold.

And with that- here is to new beginnings!

Monday, June 11, 2012

The ring

When I was young, all I wanted was a bright, shiny ring.
I prayed for the day when a ring would come.
In the midst of chaos and stress, a ring came for me.
Not the way that I wanted one to come, but I thought that was ok.
I had a bright, sparkly ring.

I never took the ring off.
I got it polished and cleaned almost weekly.
So much so that I was warned the ring might become too thin.
But I loved that ring.

The ring survived deep trials and tribulations.
The ring survived the birth of two amazing children.
When I took the ring off, I felt bare and that something was missing.
The second I could put the ring on again, I would.
I absently twisted the missing space on my finger.

But years went by.
I polished and cleaned the ring less.
Every once in awhile I would remember to clean it myself, but it never went back to the jeweler.
Didn't make time to get it cleaned.
And then there were times I took the ring off and I would forget to put it back on.
I didn't immediately seek it out when I got home again.
I didn't realize something was missing.

The bright and sparkly ring no longer seemed so bright and sparkly.

And then there was a day when the ring came off.
I thought it would go back on again.
But that day never came.
Suddenly it had found a permanent place in a little box on the shelf.
I had no idea that the day I took it off that it would never go back on again.

So here am I, without a ring.
I have learned some lessons along the way.
I have learned that you need to keep polishing and shining that ring.
Not all rings are the same.
And one ring does not fit all.

So take your time.
Wait for the right ring.

Dirt will get in the prongs.
The band will get scratches.
But don't neglect the ring.
Not all the dirt or scratches will come out.
But despite the flaws, the ring can still shine and sparkle.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Just breathe.

What a month it has been.  I have to remind myself to breathe.  Just breathe.
There are times when I forget that I can do this.  That it won't be too painful. Just breathe.

Those of you who know me probably have realized that I am one of those way too uptight people.  Type A to the max.  This is not always a good thing.  Yes it makes me strong.  But sometimes it gets in the way.  Just breathe.

For nearly all of my life I have been too uptight.  When you pick out your career at age 17 and set forward everything that has to happen to achieve that goal, it probably doesn't help you to live in the moment.  The goal is so far away that you feel if you blink you might lose the way.  So therefore you have to be uptight.

Well at least that is how I approached the goal.  It takes incredible effort for me to relax and enjoy and live in the moment.  Some people are good at bringing that out of me.  But it isn't easy.

When I was in my senior year of college, I began the medical school application process.  My dad died quite suddenly of a heart attack right after I sent my applications in.  I remember him reading to me over the phone the list of medical schools I had applied to.  He wanted to make sure he knew where all the places were.  I believe that was one of my last conversations with him.

After that I decided to delay medical school for a year.  I moved across the country for a guy for a job.  I found myself relaxing.  I had no agenda that needed to be completed in the next year (well other than reapplying for medical school).  It took me a few months, but I relaxed.  I went to work everyday at NIH, I worked as a barista on the side, and then I learned how to have fun in the in-between.

It was an amazing time.  However as the following summer approached, I felt the tension starting to creep back in to my life.  Medical school was rapidly approaching.  I stayed cool for most of the first year.  Some of the second year.  And then third year rotations kicked in and the fun was kicked out of me.

That was 10 years ago.

Not to say that I haven't had fun in 10 years, but I haven't been able to relax in to it like I used to.  I have had moments, but not the months on end where I had found a balance.  Where I could just breathe.

So I am working on that again. The light at the end of the tunnel for my training is approaching.  I am finally reaching the surface of this massive wave I have been under. I have to relearn how to find my balance.

And most of all, I have to relearn how to just breathe.