my mother is my hero

Each year, months are designated to support different types of cancer to raise awareness and funding for research.

My two favorites are September and October.

September focuses on Childhood Cancers, some of the most underfunded cancers that need more attention and financial support. October focuses on Breast Cancer awareness, which receives a ton of attention and millions and billions of dollars in funding. It hasn’t always been that way and I’m hoping that with the increased attention that Childhood Cancer has been getting in recent years that one day we can say that Childhood Cancer and Breast Cancer BOTH receive millions and billions of dollars in funding each year.

Until then I’ll keep promoting both.

It’s Personal.

What I CAN say is that Breast Cancer is a personal issue for me…really for my mother.

I will never forget getting the phone call from my dad to tell me that my mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer. It wasn’t something readily discussed 17 years ago so it was not only a shock to my emotions but also to my brain. What was this? What caused this? What will this mean for my mom? For my parents? Will she live? How are the different stages defined? What kind of breast cancer is this? What will my mom go through? What will my dad go through? Will my sister and I get this too? There’s how many types of breast cancer??

A lot to digest. A lot to understand. But I wasn’t the one that went through this. My mother was. She was the one that had to fight this disease and beat it.

When I heard.

I had just turned 20. I had just moved out and was living in my first apartment. Life was fun and carefree…life didn’t have speedbumps…but my mom’s life was getting ready to. My dad, my sister and my mom lived this every day and I have struggled with a touch of guilt for not being there for my parents and my sister every day like I would have been if I had been living at home. I know though, that there’s nothing that I could have done differently had I been living at home as well.

It was my mom’s battle to fight. Not mine. Not my dad’s. Not my sister’s. And I know we would have each taken it on so that she wouldn’t have to fight it, but we couldn’t. We could be there for her to make her laugh or show her that we needed her to hang around a lot longer or to show her that life keeps moving and she had to be the referee for the rest of her life, between my sister and I (politics + family + different views = mom’s refereeing). We couldn’t take the pain away and as much as we wanted to help, we didn’t have a clue what she was going through.

The fact that my mom can’t eat red jello to this day just shows how powerful a memory can be. The red in the chemo pumped into her each month took away something as small, yet as normal as being able to eat what she wanted, when she wanted. And it’s not that she loved red jello…or red koolaid…or red anything…it’s just that this disease that she didn’t invite into her body by recklessly smoking or drinking or anything else, caused her to reject even simple things, red things, reminders of the taste that the chemo leaves in your mouth or the weakness that it causes.

She was robbed of the small things and the big things.

Things like feeling like a woman, a wife, a mom. Things like her hair…and in case you ever wanted to know (lol), Dennis women have fabulous hair and skin. We don’t even have to really take care of it much more than the once a day wash and rinse and it turns out fabulous…because of my mother’s (and grandmother’s) gene’s.

Yet, my mother had to face the fact that she had to shave her head. She had to lose her hair. But thankfully, her loving husband, my father, was there with her when she discovered that it was coming out, on vacation, and he shaved it for her so that she could wear some amazing wigs that she searched for, researched about, paid top dollar for, and had cut similar to her hair style.

One of my favorite memories of my mom at that time, is that one day she informed us that she had been told that many times when hair grows back after falling out from chemo, it will come back in completely different than before.

And so the prophecy was fulfilled. Her hair came back in kinky curly…the same hair that she had wanted my sister and I to have for our entire childhood (and the perms that just went bad…really bad), she received. I was kind of excited that what she had always wanted for us, she received (and not for payback, I promise :)).

And as always, she made the best of every situation…she was super excited about the curly hair and she swore that she was going to go ‘au naturale’ and not ever dye her hair again.

Six weeks later (and she’ll probably tell me I’m wrong on the length of time), she died her hair back to her ‘natural color’ (aka – the color she really liked at the time). And it was fabulous because I saw a spark in her again because she, then, really felt like she was ‘herself’ again.

Fast forward six months…just six months…and she found out that she had another form of cancer that had been caused by the follow up drugs used to help keep her breast cancer at bay. How hypocritical is that?? We’ll treat your chemo and keep it away by giving you drugs that may cause more cancer in a different part of your body??

So more surgery but luckily no more chemo.

Then regular visits to her doctors to see if everything was gone. Every six months, she kept her Dr. appointments and would sit with baited breath to make sure that the cancer was still absent from her body.

And it stayed like that for a long time!!

Strength.

Fast forward years, and years, and breast cancer walks, and more breast cancer walks and fundraisers, and then more years…and then they found more in the other breast.

This is strength. She defined strength in this moment.

She barely told a soul. She accepted it quickly and quietly and made decisions swiftly and with a confidence that I hadn’t seen the first time. She went in, had the other breast removed; had reconstruction done; recovered; worked through her recovery; held my daughter through her recovery…and showed me what strength is. Showed her granddaughter what strength is. Showed everyone how tough and amazing she really is.

Doing what you need to do, to get things done that you want to get done, for the people that you live for…that’s strength…that’s my mom…a Breast Cancer fighter and survivor.

She gives me strength like no other woman ever could. I hope to set the same kind of example for my daughter one day (except I’ll pray to skip the cancer part :)).

Love you Mom!

Donate to something today…My favorites are:

Chicago Marathon Fundraiser for Camp Sunshine – Rachel N. Jones

Camp Sunshine – Benefitting Family with children with life threatening diseases

Breast Cancer Fundraising – Susan G. Komen

Please note that this post and most of the posts on my website/blog may contain affiliate links. Should you decide to click on one of these ads and purchase something through this link, I will get a commission from it (the pricing is no different for you than going directly to their website)(I do not get commissions from sites where you donate money or things). Not all items recommended on this site are affiliate links. I only recommend items that I feel are amazing because I’ve used and tried them. Thank you for your trust and viewership!
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11 reasons why i’m loving being a single mom

I absolutely hate the situation that I’m in but there’s not much I can do about it. My husband acted like a child and ran off because the only other option meant that he would’ve had to commit to hard work, which he seems to be allergic to. Even his father knew he could never commit to anything long term – I wish that had sunk in for me years ago when he told me what his dad had said…but, shoulda, coulda, woulda.

So, all I can do is make the best of the situation that I’m in.

Get ready for a really long sentence…

There are days that are really tough, more like exhausting, being a single mom to three little mini-me’s. My biggest struggles include getting my own stuff done including work and drink my coffee before it gets cold, when I have to spend 20 minutes convincing them to get out of bed, drive them to hockey six days a week and karate two days a week, listen to the little redhead throw temper tantrums when I won’t let her crawl back into the womb when I’m trying to make dinner for four people and make lunches at the same time and won’t hold her, convincing my oldest that he should actually try to get his homework done on his own without copying it from his friends on the bus, return calls to the school clinic because my oldest (fill in the blank because they see him on a weekly basis for something this year and they already know how dramatic he is), calm my youngest son’s temper when something has really frustrated him, fold and put away everyone’s clothes, change sheets on everyone’s bed, pay bills, clean the house, listen to my kids friends tell me that I need to clean my car (whatever dude – maybe I do that on purpose to minimize how often I have more than my three in the car 🙂 jk), and then actually try to have a personal, adult life in the extra five minutes before I get some sleep…all on my own, without an ounce of care from my soon-to-be-ex as to what he’s done to me emotionally or financially. He’s never offered any help with anything…hasn’t even offered to mow my lawn or even bring the key back to me for our lawnmower. Glad he is happy because that’s what’s important, right?? Not doing the right thing…nope, I’ve learned that he’s incapable of doing that.

And yes, my boys father does have them a little less than half of the time, but those are the days that I am able to get the grocery shopping done and other errands that really are no fun to begin with, let alone add three kids to the trip.

BUT…

Even with all of that said, I’ve had some REALLY great moments in the past couple of months – things that have made my upcoming divorce tolerable. I’ve lived so much ‘life’ in the past four months and it’s all shown me just how much I really have to be thankful for.

So here are 11 reasons why I’m loving being a single mom:

1. I’ve been able to really appreciate how awesome my kids are because I have all of my attention focused just on my kids and not an overly dramatic grown child.

My oldest has really shown me how much he is able to step up to the plate. Tonight he even wrote out seven post it notes, that he stuck to his closet door, giving himself a checklist of things to do in the morning including “help mom with the little red-head.” And he told me that he didn’t want me to set any alarms, that he was going to wake up with his alarm and then wake me up after he got a few things done so that I can sleep longer. #luckymom

2. I’ve never laughed so hard at the kids making each other laugh. AND, I’ve realized how funny they really are. We have been able to quote movies together, be silly, joke together, and playfully tease each other all without hearing my soon-to-be-ex complain that he thought that they were being disrespectful to me and him.

3. I’ve accepted that there is no norm anymore so it’s allowed me to be more flexible with our free time. I’ve stopped planning ‘stuff’ to fill our free time together and allowed the kids to help guide the day based on compromise between everyone’s wishes not just the adults wants and needs.

4. I’ve learned how to appreciate the extra five minutes I have every day and just sit and relax…and not do anything. I even allowed myself to take a nap when my little girl did this past weekend and it was glorious! I make the most of every minute, almost every day, and it’s been nice to just relax and do nothing when I have a little bit of free time, without feeling guilty.

5. My friendships have really grown. I’ve learned to be more honest with how I’m really feeling. My life isn’t ‘picture perfect’ and friendships have grown deeper because they’ve felt more comfortable ‘laying it all out there’ because, as you’ve read, I haven’t shied away from ‘going deep’.

6. My house is tidy almost all of the time…for the first time in 3.5 years! It’s so nice to have empty countertops again every night when I go to bed! I no longer have to pick up after a sloppy, grown man-baby and I get to run the house like I want!

7. I’ve had to perfect my organizational skills and scheduling skills and I love these two types of tasks so I’ve really enjoyed this. I have no choice but to be on-point with my schedule and the kids so I’ve had fun using my calendar app and my dry-erase calendar board. (I know – lame – but I love it!)

8. I get to watch as much reality TV as I want when I have time. This is simply glorious and probably one of my favorite things.

9. I don’t have to get anyone’s ok on anything any longer. I get to choose the restaurant, I get to select the meals for the week, I decide what movie is rented…all me.

10. I’m not dependent on anyone’s schedule any longer (other than the kids, obviously). I don’t have to ok plans for the weekend anymore…I get to just say yes, without hearing someone whine that they only want to work on a Jeep that was a complete waste of money.

11. I have a feeling of peace and calm when I go to bed every night, in the middle of my bed. My days are far from perfect, but I have quickly learned that my happiness is all on me…if I want to laugh then I need to find a way to make myself laugh, if I want to complete a project then I have to get my behind in gear to do it…it’s all on me now and I’ve found the drive within me because I had no other choice. And I amaze myself each day…and I’m loving it.

Change isn’t easy for anyone, I don’t care who you are. It’s how you deal with it that makes all the difference in the world. If you are faced with the daunting world of divorce or single-parenthood, just take each minute as it comes. I wouldn’t even recommend taking on the day, in the beginning…focus on the minutes first then graduate to getting to lunch, then getting to dinner and before you know it, each day will be a joy and each week won’t be as tough as it used to be. If you have a rough day, guess what?? You get to start fresh the next day and try it again. And the kids will see your strength – I promise.

Please note that this post and most of the posts on my website/blog may contain affiliate links. Should you decide to click on one of these ads and purchase something through this link, I will get a commission from it (the pricing is no different for you than going directly to their website)(I do not get commissions from sites where you donate money or things). Not all items recommended on this site are affiliate links. I only recommend items that I feel are amazing because I’ve used and tried them. Thank you for your trust and viewership!

i have 4 diapers…

…and 24 pull-ups left.

My choice is either to buy more diapers or potty train a 23 month old and my daughter is ready to potty train and it will be one less drain on my bank account so, ‘why not?’.

I know she’s ready, but I’m not sure if I am. She’s my baby and I know she’s my last and I don’t know if I’m ready to call her my ‘big girl’ yet. She’s everyone’s baby…my boys especially. This little girl is so spoiled and I don’t stop the love or the spoiling.

Tonight in Target we bought new ‘big girl Minnie Mouse panties’ (her fav is Minnie Mouse) and as we walked through the store a little boy, about 12 months younger than her, called her a baby. She was mad! She didn’t like it! I even tried to say, “Well, aren’t you Mom Mom’s (me) baby?” and her defiant answer was, “NO”!!

So then I asked if she was a big girl and was ready to sit on the potty (Men – forgive me – I know you’re ready to hit the “x” but don’t yet) and she said no, she didn’t want to be a big girl. She told me “baby” and pointed at herself. I was sooooo tempted to let my little girl continue to think that she was my baby but all that would have done is stunt her growth, mentally and physically.

Not her fault.

As much as I hate the torment that her father has chosen to put her through mentally because he has ‘ducked’ out of his marriage without trying to put any effort into it, it’s not her fault. I just have to protect her from the harm that his lifestyle may bring her.

My little lady is so much stronger than I could ever wish to be. And she doesn’t even know how strong she is or will have to be in the future. I sit and tear up sometimes just watching how care free she is because she has no clue how much her father and his family don’t want to play an active, healthy, role in her life. They only play an active role when they are ready to or choose to or have time to or have money to.

For example, it’s normal that her father will get mad at me for something and then will pull the “I want to see my daughter” card. So I say, ok, as long as she isn’t around your felon brothers (still on probation until 2022) or mother (who has her own issues), then I’m cool with it.

Control.

Then he always responds with, “you can’t control who she’s around when she’s with me” which basically, confirms all of my fears – that she’ll be around his entire dysfunctional family that drinks a lot, excluding the one brother that isn’t dysfunctional (because he wants nothing to do with them). So, then I say that I’m uncomfortable with it, and then I become the ‘witch’…because he can’t possibly take care of himself and live on his own or take care of his daughter on his own, right? That’s too much to ask, right? He gets to be a bachelor and live like he’s 23 again, with a felon roommate/brother (that has a conviction that includes aggravated assault with a weapon) (and not just a conviction – he was in prison for 6 years) right? I should have NO say who my 23 month old daughter is around, considering how much her entire fathers’ family treats women like garbage.

False.

He’s a dad now. He needs to act like it. He just doesn’t know how. Good luck to him.

Thank goodness I have an amazing attorney.

My confidence level has come from so many places but one of them (not the main one) is that I found an attorney, at the last minute, that didn’t make me feel like I was being overly dramatic, or needy, or anything but jilted and wronged. She believed me. She felt my pain. She is going to work to get the most for me that I can possibly get, under laws written strategically for the protection of fathers.

Whether it was an act or not, I told my attorney exactly how I felt, how every other male attorney made me feel like I was ‘every other jilted wife’ and why I felt as though I needed to fight my hardest to win what was rightly mine, even after only seven months of marriage. And she agreed, she believed me, she got it, she understood…she took my case.

My soon-to-be-ex made soooo many mistakes including possibly opening up his girlfriend, Bethany D., for a lawsuit herself, that all I can say right now is to take your time…think through your choices…make sure you really want to do this (…or if other people are influencing your decisions.)

Dating a divorcee’.

Ending a marriage isn’t as easy as walking away. If you decide to date a divorcee and they’ve told you that they were the one that walked away after seven months, without question, without remorse, …you should be the one questioning things. Don’t hesitate to think, “this man is almost 40 and he can’t keep his marriage together more than seven months?? He must have issues.” And if you think these things, I promise you will be on-target.

Luckily, I’ve begun to move on. I wasn’t the one that inflicted the pain this time (or the last) so my conscience is clean. I will smile with a big smile and know that I’ve been true to my kids…that I tried everything. I wasn’t the one that bailed or chose another ‘thing’ over my marriage.

I will know that I was the one that taught my daughter so many important life lessons including how to live without diapers. That I told my soon-to-be-ex that these big life events were happening in her life and he offered zero support.

I did it.

She did it.

We did it. (or at least this week we will do it!)

Girl power!

Signing your kid up for athletics? Let me pass along some tips to help you keep sane.

If you are craving some drama then sign your kids up for sports. Or anything competitive. Make a few friends, particularly seek out the parents that are the friendliest and seem to know everyone because they are the ones that know all of the drama. And then sit back and listen. You’ll feel better about your life afterward…just watch. It’s truly amazing to witness. It’s fodder for comedy shows on TV but it’s real – trust me!

This hockey season, my kids will be driven to the hockey rink 6 days a week…6 days a week – I’m insane. It’s stupid and ridiculous but I love it and wouldn’t change it. At least, for now, both boys play the same sport so we can kill two birds with one stone and only have to go to one ‘practice field’. This also means that I’ll hear about some kind of drama six days each week.

Youth Athletic Parent Personality Types

It really doesn’t matter what the sport is, the drama is always there. And it usually doesn’t come from the kids – it’s from the parents. And when you are involved in multiple sports you’ll find out that there are a few personality types in every parent group at the sport of choice: *The gossip, *The I’ve played this sport all of my life know-it-all, *The yeller/loud one/cheerleader, *The parent that critiques all of the coaches and refs, *The parent that has the ‘perfect’ child, *The parent that is the best at scheduling and overscheduling their kid and they let you know it, *The parent that is living their dreams through their kid, *The parent that is trying to date every single parent that has a kid on the team, and *The parent that rips their seven-year-old a new one when they pass the puck in front of the net.

6 Things to Remember when you Pay those Team Fees

So as you think about signing your son or daughter up for cheer, dance, football, or hockey (or anything else), keep these 6 things in mind to help your son or daughter enjoy every second of their extra-curricular activity of choice:

1. The best advice that anyone has ever given me is that my son(s) will not be playing in the NHL. That’s the first thing that was said during the first parent meeting that I ever attended when my oldest started playing hockey. In my heart, I want my boys to strive for the NHL because it gives them a reason to push themselves but in my head, I remind myself that they are playing for the love of the game and that’s it.

2. I am raising men not hockey players. My little men are people not machines. I need to always remember this. I need to care how they treat others more than how great their backwards skating is. I need to care about their grades more than how much ice time they are getting during games. I need to care about their social skills and social life more than how much extra instruction they need outside of their practice and game times.

3. How your child performs in the sport is not a reflection on you. How they act toward others, ref’s, and their coaches – this is a reflection on you.

4. When your child starts they will not be great. When they are done with a season, they will not be perfect. BUT they will have had fun, they will have more friends, and they will grow their skill set. I promise. You’ll be amazed at where they start and where they end.

Encourage them during and after each practice or each game. Let the coaches be the coaches and let them be the critics. You get to be the cheerleader and photographer. When they get off of the ice, ask if they had fun, mention your favorite move that they made and then drop the ‘shop talk’ unless your kid wants to discuss the game. The more you push, and push, and push early on, the more likely it will be that they’ll want to stop sooner than later.

5. Parents are super duper, times ten, competitive. To some, their kid is the best, so whatever they have to do to push their kid to the forefront they’ll do it, even if that means putting another kid down. BUT the kids just want to go out and have fun. Let them. Stay out of it. Stand back, scroll through Twitter, talk to a few parents about the football game that you’re going to this weekend. You’ll be happier and they’ll be happier. You won’t be consumed with making sure they are pushing themselves to the toughest limit and they won’t be stressed wondering if they will get yelled at when they get off of the ice.

6. Whatever sport your child chooses, the longer that you are involved with that sport or league, the closer you will get to the parents. If you don’t gossip, are supportive of the other teammates, and aren’t ‘that parent’ that gets kicked out of the rink for swearing at a child (this really does happen unfortunately in every youth athletic program), you’ll come to find that the parents that you meet will become family.

I look forward to going to the rink because there are parents there that I have come to know and grow with as our kids get older and more involved with the sport. Some of these people I’ve known for seven years or more and they have become extended family to me and the kids. I look forward to seeing these people, even with all of our flaws (and I’m included in this group). You have to appreciate that not everyone will see everything the same, that rumors fly fast (and the rumors are usually about personal lives), and that another parent (or even you) will say something stupid to a coach, ref, or you that should never have been said. BUT you have to remember that we’re all human. We are all in love with our kids and want the best for our kids. So if you can remember this whenever the drama happens, it won’t seem so bad. I love my hockey family and wouldn’t change things for the world.

You just have to embrace it and all of the personalities that come with being involved in athletics or anything competitive. Once you accept that no one is perfect, including you, and that your kid won’t be winning the gold medal in swimming next week, you’ll have a lot more fun enjoying the ‘ride’.

Bonus Tip: If you are asked to be the “Team Mom”, run, just run, as far away as you can…just trust me.

And btw – in case you didn’t know, my kids are the best hockey players ever and are being recruited now for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Just kidding. Not really. Yes, of course I’m kidding.

Please note that this post and most of the posts on my website/blog may contain affiliate links. Should you decide to click on one of these ads and purchase something through this link, I will get a commission from it (the pricing is no different for you than going directly to their website). Not all items recommended on this site are affiliate links. I only recommend items that I feel are amazing because I’ve used and tried them. Thank you for your trust and viewership!

mid-week motivation: 6 things that i’m thankful for this week

My #1 man had a big birthday this week. And I sat, the night before, and boo-hoo’d. Not because it was a reminder that I was getting older and my ‘baby’ wasn’t so much of a baby anymore, but because I’m so incredibly proud of him and feel so fortunate to be his mom.

I also reflected that never in my life could I so clearly say that ‘it takes a village’ to raise kids. I’m surrounded by such incredible people and so much love that I thought I’d pause to take a moment and show some gratitude. I’m hoping that this will give you a mid-week ‘bump’ of encouragement…look outside of what is happening and list out everything that has been amazing, fantastic, or inspiring. You’ll be surprised how big the list is…and you’ll have hope that the next day will be just as amazing as today. Seriously, write down things like, “I didn’t stub my toe again” or “I didn’t lose my cool when the parents in car line cut me off”. Those are things to thank the good lord for – trust me, I’ve been there.

I have a ton of garbage in my life right now that is working its’ way out and I realized that even with all of the garbage (my Irish Idiot) I have TWO TONS of amazing things happening in my life also. So here’s my gratitude list to inspire you:

I’m so Thankful for:

1. The Good Lord.
I’m in no way perfect, but my journey toward having a closer relationship with him starts new each day, and I can honestly say that I feel the daily hug; the daily peace that comes with knowing that even when I’m at my lowest point, that I have someone that won’t judge me, curse at me, loves me regardless of my flaws, and will always be there for me. That is something personal and incredible and I can only hope that each of you reading this will experience this one day.

2. My Kids.
I walked into my kids room tonight and saw beauty…really saw peace, tranquility, love, and perfection. There is nothing like knowing that your kids are safe and sound and together. The love that they share is incredible and I couldn’t have asked for more perfectly imperfect children. They drive me insane some days but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I wouldn’t want anything different than the strong-willed, happy, laughing children that I have been blessed with. My life wasn’t complete until they arrived.

3. My Family.
I don’t know how to put into words what my family has done for me. Whether it’s been to help me fix a toilet roll holder, give me moral support during a tough moment, or help me coordinate the who, what, where, when, how, of the kids athletic and school schedules, they are there…always. And when you get a message on Facebook or a text from a cousin just checking on you, life seems not-so-bad. My life is full because they are in my life. I couldn’t do life without them. They are saints!

4. My Friends.
I’ve said this before but my friends are amazing. Simply perfect. They seem to have a way to coordinate who will text me and who will call and who will invite me out and who will stop by at just the perfect time. And even though I know that this isn’t really what is happening, they really do have just the perfect timing. Whether it’s to text me because they care enough to remember that a particular day represented an emotional memory or they invite me to dinner to spend time with just the girls, my friendships couldn’t possibly be stronger. I’m so lucky to have these people in my life. They are saints too!

5. YOU!
All of you reading my blog give me encouragement. It’s hard for someone to put their emotions, life, and experiences to words, hit the ‘publish’ button and wait…wait for reactions, not knowing what they will be. Some of you may hate that I’m discussing my divorce(s) so publicly, some of you have reached out and shared incredibly personal stories about your relationships, but all of you have encouraged me to keep ‘talking’ about what is happening in my world. Every day that my ‘viewership’ grows, and even if it doesn’t and I only get one view, I am encouraged to write again. Someone out there is validating that what I’m saying resonates with them or is entertaining them, of which either one is one of my goals. Thank you for your feedback, positive and negative…it’s been an incredible journey so far.

6. The guy that flirted with me.
Man, that felt amazing! Totally unexpected and not reciprocated, but man did that feel good. 🙂

Try it!

To help you get over the mid-week hump, take a moment today to write down five things or three or even one thing that you are thankful for. The memories that you’ll relive will be enough to get you through some of the toughest days.

xoxo Staci Beth