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.

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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

divorced mom guilt

Divorce, when you have children, includes a HUMONGOUS side of guilt. Especially, if you are the one that decides to divorce.

Everyone experiences it differently – some deal with it by buying everything that the kids want; some take them to every event that the kids want to go to; some ‘fight’ figuratively to be the one that is loved the most; and some fight to be the one that is the ‘most fun’. There’s no right way to deal with it unfortunately because in reality – all of it is wrong. If we excelled at this thing that we called life and marriage, we wouldn’t be divorcing and causing this pain to children that have no control over what we put them through.

Early Choices…first moments of guilt

My boys dealt with divorce when they were still in preschool. Not many can say that. There are some that make the choice to end a marriage as early as I did but the majority don’t make that choice until the kids are roughly in middle school because it just takes that long to make the decision. I’ve found all kinds of statistics online – many say that if a marriage will end in divorce, eight to twelve years is the average mark, and with many marriages not starting until people are in their late twenties or early thirties, a good majority of marriages end when the kids are in early middle school or late-elementary school.

And this is where, unfortunately, a large portion of my friends are at right now.

And ‘statistic-me’, I’m on divorce number 2 (also known as the last time I will EVER marry someone) and my friends are on number 1. Makes me sound like such a winner, right?? I promise – if you met my ex’s, you would completely understand that I let my heart guide my brain WAAAAYYY too much (aka – I have too much faith in people when I should listen to my brain more than my heart). I gravitate toward ‘big personalities’ BUT ‘big personalities’ also translates into the fact that they love attention on ONE PERSON only…and it ends up not being me or the responsibilities that they committed to.

When my oldest son and I have our ‘talks‘ it’s very common that he will mention, multiple times, that he feels the sting of the divorce because he feels like none of his friends live the same life. He hates feeling like people wonder why his mom has a different last name than him (so now I go by my boys last name at their school) and he feels like there is a spotlight on him because he has/had two dads (dad and stepdad). And he feels alone in the pain. And the guilt that engulfs me when he tells me this, is incredible but somehow I can hold it together to listen to all he has to say.

The one thing that I will say is that my #2 man was young enough, when his dad and I divorced, that the life we lead is ‘normal’ to him. My ‘Big D #2‘ is the first time that he will actually remember what happens, so if nothing else, I will strive to not repeat my mistakes with ‘Big D #1’ so that he isn’t as ‘scarred’ as my ex and I left my oldest.

Then guilt continues when my #2 man constantly asks ‘who are we with tonight’? God love him…he’s only asking because he honestly doesn’t keep track (one – because he’s seven, and two – because he forgets the schedule because we have such a weird co-parenting plan compared to most co-parentors because of my old work schedule).

And then, when they realize that hockey is starting back up again this week and they’ll possibly have to see their stepdad at the rink because he works there, they stress. So much so, that their dad and I have had to tell my scummy-soon-to-be-ex-husband that he’s not allowed to initiate contact with them because of their request, not ours.

And it’s embarrassing for them because no one else understands, at that age, what a divorce is…yet (unfortunately). And I TRULY hope none of their friends family’s have to go through this, ever.

And more guilt…

After I remarried this year, I volunteered to go on a field trip for my oldest son’s class. I was selected, and when my son’s teacher asked him what my last name was, he stumbled…because no one had asked him that question since I had remarried and because he didn’t want people to know or ask questions about why my last name was different than his. So not only was he embarrassed because of his ‘stumble’, he was embarrassed because he thought his classmates would think badly of him because my last name was different than his.

We’ve discussed this in detail and I’ve offered solutions to him and it’s fine now but these are the type of things that run through my head when my almost-ten year old asks me for a glass of apple juice. I know very well that he could take care of this, but then, because I’m ‘Mom’ I think, “he’s gone through so much and I’m standing right here, I can do it.” So I do it…for him and for all of them…because of the divorce guilt.

The guilt never ends…

I wish that I could give you the perfect advice about how to avoid this guilt. Unfortunately, the only advice that I can give is to not get divorced, to work it out. If you choose to divorce (and I’m not judging you for that choice)..but if you choose to divorce, just know that we all feel that ping of guilt and there’s not much you can do to avoid it. In reality though, parenting comes with a side of guilt, every day, for something. All you can do is roll with the punches, not diminish your children’s feelings, acknowledge their feelings, help them cope, and keep moving.

All you can do is choose to make the most sound choices for your kids as possible.

my war paint is on

Typically, on Saturdays I post about the ‘adventure‘ of the week that I was able to experience with the kids but this week was different.

I had every intention to complete our adventure, which tied to the start of school, but something got in the way.

I was served. With divorce papers. On a Friday. Somehow my soon-to-be-cheating-abusive-scum-of-a-soon-to-be-ex-husband found the money that should have helped me pay bills, since he deserted us, to pay for an attorney instead. I shouldn’t be surprised but I was for some reason.

I’ve started my process to cope with the loss of my marriage, which is truly like dying inside…experiencing a death of an immediate family member but I guess I wasn’t as far into the grieving/acceptance process as I had thought.

My scummy-ex is lazy. Ask anyone he works with or his customers – he is never on time for appointments or work. He didn’t get the pay increase he thought he should…because he’s late all of the time and has an attitude…irresponsibility is his middle name. And unfortunately, I’m just now realizing what I’ve always known about how sleazy of a person he really is.

As an example, my father is fixing sooo many things that he said he would fix around the house, or that he had broken, for literally years, but he just didn’t ever do it because he had other things to do, like drink or work on trucks or Jeeps that are now sitting in MY garage.

So my guess was that he thought he would continue to ‘cheat’ on me with the soul-less Bethany D. and not take the time or money to actually follow through with the divorce…always knowing that he could try later to be a ‘MAN’ and own up for what he’s done and apologize. BUT…he has decided to act as immature as the trash that he is with and bail…and bail in a BIG way, without remorse.

I’m not ready to go into what he’s asking for, but I can tell you that he’s a disgusting human being and whoever his attorney is, is disgusting too, and shockingly is a woman – I have no idea how she sleeps at night because it’s insane what he’s asking for.

Pathetic is who he has become. And the sad thing is, is that I can only guess that his mom is the one paying for his issues. His mistakes. Literally the one paying for the bed that he has made and she continues to ‘threaten’ to pull back the money but yet pays for everything…all so that ultimately, she gets her way…which is to see her granddaughter, even though she lies like he does. I’m going to get punished for his mistakes, all so that SHE gets her way…all because SHE has more money. Or so they think.

Good luck. State of Florida – Grandparents have NO rights. And I can fight grandparent money with grandparent money. And guess who has no issue doing it because their kid didn’t do anything to cause this. NOT his mom! At least my parents know that they’ll get their money back because they taught their child to be able to keep a GREAT job and do well financially! It must suck to know that three of your four kids have massive issues. And the funny thing is that the three with the issues speak SOO badly of the one child that doesn’t have the ‘mommy-dependency’ issues that they have.

And then I get this text today after he knows that I’ve been served: “We can solve this outside of court by being civil with each other.” Civil??? He wants to be civil??? He wants me to compromise with him when he wouldn’t even try at our marriage?? Shocker – not happening! Another one of the examples that I was apparently married to a ‘Peter Pan’.

Grow up Erik. Grow up McDonnell family. I’ve been through this before (and maybe I should thank my ex-husband (jk)) but I know more than he does and I’m ready for this. My war paint is on.

That sucks to say. That I’m ready for battle. But in reality, that’s what will be happening soon.

I never took marriage as a joke, especially the second time around, and it’s obvious my scummy-soon-to-be-ex did. Like it’s that easy to walk away from when they realize that they have to actually be responsible…to try…to put effort into someone else other than themselves.

God help the woman that marries into this family after me. They will hate life. That’s all I have to say.

BUT after all of the emotion that I went through, God sent two things my way to shake me out of a dark moment…my dad and one of my best friends. My dad happened to be there, ironically fixing Erik’s ‘repairs’ to my house, when I was served and one of my best friends, K, texted me in the middle of my emotions asking if I wanted company, not knowing what had happened to me. God quickly saved me from melting down. I did have a moment that may have lasted 30 minutes (if that) BUT, if you have been through divorce, you know that 30 minutes to deal with the end of something that you thought would last the rest of your life is an incredible feat.

So, while the kids and I haven’t finished our ‘adventure’ for the week, I know we will tomorrow, and I know that it will be worthwhile and it makes me realize that I do have a good head on my shoulders and I really do know what I’m doing in this crazy parenting thing.

So when ‘life’ gets in the way roll with the punches and live it. Life will smile back and show you a better way, another day.

hockey sticks and pink bows: adventure #6

I loved how this weeks’ adventure started…by pure accident and prompted by the boys – kind of made me feel like I’m doing something right as a mom in creating these memories through our adventures.

Moms are guilty of doing too much sometimes and I’ll admit that I bend over backwards a lot more than I probably should, to make sure that they have what they need. For heaven’s sake, I ‘pre-open’ their water bottles that I pack in their lunch boxes because they struggle to get them open on their own and I don’t want anyone to make fun of them for not being able to open their own water bottles. Yes, you may laugh, I know I do, and yes, you are also right, I’ve coddled them…but I give myself and excuse – the divorce guilt. I’m working hard to find a balance between teaching them life skills and wanting to ‘care’ for them. But more about that in a later post.

This week was a tough week for my marriage and I deal so much better with tough times when I have friends or family around. I thank the good Lord because I think that I’ve had very few nights alone – maybe once or twice a week for the past three months where I’ve been completely on my own and when I’m not alone, it’s allowed me to focus on other things, life events and people. It’s been great to help me get through this pending divorce.

So I thought it would be nice to have family over for dinner on Sunday…just because…just to say thank you for supporting us in so many ways over the past couple of months…just because having family over for dinner is fun for me and the kids. I called everyone…they accepted and then the boys brains started rolling.

The kids have always gravitated toward the kitchen. Whether it’s to eat me out of house and home or to help me cook or to ‘create’ their own ‘recipes’, they have bugged me and my mom, to learn how to cook and bake. One of my oldests’ favorite shows is ‘The Chew’ and the chefs are rock stars to him. They are pretty darn close to the equivalent to the stars of the Descendants movies…and to an almost 10 year old, that is rock star status.

They wanted to have our family over and to cook for them. The idea evolved into creating a restaurant. And I loved it because I have struggled with them seeing the ‘need’ to serve others instead of themselves this summer so I thought it was a great way to teach this important life lesson – servanthood.

This is what we did:

* Named the restaurant, created the sign for the restaurant and hung it in the living room. My thoughtful son chose four poster boards, and used each of our favorite colors to write the name of the restaurant on the poster board.
* Put an ‘Open’ and ‘Closed’ sign on the front door.
* Created a menu with three appetizers, four main course options, three side items and three dessert items.
* Mom made all of the food…kiddos helped with the desserts.
* Set the table which the kids have become experts at.
* Divided the responsibilities – i.e. who would greet our customers, who would seat them, how to seat them if the ‘whole party’ wasn’t there, who would take the orders, who would run the food, and a few other things. They were taking this very seriously!

My oldest even put on a tie and the best we would get out of my #2, when we asked him to put on ‘nice’ clothes were gray camo pants and a green camo shirt. It was classy. 🙂 Most of everything went as planned except my #2 man decided that he’d rather sit with the ‘customers’ and eat instead of running the food…but oh well. His attention span is shorter – he lasted longer than I thought he would.

This kept me a little busier than I expected and was only able to capture pictures of the empty plates and dirty dishes after we were done but it was quite a learning experience for the boys because they were tired too after taking care of others needs. It was fun to see them really trying to pull this off and take this so seriously. The icing on the cake with this adventure is that I was able to cook all of our meals for the week in one night! It’s been great!

And once again, the beginning started as groans (mainly from my #2 man) but after our ‘customers’ left they each told me how much fun they had. My oldest has really started to join my ‘adventure movement’ because he’s been coming up with ideas on his own for our adventures.

Remember these tips for going on your own adventures:

#1: Get them excited! Excitement is contagious – if you are excited, they will get excited.

#2: Materials: I printed each of the flyers above so that we could keep them in our scrapbook.

#3: During our time together, I took pictures (even though it was after the fact) and then printed them onto a third page, in a collage form. Our next adventure will repeat this process – print out a description of the adventure, print out a collage of pictures from the adventure. Then add it to a notebook/folder so that when the year is over we can go through and relive some wonderful memories.