Sunday, November 30, 2014

What it means to be a single momma

So I've been doing the single mom thing for 3 and a half months now. Because of the way my disastrous relationship with cheaterman wound down, I was pretty much already in the single mom role for quite a while...I just didn't really know it at the time.

When someone checks out in a relationship, the teamwork meter plummets. Zip. Zilch. Nada. No collaborative work in parenting, finances, household management, discipline, anything. Suffice it to say that I'm used to setting the pace for my household.

Since being thrust into this role, I continually have friends and loved ones in my ear saying things like...
"You're so strong!"
 "I could never do all that you do and hold it together."
"Aren't you mad or bitter? You don't act like it. I'd be livid."
"You're doing awesome! Being a single mom must not be as bad as it's made out to be."
Not to discount those incredible compliments, but...

Yeah--let's talk.

I appreciate the admiration, but things are a whole lot different from my perspective. The ire is there. The rage exists. The self-pity comes bubbling up in my darkest moments. I'm human; I promise. It is hard; I assure you. Let me break it down a little bit:

1. I don't ever get a break. Ever. Being forced to continue out this lease with cheaterman (let's shorten it to CM...I'm tired of the time it takes to even type out the word) only exacerbates that issue. Even when I don't have to technically be "on" in my mom role with Kimmy (like when CM is giving Kimmy a bath and doing her bedtime routine), I really do still have to be on. There is no companion to take the load off me long enough for me to go be by myself and decompress. There's no one there to even respect that that is a need I have.

I have a constant internal storm raging in my head, but I have to keep my emotions and reactions in check so that Kimmy doesn't see how on edge I am. Example: CM sings constantly. Loudly. Obnoxiously. Perhaps to purposely annoy me (as if he hasn't already done enough to show his disrespect for me)! The lyrics are frequently sexually explicit, full of swear words. (Kimmy actually sings some of these songs, though she doesn't know the words. But I have to say, "Oh, Mommy doesn't like that song. Let's sing a different one." Thankfully, that usually leads to a spirited rendition of "Jesus Loves Me." But I digress.)

I feel like I need to make it more clear. The singing is CONSTANT. The noise pollution is enough to make me want to punch a hole in every wall in this house. Add on some other things that CM gets huffy and puffy about that I'm apparently doing incorrectly (as if he really deserves to be able to scrutinize me), like the fact that I rarely find time to do the dishes when I'm about to collapse at the end of the day, and I'm a veritable walking thunderstorm.

I want to EXPLODE--release the Kraken, if you will. Can I really do that, though? No, I can't. What do I do instead? Play it cool for my sweet Kimmy. After all, we share a room. I said I don't get a break, right? It's true. Not even when I'm sleeping.

2. Slightly different than never getting a break: I'm always busy. Pushed-to-the-max, on-overdrive busy. When I'm not wiping a snotty nose with a "chih-chyoo" or reading a book or playing chase or making toddler snack foods or changing a diaper or doing a bedtime routine or taking the child to an appointment or letting her do something all by herself that would take a nanosecond for me to do all by myself, I'm...
     at work full time,
     trying to squeeze in an errand of my own,
     working on our financial planning,
     doing a marketing plan for the month for my Thirty-One business,
     reading up on my training materials for my new PartyLite business,
     hosting an online party for one of the said side businesses,
     trying to catch up on my reading for my church small group,
     going to church on Wednesdays and Sundays,
     clipping coupons and planning grocery trips on a budget,
     dreaming about the hot shower that I don't have time to take,
     paying bills,
     meal planning or cooking,
     tossing in a load of laundry when there are zero clean clothes and wildly hoping that I can stay awake long enough to put it in the dryer to be able to have something to wear the next day,
     worrying, praying, stressing, and worrying some more.

My purse is literally full of post-it notes and short lists I've jotted down for myself on scratch paper in the vain hope of being able to remember all there is that I have to do on a daily basis.

My work calendar is color-coded in an attempt to help me keep my head on straight. I have a bagillion reminders set on my phone. I set 4 alarms every morning as a contingency to the repeated snooze-hitting habit that has spurned from sheer exhaustion. Let's not even talk about the Notes app on my phone. I'm surprised my head hasn't twisted clear off my neck.

I feel late, disorganized, underprepared, confused, forgetful, behind, and to be frank, the exact opposite of "strong" or "graceful" or "poised" or "put together" or "admirable" almost all of the time.

3. I'm constantly paranoid that someone will pity me. Let's face it: people look at your left ring finger. You turn a certain age...we'll say 20-something...and, especially when you're a woman, people look at the ring finger. When you have a 2-year-old in tow everywhere you go, people know. They know you're a single mom. They don't know how or why or for how long, but they know. Then there's that look they give you. The annoyed or distracted expression that suddenly softens ever so slightly, enough for you to see that they wouldn't wish what they perceive your situation to be on anyone on this earth.

I'll just come right out with it: Don't pity me. Please, don't pity me. That's the worst thing you can do for a single momma's heart. It leaves her feeling that someone thinks she's lost, hopeless, unstable, or even searching. I am not any of those things. I may be a bit rattled, stressed, or anxious, but I am far from any of those things.

And I am certainly not searching. I have the Cross before me, my family and friends beside me, and the world behind me. The Promise is greater than the problems. You think I'll be living paycheck to paycheck in heaven? Wrong-o. You think I'll have endless tasks on my meaningless to-do list? Nope. I'll be free as a bird, not a care in the world.

Pity him. Cheaterman. He is the hopeless one. He is the one without. He is missing out on his future. Not me.


All that being said, here's my single momma number 4:

I am the most honest, raw, real, shameless, humble, selfless woman you will ever meet.

And here's a secret: all single mommas are. Or at least all the ones who give this unchosen job every ounce of their effort.

Why? We have nothing to hide.

When you're stretched to the breaking point every second of the day, you are stripped of all illusions and pretenses.

When you do everything in your power to be the best version of you for your child 24/7--when you commit to putting yourself on the back burner to care for her and ensure her happiness at all costs--love takes hold and steers your every move. Yes, you will make mistakes. Yes, you will at times be [embarrassingly] impatient. But no one can ever take away your motherhood, your character, your core. No one can ever argue that you don't love your child abundantly and without limits. Top that off with God's limitless love, and there is absolutely no reason under the sun to be ashamed of the label that will now stick with you through your entire life, no matter what future relationship(s) or circumstances may come.

Am I a single mom? Yes--and proud of it! Single mom means my child will never be without or lacking. I will never, ever give up on her...on us.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Lost pieces

So, it's been a while. A LONG while. There's so much on my mind that, despite the skilled writer in me, I'm not sure where to start. Let's do a very brief summary to bring you up to speed:
  • In March, I got engaged.
  • In May, that same man who proposed to me began a new relationship, unbeknownst to me.
  • In August, things came to a head. I learned the cause of his bizarre, dismissive, borderline emotionally abusive behavior.
  • After 3 months of bold-faced lies and a whole mess of wasted time and energy and emotion, things were over.
 To put it simply,


But things in my life are rarely that simple, as is also the case here.

My sweet Kimmy Jarae is caught in the middle of this giant mess and her father's poor decision-making, a decision where he chose a "woman" who would blatantly and selfishly choose herself over the happiness and well-being of his own daughter, his flesh and blood. I fear my Jay-jee girl will be heartbroken time and again throughout her life, and there is no way for me to shield her from the repeated blows. (Also, we are trapped in a lease with cheaterman until July 24, 2015. For real. Yuck.)

Here's our Band-Aid fix: I have moved in with Kimmy. That's right--my 2-year-old and I share a room. I'm okay with that because she is awesome, and she's such a happy little bunk mate.

I am not okay with being under someone's thumb, though. I'm much too independent for that, and he deserves never to know where I am or what I am doing. But I'm focusing all my energy on being a damn good mom, excelling in my job, paying off debt and living on a tight budget, drawing nearer to Jesus, and being strong and happy and self-sufficient for my wonderful child.


So that brings me to my next theme: lost pieces.

Do you know how exhausting it is spending 6 and a half years caring about someone who stopped caring long ago? Do you know the feeling of emptiness from all the pieces of yourself you have given away to someone who will toss them in the nearest dumpster at the first opportunity?

(Let me be clear: I am not sad about this grueling relationship being over. I am not grieving the loss of that person. He is not the same person now that I used to love, and I had been spiraling quickly into unhappiness over those last few months at the concept of being "stuck" with the person he is now for life. Finally knowing what caused his personality shift? That's all the closure I needed! Trust when I say, "I am over it." I could not be more over it. You may think I'm in denial. I'm not. Therefore, I have no need to convince you of such. No metaphor or simile or literal statement could describe how self-aware and in tune with my feelings I am, and that's the God-honest truth.)

The emptiness I'm talking about is the absence of me...pieces of me. The realization of the sheer number of jokes, dreams, laughs, memories, musings, feelings, and pieces of my character and my being and my true self that I have given away to that pair of ears. The amount of time I have spent with that other person. The wasted time and wasted energy that I cannot take back. I can't say, "Oh, hey. Give my back those 1290735 hours I spent with you, so I can re-shape some memories that don't include you. Give me my words and actions back. I need a re-do with people who I know have my back and always will."

This seems to be an ongoing theme in my life. This emptiness occurs after a death, too. Or when 2 friends grow too busy for each other and fall out of touch, and neither is blameless. When my sister died, she quite literally took all those pieces of me with her to the grave, and I will take just as many to my grave. There were so many things just the two of us shared that no one else ever knew about or could understand or really even deserves to know about. So many memories we experienced that no one else can touch. The only difference is that it wasn't wasted with Kim. I will treasure the ache of those lost pieces always because I know I can have them back when I see her in heaven. And by some odd phenomenon, I am still complete in my emptiness with her--nothing was wasted...only halted.

With my now-combusted relationship, I will never have, nor want those lost pieces again.

That knowledge still doesn't magically erase my emptiness, but it does give me some wisdom to take with me into my life from here forward: it matters who you choose as the keeper of your pieces of yourself. If you can't trust that someone can cherish your pieces like you deserve, you don't need them in your life. If someone doesn't respect your pieces, they aren't worth the time and energy you would exhaust to grant them those tiny shards of your self, your being, your soul.

It's one of the biggest risks we ever take...opening up to another human being. Granting them access to heart and soul and mind and time. I don't regret anything in my life, for each day is a lesson learned. I only regret not having the hindsight I have now. But, really, what fun would life be if we lived with foresight? This is just another chapter in Kelsey's Grand Adventure.

e.e. cummings said it best in "i carry your heart." I carry my sister's heart and my mother and father and brother's hearts. I carry my daughter's heart and my best friends' hearts. My grandmother. My old friends and a select few new. And I know for a fact that they carry mine, too.
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
-e.e. cummings
It's onward and upward from here, my dears. I will likely never again give away so many pieces of me to one single person, and I will be all the better for it. I'm not hardened; I'm in charge. I'm not damaged; I'm setting my own precedent. I am most certainly not jaded; I've just burned a bridge with one single, solitary person in this big, huge walk of life, which is full to the brim of ten times as many beautiful people.

I'm reclaiming me...un-apologetically so.

Over and out.