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I never planned to be a single parent. I became one, by choice, on December 15, 1994, when I said, enough is enough. I grabbed my spare keys, from their perfect hiding spot, grabbed my two children and left without a cent in my pocket and just the clothes on our backs.
I had spare keys made several months earlier and hid them well. I had started saving money approximately a year prior, that too was hidden. The plan - leave in January, 1995.
The reality - I wasn't going to ruin the holidays for myself or my kids, and so, December 15, 1994 it was! I never looked back. It's the best decision I ever made. I went back for the hidden money when he wasn't there.
I never wanted my kids, as adults, to one day ask me, "mom, why did you stay?" I wanted them to grow up in a loving, kind, peaceful, fun home the way I did. My ending the marriage gave them that! (See 15 Things I Loved About Being Young, Single And Healthy)
Life changes I explained to the young lady during our conversation. Sometimes we have no choice, sometimes we make the choice! But change will happen.
She was perturbed that her mother was selling the house she had been born in. Her mother was moving to another state with the man she had been dating the past six years. "It's like she loves him more than me" she complained. She felt betrayed.
And so, we chatted. I asked her:
- "Do you have a boyfriend?" She replied "yes."
- "Do you love him more than your mother?" I inquired? She looked at me shocked. "Well, do you?" She said, "no." I asked, "then what makes you think your mother loves her boyfriend more than you? Can't she love you BOTH?"
- "You are leaving for college in the Fall, correct? Do you feel you are betraying your mom?" Her response,"NO!!!!!"with a bit of indignation.
- "But, you said you don't like change" I reminded her. "With that logic, you should stay home and choose a school within a few miles, so nothing would change. It would be the same as it has been all through your school years!"
- "Tell me, have you survived other changes in your life so far?"
- She replied, "there haven't been any."
- "Really. You started out in a dark, warm, safe environment and were pushed out into a bright, cold, scary world. You went from suckling to eating, crawling to walking. You went to preschool, then elementary. Things changed again when you started middle school and again with high school."
- "College is going to be a drastic change."
- "Things changed when you were four and your parents divorced, when your grandparents died and when your mother met her boyfriend."
- "They changed when your mom went back to work full-time and when your dad remarried."
- Life changes. It would be very boring if nothing ever changed.
- I believe the absolute worst thing any parent can do is pity a child.
- Feeling sorry for a child won't give them any resources to deal with life.
- Prepare kids to be strong through the rough times, they have to be, they can't crumble.
- Remind the kids of the good (pros) in their life. They are not the only children to have to deal with the situation and won't be the last. (See Pros And Cons)
- Find a group setting where the kids can talk with other kids in the same boat. My children loved the program in elementary school. They met during lunch with other kids and the counselor. They realized they weren't alone and learned a lot.
- Don't bad mouth, but don't hold back the truth - your kids shouldn't see you as a doormat or delusional. Trust me, kids see and know more than most think. Even very young kids.
- If they see you always backing down (for the kids sake) they won't respect you.
- I'm not saying create a war. I am saying, know right from wrong, stand up for yourself and stand up for them.
- I believe kids can handle the truth, no matter what it is. It's the lies that create the most damage. Be honest.
- I do not believe that speaking the truth is harmful to children. Attempting to shield them causes more harm. If the other parent is an alcoholic, don't hide it. Instead, explain the situation, educate them on alcoholism. Eventually the truth comes out and they will resent you for keeping them in the dark.
- Teach children to stand up for themselves, to be confident and independent.
- Teach them to be respectful, follow rules and heed authority, but to also think for themselves.
- Be sure they have a backbone, they know how to say no to the crowd, they can stand on their own two feet even if they stand alone. (See Is Society Raising A Bunch Of Pansies?)
- I taught mine that majorities mean nothing to me. I don't care what EVERYONE thinks or how many agree, I care about what I believe and what I stand for. (See Do It Your Way!)
- My children always came first. When I first left my ex, I was offered a position in New York City for $80,000 per year. Back in 1994, that was a very good salary. I turned it down. (See Getting a Job Then and Now)
- If I went back to New York City to work, I wouldn't be available to my kids.
- Instead, I took jobs close to home on Long Island, jobs that were family friendly. I earned less money, but it was worth it.
- I was able to see them in plays during the day, go to school parties, work half a day so I could go on a school trip, etc.
- I got them off to school in the morning and was home from work early. If I took the job in New York City, I'd be leaving at 6 a.m. or earlier and getting home after 7 p.m., later if there were delays.
- I always spent quality time with my kids. I did "EVERYTHING" with them.
|My son at Gymboree on Halloween. We went weekly together. My sister and her son went too!|
- Mommy & Me, Gymboree, soccer, swimming, dance classes, karate, horse back riding lessons, and more.
|A Disney cruise in 1999 - Me, my son and my daughter. One of my client's was a travel agent and got me an amazing deal! We had an amazing time and made memories to last a lifetime.|
- We traveled a lot back then. I always found discounts, deals, group rates and I often split costs with family and/or friends.(See Time Travel - Is It Possible?)
- We spent fun weekends away.
- We spent cozy weekends home, watching movies, playing games, having dinner together.
- During huge snowstorms we had family time at my condo. (See Divine Intervention? Amazing Luck? Or Was It Jinxed Real Estate? You Decide)
- I surprised them with spur of the moment fun - a day at Adventureland, a day out East, a day at the beach, - just the three of us!
- One year I decided to do a "staycation". We would do day trips at home.
- I had EIGHT KIDS, yes you read that right, EIGHT KIDS, spend the week. I was the only adult.
- I had my 2 kids, my sister's 2, my cousin's 2 and my friend's 2.
- The group was female age 12, female 12, male 10, female 8, male 8, male 8, female 4 and female 3.
- Four of the eight were raised by single mothers, my two and my friend's two. The other four were raised by both parents in the home.
- They all made it to adulthood with no issues. They are smart, kind, caring, responsible, law-abiding citizens with wonderful careers and lives. Some have their own children now.
- Sadly, one of the 8 died of a rare and aggressive form of cancer at age 24 almost 6 years ago.
- They all turned out EXCELLENT. The 4 raised by single mothers are doing just as well as the 4 raised by both parents.
|Splish Splash Water Park, Long Island, NY|
- If you want to date, then date. I don't believe in hiding it from the kids. (See 15 Steps To Take To Meet A Brilliant, Kind, Delightful Man)
- When my kids where little, I chose not to involve my serious relationship with my family. I had a serious boyfriend, however, I didn't introduce him to my family for several years.
- My kids knew I was dating, they even met him, casually. We did fun things together. We even took weekend trips.
- I didn't want them getting too attached to anyone when they were very young.
- Once my kids were older, I then brought him around my family. We were dating several years before family met him.
- Casual dates, I brought around to parties every so often, but I knew it wasn't going to become serious and he was just a friend, which is what the kids were told too.
|My husband and I on our wedding day 5/29/11 - he was 200 lbs heavier, I was 55 lbs heavier!|
- Never let kids control you. Of course, take feelings into consideration, explain things to them, but don't let them rule the roost.
- One of my kids at one point decided I shouldn't date. I fixed that right away. I contacted the counselor at school who had a discussion in group. They realized from group discussion with other kids and the counselor and our conversations that dating was normal and should be expected.
- I explained to my kids, that if they felt I was never to leave them, then they should never leave me. No more birthday parties, sleeping at cousin's houses, grandparent's house, playing with friends. They must sit and entertain me 24/7.
- They realized that we still love one another and still spend precious time together but everyone should be able to pursue individual friendships, hobbies and interests.
- Take adult only vacations, with your friends, family or significant other. It's good for you and good for the kids! My kids had a ball with family and friends while I was away!
- Expect to be exhausted - it comes with the territory
- Don't be too hard on yourself, none of us are perfect.
- Listen to others advice, take it into consideration, but in the end, make your own choices.
- Never care what others think, live for YOU. It's YOUR life. (See You're Fat! Nannie Nannie Poo Poo)
- Have confidence, nothing is more attractive, liberating and helpful in moving forward in life.
- Don't worry about being judged, especially by those who never walked in your shoes. If you are doing your best, working hard, and have done nothing illegal or to hurt others, then all is good. (See Should We Judge? Do We Need To Be Perfect?)
- I was never jealous of anyone or anything and taught my kids the same. Everyone's life is different and what may look good on the outside may or may not be wonderful on the inside.
- I regret no decision I ever made. At the time, I believed it was the right choice, regardless of the outcome.
- Would I not make that decision knowing what I know now, yes. But I don't regret having made it when I did back then.
- I don't hide the past or refuse to mention it. It's what brought me to the present. I have amazing, wonderful memories of the past which I will always cherish and a few memories of bad circumstances that I don't dwell on.
- I did my best. I was a single mother, working full-time, going to school to earn my Bachelor's Degree and going on 4 hours of sleep a night for many years.
- No one can do it all. I set my priorities. It was much more important to me to spend time with my kids and also have my own social life than to have a spotless home.
- My motto - we are dressed, fed, have shelter, have great family and friends, therefore, we are doing great.
- When the laundry piled up - it was all good. We haven't shown up naked yet was my motto! Have a sense of humor, it gets you through.
|Disney Cruise in 1999, me and my kids|
- If I had to choose between redoing the bathroom and taking the kids on a cruise, I chose the cruise. The bathroom got redone eventually.
- If others didn't like your choices then or don't like them now, I say "F*ck em". Yup, that's always been my motto. I worked with someone once who used to find it hysterical every time I said that.
|Me with my kids in Niagara Falls|
- My kids have amazing memories and learned so much from traveling. I seriously doubt they remember one thing about when or how I remodeled the bathroom. Nor did they learn much from it.
- If you love your kids, care for them, teach them well, more often than not, they will turn out to be wonderful people with great lives.
You may be a single parent, by choice or by circumstance, but my advice, don't give in just because you are exhausted, don't feel sorry for them, don't try to buy their love with material items, and teach them to work hard and be strong and independent.
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