Parenting/Life

Surviving the holidays when sharing custody

holidays

Sharing custody of your child(ren) can always be stressful.  Add on the hussle and bussle of the holiday season and the stress levels can skyrocket.  This can be especially true if you and the other parent do not have a positive co-parenting relationship.  Even if there is a great relationship between the 2 parents, sharing custody will always mean that there are times that the child(ren) are not with you and this can make for upset, stress and confusion for the children as well.  Surviving this stress without excessive upset to anyone needs a lot of patience.

I definitely don’t claim to be anything close to an expert in this subject, but having been doing this for 9 years now, I feel I can share a few things that work for me and what doesn’t work for me.

Santa/Gifts

I think typically if you share custody, then you alternate years for who has Christmas eve/Christmas morning.   In my home, regardless of where my son wakes up on Christmas morning, Santa will always have visited our home.  On years that my son arrives to my home in the afternoon on Christmas day, his stocking and gifts from Santa are waiting there for him.  I explain to my son, that Santa knows that he celebrates Christmas in 2 homes so he drops gifts off at both homes.    In the years that I have my son on Christmas Eve/morning, we open our family presents on Christmas Eve day so that he can have time to enjoy playing with them and then Santa gifts on Christmas morning.

Events

Only having my son 1/2 the time, inevitably there are events that we will be invited to that fall on times he is with his father, that he won’t be able to attend.  We are used to this and although neither of us like it, we deal with it.  Of course, depending of the significance of the event, one can always try to negotiate with the other parent  to switch times/days.  Sometimes this can work out or ultimately cause further stress and upset.  Over the years, I have learned what battles to fight and which ones to let go.  I just hate my son missing out on things due to his parental situation.

Advent Calendar

We are not a religious family, but my son still likes to partake in the count down to Christmas with an Advent Calendar.  This one is kind of tough as he isn’t always able to open each window on the correct day.  Sometimes after being at his dad’s for a few days, he has a bunch of little windows to open and subsequently several little chocolates to eat.  It’s definitely not the best scenario and almost feels like it defeats the purpose when he isn’t able to open the windows on the correct days, but I am not going to take away a little tradition that a lot of his other friends partake in.  This year I actually created my own advent calendar and only made it for the actual days that my son is with me.

Traditions in general

This one is the one I have the hardest “surviving”. I would love to be able to have a Christmas Eve tradition and a Christmas morning tradition that we can do every year, but when he spends those days at his dad’s every other year, it’s a little bit difficult. Luckily, there are things like putting up the tree and seeing one of the local Santa parades, and pictures with Santa that we can work our schedule around and make traditions out of those.  We make the best of what we have and enjoy the season the best we can with the time we have.  It’s all about the quality of time we have together not the quantity.

Since we have a set schedule for the holidays, family always knows in advance when we can celebrate together and when we can’t.  It can sometimes make things tricky when we have to worry about the weather for travelling but we keep that in mind too and have contingency plans in place in case the weather decides not to cooperate.

This “sharing” the holidays is definitely not what I signed up for when I became a Mom, but I want my son to grow up enjoying all the love and excitement that the holiday season has to offer and  not having to do without.

Wishing you and yours the happiest and stress-free holiday season!

 

Parenting/Life

5 Things Not to Say to a Single Mom

I am not going to lie and say that being a single Mom is the worst thing ever…it’s not.  It does have it’s perks, sometimes.  But there are definitely more times than other that I struggle and it’s hard.  Having a partner there that it there to help me through the tough times would be a blessing.  So needless to say, when some of my fellow Mom’s with partner’s make comments about how hard they have it, it doesn’t always sit well with me.   Sometimes it is me being oversensitive but sometimes it’s they really don’t think about it from my perspective.  I am not trying to be over critical of 2 parent families, nor am I saying “oh woe is me”.  Things are just different and not always in a good way when your a single parent.

So, here is my list of 5 things you really shouldn’t say to a single Mom.

  1.  Must be nice to have all that free time when you child is at his Father’s.  – Sure, there are times when having that bit of break is nice.  I will not deny that.    But it’s not like we are off partying the whole time and living it up.  No, it means coming home to an empty house, and having to do everything on your own to maintain the household and being alone most of the time. I totally understand that families don’t get the luxury of having that break to catch up on chores, but there are 2 instead of one to get things done and they have each other to count on.  And truth be told, I would give up that free time in a heartbeat given the opportunity.
  2. My husband is away for the weekend, so I am “single Momming it”.  No, you are not a single Mom.  Not even close.  At the end of that weekend, your husband will return and so will his help, his companionship, his help making ends meet and his support.  So for 2 days, you will have to do it all on your own but that is it…2 days.  This one really frustrates me.   If I can full time single Mom it, you can do it for 2 days.  It won’t be sunshine and unicorns the whole time but you can do it.
  3. My husband is being a pain in the ass , you’re lucky to be single.  Really, I am lucky?  Not quite sure I see it that way.  Being single, means coming home to an empty house some days, no adult to talk to after the kids are put to bed, no shoulder to cry on when having a bad day, no one to help pay the mortgage, the bills and put food on the table or clothing on your kids back.  It’s just me.  Sure I have friends, but trust me, it’s not the same.
  4. Why don’t you go out more?  I guess this really depends on the context of this statement.  If it means dating, well, when you are a 40 something Mom looking to date a 40 something man, a lot of the time said man comes with children of his own.  That means a virtual scheduling nightmare.  I am not about to give up time with my child for a person I have just met and I don’t expect them to do that either.  And if they do, is that the type of person I want to be with? No.  And if they mean just going out for the evening, again most times it is a scheduling nightmare. Most of my friends are married with kids and that involves arranging babysitters or convincing their hubby to stay home with the kids and truth be told, at this age, we aren’t partying until all hours of the night people.
  5. My kids are with me 24/7 and it drives me crazy.  This is the one that drives me the most crazy.  Anyone who know me, knows I never signed up to be a “part time parent”.  When I had my son, I never thought I would only see him 50% of his life.  I miss his kisses, his hugs, certain holidays,  some milestones and it kills me.  I would give my right arm to have my child with me 24/7 but I don’t get that luxury.  So when I hear other Moms’ complain about it, I want them to take a step or 2 in my shoes and see if that is really the life they want.

I am sure some of you will read this and roll your eyes and think that I am just whining about my bad luck.  That is not it at all.  Being a single Mom is tough but when I do have my son, I get quality one on one time that I don’t think I would be able to cherish and enjoy as much as I do if I was in a different situation. But I don`t get to choose what time I get to spend with him and what event/milestones, etc that I get to be present for, that has been chosen for me.  It’s hard but I know this has made me a much stronger, independent woman.  But what bothers me is when people see single parenting as somewhat of a luxury or treat or when they complain about being able to be in every part of their children’s’ lives.  It’s just my 2 cents.

Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

The Clouds are Crying, Mommy.

clouds are sad

I was not planning to write a post today but then on the way to dropping my son off to school today, he said something that broke my heart.  It’s a typical rainy and windy fall day here today.  As we were getting in the car, he said “When it rains, it means the clouds are crying Mommy! Why are the clouds so sad?”

In retrospect, we’ve had a lot of death and sickness in our circle of family and friends lately.  We’ve had family members, family of friends, and even pets pass in the past few weeks.  It is also the anniversary of several friends family passing around this time of year.   By this time in my life, I had already been subjected to the death of my twin sister, more than any 8 year old should have to bear so I try to keep the subject of death as far removed from my son as possible.

I tried to explain that sometimes things happen that make the clouds sad.  Crying can help them deal with their emotions.  I tried to use examples of times he was sad and cried to make him understand. And then he said it “Mommy, why are so many sad things happening lately?”  My heart broke into a million pieces.  Keeping my composure was tough.  How was I supposed to respond to this?  I simply asked him what he meant.  As he started listing off a few things, I knew he wasn’t just a baby anymore that I could just pass things over.  He is a boy now and sadly able to comprehend the world around him.

I tried to explain to him that there was no explanation for it.  I tried to explain my superstition of things happening in 3’s.  I tried to explain that there will be times in our life with dark clouds and rain but we have to look for the sun shining behind those clouds.  I am not a overly religious person, but I try to believe that above those dark clouds are our angels up in heaven.  I tried to explain that sometimes our Angels up in Heaven get sad too and this is the result of that.

My explanation seemed to give him some comfort and give him an answer he could understand.  Crying is life helping us deal with our emotions, crying isn’t a bad thing.   So during those dark and gloomy days,  try to look on the other side of the darkness into the brightness ahead.   And when it seems like a multitude of bad things are happening, there will be an end and things will get better.  I want him not to dwell on the bad things life hands us but look for the good instead.

Tonight I will hug him a little tighter and try to focus on good things we have in our life and try to remove those rain clouds from his mind.

Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

My apology to all the single Moms that came before me.

my-apology

I am a single Mom, and I have been for 8 years now.  It probably took me longer than it should have, but I need to apologize to all the single Moms that have come before me.

Growing up and to this day, I always had my parents together.  My circle of friends did not fit into that statistic of “50% of all marriages end in divorce”.   Single Moms were somewhat of a foreign concept to me until I become one myself.  And truth be told, what I did know or perceived to know about them was not in a kind light.

And when I became I single parent myself, I struggled and still do sometimes struggle with the stigma that is attached to single Moms.  But I have learned so much these past years about what it really takes to be a single Mom and I am in awe of the other Moms out there.  I only have 1 little one to look after and I am astounded sometimes how some Moms manage with 2 or 3 or more.

We don’t let our kids run around with dirty face and clothes, all kids do.  It’s the nature of their beast.  And those kids having complete meltdown in the middle of the grocery store…..they belong to ANY Mom.  Your marital status has NOTHING to do with it.  We love our kids just as much as any other mother and would do anything to protect them.

And truth be told, some of the single Moms that I know are the most organized, hardworking women…..and pardon my language but these ladies have their shit together.

So I need to profusely apologize to all those times I made the assumptions, I agreed with all those stereotypes and down and outright judged you.  Being a single Mom doesn’t make you any less worthy than those Moms that have the house with the white picket fence life.

We have just an amazing life; we just do it a little differently.

Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

What I learned being a boy Mom.

Growing up, I always envisioned myself with 2 children – a boy, and a girl.  I would play Barbie and dress up with the girl and the boy would play cars and Lego with his Dad.  Obviously, my vision didn’t quite end up that way.

Being a single Mom to an amazing little boy, I have definitely learned a lot of things that I probably would have never known.  And there are things that I sort of knew, but my son has definitely confirmed them for me.   And I am thankful for this.

I would have never known……

  1. Pokemon is not just a bunch of trading cards; it is actually a card game. The rules are somewhat complex and this is an entire community of adults out there that take it very seriously. 20160320_152741_HDR
  2. Lego isn’t just a bunch of blocks you make random things out of. There are many different box sets and series to collect. Eg. Ninjago, Chima, Nexo Knights.  And the minifigures themselves come in series and range in common to rare.
  3. Not all little boys are obsessed with sports. My son loves arts and being crafty.  He’d much rather be creating things than throwing a ball around. 20160320_153441_HDR
  4. Stuffed animals aren’t just a girl thing. Boys love them too. My son has way too many and is always wanting to add to his collection.
  5. Jumping in puddles and getting dirty in the mud isn’t all that bad. It’s actually kind of fun. 20160320_153226_HDR
  6. The older they get, the more they want to look “cool” in front of their friends. But get them home and behind closed doors, a Mommy’s hug and kiss are always wanted.
  7. Boys actually do sleepovers. I thought it was just a girl thing.
  8. Over the age of 5, the knees in pants last about 2 weeks tops. I swear they walk around on their knees all day.
  9. The slimier, the dirtier, the grosser, the better!
  10. No male will ever love you as much as your son will!

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Having a boy and only a boy has shown me a complete different side of life that I never really knew existed.   I am sure other Moms’ of boys will agree with me and love it as much as I do!

**This post was originally featured as a guest post on #Lifewithboys **