Friday, July 10, 2015

Realities of Split Custody

My daughter turns 4 on Sunday and I have to share her.  My ex-husband and I have split custody and we get along well.  But the truth is split custody blows.  I don’t want half of my kids. I want all of them.  
It’s not natural.  
It’s not supposed to be this way.  
I only get them for 18 years and that time is cut in half!? 
It’s not fair. It’s not fucking fair. 
Today, I gathered myself together and buckled her into her car seat in her Daddy's truck.  I watched her drive away and waved as I pretended to be excited and happy.  As they drove away for her birthday weekend….I lost it.  This happens often when I send them off for the weekend. Tears rolled down my face and my heart began aching.  The pit in my stomach was a dull pain of emptiness.  So many parents would give anything for a weekend to themselves yet I would give anything to have my girls every Monday, Tuesday and every weekend.  
My mind is often filled with questions while they are gone. What are they doing? What memories are they creating? What if they are missing me? What if they need me?  
It’s not right.  
I’m a much better boo boo kisser than their Daddy.  What happens when they wake in the middle of the night? What happens when they need MY hugs and kisses?  Why do they have to suffer because of our mistakes?
I hate that I’m not going to be there when she wakes up and announces that she’s 4 on Sunday.  I want to make her that special breakfast that I make just the way she likes it.  I hate that I wasn’t there when my other daughter looked under her pillow for her tooth fairy money for the first time.  
While so many parents go to sleep at night praying for one solid nights sleep, I often cuddle with their blankies wishing I could hold them tight and read Chicka Chika Boom Boom every single night.    
I’m a strong woman I take responsibility for my part of the divorce but it split custody sucks. 

I will cry…. then I’ll pull myself together and throw myself into work to numb the pain but the reality is there's no easy way to share your children.  I will focus on the quality time and appreciate the fact that they are in my life. I'm a lucky lady but some days, it just doesn't feel that way.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

3 Tips for Holding Yourself Accountable

How do you hold yourself accountable?
Accountability is very important to me.  I want to hold myself accountable to be an awesome parent, Christian, daughter, sister, girlfriend, and even a great blogger.  As a single mother, I often find that I'm the only one that can hold myself accountable (I take that back, my kids will hold me accountable often!)  I will sometimes ask a family member (or even the childcare provider) how I can do things better when the going gets tough because I want to grow and do the right thing.
To me, accountability is about integrity.
It's about getting up at 6am when I can barely drag myself out of bed because I need to get things prepared for my kids.
It's about working out when I feel lazy because my kids deserve a healthy mom and God gave me a body I need to take care of it.

It's about going to church because it's what I believe is the right thing.
It's about not yelling at my kids even though I'm so exhausted and don't have one ounce of patience left in my body.
It's about getting down on my kids level, looking them in the eye and telling them what I need from them.
It's about being honest with myself about who I really am and what I REALLY need.
It's about surrounding myself with the right people even if it means saying no to someone I love because .

It's about making that call about a bill that I keep putting off.
It's about making sure I'm on time for things.
It's about getting myself out of bed to write an article that needs to be posted by the end of the week.

Being accountable is about making all those little decisions on a daily basis that add up to my overall integrity/goals.  It's always easy to see what other people could be doing better but how do you look in the mirror and take responsibility for your own actions?  Martial arts really helped me learn to hold myself accountable and I wrote about it in this post Lessons about Self Discipline.

1.  Write a journal.  I've learned through challenging times like divorce and lay offs to really listen to my heart.  I've asked people for advice that really have no idea about blogging or what's truly deep in my heart.  If I barely know what I want or need then how is someone else going to know?  Journaling is a great way to uncover some of your truths and develop a friendship with the person that matters most, you.

2.  Ask friends and family.  I know this contradicts #1 but hear me out.  There are many times when we need to listen to how our actions affect other people and that may mean asking them for their opinion. If you have people in your life that you respect and trust, ask them what you could do differently

3.  Write Goals.  After you uncover your truths in your journal, writing goals is what makes things happen.  If your goal is to lose weight (for example) I encourage you to write down a plan and start thinking of yourself as a healthier person.  Then write out a clear plan for how you are going to make that happen.  Personally, I try to complete about 85% of my goals and allow myself some wiggle room for mistakes.

For me, I know that I'm likely to get depressed and/or sick when my choices are not lining up with my goals and values.  I need to know when I put my head on the pillow at night that MOST of my choices are good ones.

Now it's your do you hold yourself accountable?  I would love to hear your ideas!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Why we need to keep calm and apologize less

Why do people apologize?
Have you ever shared a problem with someone and they begin saying "I'm soooo sorry" and it makes you feel even worse?  Aside from a death of a loved one (or something really traumatic), do people really want to hear an apology when something doesn't go as planned?  
Do they want to feel like a victim or do they want to feel like someone that can overcome obstacles? While it's good to be sympathetic and kind, isn't it often more appropriate to just help them look on the bright side?
Honestly, I believe that apologies should be saved for sincerity, for the times when we really hurt someone.  If we're constantly apologizing for every little thing, what happens when we make really big mistakes?
Will people think we are sincere?  Also, if we apologize all the time, why are we doing the things we are sorry for ALL the time over and over again?  Are you being perceived as a people pleaser that doesn't have boundaries?
I'm trying to really think before apologizing myself these days.  I want to avoid apologizing prematurely.  I find that I say "I didn't really mean to say it that way" or "I shouldn't say ____"  
Well, ya know what if you shouldn't...then don't!!
Throughout my 37 38 years of life...I have always thought...
But now I'm not so sure.  
In the past 2 weeks a few things have happened in the public eye that have really made me think differently.  First, Bill Carroll, the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks was scrutinized for 'losing the super bowl' by making the 'worst call in Super Bowl history'.  I don't know a whole lot about football but I do know a lot about making mistakes (because I make them a lot).  I love the way Bill Carroll handled the situation under such scrutiny.  When interviewed, he said, 
"I started by getting my mind right to give people perspective so that we can move ahead."  I think we could all learn from that when we are wrong....taking the time to really think about what we did and why we did it after we make a mistake (especially if it's a big one).  He did not say he was sorry for the incident-he said that he made the best decision he could with what he had.  He took accountability without looking like a failure.  
I like that.
Recently, another thing happened in my local area that really made me scratch my head.  Our local weather forecasters predicted The Blizzard of 2015 (which barely left a trace of snow across most of the Philadelphia/New York/New Jersey area).  Szatkowski, a New York weather forecaster was one of these people that made a 'bad call'.  He might be a familiar name to some in the Tri-State area because he was described as one of the "heroes" of Superstorm Sandy for getting predictions about that storm's severity right, and for broadcasting them loudly.  He issued a statement after getting this storm wrong saying,
"My deepest apologies to many key decision makers and so many members of the general public," he said via Twitter early Tuesday morning.  "You made a lot of tough decisions expecting us to get it right, and we didn't. Once again, I'm sorry."  
      While it's good that he took accountability, is he losing his credibility?   
While I was researching ideas for this topic, I came across this funny post...31 Normal Things Parents Should NEVER have to Apologize For. I like this post because it keeps things real.  Just last night someone apologized to my 3 year old daughter because she was jealous when she didn't get a birthday present (it was her sister's birthday).  People often apologize when their kid acts up in public.  Maybe they aren't sure if they did the right thing so they just apologize to cover their bases?  Maybe they didn't handle the situation well so they really are sorry?  Maybe they feel responsible for someone elses' behavior? Whatever the reason is, is it necessary?  

Here's the thing.
Coaches make wrong calls because they are human.  
Meteorologists make bad forecasts because we can't control mother nature.
Parents make bad choices because parenting is really freaking hard.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not making excuses for any bad behaviors.  However, I think we are often being unrealistic about our expectations from ourselves and others.  There are times when we make a really crappy decision that hurts someone close to us and we need to make amends, Michael Hyatt talks about this in his podcast How to Botch an Apology There are times when we wish we would have made a different decision but we know that we made the best decision we could with the information and resources we had available to us.  
Bottom line...let's be honest with ourselves (and others) about our actions and how our actions affect other people. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Lets take a minute to talk about self love...

Have you ever really stopped and paid attention to the messages you send yourself? Would you ever talk to someone else the way that you talk to yourself? If you're anything like me, you're your own worst critic!  But just like gratitude, self love is so important.  It makes us more resilient.  It allows us to be more confident, and ultimately more successful in our lives. In today's world, so many people turn to food, alcohol, or bad relationships because they don't feel loved.  Do you believe it?  Do you believe that you were sent here for a reason?  Why would something so amazing as a human life (a miracle) be created if it weren't absolutely terrific?  There is no other you in the world!! You are amazing!! 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow expectations...letting go of unrealistic expectations

Expectations are a funny thing.  I live in a suburb of Philadelphia. Yesterday, meteorologists and media were going crazy about the "Blizzard of 2015".  They declared states of emergency in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  FORTUNATELY, the storm missed us! However, there were a lot of unhappy people.  My friends on Facebook were posting "How can my daycare be closed?!" Another person said, "Meteorologists know kids are so disappointed!" and it went on and on.

There are 2 things that are going through my head about this... often in life are we disappointed because our expectations aren't being met?  I'm not someone that says that you shouldn't have expectations (because I believe expectations are a good thing...a great thing actually)
While high expectations are a good thing, we need to remember that shit happens and things don't always go as planned.  Having unrealistic expectations is going to cause you stress, heartache, and disappointment.  When we put our fate in the hands of meteorologists, for example, we may be disappointed.  How often do you put your fate in other people's hands?  How can you become more resilient? Are your expectations realistic?  Do we expect meteorologists to give us an accurate weather forecast because that's their job?  Yes, but until we try to figure out weather patterns on our own, who are we to judge how well they can predict weather patterns successfully?  If you don't like what they have to say, then don't watch the weather! Otherwise, be happy that they at least give us an idea of what to expect.

The second thing that goes through my mind about this topic is resiliency...I believe that the most successful people are the most resilient.  These people DO have expectations (they use contracts and hold people accountable) but when things don't go exactly as planned (such as mother nature) they aren't stressed out or heart broken about it. They have a sense of humor and roll with the punches. Last year, my kids school district did a hilarious YouTube video about the crazy winter we were having.  I thought this was a brilliant way to make light of a frustrating situation.  Not only is humor a great way to cope with these frustrations but gratitude will allow you to be more resilient and realistic about your expectations.  For instance, instead of being mad that your flight was cancelled, why not be happy that you have a day off? Why not be happy the last year the meteorologists were right 90% of the time getting you where you needed to go safely.  Isn't technology great? Can't we be happy that people care enough about our safety to cancel things that may be dangerous for ourselves or our children?

Finally, how often are we transferring our OWN frustrations onto other people?  If we got hammered with snow, I have a feeling that many of the above people would still be mad...saying things like "How am I supposed to get work done with kids?" or "I'm so tired of this WINTER! When will it be over?"  Maybe the truth is that they are frustrated with their own lives and it's easy to take it out on someone else?

When I find myself extremely frustrated it's often about my own frustrations and little about the other person.  I remember when I was in therapy after my divorce I was telling my therapist how mad I was at my ex husband and she said, "Are you mad at HIM or are you really mad that you're a single mom and life wasn't supposed to be like this?" That was a huge moment for me.  A real AHA moment.  I wonder if any of you can identify with this?  Sometimes it's easier for us to be mad at someone else than it is about a certain situation or maybe even ourselves?

How do you feel about expectations?  I would love to hear in the comments below!