Monday, July 25, 2016

On top of the world

It has been three weeks since we finally made the big move.

It feels pretty awesome.

We are in a much smaller place, and it's definitely much more of a starter home and a bit humbling. But we fit comfortably and we really like it. It's cute, cozy and doesn't need renovating. Just some new light fixtures, paint, and a few small projects.

The town is great! It's so lush and green, and we are finding a lot to explore and to keep us busy. The library is amazing, we love our new church.

It's a bit lonely and I have sad days sometimes. We don't really know anyone and there is not much for moms during the summer. In the fall I will join the church bible study, the school PAC, etc. but over summer there isn't a lot of places to meet people. People are very friendly at church, but a few short conversations on Sunday mornings don't really carry you through the week. But I have no fear about it - I am sure with time we will find friends here.

I am still in recovery, I feel like haha. Going grocery shopping for the first time alone in almost a year was amazing. I felt guilty the entire time though.

I am doing a lot of reading. I have devoured two books per week so far since we have been here. I have been going for walks after the girls are in bed in the evenings, and loving the freedom. I had lots of quiet evenings alone before, but always the stress and pressure was there. Also even when the kids are asleep, I felt like I was always on mom duty and had one ear out for them and could never fully relax. Now I can take a walk and literally not have to worry about a thing. I have to force myself to relax and tell myself  "You don't have to rush as fast as you can to get back to the babysitter! Relax!"

I have been eating lunch leisurely at the table. Sitting down and everything! I sleep in until 7:30 or 8, and it feels so amazing letting my body get the sleep it wants. I have pretty much quit drinking coffee, because I don't feel like I need it anymore aside from a cup once in a while on weekend mornings just for the pure pleasure of it. My headaches are gone. I am meal planning and making lots of healthy meals. I even baked bread yesterday for the first time in a couple years!

Life is good. I know it won't always be like this, but I am really enjoying this "Mountaintop" time after walking through a deep valley for the last year. A season of rest always seems to follow a time of hardship, and I know it means hard times are ahead, but for now I am not going to worry about it and just enjoy.

Being a single mom is hard

We have lived apart for almost nine months. It has been hard. Really hard. Hard is ways that I never imagined. And easy. In ways I didn't expect. It's been emotional, scary, stretching and exciting.

How has it been hard? It's been hard in all the ways you would expect. I am lonely. I am tired from doing everything myself, from single parenting. Our marriage isn't really a marriage. It's just texting, a few short phone calls a week and occasional weekend visits in which we try to cram in family time, big important discussions, a parenting break for me and some special time for us.

How has it been easy? Well, I have the house to myself. I can put out girlie things and not get flack for it. I can put pretty things on the coffee table and not find them all pushed aside to make room for his feet. The throw pillows are always where I left them. The cheese grater and colander are always in the same spot instead of in random places because he never learned where they went but liked to help by emptying the dishwasher. It's nice not having so much dirty laundry, so much mess. I don't feel the pressure to cook dinner and when I do, I make whatever I want which means lots of chicken, mushrooms, pasta, and veggies. No one complains about how I do things, stinks up the bathroom or has to be consulted about mundane decisions.

In some ways it has been fun. I have the house to myself at night, and I like the alone time. I watch whatever I want on tv, and I like having the bed to myself. The girls and I have had some special times like sleepovers in my bed, late night movies and snuggly saturday mornings. It is just a different atmosphere when the entire house is girls and sometimes that is fun!

It has been hard in ways I never planned or expected though. I am used to him being gone regularly for short trips. I didn't expect the fear at night. I keep a big knife in my room, I won't sleep with the windows open even on hot nights. I double check the doors are locked, I close the baby gate and keep a light on and my phone by the bed. I didn't expect to wake with every noise, to be afraid sometimes and unable to sleep. The cat prowling the halls would scare me a lot. Neighbors being loud made me afraid. I put the dishwasher in front of the deck door, put laundry baskets in front of my patio doors and slept with lights on some nights.

I have had moments of needing to depend on others. It's humbling and makes me feel like I am not as strong or independant as I thought I was. That I am not able to do "life" on my own. I need help to figure out how to light the furnace. I need help to change my oil. I do a crappy job of washing the car no matter how I try. Every time I have something important to do I need a babysitter.

I have to bring the girls with me everywhere. I suddenly appreciated a quick run to the store a lot more, when I had to drag two kids along and it took three times as long. Every errand, every appointment had two kids along and they were great but man I miss having ten minutes alone to run out for milk. Even when they were in bed, I would get into a hot bath and then have to get out because a kid woke up crying. Or I would try to walk on the treadmill and then keep imagining I hear them crying so I just quit.

Sometimes I would just cry. Emotions hit at odd times. Some days I could not stop crying I would just cry all day on and off.

Some days I was mad at my husband for taking the new job. Mad at God. Mad because of this situation. Mad because our house wasn't selling, mad at David for taking the job. Mad at him for not figuring out a way for us to move together and leaving me here. Mad at myself for agreeing to this. Mad at my friends for not being helpful and supportive. Mad at my family for being too helpful and supportive sometimes, leaving me feeling smothered or guilty for taking up so much of their time. Mad at my neighbors who sold their house in a few weeks after sticking up a sign from the dollar store in their flower bed (Which I know is stupid and I am not really mad at them, but jealousy does strange things).

I feel so worn down. I feel like a frumpy, tired mess. I have let myself go. I am always tired and I am eating like crap because I am depressed. I don't have energy to cook nice meals for just me, so it's a lot of cereal and frozen food. I am drinking too much coffee and not enough water. I am staying up way to late at night because I can't sleep. My stress level is high and I am grinding my teeth a lot, which leads to jaw pain and headaches. The house is too big for  me to manage so either the lawn is mowed but the laundry isn't done, or the sheets are clean but the floors didn't get mopped. It drives me nuts but I can't seem to get it all done in a day when I am also trying to do all the bills, errands, shopping, wash the van, gas it up, keep the kids clean and fed, pack lunches, and work.

I have no idea how single moms do it. I mean if this was a permanent thing, I would be moving to a much smaller place which would definitely help a ton. But still not getting a break, trying to fit it all into a day and not having anyone to talk to or help make decisions or spell you off.... Its hard.

I hope one day I can bless a single mom or two who are in this situation. I know now how it feels, and I want to help someone else in this situation one day.


I have been having nightmares lately. Most nights I lay awake worrying until about 1 am. I also tend to stress eat at night, which probably doesn't help matters as I often feel bloated and crappy from eating right before bed.

I sleep with lights on. I lock the baby gate, push the dishwasher in front of the deck door. Double check all the doors are locked, turn on a porch light. Close all the doors downstairs. I keep a knife by my bed and my phone on the charger. I toss and turn and when I finally fall asleep it's night mares/

Last night I had the most vivid dream about a sniper. I was in my old house on Hamilton Avenue, hiding in my old bedroom. There was a sniper across the street - a man with a beard and a gun who kept shooting out the windows and trying to hit me. I crawled on the floor and hid behind walls, and he moved around the outside trying to get a view of me so he could take me out. At some parts of the dream I had a little girl I was carrying and trying to shield.

I dream a variety of things, from David getting hit by a car, to dying, drowning, running from things. I wake up and they are so real and vivid that I actually have to talk myself into calming down and convincing myself they aren't real. My heart races and I feel terrified. I usually can go to sleep after that and get a few hours of sleep...and I am never ready to wake up when the alarm goes off. It's so hard to get up and I am always so tired. I just can't sleep.

That's what life feels like lately. Like I am running and hiding and dodging while someone is trying to attack me. In a way that is what is happening. The devil is constantly shooting darts, attacking whenever I make a move.

He tells me lies. Tells me we are going to be financially ruined. We will never sell this house. We will never find a suitable house we can afford. We will be living in an awful tiny house that I will hate. We will get stuck living apart for another year. We are damaging our kids. This is going to be too hard. The kids will never adjust. They will be mad at us. We will be broke. We will never make new friends. I will be lonely. I won't find a job. Who will take care of our kids when we need help? Will I find things to do? Will I feel fulfilled?

I have to be on my guard. I need to quit hiding and dodging and fight back. I need to put on my armor and stand up.

God is who He says He is. He always does what He says He can do. He loves me and has a good plan for me, and He knows the future and is working out the best plan for us. He will provide for us. He will take care of us and make our way known when the time is right.

Raw emotions

"When people show you who you are, believe them."

I am learning this.

I cannot believe I fell for it again. Two of my friends that had hurt me so badly had reached out to me, and both had said they felt bad that they hadn't been better friends. They were sorry and wanted to do better and be there for me.

I said I really appreciated it, it meant a lot, thank you.

They took me out for coffee.

And a month later I haven't heard a peep from either of them.
Not one text. not one phone call. Not one visit. Nada

And it hurts all over again. Those wounds that were starting to close, those hurts that I was beginning to work through and learn to forgive ripped wide open again.

And back to square one.

It's hard to forgive. Harder when the person you are forgiving is someone you love very much. Someone who was close, who you trusted and counted on. Someone you thought would be different and who really surprised and disappointed you.

And then they apoligize and you start to deal with it. I even said sorry to them. I said I knew I had been distant, kind of grouchy and sad and probably not the most fun to be around. I said I knew I hadn't been making much effort either, but I also explained that I was really struggling and finding that being social was hard. I explained that I just didn't have it in my right now and am very tired and fighting depression.

When one person struggles, shouldn;t the other person be the one to reach out? The struggling person shouldn't be held responsible for it when they are already overwhelmed. That's what friends are for. They reach out to you and help you carry your load. They do for you what you cannot do for yourself. They understand why you are not always super happy, they love you anyway.

I know that what I need to do is forgive. Acknowledge my own part in it - that I haven't been the most easy person to love, that I have at times been rude or quiet or mopey. That I have been sensitive and easily offended.

I am trying but it is really not happening. I want to forgive, because I hope that it means the hurt will lessen. When I really think about it, the hurt overwhelms me.

I know I have to move on. Realize that these friendships were not what I was seeking all along. They were not "real" in the way I thought they were. Ever. I was just not aware of it. I know I need to leave that in the past, and work toward nurturing the friendships I do have. Because I do have some true friends. And they deserve my best.

Its so hard. So hard. Two steps forward one step back. Every day.

I just cant believe that after 3, 4 years of tight friendship that all they will be to me now is just someone I smile and say hello to when I pass. someone who might "like" my photos on facebook and who I will make polite chit chat with when we find ourselves in the same space.

Will it ever get easier?

When friends let you down

Four months ago, we had a pretty big life change. One that will ultimately work out for the positive, but is temporarily really tough.

We are currently living apart due to some work circumstances. And not just "away during the week and home on the weekends" type of living apart. He gets to come home for a weekend or occasionally a week about every 4-6 weeks.

6 weeks is a long time. It's really long when you have two small children, a job, and a huge house to clean and maintain. It's long when you don't get a break from parenting aside from being at work, and you are dealing with all the ins and outs of daily life by yourself when you have a lifestyle that was set up for two people to equally share the work.

We have amazing help and support from our parents. They provide childcare when I am at work, have us over for dinner, wash my van and drag my garbage cans in from the street before I get home from work. They have let me cry on them, listened to me complain, and helped me with my furnace. I am so grateful for them.

But I feel like they are all that I have.

Before my husband moved away, we had a tight knit group of friends. We had the type of friendship where we took turns helping each other out, walking through life's struggles together, and celebrating life's highs. We have knocked down walls together, painted rooms, stacked firewood, painted furniture, finished sewing projects. Listened to each other, prayed for each other, offered parenting advice and free babysitting back and forth. We have cried together, prayed together. Walked through parents' divorces, deaths, miscarriages, money troubles.

But ever since my husband moved it feels like that group friendship has slowly started to close over, and that we are already on the outside.

And I feel so selfish even saying that.

I know that in an emergency, any of them would be at my house in a heartbeat. One of them babysat my daughter just last week!

I guess I just thought it would be different. I thought it would be our turn to have the group pray over us and our big life change. I thought we would have a turn to have a few meals delivered to us, or a goodbye party for my husband. Or something.

I don't know what I thought, aside from that I thought there would be a sense of support, a feeling that these other families would be walking through this with us, supporting us and praying for us. Filling in the some of the gaping hole left by my husband's absence. Some texts checking in on how I am doing, or reminders that they are praying for us.

It hasn't  been like that at all. In fact, I find more and more than whenever I socialize with my friends that I am spending the whole time listening to their problems and complaints, trying to be understanding but feeling like their problem is so small and I long for the days when all I had to complain about was my husband working late or some comment my rude aunt made. It is exhaughsting trying to be interested in things that just seem not to matter at all to me anymore. It's hard to listen to someone's problems over and over, when you also have some big life struggles and not one person has even checked in with you to ask how it is going.

I know friendship goes both ways. I can't expect to just wrap myself in a blanket of "Help me I'm sad" and expect a constant parade of head pats and "poor you's". I know that. And I also know that one of the best ways to feel better is to help somebody else, to get your mind off your problems and do good.

I can sit with them, and spend 2 hours talking. Not once will anyone ask how my husband is doing. How I am doing, or how my kids are. I have mentioned that they are having anxiety. They know we moved the girls into a shared bedroom due to how upset and anxious they have been since Daddy left. They have seen my 2 year old freak out over nothing and be extra clingy. They just carry on talking about their things and I try to listen and be kind and gentle with my answers. I try not to be angry inside.

And I go home tired. It's hard work pretending to care about trivial things when you feel like the weight of the world is on you. It's hard to pretend to be interested in funny things kids say, or the latest Pinterest project when you haven't seen your husband in a month and you feel so lonely, overworked, and stressed.

I feel like friendship is draining. There is no encouragement or life in it for me. And I know friendship is not just about me. It's give and take, it's being there for them. Encouraging them. Listening to them.

But I have spent 4 months doing this. I have tried to be a sweet, kind friend all the while feeling invisible and forgotten. Hurt. Insignificant in their eyes. After 4 months I feel done. I feel like I have done all the things I should, and it still hasn't yielded any sort of return even though I am making genuine effort to invest in it. I have brought a friend meals who had a baby. Helped a friend scrape wallpaper. Babysat for another. Bought a birthday cake and showed up at one's house with a gift in hand to celebrate a milestone birthday for her.

I dread social things. It is so tiring. It's hard to fake it all the time and feel yet again like no one cares enough about your life to even ask after you.

I feel stressed when I get asked to do something with friends. The invitations are pretty sparse - I guess they know we are moving and have already started to exclude me. And I guess despite my efforts, I am probably not the cheeriest person to be around.

I thought they would think I was worth the effort though. That they would understand why I might be quieter than usual. I thought I would matter enough for them to still want to spend time with me, even on days when I can't stop crying or I am miserably grumpy. I thought they would know how hard life is for me and surround me in prayer, encouraging me and offering to help share my load.

Is something wrong with me? Are they glad to be getting rid of me soon? Am I annoying and a Debbie Downer even though I am trying really hard not to talk about my problems and be extra cheerful on the outside? Am I not important to them?

My heart hurts.

I feel alone.I need a friend who will just show up with some chocolate and say "Want to talk?"  I need a friend who will say "I know you haven't seen your husband in a month, so I'd really like to take your kids for an hour so you can go grocery shopping alone." I need a friend who texts "I'm praying for you today!" or "How are you doing this week?"

I have tried so hard to be this for them. I am sure there have been times when I have dropped the ball. When I haven't been as supportive as I could have been, or my prayers have been short and not very regular. But at the same time, I KNOW. I KNOW I have been there for them in many ways. I have been at the hospital with them. Delivered meals, bought gifts, written those exact sorts of texts I listed above. Maybe I should have done it more. But I did do those things. I still do.

I don't know where I am going with this. My heart hurts. It feels raw and the slightest thing just seems to hurt more than usual. I am sensitive. Lonely. Lost. Scared. Feeling less than. Feeling forgotten.

And I think I feel used.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Seasons of Life

I am in a season of weariness. Working 2 jobs, raising 2 girls.

 Taking care of other people's children for a living is very fun and rewarding, but it also means that you experience the temper tantrums, potty training, the giant messes, the diaper changes, and the runny noses over and over again . . . times 8.

For most moms things come in phases. The "potty training" phase. The "tantrum" phase. The "not napping anymore" phase. For me it's perpetual; as soon as one child moves on from a phase another one usually enters it. Potty training has been a constant in my life for almost 10 years. So have all of the other "phases" that mothers of young children face.

 Some days by the time all of the munchkins go home, I am so bone weary from serving and caring for others all day that I feel like if I am required to do ONE more thing for one more person, there will literally not be anything left of me.

But I have 2 girls. 2 girls that had to share their mom with other children all day. Who had to wait their turn to sit on my lap. Who didn't get to hold my hand today on our walk. Who had to call "Mommy, mommy" more times than they should have before I was actually able to respond. 2 girls who watched me tend to a houseful of children all day long and have been waiting for my undivided attention.

So I push on, and force myself to keep going for them. I make a homemade dinner when I really just want to slap some peanut butter on bread and call it good enough. I read books to them even though I have already read many today, each time with a full lap and boney little elbows jabbing into me from either side. I change a diaper even though I've already changed 10. I clean up, do the dishes, and fold a load of tiny laundry even though my bed is calling me and the weariness is almost overwhelming.

And when I finally do crawl into bed, knowing that more of the same will be there to greet me in the morning . . . I remind myself it's just a season.

One day I will be in another season of life. One where there are no little fingers messing up my windows because a doggy is walking by or the garbage man is coming. No little voices calling me from the bathroom or diapers needing to be changed. No spoons being thrown on the floor, no cups of milk spilled across the table. There won't be any little voices chiming in while I read Dr. Suess, and there won't be 8 little pairs of rubber boots lining my entry way. One day I will go for a walk and it will just be me . . . no stroller for 6 being pushed and no tiny hands gripping mine on either side. One day my floors will not be strewn about with toys and when I clean something it will actually stay clean for more than 5 minutes.

And I know I will miss it.

So maybe today I sigh when I clean up the milk that is dripping from the table. Maybe I am not as patient as I should be when the 3 year old interrupts our story for the millionth time. Maybe I will feel frustrated as I wipe yet another perpetually runny nose or spend half an hour putting on snowsuits just for 15 minutes of sanity time in the frozen back yard. But I know that one day when it's all over, I will look back on this season I am currently in . . . and I will miss it.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday Thankfuls

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, And His faithfulness to all generations.

-Psalm 100

A week ago my heart was heavy. I was in the middle of a storm of life - I felt waves crashing over me on every side. Almost every aspect of my life was under some sort of stress or worry. My jaw was perpetually aching and I was popping Tylenol daily. My chest was always tight and I sometimes found myself gasping for breath or having to consciously take gulps of air in order to combat the feeling that I couldn't breathe. I was holding back tears all day long and laying awake most of the night.

How different this week feels!

Every one of my worries, every stress, every situation I lost sleep over has been resolved. My jaw is not longer aching and my chest has lost the feeling of tightness. I slept well last night for the first time in several weeks. 

My heart feels light; my attitude is positive and my soul is singing. 

Part of me also feels foolish. Why did I worry? When will I learn to place my trust completely in my Heavenly Father and leave my burdens at the cross instead of continually picking them back up again? He answered each one of my prayers and He took care of all the situations that I laid at His feet. So why did I lose sleep over them when He had it all under control? Why was my jaw aching and why did my dentist say I have ground my back teeth down significantly in the last 6 months? 

Because I don't fully trust. I have gotten better at running to my Heavenly Father with my worries and my needs. I have learned to cast my cares, give my burdens up to Him and to turn to His Word as a source of comfort. But I haven't learned yet how to STAY in that place. How to rest in His peace when everything around me is falling apart. I keep going back to that cross and picking up my worries and trying to carry them on my own shoulders - thinking that I know better than God. Believing that He doesn't have my back, that He isn't going to come through so I'd better take matters into my own hands.

And all it does is leave me with worn down teeth, an aching jaw, a sick stomach and severely sleep deprived. When will I learn that I cannot do for myself what my Heavenly Father can? It's so hard to remember that His timing is not ours and that just because things aren't sorted out when I think they should be that He is still on His throne.

So today my spirit soars, and my soul is singing praises of thanksgiving. And I hope that next time the storm rages, I will be able to lay down my burdens at the cross and leave them there. He has it all under control, and there is no need for me to fight a battle that has already been won.

For this I am thankful.
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