Posts from the ‘teenagers’ category

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Mojo.

Confidence.

Comfortable in your own skin.

Authentic self.

I think it’s quite safe to say that everyone is here on earth to find it. No matter what you call “it,” it is at the core of happiness and the true sign of success. Many people are fooled to believe that such happiness is purchased with cash (or credit–depends on the person) and it’s meant to be shown off to the world. You’re successful when you have a large home, new cars in the driveway, glamorous vacations multiple times a year, and…

Wrong.

I remember there was a point during my first marriage when I felt as though something was missing in my life, and I couldn’t identify it. I felt like there was something more in the world/my life for me and my family. I wasn’t sure what that was, but I knew I needed to find it.

This comes as a surprising admission from a girl who seemed to have it all from the outside. Even as I write this it’s strange to admit out loud. I was a woman who had just had her second child–the second of two in two years. Two wonderful boys. We had a beautiful home, and we both had worked hard so I would only have to work part-time and could be home with my kids. I had always wanted to be a mother, and these children were my greatest blessings. Yet somehow, I felt lost in my life. My life as Lori.

One day, as my baby and my 21 month-old napped, I turned the channel over to Oprah and watched as she interviewed Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of her new book, Something More. I listened as her and Oprah chatted about gratitude, joy, simplicity. All the things I longed for in my life yet couldn’t see in front of me. I looked around at my life and felt quite selfish for wanting more when it seemed I already had so much.

I soon picked up the book and began to read it. I felt embarrassed for my then husband to see it, because I knew he would judge me and make fun of me as he often did when I went on one of my “personal growth” journeys. I read through the exercises and made mental notes about “returning to my childhood” and “excavating my authentic self.” I began tapping into the Lori I used to be, but I never did finish that book or my personal journey…life, more children, and other distractions took over my day-to-day.

It’s a shame I stopped “searching,” really. Because now, I look back at that moment in time, and I see that’s when I realized things in my life were becoming very empty. My ex had become friends with a woman at work, her husband had called me to see why our home number was appearing on his phone bill all of the time, and I was told I was “overreacting” when I asked my spouse about the phone call. The tides were changing in our marriage, and I became more and more the strong mother rather than nurture myself or my already failing marriage. The feeling of something is missing was pushed to the side and I went into survival mode.

I became the girl who looked forward to “someday.” “Someday,” when my kids are older. “Someday,” when we have more money. “Someday,” when we build our dream house. “Someday,” when I go back to work full-time. The list went on and on.

But life was happening right then. I was so busy planning for life to be “less messy” and figured that’s when I would start “living.”

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Today, I know I’ve found my mojo. I’ve said it before here, and I’ll say it again. I’ve done the “work.” I’ve asked myself all of the questions. Who am I? What feels right for me? And ya know what? I’ve figured it out. And the way I feel inside is powerful, sexy, and strong.

It’s a slight rush, really, to come home and be almost giddy when you ponder your life and your day-to-day. There is laughter in my home, there is passion and love in my marriage, and there is strength in my family. I am successful, and I am happy.

When my son texts me and asks if we can all have family time and watch a movie together–that is success.

When my husband texts me “Good morning beautiful!” and pulls me into him every night to snuggle–that is success.

When my 3 year old step-son looks up at me and says, “I love you Lowi!”–that is success.

When I can help out a friend, or someone sends me a note about how much my blog has helped them–that is success.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.” ~Henry David Thoreau

This quote from Henry David Thoreau spells out success beautifully. He urges us to advance confidently in the direction of our dreams. Have a dream. Let me say that again, HAVE A DREAM! Dreaming is not a waste of time!

Endeavor to live the life which you have imagined. That means to try, every day, to live that life. It also means that you may not live in the moment of “the life you have imagined” at all times. And that’s okay. Carry on. And most certainly, do not wait until you’ve reached that ever-so-talked about “finish line” to begin living that life. Live it today.

And finally, in the “common hours” of your life, be thankful. Be aware. Success will happen everyday. Make each day an occasion–and rise to it. (Thank you, Mr. Magorium, for such wise words!)

“When you are truly comfortable in your own skin, not everyone will like you, but you won’t care about it one bit!”

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During the first 3-or-so years post divorce, I found myself trying to keep everyone happy. My kids had issues with their dad, their dad would get mad at me and blame me if they were rude to him or voiced how they didn’t want to go to his house, the list goes on. He’d say I was turning them against him.

I found myself more in the position of mediator than mother/ex. I’d try to help my kids understand that their father wanted to see them, but they would reply with a, “That’s not fair! So-and-so invited me over tonight!” And so the battle would begin.

I took on the negotiator role–trying to make it a win-win for all parties. All that caused was more stress, more pain, and more problems for me. All of them were being heard, but I dreaded any time an argument would come up between one of them and their dad. I was stuck in the middle and a pawn in a vicious, frustrating game.

I learned a lot of lessons along the way. When my kids were younger, I supported more. I stepped in more to help with the communications with their father when he was being demanding in his “my way or the highway” style. They wanted me to back them and he wanted me to jump every time he said to. (Please note that when a decree says something, it doesn’t mean that you have to do it exactly HIS way. You just have to do what the decree says.)

The day has come where I’ve turned the kids’ relationship with their father over to them. I can’t force a 17 year old who is bigger than me to get in my car and go see his dad during the specific court ordered days. Hell, I’m lucky if he has time to squeeze me into his schedule!  But I always allow him to go when he gets an idea to spend the night up there, out of the blue. And if my 11 year old is broken hearted because she realized her dad has lied to her, I don’t defend him any longer and make up excuses for him. I simply tell her, “I’m sorry” and that she needs to reach out to her dad.

Just because some of us were once married to a narcissist and did everything his way, when and how he said, does not mean we have to continue to do it his way. Nor do we have to make his kids do it exactly his way. Now, try getting the NPD personality to accept that–that’s like moving the great pyramids of Egypt. Ain’t likely!

I know it may be difficult as a mother with young children to step back and not get caught up in the game your ex plays when he throws the kids smack dab in the middle of his manipulation. And your role now is important–first and foremost to look out for them and be an advocate for them. But as they grow, remember, you are a mother, not a mediator. Give your kids the confidence to speak their true feelings and not be afraid of people. Remind them that sharing how they feel about something is justified and human. They don’t have to put up with put downs, and it’s okay to tell a parent how they feel.

if a parent can’t respect that in them, that’s their problem.

 

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The last few weeks have brought so much reward to me and hopefully to my kids as well. Now that I’m working from home, we’ve spent time together. We’ve talked. We’ve been busy with sports and other things, but we’ve also had some downtime, which has been great for all of us. Last night, my oldest son had a softball game and he asked me if I would go watch him. Last year, he played on a team with Brandon and I and we all had a great time. Brandon and I are much too busy this year to play, but his dad asked him to play on a team he’s played on for a couple years and my son wanted our whole family to go and watch.

“Sure,” I told him. There was only a small part of me that didn’t want to go, and that’s because my ex has been pretty difficult with me (again) lately. But I’m not one to let my ex separate me from what my kids want, so of course we went. Our family sat out on the grass, and I was respectful to give my ex and his wife their space. My son wanted us to sit closer, but I was fine out on the grass having a picnic with Brandon and the kids.

My son had a great game, and it was so great to see him out playing ball again. And ya know, I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all watching my ex husband play in the same game my son was playing in. Some people would think I’m crazy to go and sit there watching my ex play–with all of the drama that man has brought to my life–but I was really there only to support my son, so it wasn’t strange at all. If anything, I watched with an appreciation that he and my son could play ball together. Now, I’m sure it could have been strange for my ex and his wife to have me on “their turf” but again, I wasn’t there for them.

The sun was setting just as the game was ending, and Brandon and I piled all the kids into the car to drive home. We all sang Flo Rida songs at the top of our lungs while we were all squished into the car, and it really was a memorable night.

The emotions started rolling in for me once we got home–after I replayed the evening in my mind. My heart began to break as I thought about how my son has to live his life with a gap as wide as the Grand Canyon right down the middle. Dad on one side. Mom on the other. Why does it have to be like that? I really don’t understand why it needs to be that way. Brandon and his ex’s are friendly with each other when they’re at the kids things. Why can’t my kids have the same?

I have longed for a “normal” co-parenting situation for so long. One where my son’s family goes to his games and support him and parents can be friendly and the animosity is void. But I know that will never happen for my kids. I’ve tried to be friendly with my ex. I’ve tried to speak to him as a respectful adult. He insists on acting childish and still won’t make eye contact–4 years later he still refuses to make eye contact with me. It’s almost as if he’s on a pedastal and he can’t bring himself to “stoop so low” to even look at me, the mother of his 4 children.

A few weeks ago, my daughter played ball on a Friday night during our “drop off time.” I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to pick up our older daughter from soccer that night or if he was going to so I walked over to her father to ask if he would be picking her up. He and his wife sat there staring off into the distance and wouldn’t acknowledge me standing next to their seats. He continued to stare off into the distance and replied, “it’s my parent time–I’ll handle it.” My response was calm and clear, “I just need you to communicate that with me so I know what’s going on.” His eyes rolled and he formed his hand into a puppet mouth pointed at my face and opened and closed his fingers and thumb to mimic my talking, and he didn’t respond again to me. This man is so mature.

I don’t want “normal” co-parenting as much for myself (but Jesus, that would be nice) as much as I want it for my kids. Imagine the love my son could have felt last night if BOTH of his parents were talking and communicating and cheering for him at his game. Imagine how safe he would feel if his mother could walk up to him and his team after the game and speak to his father about how well he played. Imagine if we acted as if we were two old friends who shared a child and the anger and insecurity was gone. Imagine if the two of us could stand with our son and tell him how amazing we thought he was–together–as his parents. But then I remember that my ex is a narcissist, and he cannot put the needs of his 4 kids above himself. And his insecurities, anger, and immaturity will always take center stage.

My ex’s lack of compassion and respect towards me doesn’t really affect me, but it DOES affect his children. They feel the discomfort. They have been told that during “his time” they sit with him and he has drawn the line in the sand. He has painted parameters and boundaries around their relationships with each parent and they are expected to stay within each boundary, seperately. My heart breaks for the way he has changed their lives. They are four innocent people who are trying to love and repair, and they won’t ever be able to fully heal until their father does. And I’m not sure that will ever happen.

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When it comes to the debate of working moms vs at-home-moms, I’ve always been an advocate of “Do what you feel comfortable with.” I’m not here to judge another woman for going to work every day, just like I wouldn’t judge a woman who chooses to stay home with her children. Each woman should know herself and know where she will be the most happy. I’ve danced the line of working mom/at-home-mom many, many times. I’ve worked at home, nights, weekends, part-time and full-time. I’ve done it all.

After 17 years of juggling, maneuvering and balancing, I know what works for me. I enjoy working. I enjoy creating something and sending it out into the world and making a difference in people’s lives. But I also know that my influence on my children is one of the most important gifts they’ll receive.

Once I got divorced, I went directly into survival mode: work hard, provide for my kids, get them into counseling, try not to change life too much. I quickly found full-time work and bought us our little home. There was hardly any time for adjustment, because when you’re in the middle of divorce, you just do what you have to so you get by. All of you single parents out there know exactly what I’m talking about.

The most difficult part about that phase in our lives is that I felt like my kids lost their dad AND their mom all at the same time. Their world as they new it was turned on it’s head, which wasn’t fair! Their dad moved out, and their mom was hardly home because she worked from 8:30-5:30, and after work she was the chauffeur. We burned that candle at both ends for quite some time.

I’ve now been married to Brandon for nearly a year. We’ve been playing hot-potato with schedules, carpooling kids, trying to keep all the trains running, keep the house clean, each working a full-time job, and nurturing a new marriage all at the same time. Life ain’t glamorous most days ’round these parts, but that’s not what life is about. There’s been many, many discussions about keeping our relationship fresh, parenting our kids, joining our lives together and trying to understand one another. And when we hit a bump in our road, we’ve learned to talk through it and figure it out.

The ground beneath us is starting to feel fairly solid now, and we’re on the back side of that all-too-familiar “difficult first year” of marriage. As I’ve said before, blending two families is a challenge, but it’s also a blessing. Brandon’s recently been promoted at work, which takes him away from home more than I’d like, but I’m so proud of him and his accomplishments. We’re settling in and seeing how the inner-workings of this family work, and it now makes sense for me to be home more to take care of our kids, our home and nurture all that goes on here while he’s at work. In a way, I’m thrilled. But in another, I’m terrified! The day I quit, I had to make myself not think and just feel with my heart. My heart is telling me the right thing to do and it’s holding the door closed so my mind doesn’t run in and ruin the whole thing!

To walk away from a full-time job by my own choice is a crazy thing. But to have the majority of my job description be about nurturing my children and supporting my husband and walk towards a personal goal to start my own business/adventure (or whatever it is I’m going to do) is exciting. I’ve never had someone who believed in me and my talents the way Brandon does. He knows it’s important to have home handled, and his goal when he took this job was for me to be home more to hold down our fort. I honestly believe that life is much easier when one parent is home a majority of the time keeping the peace and balance–especially when you have a large number of children. Some may disagree, but this is our gig, and we chose this route.

I’m not going to lie…I’ve been sick with worry in making this decision. It’s a moment of vulnerability for me–to depend on someone financially again. My ex had no problem controlling and stashing money, so I breathe deeply with this decision and try not to hyperventilate myself into a frenzy. To give up the “guaranteed” and bet on myself is a huge risk. In a way I feel selfish. Is that stupid? I feel lame because I’m not contributing as much to our income as I could. I doubt my talents. I fear the stress will be too much on Brandon.

But money does not drive me. Relationships do. At the end of my life, I won’t be asking someone to bring my Porche to the window so I can marvel at how clean it is. I’ll want my family near me. When my children are parents themselves, they will know that family is worth sacrificing for.

My oldest son came home the other day and told me that his father got mad at my daughter for resting her arm against his car’s window. He had yelled at her, “Get your arm off the window!” quite loudly. My son looked at me while telling me that story and said, “Sometimes I want to ask him, ‘Dad, why’d you even have kids?'”

Life with children is full of sacrifices, fingerprints, heartache and challenges. Some don’t have the choice whether or not they’ll stay home, and they go to work every day to give everything they can to their kids. I applaud you, because I know how hard that is. We do the best we can with what we have.

I’m looking forward to this new adventure, but even more, I’m looking forward to more quality time with my husband and kids.

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Four little faces are my world. From the moment I became a mother, I knew that I would never do anything more important than be a good mother to these kids. Of course, this photo was taken almost 4 years ago, so these faces aren’t so little anymore, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need me as much now that they’re older. If anything, I find that they need me more!

I’m sure most of you moms are a lot like me, and you struggle each night as you lay your head on your pillows and ask yourself Did I do enough for my children today? Boy, have I been asking myself that question a lot. This is not an easy world we live in. Our kids face more pressure now than we ever did as kids. Pressure to be perfect. Pressure to keep up. Pressure to get good grades, have expensive clothes, have the newest iPod/Phone/Pad, you name it, they deal with it. I’m not the type of mother to shelter my kids and have them live in the ever-protective-bubble, but I want to make sure I prepare them for what’s out there.

Children of divorce have all of those typical pressures on them, but they’ve also got many, many more that were added to their plates when their parent’s chose to divorce.

For instance, my kids are shuttled back-and-forth to their dad’s house every Tuesday, every-other Thursday, and every-other weekend. They’ve learned to pack quickly, to schedule friend time on days that aren’t their dad’s days, to communicate to their dad if they’ve got something they’ve got going on so they can “negotiate” their time, and they’ve learned to live an adaptive life that can be mobile. If they left their soccer shin guards at their dad’s, forget it. He won’t run them down to my house. If their charger was left in their room at dad’s, they ask mom to borrow hers. It’s a different kind of stress in their lives, and it frustrates me they have this extra layer going on and I can’t take it away.

On top of living out of a suitcase, children of divorce deal with their parent’s breakup, their parent’s new activities, new friends, dating, then marrying a new person who comes into their lives. Their time is already limited with each parent, and now they have to share the rare time they do have with mom/dad with an adult that is in the picture, too (and, possibly, step-siblings as well).

How do we, as divorced mothers, make this back-and-forth and added stress easier on our kids? How do we give each child special time, attention, and validation so they understand how important they are to us?

I spent a lot of my childhood hanging out on my own–I had parents that were very busy. They were busy working, working out, golfing, bowling, vacationing, or spending time with friends. I’m not super-close with my parents now. We’re close, but not like I had imagined it would be. I always I wished I had a family where we had Sunday dinners, family gatherings, and cousins hanging out together. We don’t.

I often wonder if I’m doing enough. Do I make my kids lives a little easier or a little harder? Do I really listen when they come to me or am I busy with other things and nodding because I hear them talking?

Today, I’m recommitting to be present–to be aware. Today I’m not going to try to check off the items off the list, be right on time, or keep the trains running. Today, I’m remembering that mom is the best title in the world. It’s not VP, CEO or Director. It’s mom.

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