Gaining confidence as a single parent

Adriennes blog 18 suitcase picI did not sign up to be a single parent.  I expected I was going to have a partner with me to see through the raising of our children.  Yes, their father is actively part of their lives, but we don’t do our job of parenting together anymore.

At first, it was overwhelming.  Parents with partners can tag-team so that when one is wiped out, he or she can step out of the ring for a few minutes to regain energy and composure.  When you’re a single parent, you’re on all the time.  You might be able to hand off kids to a grandparent for a few hours, but you’re still the chief decision-maker.

Early after Drew moved out, I decided to take Tyler and Nicky out for dinner, just the three of us.  It was a disaster.  Nicky was sulking about something and didn’t want to order, so I picked macaroni and cheese from the kids’ menu for him, which I figured he probably would have ordered anyway.  Just to be contrary, he said he didn’t want macaroni and cheese (after the waitress had already taken our order and walked away).  I said, “tough, you’re having macaroni and cheese.”

Tyler, the peacemaker, was upset that we were arguing, burst into tears, and knocked over his juice trying to hug me across the table.  This led to even more tears.  By the end of the meal, all of us had cried at least once.  I can only imagine that our waitress and the people at nearby tables looked at us with either pity or scorn:  Look at that pathetic single mom.  She can’t handle her kids (her life!).

Since those early days, we’ve developed a partnership that works.  Nicky and Tyler and I are now a family that feels complete.  There are plenty of families where the parents are married, but a spouse has to work long hours away from home or serve overseas in the military.  There are stay-at-home moms and dads who have to take three kids to the grocery store and clean the house and cook, all while keeping an eye on little ones.  I’m not alone and I’m not a pity case.

Our latest adventure was an overnight trip on our own to an unfamiliar city.  This was a big step for me, the person who couldn’t even handle a night at a restaurant on my own.  I took lots of time to plan our route (no navigator to help me in the car), packed our bags (no one to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything), and prepared for missteps (there were a few).  But we had a great time and it built my confidence as a parent.  I’m a parent, not a single parent.  And we are a family, not a one-parent family.

You can read more about my life after divorce in Giving Myself Away, available now.

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Available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle format

Available at Barnes and Noble in paperback and Nook format

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What to stock up on when you have children

Adriennes blog 17 bandaid picHi, I’m Adrienne, a mom of two boys.  When you have kids in the house, there are certain items you should never be without.  I’ll tell you my top five, and I’d love to hear what you’d add to the list.

  1. Adhesives to fix the things that break.  Packing tape, scotch tape, duct tape, school glue, super glue… we have them all.  While there are kids in the house, I have to be resolved to the fact that things get broken and need to put back together, including my patience.  Both of my kids have gotten so frustrated at times that they’ve torn up a favorite piece of artwork only to regret it five minutes later.  My own mood has frayed to the point that I want to break things too.  Glue is the stuff that pulls things back together.  In our house, a hug is the glue that binds us back together when we get pulled apart.
  2. Erasers to fix the mistakes.  We keep pencil erasers, Mr. Clean magic erasers, and spot remover to undo the things that got messed up.  Sometimes we have a “do over” on the whole day when everyone’s out of sorts and things got off to a bad start.  It’s amazing what erasing the past, even the past five minutes, can do for your outlook.
  3. Band-aids to fix the hurts.  I keep all different sizes to cover everything from a paper cut to a brush burn.  Sometimes the cut is so little that I can’t even see it and yet my child wants a band-aid.  These are the times I know that what he really needs is the kiss that comes with it, the reassurance that everything’s going to be okay, even when he’s in pain.
  4. Thermometers to diagnose the severity of a situation.  You can put you hand on a child’s forehead and know instantly whether it’s a fever or not, but the doctor always asks for the exact temperature.  Being aware of the details helps you gauge what’s not obvious on the outside.  Sometimes children can’t tell you in words what it is that’s ailing them, and your attentiveness is what draws it out.
  5. Blankets to provide comfort.  We have big blankets and little ones, but the most important thing is that they’re soft and warm.  Did you ever notice how common it is to want to wrap yourself in a blanket, not only when you’re cold, but also when you’re lonely and sad?  The most important thing a family can be is that big fuzzy blanket of security and comfort over our shoulders.

GivingMyselfAwayCover

Available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle format

Available at Barnes and Noble in paperback and Nook format

What’s great about being married?

Adriennes blog 16 cake topper picHi, I’m Adrienne. I realize I’ve talked about being divorced a lot, but I was married longer than I’ve been single, and it’s time for me to move on.  I’m ready to stop being bitter and acknowledge how great marriage can be.  I can be happy for my married friends and family instead of envious or cynical about what they have.

So in honor of marriage, please help me make a list of the benefits of being married!

You can read more about my marriage and my divorce in Giving Myself Away, available now.

GivingMyselfAwayCover

Available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle format

Available at Barnes and Noble in paperback and Nook format