Heather is a single mother living in beautiful Colorado. She has 3 wonderful children; twin 20 year old young men and a 13 year old daughter. She has lived in Colorado for the better part of her life and is a stay at home work at home mother. She started her own business over 12 years ago and is happily, albeit precariously, balancing her work and personal lives. She spent over 8 years struggling financially and emotionally as a single parent before discovering how shifts in mindset and attitude can bring forth amazing changes in her life. Now her mission is to help other single moms stop the constant struggle and start creating success in their lives through the Single Mom Blog and Podcast.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor E. Frankl
This weeks podcast focuses on one of the keys to creating your own success. Change.
It's often a very hard thing to do but one of the things that I have found in the last few years is that being able to change the way I deal with things, the way I view things and the way I handle things has brought about a large amount of my success.
Being able to realize that we may not be able to control the things that happen to us or around us but we can control how we deal with them. And if we allow the world to dictate how we feel and react then we will never be able to change our lives for the better. Changing is important in order to move forward in life.
This weeks podcast goes into how important change is for success…
I don't. I just don't hate it. I am not someone who sits around on this day and cries because I am alone… I am one of those crazy people who actually likes being single – even on Valentine's Day. When this holiday rolls around and I start to see all the hearts and chocolates start overflowing in the stores I don't lament on how alone I am. Honestly the only thing that makes me sad is knowing that I simply can't eat all that chocolate – well I COULD, but I won't.
This weeks podcast goes into this more. Why I don't hate the day. Why I feel that I already have the best Valentine's Day I could possibly have. And how as single moms it is more important to love ourselves than to worry about getting love from someone else…
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Loving Yourself – How Hard Is It?
Loving yourself. Self-love. It sounds almost strange doesn't it?
Love myself? What do you mean by that? Doesn't loving myself mean that I am full of myself or even narcissistic? I mean are we really supposed to go around talking about how we love ourselves?
Um… YEAH. And if we don't then we should dammit!
As a single mom I know that I spent years and years racked with guilt over things that I simply couldn't control, things that were not my fault and things that I didn't even DO! I beat myself up emotionally and allowed others to beat me up as well. I allowed what others thought of me dictate how I viewed myself and my situation and I felt MISERABLE about it. I felt like I was a loser, like I was the lowest form of human being on earth. When in fact I was the most amazing – a tough, courageous single mother. I wonder sometimes now looking back how I could have allowed myself to be so terrible to myself. How could I have allowed myself to feel that my worth was wrapped up in what society or anyone else thought of me.
How astounding it was that I hung my happiness on other people's interpretation of my life and my story instead of what I knew to be true about who I was and what I had accomplished. I was miserable and felt so horribly about myself because of THEM not because of ME.
I felt horrible about myself and who I was because I was on food stamps. I felt horrible be cause I had to borrow money from family to make ends meet. I felt horrible about who I was because I thought that I was a bad parent because of these financial struggles. I would cry every day because I felt lacking in some way. I hated myself for not being the parent that I thought I should be.
I thought that I was supposed to have it all together and have everything all under control and yet here I was flying by the seat of my pants trying to put out fires all along the way. I thought that everyone was judging me for not having everything all sorted out. Hell, I was judging myself why wouldn't others be judging me. Other moms knew what they were doing. Other moms would be able to make snacks while vacuuming and washing a load of dishes, why couldn't I seem to manage it? I was my own worst critic. Everyone else saw a woman working her ass off to support her kids and fighting as hard as she could to be a great mom. THEY saw it, why couldn't I?
Because I was too busy hating myself.
I let that picture in my head dictate what I felt about myself. I was holding myself to an impossible standard and no matter what I did it was never going to be good enough and I let that change how I saw myself.
I spent many years in this self induced hell and it took a lot of work to dig myself out because it had become such a habit to hate on myself (I still struggle with it sometimes and have to be reminded that I actually DO NOT suck). One of the biggest turning points for me was meeting a lovely woman, Christine Arylo, and her good friend and business partner Amy Ahlers (who is equally fabulous). I started working with them in my consulting business several years back. When I first met Christine I still had one foot in the depths of self loathing but trying like mad to climb my way out, struggling every day just to keep it all together and not succumb to the voices telling me I was going to fail. (Christine and Amy would call them my Inner Mean Girls)
I have to say that meeting them was honestly the last push that I needed to start moving in the right direction. I had never heard of either of them before and never really dove into the circles that they traveled in, self-help, self-actualization, life coaching… things like that. It had never really occurred to me to even explore any of those avenues, I mean I am not one of those people who walked into the self help section of the book store looking for books on how to make a better me. PFFF… come on! That stuff is just a bit too foo foo for me. (Or so I told myself).
In reality it was exactly what I needed and should have had all along in my life. They hired me to help them with their Inner Mean Girl Reform School™ program and suggested that I go through it myself, which I did (a bit skeptically I will admit) – I have to say it was hard. I cried – a LOT. I worked through a lot of things that I hadn't even thought were keeping me stuck in my own private hell. I dove kicking and screaming into some seriously intense self realizations and they sucked! But they were awesome at the same time. It was important for me to let go of all of those hang ups that I had about myself. I had wrapped myself up in a nice little cocoon of misery because it was safe there. Miserable, but safe. I realized that I had become my own worst enemy and needed to make some serious changes within myself to start seeing the changes that I wanted in my life.
Pretty soon after meeting Christine she came out with her book ‘Madly In Love With Me – The Daring Adventure of Becoming Your Own Best Friend' … and you bet your ass I was signed up to buy it as soon as I could. I read it cover to cover and knew that I was in fact that person who needed a book to make me a better me! I needed to understand how vital it is to love who I was because for whatever insane reason it had never occurred to me before.
I realized that I had spent too many years treating myself in a way that, to be honest, I would have NEVER tolerated someone else treating me. I would never allow someone to tell me I was a lousy parent. I would never allow someone to call me stupid. I would never allow someone to tell me I was un-loveable.
But I said it to myself.
Why was it so hard to love myself? Why was it so hard to see that I was a great person. Everyone else saw it, why didn't I?
As single mothers I think we have gotten so used to being stereotyped into feeling bad about our situations, which in turn makes us feel bad about who we are. Why? Why should I feel bad? I don't any more, but I used to.
I gave up on loving myself because I thought that I was a bad person for not living up to what the world thought I should be. And I was wrong.
I have learned in order to have the happy life that I want so much for myself and my children I have to stop and remember to love myself – every day. Love who I am. Love what I do. Love how I look. Love everything about who I am. Because hating any part of myself only brings misery to my life. And lord I have enough problems on a daily basis that I don't need to add more to them myself! HA!
Change your mindset – change your circumstances – change your life. Love who you are and love your life because it is so vital to who you are! Would you ever allow your children to call themselves stupid? Fat? Ugly? Un-loveable?
Then why would you ever say those things about yourself? Love who you are and all that you have accomplished. Love yourself enough to care for yourself. Love yourself enough to BE YOURSELF. Love yourself enough to know that you are who you are supposed to be in this moment!
So is self love being full of yourself? Maybe; but really who else should you be full of? Should I be full of someone else's feelings about me? No. I should be full of myself, in love with myself. Who I am. Who I was. And who I am becoming…
Do You Feel The Need To Forgive Yourself?
Recently I saw a post in a Facebook group for single mothers that said “I never forgave myself for being a single mother”… and that one statement really struck a nerve with me. I never understood why there would be a need to forgive yourself for being a single mother.
I mean not everyone chose to be a single mother. Some women were left, some were widowed, some people like me never wanted to marry the father of their children – so why would any of these women need to forgive themselves?
As a parent I know that there are a lot of things that I beat myself up for but the fact that I am a single parent is not one of them. I don't feel like I need forgiveness. More patience? Yes. Less stress? Of course. Forgiveness however is not one that I feel I need because I don't think that I have done anything wrong by being a single mother.
Listen to this weeks podcast where I discuss further why this statement really got to me.
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Let's face it. As single moms we have a TON of things to keep track of…
- Doctor's appointments,
- dentist appointments,
- football practice,
- choir practice,
- grocery shopping,
- the dogs shots,
- the recital next week,
- school play,
- parent teacher conferences
- and on and on…
And that is all BEFORE we do or handle anything for ourselves.
With so much on our plates sometimes it can feel like the whole world is on our shoulders. Keeping track of everything seems like a mind boggling task and to be honest it was something that made my brain just hurt. I was going in so many different directions I was forgetting things, overlooking things that were REALLY important… so I started to look for a planner that I could use to keep track of all my stuff.
There are a lot of really fantastic planners out there but many of them only had one or two features that I liked. None of them really seemed like a good fit for me. So after a lot of searching I decided to just create my own that I could print out and use. After a lot of time moving things around and trying to figure out how to get InDesign to work the way that I wanted it to…. I decided to have help with the actual creation of the documents. I hired a guy off of Elance who did the work for me in record time. After a few revisions I finally ended up with a design that I really loved.
The planner pages have areas for your weekly appointments and things to remember as well as a section for your Daily Tasks. Those things that you should do, or want to make sure you do daily are listed at the top of the page for you to remember every day.
There is also a section for your daily goals. This is the area for you to write down those little goals that will help you get to your big goals. Are you working on paying down your credit cards? Trying to write a noel? Saving for a family trip? What are the goals that you need to accomplish in order to get those big items taken care of. It is so important every week to make progress toward those goals, even small progress is progress.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
A section to jot down those items that come up during the day/week that you need to remember to do. People that you need to call. Appointments that you need to make…
On every page of the pre-filled pages is a different inspirational quote to help keep you inspired and motivated throughout the week.
This planner is something that I am giving away completely FREE! If you would like to receive this planner in both the pre-filled and blank templates (not everyone wants to print out weeks and weeks of planners at once so we offer a blank template to use at your leisure) you can get your copy filling out the form below.
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5 Things Single Moms Hate To Hear
Women can become single mothers through any number of circumstances – divorce, separation, never having been married to begin with, surprise pregnancy… no matter how one becomes a single mom it typically isn't something that was planned. I never imagined that I would be the single mother of three children yet here I am. Being a single parent for the last 14 years has taught me a lot, and I am certain that I have much more to learn, especially now that my boys are teenagers!
This single mom thing has been a series of ups and downs, highs and lows and a lot of struggles along the way. Through it all there have been several times where someone says or does something that really bugs me, or flat out pisses me off. It's amazing how often people have a certain mindset when it comes to single mothers. They either jump to conclusions about how you became a single parent, or they think they know your story, OR they buy into the stereotypes that have been put out there by society. Either way these are the top 5 things that as a single mom drive me CRAZY! (I'm certain there are a lot more, but these are the tops on my list.) So below are the 5 Things Single Moms Hate to Hear.
1. “Oh you're a single mom, that must be hard.”
They say this with a sort of head tilt in a way that makes it feel like they pity you. So let's just get this first part straight, being a parent is hard. Single parent or not, it's hard. There are no manuals, instructions or any cheat sheets to help you with it. You are pretty much flying by the seat of your pants hoping like hell that you don't screw it up and cause your child irreparable damage that they will need years of therapy to reverse. Doing it as a single parent – yes it is still hard, it's a different set of circumstances and you don't always have someone else around to help you BUT that doesn't mean that it MUST be hard. For some of us it is the way it has been from the start, so we don't know any different. We started out as a single mom and so that is just how it is for us. So it doesn't automatically make it harder – it just is what it is. Now would it be nice if there were someone else around to help, maybe – but just because they aren't there doesn't necessarily make it harder.
Do we feel like super-mom most of the time doing it all by ourselves with little to no help – sure, but no more so that the stay at home married mom who has super powers of her own. No the situations and circumstances are NOT the same but I believe that all parents work hard. No parent has it easy, because we're parents – it's a constant struggle in some fashion or another and we all have our stories so why try to compare them?
2. “Where's the father?”
Um. Not here. DUH! Look, just because I am a single mom doesn't mean that you automatically get to ask me about the father of my children. Whether he is in the picture or not – well it's really none of your business. Just because I am a single mom does NOT automatically mean that my children's father is a dead beat dad. Just because I am a single mother doesn't mean that you need to know where the father is. Why does it matter to you anyway? Does it somehow make it better or worse if he is in the picture or not? Would the way you see me change in some fashion if you knew the location or status of their father? And if it would change the way you see me – WHY? Does it change the fact that I am a hard working parent trying to do the best I can to raise my children to the best of my ability? No. Whether the dad is around or not does not make me any different than the other single moms of the world.
And then to top THAT off, I have even seen some single mothers tell other single moms that they aren't REALLY single moms because the dad is in the picture. Like having shared custody somehow doesn't make them a REAL single mom. WHAT?!?!
Look, I have it both ways – my boys' dad is not in the picture at all and my daughter's father and I have shared custody. That still doesn't change the fact that I am a single woman with children, therefore I am a single mother. Are you seriously going to tell me that there are different LEVELS of single mom-hood? Shut up! That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Single? Check. Mom? Check. – You're a single mom. Trying to make yourself come off as somehow a different class of single mom is just dumb.
3. “When did you divorce?”
I didn't. I was never married. I think people actually ask this question to find out if I was ever married in the first place. Because once they find out that I was never married to begin with it changes the way that they view me. See there apparently is a difference in a single mother who becomes so by way of divorce and a single mom who was never married. I'm not quite sure why people get to judge me by my original marital status, as if that somehow changes the type of person that I am, but they seem to. They may not even realize that they do it but they do. Their perception of me is different than the one that they have of their good friend from work who's cheating ass husband left her to run off with his assistant and now she has to raise her babies all by herself, the poor thing. When they find out that I was never married their minds start going through various possible scenarios that they would never actually say out loud, I mean that would just be RUDE, but you can see it happening. They ask different leading questions to see if they can snuff out the exact details of my circumstances. It's kind of funny to watch sometimes to be honest – the whole awkwardness of it all – especially because they don't seem to even realize how transparent they are about it.
4. “So are you on welfare then?”
I swear I have actually been asked this, more than once actually. It's horrifying really, the assumption that just because I am a single mother that I am on welfare.
Have I been on welfare and government assistance programs? Yes.
Am I on them now? Nope – but that doesn't mean that I begrudge anyone who needs to utilize those services.
The problem that I do have is the stereotype that is out there about single moms abusing the system. It absolutely makes my blood boil. I won't get into the issues that I have with the way the systems are structured to ensure dependency (I will leave that for another post) but just because we may need the help to care for our children doesn't mean that we are out there misusing the money or abusing the system. To believe so means you are seriously misinformed and should go do some research instead of making generalized assumptions about people.
But to get back to the original issue – I wonder if when a man says ‘I am a single father' do THEY get asked if they are on welfare? I doubt it. I bet that they are more likely to get praise rained down on them for doing it on their own and being a good father. So why is it then if a woman says she is a single parent there is an assumption that we must be on welfare? And on top of that, who raised you to ask people personal things like that?!?! That's like being introduced to someone and asking them how much they earn annually. You just don't do that shit, well at least I was raised to know better maybe not everyone was.
5. Why did you have more kids if you are a single mom? You do know what causes that right?
Sigh. Contrary to popular belief not all of us are popping out as many kids as we possibly can. Not all of us are sluts out there doing any guy that comes along. I have three kids. Twin boys and a daughter. They are 7 years apart. Between the time I had my boys and the time I had my daughter I dated a total of 3 men. That's 3 men in 7 years and one of them was my daughter's dad! My daughter was a surprise. And the last time I checked I wasn't the only one in on the creation of said surprise yet I'm the one judged in some way for it. Things happen. Life happens. Sometimes no matter how careful you are things don't go exactly the way you intended. Regardless of that, what right do you have to criticize how many children I have? How many do you have? How many are you ‘supposed' to have? Is there a set number that is standard for single mothers? What about married mothers? Is the Catholic married couple that doesn't believe in birth control and has 12 kids better than me? Worse than me? Why do you get to judge me on the number of children I have? What number would be one that you would be comfortable with?
And by the way, would you view me differently if I HAD been married and then left with three kids?
I bet you would.
Because then I am the poor woman who was left by the cheating bastard with three kids to care for, instead of the tramp who slept around and had kids without being married. Right? That makes all the difference in the world right? Never mind that in both scenarios we are both struggling to take care of our kids. Never mind that we both are not receiving child support on time. Never mind that we both have three little people depending on us. We aren't the same right?
WRONG. We are. For the better part most single mothers are all just out there trying to do right by their kids. Trying to give them a good life. Trying to be good mothers. Shouldn't that be all that matters really? Because to be perfectly honest, all the rest of it is none of your damn business anyway.
I have figured out one of the greatest mysteries of the world!
A few weeks ago I went downstairs to switch out the laundry from the washing machine to the dryer only to find all of the water still in the tub of the machine. Great! Just great! I currently rent the house that we live in and the land lord is not exactly the most responsive when it comes to issues with the house. Our deck has been falling apart for years and the closest he has come to getting it repaired is the wood being dropped off at the house only to sit there for over 3 months. It's still sitting there.
Anyway, back to the washing machine, I have never had anything like that happen before and was dreading having to call the landlord to see when/if he would be able to get down here to figure out what was wrong with it. I didn't want to have to pay a technician to come out and fix the problem as I was on a tight budget saving for Christmas. So I decided to see if it was something that I could fix myself.
Google to save the day!!!
I went online and used the search term ‘my washing machine won't drain‘…lol. I figured it couldn't hurt as a search term. It worked! I pulled up several articles on why a washing machine would stop draining. They all said that there would more than likely be either a clog in the pump or the pump itself being bad. So I took a look at the article here and it didn't look too difficult to see what the problem was. So I decided to give it a go on my own, I mean the worst thing that could happen would be that I broke it, and it was already broken. HA!
So the first thing that I noticed when I started to gather all the items I thought I would need to fix the washer was that my screw drivers, like many of my other tools, had mysteriously vanished. Having three children I am used to things ‘walking off' on their own, but when I REALLY need them it's very annoying to find them missing. So after spending a bit of time in a futile search, I found only my Philips head screw driver and decided to improvise and use a butter knife in place of a flat head. (Which is a great tip if you ever find yourself in need of a flat head with no flat head in sight.)
I went down to the basement determined to make that washing machine bend to my very will and DRAIN!
Now I do need to mention that I have an older washing machine, one of the load from the top kind that has seen many a load of laundry in it's day. I am not certain that this process would work for a newer washing machine or front loading. Though I'm sure you could probably find instructions on how to fix those as well.
So armed with my MacGyver-ish tools and plan I went to work. I unscrewed the front of the washing machine and set it aside, finding the inside of it to be much less daunting than I had anticipated. I'm not sure why I pictured the inner workings of a washing machine to be a complex mechanism of wires, tubes and who knows what else but it was actually very simple.
Once I had the front off the washer, I looked at the pump and definitely saw something in there clogging the pump. At this point I was really missing my needle nose pliers (also mysteriously missing) so I wasn't able to get the item out of the pump with my fingers. At this point I again kicked into MacGyver mode and took a wire hanger and bent it out so that it made a sort of hook. I then used my butter knife to unscrew the clamps that were holding the tubes to the pump. I went to work on the first tube, after unscrewing it I had to wiggle it a bit to get it to come off of the pump. It was at this moment when I realized the other item that I was missing… A BUCKET!
I had completely forgotten that there was a tub full of water in the washer and that hose was directly connected to it. The water started gushing out all over me and the floor. So I quickly reattached the hose and ran to grab a bucket. After looking at the site again I can clearly see the clamp that they have holding the hose clamped shut, so if you have one of those USE IT, if not make sure you have a couple of buckets handy – you will need them. Once I had drained all of the water from the machine, and changed into some dry clothes, I then took my wire hanger hook and started fishing out the clog in the pump.
THIS is where I solved the great mystery that I mentioned at the beginning of the post. The item that was clogging up my pump was one of my daughter's socks. So for all these years we have always thought that it was the dryer that was eating our socks causing us to have those single lonely socks – but it has been the washing machine all along! The sock clogging my pump was clearly one that did not make it through the pump and out through the hoses to join the other socks in what must be a very large floating sock island in the waterways.
Now once I removed the sock from the pump I reattached the hoses and ran the washer again hoping that simply removing the clog would be all that was required to get the machine back up and running and SUCCESS! Everything was flowing properly again! So I reattached the front panel of the washer and re-ran the load.
Here are the videos that I made of the last part of my escapades with the washing machine!
Fixing the Washing Machine Part 1 (oh and sometimes I call it a dishwasher, not a washing machine – I didn't have enough coffee in me yet)
Fixing the Washing Machine Part 2 (after I put it all back together).
(I also realized the amount of gunk that had been apparently collecting underneath my washing machine over the years because it all came flooding out when the water came out of the hoses and I had no bucket prepared. YUCK! So cleaning under the washer and dryer has now become part of my spring cleaning list.)
Welcome To The Single Mom Podcast!
Hi there! I'm Heather and in today's Single Mom Podcast I wanted to introduce myself to you and share a bit of my story. Being a single mother has been one of the biggest joys in my life, but it has definitely had its struggles. I am happy you are here with me and I hope you enjoy the podcast.
Please share the podcast with anyone you think would like it or think it would help. Also, I love to get comments from my listeners so please make sure to comment.