Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Tag: single parent

It’s Time to Put You First

contributed article

Do you ever catch yourself thinking that life would be better if you could take time for yourself a little more? But it’s hard, and caregivers have the hardest time with this. Most people, both parents and adults without children just yet, need to feel needed.  It’s part of life to want to feel useful and vital to someone other than yourself. The ability to help and be compassionate to those who come into your life is one that most people treasure. The trouble with being needed all the time is that it can be extremely difficult to find time for yourself. By the time you’ve tended the needs of family, friends, children, work, and your home, there is very little time in the day that is left to have a moment to remember that you are important, too.

The idea that you must sometimes put yourself first is a difficult one to wrap your head around, especially if you are not used to finding time for your own needs. If you don’t take care of yourself, though, how can you expect to be there for anyone else? People need strong, happy individuals supporting them, and those who don’t take the time to look after their own needs often succumb to stress, depression, and sometimes, addiction.

If you find yourself being trapped in that cycle, where you feel like there is a lack of control over your life, then you need to start putting yourself before others. Stress and depression can lead to other physical manifestations of illness, and taking the time to rectify this is important. Checking into places like Compass Recovery for those who find themselves in the midst of an addiction as a way out of their stress is an important first step. It is not selfish to look after yourself or put yourself before other people, especially in the cases where you have spent so long looking after other people you’ve forgotten how to be you again.

Finally realizing that you matter enough to be important in your own life can set you on a path to freedom. Often, being relied on by so many other people can leave you feeling trapped. Their need of you can be suffocating and debilitating, and the feelings of guilt that you end up left with if you don’t help out on demand are consuming. The freedom you can feel by simply saying no and allowing yourself to be the priority in your own life is immense. The weight on your shoulders of unwavering obligation can lift, and you can start to see life a little clearer and a little lighter. You can still be there for people and put yourself first.

Start small, with evenings to yourself. A cup of tea in peace and quiet and enjoying the time you spend with your own company can be a refreshing change from being wanted and tugged at all the time. Finding a balance is never easy, but it’s one you have to seek if you feel pulled in different directions. Finding you is good for your health, and your health matters.

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Having Fun With Your Kids

Say what? Why is having fun important? Besides providing meals, clothing, shelter, and education plus taking our kids to the dentist, doctor, and school, we should also have fun? Yes!

This post is inspired by our activities over the weekend and my subsequent thoughts. I’m being a little silly because of course, you know that having fun with your children is important. But let’s also be realistic–a lot of parenting is not fun. Even the things kids think are fun, like children’s museums, playgrounds, cartoons, are not fun for the parents–not really anyway. 🙂 You probably wouldn’t choose to go to the pumpkin patch with  face painting and bouncy houses if it weren’t for your kids. That’s all I’m saying.

Katie just before BINGO

But on Saturday and more and more, Katie and I are finding activities that we both enjoy, that we both have fun with, and that we are doing together.

I was thinking about how much parents adore and treasure those little newborn babies up until they can walk and talk and have to be entertained. Then there are a lot of parenting challenges to face every day–potty training, tantrums, 3 meals a day, bath, fights over bedtime, etc. But at 6,  I feel Katie is the most fun ever because now she can participate in activities that I actually enjoy, and we can do them together. Over the weekend, we played…B-I-N-G-O.

We were at a small festival for our community, and one of the activities was Bingo. I might not have encouraged her to play if it wouldn’t have been so hot outside; but because it was, and I wanted a break from the heat, we wandered into the school and found ourselves in a Bingo game with prizes–food prizes, like popcorn, candy, potato chips, cake mixes, and more.  What fun! We laughed; Katie almost cried until she won a game; we smiled; we got excited; we made jokes. We enjoyed ourselves–both of us.

This has happened a few other times this summer, where we were both engaged in what we were doing, and it wasn’t just me the parent watching her the kid doing something.

I encourage you, especially if you are a parent of an elementary school -aged kid or above, to find those activities for your family right now, too. Maybe it’s a mutual game you like to play. Maybe it’s a painting class. Maybe it’s a show on television (we also love to watch Masterchef).

And I know it doesn’t seem possible to love your child any more than you did when he or she first was born. But I swear, I love her more and more every day. I just love her little personality, the way she looks at the world, her hopes and dreams, her creativity, and it makes me excited as a parent, which is what gets us through all the times when we are wondering how we will ever manage to do this parenting gig.

What activities do you enjoy doing with your child?

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Keeping Your Sense of Self When You’re a Mother and Wife

contributed article

It’s fair to say, as women, we have drawn the short straw in many respects, and there’s no doubt we have it tough at times. Along with growing, carrying and giving birth to our babies, in most cases, we’re their primary caregiver, too. And as wonderful and special as this is, it does mean that everything else in our lives can be twice as hard as we’re fitting it around our children. One thing many women struggle with after having kids is losing their sense of self or identity. You’re no longer just you, you’re a mother. Your new name is “mom,” and your new role is of a parent and sometimes wife. But just because you are these roles (and as enjoyable as they are), it doesn’t mean you have to totally lose the person you once were. Keeping your own identity is important; here are a few ways you can go about it.

 

Take Care of Your Appearance

As a busy parent, the way you look often falls to the bottom of the list of priorities. In the morning, it’s probably all about getting your little one up and washed, fed and dressed. But you don’t have to give up on yourself entirely, and actually making a small effort with your appearance is one of the best things you can do for your self-esteem. Perfect a super quick makeup routine- some foundation, bronzer, and a sweep of mascara will instantly make you look your best without being too done up. Every now and again, visit the hairdresser. Have a style cut, which is easy to maintain and quick to do in the morning. The trick is to work with your natural texture, for example, instead of shoving it into a ponytail. If your hair is already straight, run it over with the straighteners for just a minute or two. This will make it look tidier, get rid of any frizz or fluffiness, and allow it to sit better. If your hair is curly, you could scrunch through with some mousse; it won’t take long, but you’ll feel much better being well presented. You probably have your comfy “mom uniform” that you wear to run errands and get stuff done around the house; but a few changes here could make all the difference, too. Instead of a tracksuit, for example, a pair of leggings with a jersey skater dress and a long cardigan would look cute but be just as comfortable. If you run into anyone you know or catch sight of yourself in the mirror, you’re likely to be far more confident, too.

Exercise

Keeping fit is useful when you have energetic children to look after! It will allow you to play with them far more easily and generally keep up. You probably don’t have all the time in the world to hit the gym five days a week, but there’s plenty you can do. Go on a power walk with the pram, or take a ball or frisbee to the park and run around with your kids. Instead of driving shorter distances, walk them instead, and go on family bike rides. You’ll maintain your figure and the endorphins will make you feel good.

Maintain a Social Life

You might have hung up your dancing shoes long ago, and a night out with friends these days might not be to a nightclub or bar like it once was. But keeping friends is so important; find activities that you all like to do now that you’re mothers and wives. Whether it’s play dates with the kids, brunch on a weekend, or an afternoon tea, keeping those connections there is so important. There are of course other ways to keep in contact with friends too; you could use a postcard app to send any funny or sweet pictures as a postcard right to their house. You could talk on the phone, video call, or of course, use social media. But having that support and friendship group around you will help you keep a grasp of your own identity.

Go Back To Work

One way you can keep and maintain your identity is through your job or career. As a parent you might not necessarily want to go back full time, when you have children to look after. If that’s the case, how about part time? You could even start a home business or do some freelance stuff online. Either way, maintaining your career interests is a good way to go, and bringing money into the home will make you feel good.

Image source

 

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Parents: Taking Time For Yourself

I just returned from a three-night, four-day girls’ trip to Breckenridge, CO. We had a lot of fun, from sightseeing on Mt. Evans to dog sledding with a golf cart, from Oktoberfest to a winery with an incredible view–we laughed and relaxed; and each one of us took time for ourselves. We are all moms. Some of us are single; some of us are married. I am the only one with a young child; one mom has a special needs son, and others have teenagers, college students, and young adults. All of us have busy lives and jobs, but we made it happen. We took the time for ourselves.

The dog sled adventure

I’m not going to tell you it was easy or without guilt. I had a bit of guilt before I left about how I was taking this trip as a single parent, and two of the nights were my nights with my daughter. The guilt grew worse when KT had a meltdown on the phone with me the second night; and when I called her from the airport on my way home, she was teary eyed and wanted me home right now. My mom’s commentary on how miserable KT was also didn’t help. Grandmas hate to see their grandchildren teary-eyed.

I’m still glad I did it, though; but for a while, I doubted myself. Luckily, my friends are amazing.

One said: You have to let her figure out how to navigate life without you always there. You have to prepare her for the tough stuff. If you don’t, and life gets tough, she will have no idea what to do. (How about that for a smart, great friend?)

Another said: Everybody has to refuel. Everyone does it. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of yourself, mentally and physically, so you are stronger and better for your daughter. (Exactly!)

And there was a handsome police officer…

I mean–this is free advice I got, and I am now sharing it with you. 🙂

KT and I both survived, and the next day when we were together, it was even more special. We appreciated each other more. We hugged a lot, and we told each other how much we loved and missed each other. That is very special and just an extra bonus of going on a fun trip with my friends and also having a beautiful daughter!

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Money Myths That Cost Single Parents Greatly

contributed post

Maintaining financial health is hard work at the best of times, but it can be especially difficult when you’re a single parent. After all, those life commitments could stop you from landing the dream job while the costs of bringing up children continue to rise each year. In truth, it doesn’t make things easier when you fall into the common traps.

A better understanding of the full picture gives you a far better chance of keeping your head afloat. Here are some of the commonly perceived problems, along with the best ways to overcome.

Myth 1: It’s You vs the World

Splitting up from a partner is emotionally difficult, and it’s only natural to concentrate on yourself and the kids. This is perfectly normal from an emotional standpoint. Regarding the financial outlook, though, help is at hand. Whether it’s support for medical bills, grocery shopping, or anything else, you are entitled to this assistance and should not feel any guilt in taking it. This is one of the reasons you paid those taxes throughout your working life.

In addition to the help provided from the state and discounts from businesses, you deserve support from your ex. Even if you ended the relationship acrimoniously, the children remain a joint responsibility.  If you can’t work this out between you, legal advisors are there to help. In the meantime, nonprofit credit counselors can assist with other decisions.

Myth 2: Poor Credit = No Hope

When you become a single parent, it is very easy to fall behind on bills. Sadly, it only takes a short amount of time for your credit rating to be badly hit. While you should make the necessary moves to start repairing that broken score, it will take some time to get back to where you once were. However, that doesn’t have to stop you from gaining temporary relief. Let’s face it: the immediate future is where most of those problems lie anyway.

Adjusting to life as a single parent can take a few months. Small pay day loans can help you get through those difficulties even when your credit score is poor. It may be that you can survive without that support. Nonetheless, knowing that the safety net is there can make a world of difference to your frame of mind. During this time, peace of mind is probably the most important weapon at your disposal.

Myth 3: Luxuries are Off Limits

 As a single parent facing financial fears, getting your priorities in order is essential. Repaying debts and keeping the household afloat should be job one. However, it’s equally important to remember that life is for living, too. You and your children deserve happiness, which is why it’s vital that you avoid overlooking the need for treats.

With a little creative thinking, it’s still possible to take a winning vacation when funds are a little tight. Otherwise, camping trips and cheap days out, including walks and picnics, can be equally fun. First and foremost, it’s a key aspect of giving your children the upbringing that they deserve. In reality, that special time together is what will get you through the tough emotional patches also. You are doing a great job, and those magical moments are your just rewards. Do not forget it.

 Myth 4: Working Is Pointless

Being a single parent does throw a spanner into the works regarding your career. Time constraints mean that you’ll either need to work part-time hours or hire a babysitter. Meanwhile, working may sometimes force you to sacrifice certain entitlements. In turn, this can leave you feeling that working long hours for minimal financial gain offers very little benefit. It’s not all about finance, though, and the emotional rewards and setting an example for the kids should not be ignored.

Depending on your location, it may be possible to find alternative employment that doesn’t impact entitlements. This means that you’ll see the full financial rewards of hard work. Otherwise, you could look at the prospect of starting a home-based company. There are thousands of inspirational single parents out there who have done the same. Whatever you do, losing that ambition altogether is never the solution.

Myth 5:  Small Savings Are Futile

If money is tight, regardless of your relationship status, you often enter panic mode. Therefore, you’ll almost certainly try to find the big changes that could generate huge financial influences. While these elements are vital, you must also acknowledge that the small switches often make the greatest impact. This is especially true when it comes to spending.   

Trade your contract cell phone for a Pay-As-Yo-Go deal. Remove your expensive TV package and buy a Netflix subscription instead. Run a price comparison on electricity bills or home insurance quotes. Those simple tricks may not feel hugely significant on their own. Cumulatively, though, they can completely transform your financial health. Better still, those saving habits will follow you for the rest of your life.   

Myth 6:  The House Is Everything

Keeping hold of assets clearly has advantages, and possessions don’t come more valuable than the home. However, it’s only a property, and downsizing isn’t the end of the world by any means. Paying extraordinary running costs when you could be just as happy in a smaller space is very foolish. Besides, starting a new chapter can often be emotionally attractive for newly single parents.

The newer, smaller property might not boast the same financial value. But the capital this move frees up could make all the difference as you aim to keep the kids fed, clothed, and happy. There’s nothing wrong with staying in the old marital home if you can afford to. Ultimately, though, suffering for the sake of a few bricks is not the answer. There are far more important things in life, and seeing your children smile is one of them.

Source for calculator Image: above.

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4 Money-Saving Resources for Single Parents Looking to Vacation (Guest Post)

Recently, it seems as if I’ve been posting a lot about travel, and this is not a travel blog. But it’s summer, and let’s just pretend I had this in mind as one of my themes ON PURPOSE. Today’s post comes from Julie Morris, who is a life and career coach. She has a nice website with interesting articles, such as “How to Change Your Life For the Better When You Can’t Change Careers” and “How to Give Your Life a Positivity Boost.” Although this guest post is geared toward single parents, any adult could take advantage of some of these tips. So, on to today’s guest post. . .

4 Money-Saving Resources for Single Parents Looking to Vacation by Julie Morris

Traveling and vacationing are exciting, fun, and sometimes life-changing experiences, but for single parents making a solo trip, working it into a tight budget can seem almost impossible. The last thing you want to do is to spend your trip stressing out over money. Pre-planning and using all the money-saving resources at your disposal is the best way to guarantee a stress-free vacation. Here are a few of the best tools for saving money and enjoying your childless trip.

Don’t Over-Pack

Often, it’s tempting to throw in every item you think you could possibly need on your trip, but try to avoid doing so if possible. An over-sized, over-packed suitcase can lead to extra fees at the airport and will simply be a pain to lug from destination to destination. Before you pack, make a list of the core items you’ll need and try to stick to those items only. If you just can’t figure out how to get everything you need into your suitcase, there are many great tutorials available online.

If you will be traveling by car, try to get the car loaded up the night before, so it will be one less thing you have to worry about. Dedicate that morning to getting the kids dropped off where they need to be, securing the house, and making sure everyone has what they need for a few days apart. Make a pre-travel checklist , so you don’t forget to close the garage or turn off the bathroom light. Include a list in your child’s suitcase with any special instructions such as bedtimes, medications, or scheduled activities. You’ll rest easy knowing you covered all your bases.

Take Advantage of Research

Utilize available data to study bookings trends. Studies of these trends have shown that 54 days before your departure is the best time to buy tickets, as they are at their cheapest on that day. This time frame does vary when booking international flights, though. While you may have heard that you can get the best prices by waiting until the last minute, research has shown that tickets cost $150 more when booked two weeks in advance of your trip. Try to snag a departure date in the middle of the week such as Tuesday or Wednesday, as it will often fall in the middle of other people’s trips, making it a prime travel day. As soon as you know the exact date of your travel plans, let your child care know, so they can adjust their schedules accordingly. Nothing will cause more stress than having to scramble to find a sitter at the last minute.

For car trips, save on gas by utilizing gas reward programs or downloading gas saving apps to locate the lowest gas price near your location. Get the most out of your gas mileage by ensuring your car is in tip top shape before hitting the road. Properly inflated tires can increase your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent, while clean air filters increase it by 7 percent.

Freelance Sitters for Homes and Pets are Cheaper

Freelance pet and home sitters are often more flexible and affordable options than kennels or leaving your home unattended and hoping for the best when you return. If you require additional home services, you can ask your pet sitter or dog walker to water your plants, check your mail, adjust your thermostat, turn your lights on and off, etc. Furthermore, they will provide more personalized care for your pets than a traditional kennel facility will.

Take the Road Less Traveled

Beauty, majesty, culture, and wonders exist in all corners of the world. Just because a destination is not a typical tourist location does not mean it isn’t worth traveling there. In fact, the less tourist traffic a place gets, the cheaper it is to get there, stay there, and shop there. Food, souvenirs for the kids, and lodging will all be at a lower, more local cost as opposed to the increased tourist prices. Most important, the plane ticket costs will be lower if you choose to visit a place that is off the beaten path.

Traveling on a budget does not mean missing out. Sure, you may not be able to decide to hop on a plane to Catalina Island tomorrow, but you will be able to hop onto your computer and start comparing the prices of a trip to St. Petersburg, Florida. With simple tips such as traveling to an uncommon destination or booking your trip in advance, you will be sure to leave your stress at home.

beach photo above by Stevebidmead

Julie Morris is a life and career coach. She thrives on helping others live their best lives. It’s easy for her to relate to clients who feel run over by life because she’s been there. After years in a successful (but unfulfilling) career in finance, Julie busted out of the corner office that had become her prison.

Today, she is fulfilled by helping busy professionals like her past self get the clarity they need in order to live inspired lives that fill more than just their bank accounts. When Julie isn’t working with clients, she enjoys writing and is currently working on her first book. She also loves spending time outdoors and getting lost in a good book. To contact Julie and find out more, please visit her website at http://juliemorris.org/.

 

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Practical Moms Unite: Traveling with Your Child

So the 6-year-old and I went on a trip during spring break, and I’m just now posting about it. No, it’s not because I need to recover–it actually went quite well. But I thought now would be a good time to talk about some practical tips for traveling with your child or children with summer break just around the corner.

First, don’t go to Disneyworld. HA! Just kidding. My friend Camille is planning a huge family trip for her 2 kids and hubby this summer. Did you know you can get someone to help you plan your Disneyworld trip? I don’t mean a travel agent–I mean another mom who likes to figure out where you should eat dinner and what parks you should go to and when! Now, this is practical. If you want more information about this, send me an email, and I’ll put you in contact with Camille. (margolynndill@gmail (dot) com)

KT at Legoland

Anywho, here are my actual practical tips for traveling with a 6-year-old:

  • Don’t overbook your days: If you do, both you and your child will be exhausted and not have fun. In my opinion (since you are reading my blog, you’re gonna hear my opinion), you need one big thing on the trip (like an amusement park) and the rest smaller activities that don’t have a set schedule. Here’s what our itinerary looked like:

Leave St. Louis at 4pm on a Monday night. Drive 2 hours to Columbia, MO. Eat dinner that I packed in the car.

Go to the first hotel  and go swimming that night. (Because this is what kids actually care about –hotels and pools)

On Tuesday, eat breakfast and go swimming. Check out of hotel and drive to Kansas City (2 hours). GO to next hotel and take showers there after check-in. Walk around the Plaza in Kansas City since it is a beautiful day and eat dinner somewhere.  (We didn’t have a specific time we had to be anywhere, so no rushing.) 

On Wednesday, OUR ONE BIG DAY–eat breakfast and go to Legoland. Make the reservation around 10:30 am, so we don’t have to get up early and rush. Eat dinner in the hotel room with food brought from home. Go swimming that night at the hotel pool.

We sat outside here at Crown Center for a while. (photo by Mark Goebel Flickr.com)

On Thursday, eat breakfast, check out of the hotel, and go to Crown Center and Hallmark’s Kaldeioscope, which is free! Eat lunch and drive home. 

  • You need a hotel room with a refrigerator and microwave when traveling with kids. You should also look for hotels that have free breakfasts and indoor swimming pools, so your child can swim regardless of the weather. After a long day at Legoland, being able to eat the food I brought from home and relax in the hotel room, as well as that night just go swimming for an hour, made both of us happy and not so tired or cranky!
  • Schedule activities as much as you can in advance and look for online coupons and deals. We got an amazing deal for Legoland because I had a buy one adult, get one child free Legoland coupon from McDonald’s. We saved $18 on Katie’s admission. We also would’t have been able to get into a session of Kaldeioscope if I hadn’t checked out online first how it all worked. Many children’s activities and events have special deals for people who buy their tickets online in advance. If you are military, you probably already know that you can get all sorts of deals on kids’ admissions to museums and other fun stuff. Check out the Blue Star Family website here.

Remember to ask yourself: What is your big goal (s) for this trip? These were mine:

  1. Take Katie some place for spring break, where she and I can spend quality time together and BOTH have fun.
  2. Don’t exhaust us.
  3. Don’t break the bank.

 

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Put the Parenting Magazines Down and Step Away Carefully

One day, my friend Julie said, “Have you seen the latest issue of (Insert some wonderful parenting magazine here) and their suggestions for back-to-school lunches?”

The funny thing is I had seen that article–I think it must have been a free issue sent to many houses, and I remember thinking: Do people really make these types of entrees for their child’s school lunch? Coconut and raisin pita roll up?  Almond butter and banana sandwich on 12-grain bread? Homemade minestrone soup? And do children eat these dishes? Where have I gone wrong?

Julie brought me back to reality. “My children basically eat cheese and crackers. Or their potato chips.”

Yes, now you are speaking my language.

I’m not sure who writes parenting magazine articles. Their bios state they are a parent of 12 or triplets, or they have adopted children from several different countries around the world, but I’m not sure if I believe them. Or maybe their bios are the only true part of the entire page, because really, who lives their lives like the parents in parenting magazines?

Let’s take a couple of headlines for example:

25 Ways to Make the Holidays Special 

First, no headline of any parenting magazine should ever have more than 5 tips for anything, and even 5 is semi-overwhelming. Do you really need to read a magazine article about how to make the holidays special? Aren’t they special all on their own? Isn’t it magical as a kid to think of the big guy in a red suit coming down the chimney, eating your homemade chocolate chip cookies and drinking your milk, and leaving you presents that you asked for? It’s also special that your entire family gets together and eats a meal, and maybe even plays a game instead of watching Netflix. Driving around and looking at Christmas lights or watching a Christmas movie snuggled under a blanket is special! Trust me. You don’t need a magazine article to tell you how to make this magical time of the year magical. You can figure this out all on  your own with the same things your mom did for you BEFORE there were articles like this at your fingertips or pinned to your Pinterest board.

Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?

Please don’t read an article like this. If you are clicking on this article to see if your child is getting enough sleep, then the answer is probably that your child is not getting enough sleep. Enough said.

How to Play with Your Child

I am all for articles that might introduce new games or even craft ideas (if they are easy) for you and your child. But do you really need an article that tells you HOW to play with your child at an age-appropriate level? No, you really don’t. It will just stress you out. You will be ridden with anxiety after reading this article and wonder constantly if you are playing with your child correctly and stimulating him or her enough to become smart enough to get into the best preschool. And don’t worry, there are articles galore (10 Ways to Tell if Your Preschool is On the Cutting Edge) to help you stress out about this, too.

SO what should you read?

I really feel like Mommy blogs, such as The Tribe Magazine  or Scary Mommy , are much more realistic and helpful. Some of you may be shaking your head. But just like Pinterest and sometimes the Facebook fantasy world we all portray are too much for me, I can’t believe that people live their everyday lives like these writers for parenting magazines portray. I can’t believe that people need articles telling them 12 ways to diaper their child or 13 toys that help your baby reach super intelligence.

So please, do yourself a favor (and the rest of us, too). Step slowly away from the parenting magazines and love your child because you are the only one who knows how to do that the best.

 

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Every Time She Leaves

_DSC0354I recently heard someone say that when you become a parent, a little piece of your heart is now living outside your body. Isn’t that the truth? Every time, my daughter leaves to go with her dad, it makes me, well, sick to my stomach. I know she has fun. I know she loves her daddy. I know she misses him. But the transition is tough–she often says things like, “I don’t want to be without you, Mommy.” She’s not choosing me over him; she’s just stating how much it sucks in her little Kindergarten world that she cannot be with her mommy when she wants to.

And that does suck.

I was the one who asked for the divorce. I’m not going to get into why. It’s not even important to anyone but the two of us. But I will tell you that although I feel like I made the only decision I could after many struggles, I still doubt being away from my daughter, like I have to be, because I chose to divorce her dad. It is the hardest thing for me–still–and we have been separated since May 2015.

I cope by trying to do things I could not do while she is with me. I try to sleep more. I try to get our house organized. I try to see my friends. I try to plan fun things to do when she comes back. I try to remember that she needs me to set boundaries and discipline her when we are together, even though I want to make every moment precious.

I’m a lucky mom. I have a healthy, vibrant, strong-willed, beautiful little girl, and I have to trust that I have made the best decisions I could make for her, regardless of what anyone else thinks. And when I miss her–I am lucky that I can call her or Skype with her, and that we will be together again soon.

It’s not easy to stay positive. But that’s how I make it through…every time she leaves.

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