Archive for Motherhood Posts

published in Caregiving, Change, Family, Motherhood, Mothering Matters by Maryanne | June 8, 2017 | No Comment

This is the 6th blog in the Mothering Matters 2017 Spring Blog Series:

Raising Kids Who Care – Can Compassion Be Taught?

 

“Caring is something that needs to be taught by example. Words are easily forgotten. Actions are not. Actions leaves a lasting impression.”

– Anon mother of three

For this Mothering Matters blog, I interviewed a mom of three children who has requested we keep her name anonymous.

Question #1. What do you mean by raising kids who care? Care for what? Someone or something other than themselves? Compassionate? Volunteering? To be kind & considerate? To give back?

What I mean by raising kids who care is raising them to be thoughtful and caring…that means raising kids to think about others before always thinking, doing and wanting everything for themselves. I believe that will create compassion, which leads to volunteering, giving back and enriching someone else’s life, whether that be a human or animal life.

Question #2: Why is it important to you to raise kids who care?

It is important to me because it’s my job. I brought children into this world. The world suffers a great deal of pain and suffering. Only kindness and compassion can heal this. I want to do my part to ensure my children contribute to the kindness and compassion – not the pain and suffering.

Question #3: Tell me about your experience with your daughter and volunteering in an orphanage? How did that impact her?

When I was a single mom, I took my 6-year old daughter to South America to volunteer in an orphanage for 5 weeks. Our job as volunteers was to just provide some love and interaction with the children. The government-paid workers provided their basic needs – food, clothing, shelter – but they never had an adult that truly cared for them. My daughter loved to hold and cuddle those babies.

Even as a young child, my daughter understood the need for social interaction for those babies…their need to be loved by strangers because they didn’t have any one person who loved and truly cared for them.

I had always felt a bit badly for my daughter because she didn’t have a father. He died when she was a baby. But when I got to the orphanage, I realized those kids had NOBODY. Whereas my daughter had me and grandparents and aunts and uncles and lots of family to love her.

As a six-year-old, she saw that and realized how fortunate she was.

She was very compassionate with those babies because she could see those children didn’t have anyone. Those babies just had their diapers changed and then were put back into their cribs. The babies wouldn’t even be held when they were being fed. They would just get a towel rolled up under them, to prop them up, and given a bottle.

We would take those babies out of the cribs and give them their bottle. The nurses didn’t like that because it would spoil the babies and they would want more cuddling. But we did it anyway and I explained to my daughter why: because those babies needed the physical love and touch.

Scientific studies have shown that infants benefit significantly from human touch and cuddling. So although those babies wouldn’t remember being held, they would still be the better for it. My daughter understood that.

Question #4: How is this showing up in her life now, as a teenager?

Now that she is a teenager, at times it appears to me – as the parent – that it is all about her. She is not motivated to help out at home and just wants to be with her friends. And yet she IS very compassionate with her friends. Many of her peers come to her when they are distressed. She has the compassionate ear they confide in.

So even though she’s not volunteering right now, I think that will change. I think her early childhood experiences of volunteering has stuck with her and when she passes through the teenage years, she will do more of that.

Question #5: How old are your sons? What are you doing with them to try and make them learn compassion?

My sons are 7 and 9.

Right now, with the boys we have sold some children’s books at trade shows and are donating all the profits to a charity. This was their idea. It came into discussion after reading a bedtime story about a child’s experience in a developing country who didn’t have food or parents. My sons felt badly about that, so we brainstormed a way to earn some money and then donating it.

When we were at the trade show, we told people we were donating money to charity and the reasons why. Ronald McDonald House is our first charity – we chose that so that I can physically take the boys there and they can actually see the impact this has on the kids staying there. I also want my kids to see that it’s not just in developing countries where children need help.

My heartstrings have always been pulled that way – to children in developing countries. But I want to show my kids the direct impact of their charity. By taking them to Ronald McDonald House, my kids will see children who have significant health issues – and I think that will help create compassion and gratitude for their healthy bodies and lifestyles.

On that note, my mom always taught me she was thankful she had a capable and able body to DO work. It’s human nature for kids to complain because they have to do chores. And yet, I think it is important that my kids learn how lucky they are that they can physically do chores. Because a lot of children aren’t blessed with good health.

In other words, I want my children to be thankful they have a healthy body to do the chores and jobs around our home and farm. I want to continue the valuable lesson that my mom taught me.

Down the road, we’ll see how these book sales go. At some point, we also want to raise money for kids in a developing country then go there and donate those funds, so they can see that impact as well.

Question #6: Do you think “caring” is something that can be taught? Or shown by example?

Caring is something that needs to be taught by example. Words are easily forgotten. Actions are not. Actions leaves a lasting impression.

Question #7: I know you are concerned about kids/young people these days having a real sense of entitlement…

a) what does this mean to you?

To me, a sense of entitlement refers to when kids just expect everything to be done for them – and they don’t have to do anything in return. It’s the “me, me, me,” thinking.

b) Why do you think this is?

I think it is because as parents, we all want the best for our children. But I think that sometimes parents don’t realize that what is actually best for children is not giving them what they want. Sometimes saying no to kids is the best thing for them.

I read the book, Me to We, by Craig Kielburger and Marc Kielburger, and it really resonated with me. I agree we need to change a lot in our society to make that shift from me to we. It starts in our small communities and in our homes.

I’ve heard so many people say something to the effect of, “My Dad was too hard on me, so if my kid doesn’t want to do something, I don’t want to make them.” So then they go and do the exact opposite! But I don’t think that’s the answer. It doesn’t make sense because spoiling kids by giving them everything and not teaching them how to do chores, etc doesn’t work in terms of raising kids to be responsible adults.

c) Why do you think it is a negative thing?

Because teaching kids a sense of entitlement is not making our kids compassionate. It is not raising children to think of others and help others. It becomes more about wanting more for themselves.

d) What are you doing as a parent to try and ensure your kids don’t have that sense of entitlement?

We are not giving them everything they want. We say no to them sometimes. And we get them to do age-appropriate chores. We are teaching them the value of earning the right to their privileges.

It concerns me there are so many parents working insanely hard to provide for their kids – and yet the kids don’t have to do anything in return. I’ve spent a lot of quality time with my kids and sometimes chores can be really fun! We’ve had some wonderful bonding moments teaching them how to do chores.

And I spend a great deal of my time taking my kids to sports, so I feel they can help me with the household chores. To be honest, I find it difficult that some other parents aren’t doing that – because then my kids turn around and tell me, “Well so and so doesn’t have to help out with this and this.”

This is especially true in the teen years.

I have always wanted to be that fun parent that has a close relationship with my kids – and I do – but I feel frustrated because I’ve fought an awful lot with my teenager. She thinks we are strict, unreasonable parents for wanting her to help out at home. It’s made us not close in some ways…and I think part of that has come from her watching other kids not having to do any chores.

I think if she’d been surrounded by kids who did have to help out, she wouldn’t have been so angry at us.

Mind you, I do get compliments from my daughter’s supervisor on what a hard worker she is! So she does work hard…just not at home.

And we get lots of compliments from people about how nice and polite and hard-working our children are. For example, at a recent work-session on our farm, all our kids were out there working their butts off and people were really impressed at the work our kids could do!

I feel proud about that…and the kids do, too.

e) So are you succeeding in helping ensure your kids don’t have a sense of entitlement?

Yes, I hope so.

Like that old saying, I feel there are two gifts I can give to my children: one is roots and the other is wings. By teaching them compassion, saying no to them at times and having them help out with chores, we are showing them the value of earning their privileges…those are the roots.

Then when they leave the house, those are their wings…what they do after that is out of my control. But if I have given them their roots, I know it will help them become kinder, more responsible people.

Question #8: Anything else you would like to add?

 Yes. I just want to mention that I think we appreciate something more when we have done without it for a period of time. That’s partly why I think it is so important to say no to our kids sometimes. It is human nature to want more, more, more. So it is our job as parents to teach kids to appreciate what they already have….and that there is always something to be thankful for.

I also feel that my job as a parent is to teach my children that helping others will help bring them happiness. In the Me to We book, they really touched on that message: that true happiness is helping others. Teaching kids how to be kind and compassionate helps makes the world a better place and creates a more meaningful life for them.

Mothering Matters is an initiative of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc.

For further information about the Mothering Matters blog series, here is the link.

If you would like to receive the Mothering Matters blogs and/or read the other blogs, please click here.

This is the 5th blog in the Mothering Matters Spring 2017 Blog Series:

Single Mom Candour – Sage Insights into the Challenges of Raising Children after a Divorce

 

“It’s hard enough parenting children when there are two parents in the picture. It’s even tougher when you don’t. Let people help you.”

– Anon single mom

This Mothering Matters blog is an interview with a single mom who has requested to remain anonymous.

Question #1: Thanks for being interviewed for Mothering Matters! How old are your boys now?

My eldest son is 12 and my youngest is 10.

Question #2: How old were they were you got divorced?

They were 5 and 3.

Question #3: How old were you?

I was 41.

Question #4: How many years were you married?

We were married for almost 7 years and together for 10.

Question #5: Can you tell me a bit about why you got divorced?

I was married to someone who, I believe, had some undiagnosed mental health issues that led to pretty disruptive levels of anger and paranoia. While we were married, we met with multiple counsellors and it became apparent the situation was not going to change.

I was faced with two crappy decisions: 1) stay in a dysfunctional home or 2) break up my kids’ family.

I took a long time to make the decision to leave, but finally was pushed to make it when I saw that my kids were starting to be affected by the dynamic in our house – in all sorts of really crappy ways. I knew it would only get worse as they got older.

I realize that marriages break up all the time but in my experience/observation, it is rarely the woman who leaves when there are kids involved. They suck up all manner of terrible things to make it work. So maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised that there was a big reaction from my friends and even from total strangers when they found out that I was the one who initiated the separation.

Many of my friends only saw the side of him that I fell in love with…the fun guy, etc. I had kept much of our marriage reality hidden so it was a huge surprise when it fell apart. I think there were some who thought that I should have stayed, whatever the cost. I don’t think people realize exactly how bad things have to be to leave your spouse and the father of your children.

Question #6: What is your current living situation in regards to when the boys live with you and when they live with their father?

During the school year, the boys spend 60% of their time with me and 40% with their dad. In the summer, it’s 50/50.

Question #7: In addition to raising your sons, I know you also work full time. Do you work from home? How do you handle all the responsibilities that come with juggling a full time career and raising kids?

I do work from home and I work for myself. I think it’s the only way I could do it. Last year was a huge year for my business and I felt like I had absolutely no down time. When I had my kids, it was too much, trying to juggle it all. I was driving them everywhere and taking conference calls all the time – and often international ones at weird times.

The upside was that I cleared the debt that had built up since the divorce. But the flip side was that my stress levels were through the roof and I wasn’t really present when I was with my boys – I was always thinking about the email that needed answering or the deadline that needed meeting. It made me wonder why I was working so hard – what was the point if I couldn’t enjoy being a parent?

This year, I am trying to find more balance. Because I work for myself, I don’t like to turn down work contracts. So I have had to ask myself, “What is enough for us to survive and thrive – but that also allows me to be mindful and present when I am with the kids?”

This shift was partly inspired by going to a 3-day Money Mindfulness course with Tracy Theemes at Hollyhock last summer. She is amazing…the whole experience was a game-changer.

Yes, it was about money, but it also helped me figure out my core values. One of my most central values is freedom. Yet my life was bananas! I was either working all hours of the day and night or running around trying to do everything with my kids to compensate for working so much.

An eye-opener was when my kids started to wake up in the morning and ask, “What are we going to do today? Let’s get going!” They were picking up the need to be busy from me.

I finally realized that work is never over. It never ends…so I had to create boundaries.

I also realized I was living in a prison entirely of my own making. Now I am finally learning to relax and spend some time at home. It sounds dumb but that’s really tough for me to do.

But I know now that I don’t need to take every trip, go to every show, be with friends all the time, etc. to live a peak life. Just being home and baking and reading and recharging is SO important – it helps me do better work and be a better parent.

Question #8: Can you tell me some of the challenges you face being a single mom with the dad still in the picture?

One challenge is that my ex-husband and I still do not have a great relationship. When you divorce someone and don’t have kids, you can walk away. But when you have children, that relationship has to continue – potentially for a very long time.

You have to communicate with each other to make important decisions about their schooling, activities, health, etc. That can be torturous if the relationship isn’t great – and that’s typically the case if you’ve broken up (although I personally know of a handful of amicable and mature co-parenting exes).

If there’s one benefit to this, it’s that I’m reminded every week, if not every day, that leaving that relationship was the right decision.

Obviously my biggest worry is about the impact that the divorce has and will continue to have on my sons. The boys have heard and seen things between my ex and I – and between him and my family and friends – that I wish they hadn’t.

My eldest son used to feel stuck in the middle and he has gotten counselling for it, which really helped. I also get anxious thinking about their future relationships with women. If they see their father treat their mother with disrespect, what does that teach them? That is a big worry for me.

And financially, I totally underestimated how hard it would be to be a single mom. Especially starting my business, which took a while to build momentum. I have a master’s degree and tons of work experience, and yet I still find it is a very precarious financial situation to be in. I can only imagine that, for many women, divorce is completely financially devastating.

Another challenge is that when the kids are under my roof, they are under my rules. But then these rules change when they go stay with their dad. It takes a good couple of days to re-establish a routine every time they transition back to my house.

And single parenting is really difficult. When the boys are with me, I have to be good cop and bad cop. It would be so nice to have another parent there as back up, especially as they get older. It’s harder to deal with the boys now than when they were kids because they have way more tools in their toolbox!

I can see why the two-parent model exists, it makes a lot of sense. That’s what I had as a kid and still have with my parents, but unfortunately that’s just not how it worked out for me and my kids.

Question #9: What are some of the benefits?

Well, there was a huge amount of relief when I left the marriage because I was no longer in a really crappy domestic situation 24-7. To finally leave that environment was a huge relief. But other than that, no. I don’t see many other benefits. Maybe a sense of strength from having to do it all on my own?

Question #10: Do you have any concerns about yourself and/or your boys – either now or in the future – about being a single mom? I know your life is exhausting at times.

As I mentioned before, I do worry about the long-term impacts of their father and I not having a good relationship. This is a relationship they are learning from – and it’s not one I want them to learn from. So yeah, I do have many concerns about the long-term impacts. I just try to be honest with them – and not throw their dad under the bus.

Thankfully, my boys do have other healthy relationships in their lives to observe and learn from. My parents have a really stable relationship. Plus I have friends who are in healthy marriages. And my brother is as well. So all these people – and lots of others – are good role models.

And I try to be a good role model for them, too.

Question #11: Do you have any words of wisdom/suggestions/insights for other single parents?

Yes. I have advice for women who may be where I was, back when I got married. I had concerns about the man I was marrying. But I was 31 and wanted to have kids – and I think that fed in to my decision to marry him. Even though there were huge red flags, I still went ahead.

So my advice to other women is this: don’t do it. I’m not saying that I have any regrets – I am so grateful that I have my two boys and can’t imagine my life without them. But for those who haven’t yet gone down the path of having kids with someone who is raising red flags, trust me: you’re saving yourself a whole world of pain and suffering if you listen to your intuition.

Don’t ignore the red flags. There are other ways to have kids.

In regards to advice to single parents, in my observation there are two types of single parents: 1) the ones who will take advantage of help being offered to them and; 2) the ones who won’t accept help or ask for help. I fell into the second camp. And it doesn’t work.

It’s hard enough parenting children when there are two parents in the picture. It’s even tougher when you don’t. Let people help you! Let people pick up your kids from school or sports. Accept help and be okay with asking for help. It doesn’t mean you are a failure. People won’t think any less of you.

We’re all sitting alone in our own little homes, trying to do it all. But we need to help each other out – it truly does take a village. Sometimes we’re in a position to help others and sometimes we need the help ourselves. It all works out in the end….as they said in the film, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, “If it’s not all right, it’s not the end.”

Mothering Matters is an initiative of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc.

For further information about the Mothering Matters blog series, here is the link.

If you would like to receive the Mothering Matters blogs and/or read the other blogs, please click here.

 

This is the 4th blog in the Mothering Matters Spring 2017 Blog Series:

Putting Grief on Hold – a Candid Account of Raising a Child After Death of Spouse

 

Rebecca and Caitlin Orr

“Looking back, it’s like everyone else around me was falling apart and I was stoic. I feared that if I did let my guard down, I wouldn’t be able to stop – and then in what capacity could I look after a child, if I couldn’t look after myself?”

– Rebecca Orr

For today’s Mothering Matters blog, I interviewed Rebecca Orr about her experience and perspective on raising a child on her own. Rebecca’s husband, Lance, passed away when Rebecca was expecting their daughter, Caitlin. Rebecca and Caitlin live in Olds, AB.

Question #1: Thank you for being interviewed for Mothering Matters. How old is your daughter now?

Caitlin will be 8 at the end of August.

Question #2: How far along were you in your pregnancy when your husband passed away? Can you tell me about how your husband died?

I was 6 months pregnant with my daughter, Caitlin, when my husband, Lance, died. I was 26 at the time. Lance died in a work-related incident. He worked in construction and was a rigger at the job site they were on. He had been working long days for quite a while. We believed fatigue was a factor in his death…and corners were possibly cut.

They were moving a load of concrete forms from one place to another on the site. He had hooked up the load – but for some reason he had used 2 different lengths of chains and didn’t tie down the load. Then he gave the okay to move the load. Then for whatever reason, Lance walked underneath the concrete forms. They fell from the slings and he was killed instantly, crushed under the load. There were more questions than answers.

The weather that day was all over the place, so weather also played a part.

I found over the years that getting up caught in the “Whys?” made me go even more crazier. For sure fatigue played a factor. He was very dedicated to his work and wanted to get the job done. But he didn’t want to go to work that day. He wanted to go with me instead to start a baby registry. He was hoping to get home early.

And he didn’t like to talk to me from work – but that day he talked on the phone with me for a good 10 minutes…about 2 to 3 hours before his death. He told me he was looking forward to being done.

I don’t know why he chose to clear the deck of everyone but him and the load operator. And I don’t know why he chose to walk under the load when it was dangerous to do so.

Question #3: What was the impact on you and your baby when you heard the news and in the months to come, as that must have been extremely traumatic?

If you asked the police officer who talked to me that day, she would tell you I was strangely calm. I reconnected with her again not too long ago.

At the time when the police first contacted me, I thought Lance had got himself into trouble with the law because he was a “live on the edge” kind of guy. So when the police called to speak to me the first time, I panicked and called Lance’s phone. And when he didn’t pick up, I really started to panic and left a harsh message on my phone asking him why the police were contacting me.

The police finally found me at Toys R Us, where I was setting up the baby registry. They told me there was an accident at the job site and Lance had been killed. I was actually quite calm. I asked the police officer what had happened. She said it had something to do with concrete forms. And I said, “That sounds about right.”

Then she asked me if I needed anything…if I needed to go the hospital?

I asked her, “Why would I go to the hospital?”

And the police officer said, “Because you are 6 months pregnant.”

I was incredibly calm when I heard the news. I called members of my family and said, “Apparently, Lance died on the job.”

But then when I was talking to Lance’s cousin, I began to have a panic attack. Then after that I was calm again. I think I was in shock and in denial. Deep down, I knew I needed to keep this child alive.

In all honesty, my calmness and denial pretty much lasted until the last year or so. And then I started crying all the time over the weirdest things.

In my view, looking back it wasn’t about “being strong.” I had to do whatever I had to do to keep this child alive…including lying to myself. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, in a fog.

Looking back, it’s like everyone else around me was falling apart and I was stoic. I feared that if I did let my guard down, I wouldn’t be able to stop – and then in what capacity could I look after a child, if I couldn’t look after myself?

I didn’t allow myself to feel any emotions – except for one all-out breakdown. Even at the gravesite, I was doing everything I could to not show what I was feeling. I fooled a lot of people, alongside myself.

I also wondered if, since I was so calm and focused, maybe I didn’t love him as much as I thought I did?

People would say to me that I was handling it so well. But I was so young…how else was I supposed to be handling it?

I was very disjointed for multiple years.

Caitlin Orr at her dad, Lance’s, grave

Question #4 Tell me about your experience raising your daughter on your own? What have some of the challenges been?

Thankfully, I have an incredibly supportive family who, especially in those first two years, really stepped in to become stable adults in Caitlin’s life. But I have felt a lot of guilt about Caitlin not having a father in her life.

There are pros and cons to raising a child on my own. To be honest, I have more anger and frustration now than I did in the early years.

The first year of Caitlin’s life was a blur. She spent the first week of her life in NICU. I had this horrible sense of panic that since my husband was dead, I was also going to lose my child. I think I held on to her for dear life…versus the last couple of years, when I have begun to let her go.

My mom used to say that although I have bounced back from losing Lance, she honestly didn’t think I would bounce back from losing my child.

In the first couple of years, one challenge I faced was that I really battled between being a mom and dad. Caitlin got whatever she wanted. Now I battle with her thinking she deserves everything under the sun.

For the longest time, Lance was on a pedestal for Caitlin. When she was 3 or 4, if she was angry at me, she would sit on her bed and cry that she wanted her dad.

However, in the last few months she has been angry at her dad – that it is his fault for going to work and dying. She is also angry that she doesn’t have siblings. Now I am not only trying to figure out my own emotions, I am also trying to help Caitlin sort out hers. It breaks my heart to see Caitlin struggle. It bothers me more than my own grief, for sure.

We live with my mom. Caitlin and my mom have the most remarkable relationship. But at the end of the day, I am the only parent. There is nobody else to consult with. It is difficult not having someone to consult with. And there is a loneliness there. There is a frustration that I didn’t ask for this. I had no intention of being a single parent. I have a lot of frustration that this isn’t what I asked for. I am also exhausted…beyond exhausted on any given day. Parenting alone sucks when you don’t plan it that way.

But there are also the pro’s: I get to decide on everything…where my kid goes to school, how I spend my money, etc.. I don’t have to consult with anyone.

And there are some experiences that Caitlin and I are having, such as traveling to interesting places, that likely wouldn’t have been possible had Lance still been alive. How different life would have been had Lance was still around. I find it difficult to imagine.

I am very blessed for the remarkable family unit that my family has. It doesn’t replace having a dad – that missing piece is still missing. Caitlin wants a dad and it is tough to explain to a child that it is not that simple. There are challenges that come with her desire of wanting a father.

Question #5 Have you met anyone else in terms of a mate/partner?

No. If that ever did happen that would be fine but there is nobody at this point.

Question #6 You have mentioned a bit about your support system. Is there anything else you would like to add?  

My family is awesome! I am very blessed. I also have great church support. Faith is a huge part of my life. I don’t know how it is with people who don’t have the support. I am so lucky, then and now, that I have that support.

After Lance’s death, my family really stepped in – especially my mom and brother – and took over. I was in no state to be handling all the affairs on my own at that time. My brother handled the media. My brother and my mom helped me with the finances. My brother stepped in as a father figure and role model for Caitlin…and he still is. He has his own kids, too.

I do realize how blessed I am – and that God put those people in place at the time to help out. I could never repay that back. I am incredibly blessed and grateful for my support system. It is huge.

Question #7 Do you have any words of wisdom for women or who may in a similar situation i.e. raising a child on their own due to the death of a partner?

Yes!

Don’t let anybody tell you how to feel – that’s the biggest thing. Everyone is going to have an opinion on how you should grieve. But the only person who knows how is you.

Just put one foot in front of the other. You can’t live in fear.

I am finally going to counselling now, 8 years after Lance’s death. I kept thinking, “I should be past this.” We are always such critics on ourselves. I mean, I wouldn’t say to someone else who was grieving, “You should be past this.” So why would I say it to myself? But I did.

Grief has no timeline. It could hit you right off the bat or it could hit you 10 years down the road. I am incredibly harsh on myself. So that’s what I would tell others: you need to be gentle on yourself. You have to do what you have to do to get through – and that will look different for every single person.

May 8th was the 8th anniversary of Lance’s death. My counsellor asked me what I was planning on doing that day. I said to her, “I don’t want to be a burden to other people.”

She looked at me and said, “If a friend called you up and said that to you, what would you say?”

In other words, you would never say that to someone else, why would you say that to yourself? We are often a lot harsher on ourselves than we are on other people.

Don’t put on the façade that you are okay when you’re not. I wanted people to think that I was okay even thought I wasn’t. I felt like Jeckyll & Hyde! And that’s not healthy.

Also, find people that you can trust.

People tell you that they will always be there for you…they mean well, but not everyone is always going to be there for you.

And hold on for this crazy roller coaster of a life!

Although people don’t tend to be mean, they do say stupid things…most of the time because they don’t know any better. But sometimes it is best to say nothing. The night Lance died, someone told me, “You’re young, you will find someone else to marry.”

I said to my mom the other day that I was exhausted from all the crying. My mom looked at me and said “You are only just getting started. In 7 and a half years, you have never cried. Did you honestly think you weren’t ever going to cry?”

I cry over everything now. I find it infuriating. But it is completely normal. I am incredibly hard on myself with this grief process…I would like it be over by now!

But now that my daughter is 8 and in school, maybe subconsciously I am finally giving myself permission to really grieve? Because in the midst of all this there is a lot of peace….a lot of good that will come out of it when I get to the other side.

I was only 22 when I got married. I thought I knew everything. Looking back 10 years later, I knew nothing! I have grown so much over the past 8 years. But how much would I have grown if Lance was still alive?

I have grown up so much, learning to live without Lance and raising a child on my own. My perspective on life has changed an awful lot in the last 8 years. I had to learn how stand on my own. Lance was the protector and took care of everything. I was the people pleaser. Lance was who he was and if you didn’t like it, that was your problem. Caitlin is very much a similar personality. If you don’t like me, that is your problem, not mine.

I, on the other hand, am a people-pleaser. In the last 8 years, I had to learn how to stand on my own. I had to learn how to build my life as a one-person universe. It is a very different life than what I thought my life would be.

Lance was super excited to raise a child. Caitlin looks like me but she is her father’s daughter. She is so similar to Lance. I am curious as to whether or not they would have gotten along or would they have clashed? Caitlin is a very matter of fact child…very literal. It fascinates me that without even knowing her dad, she is through and through her father’s daughter.

It is a fascinating and infuriating journey to be on.

There are times when I wouldn’t take back what I had before. I have been a single mom far longer than I was married. It’s what I know. People ask me if I ever want to get married again. I say sure, I would love to. But at the same time, the longer I stay a single mom, the more used to this life I have become.

Question #9 How old are you now? What are your hopes for the future?

I am 33. Obviously, in the future I want to be in a better place emotionally. I am not against getting married again. But any guy in my life would have to be good with being a dad from the get go. I just want to be the happiest mom I can be for my child.

I want to be a good role model for my daughter. If I find someone great. If not, that doesn’t define me as a person. God clearly has a direction that I am going to be heading in. I have no idea where this crazy ride is headed. I am confident that I can raise my kid and be happy and healthy in whatever happens.

I am super picky about guys. Caitlin wants a dad but at the end of the day, I have to pick up the pieces of her broken heart if it doesn’t work out. There has been the odd guy, that Lance knew, in our lives. They stuck around for awhile and then they just vanished. And Caitlin blamed me.

Finally, I had to sit her down and say: although people say they will always be there for you…that isn’t always the case. If a person chooses to not stick around, that is their choice – not mine. Mom is not always to blame.

A year ago, I really hit rock bottom emotionally and my mom told me I needed to go see someone. It was a very good idea. Looking back now, I realize I wasn’t in a good place.

The other day, I was bawling my eyes out in the parking lot of Caitlin’s school. Caitlin asked me why I was crying and I told her I was tired. I’m not one to show emotions, so this is a whole new ball game for me. This is new territory.

But you know what? There is something freeing in all this. Why, as women, can’t we be broken – and admit that we are broken? When did it happen that women can’t admit to being a crappy place?

I am incredibly grateful for my mom (and my best friend) who nudged me, a year ago, in the right direction of seeking help. Who knows where I would be right now if I didn’t get help?

Thank you, Rebecca, for being interviewed for Mothering Matters. Your honesty will really resonate with readers. Take care!

Rebecca Orr was interviewed by Maryanne Pope. Maryanne is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.

Mothering Matters is an initiative of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc.

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