Confessions of a Single Mom with Cancer Entry #2

Growing up, I was a nerd. That’s not my confession cause a lot of people already know that about me ūüôā But I really loved school. I don’t remember a lot about homework. I definitely don’t remember my mom doing homework with me every night. Frankly, I don’t even think we had homework until the 4th grade, which is totally different now. Our kids start getting homework in pre-school! Maybe it’s the way we believe we’re going to keep up in this constantly changing, information overloaded world, but it’s overwhelming for my kids and for me.

Because of that,¬†homework and school for that matter are¬†just another item on my checklist. The truth is, I’ve made it just one more thing they have to do too. I haven’t made it about learning or their education. My 4th grader can’t rattle off the last 5 books she read. The one science project we’ve done started with a Google search of ‘science fair project in 24 hours’. I am definitely not getting an ‘A’ in this category!

This is another really important thing that because I’m a super busy, single mom I’ve let be ‘ok’, but I’ve realized – it’s¬†not ok.¬†So here’s number 2:

2. I haven’t made learning¬†an integral¬†part of my kids’ childhood.

~School is not their job. I confess, I’ve¬†called it that more¬†than once. The problem here is that they don’t have a choice. They have to go to school and get served what they’re being taught. Also, if they don’t like school, what am I teaching them about the future of their lives? Work in a child’s mind is not, by its very nature, something that sounds like fun. School is¬†not their¬†job¬†because they’re not little adults. They shouldn’t have it¬†on their ‘to do list’. School is for them. It’s not the place that takes care of them so I can go to work. It’s a place that should excite them and open their minds. I’m not saying that kids are going to love school. I know for a lot of kids it feels like a chore some years, but I should help them understand the value of it.

~I have a lot of evening events for work. I thought it was ok for my kids to do their homework with the babysitter, but when I sat down recently with my 4th grader, I realized I was missing opportunities to show her things that make math cool, fun and easier to understand. Plus its valuable together time for us. (More on time coming soon!) Our nights are short but homework is not just something to check off the list each night. It’s a time for me to show them the value of school through what they’re being taught. It’s a time for me to better understand where they need help and where they’re excelling. It’s a time for me to praise them. It’s a time for me to teach them a few things too.

~Learning doesn’t just happen at school. It should be a part of our regular lives. But I like my weekends. I like to relax on the weekends because I’m tired from the week. I like to hang out with our friends cause that makes me happy. But I should take my kids to places they can naturally learn. I’m blessed to live in a city with great museums, botanical gardens, and history. I rarely take them to those places cause it gets in the way of the things I like to do. Maybe that’s a little harsh on myself, but maybe I also should be looking for a compromise. Maybe we should dedicate our summer adventures to things like that. I believe these experiences are¬†important because I think the natural learning environment is often where kids really find the things they’re interested in and it sparks their desire to learn more and begins that thirst for knowledge. That should excite me.

This all sounds hard, like a lot of work. But I’m facing these confessions, realizations because I feel like I have another chance to do things right. I also have an obligation because things could have gone very differently. My prognosis could be worse. Would I have felt like I had done my best? I don’t know. But now I know I want to try harder to be the best mom I can be. I’m accepting the examination of myself as a gift and I’m giving that gift to my kids.

So, I’m looking forward to a fun, educational, healthy summer with my kids. I’ll let you know how it goes ūüôā

Confessions of a Single Mom with Cancer Entry #1

I’m going to say something today that probably won’t be popular. I’m part of a very proud, strong, resilient group of women who take a lot of pride in who we are and what we do and why we have to do it. I’m a strong, single mom. Almost ever since I was a mom there was a single in front of it. I’m also confident, successful, well liked (I like to think) and stable. I am not your typical image of the struggling single mom (see stats). And, I’ve often beat that drum to change the perception of the single mom because from where I’m sitting I know a lot more single moms like me, who are more than ‘providing’ for their kids with or without the support of their ex.

But today, I’m putting down the drum. I have a confession to make. I may be a great single mom. but I haven’t been a great mom.

I have a lot of friends who are going to disagree with me and I appreciate that but the truth is, I’ve been using ‘single mom’ as an excuse. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve done a lot of things right and I do not believe for a second my kids are going to be screwed up for life. But there are a handful of really important things that being a single mom have made ‘ok’, but I realized today – they’re not ok.¬†So here’s the first one:

1. My kids health has not been a priority.

~I haven’t taught my kids healthy eating habits and have allowed them to eat what was convenient.¬†¬†I’ve started cooking less and less. I haven’t cooked fresh vegetables….ever. Frozen, steam in the bag, yes, but fresh. No way. Too much fast food, too much snacking. You name it we’ve done it and I’ve used – they’re not fat as a gauge. Wrong measurement!

~I’ve been late on doctors appointments for them. Let a rash linger too long. Not pursued that strange bump on my daughter’s wrist. This is not good. I need to keep them as healthy as possible at all times so that things don’t get worse. No other commitments or to do list items should take precedence over this.

~They aren’t active enough. I know most kids these days are not – except for in their specific sports, etc. But I’m talking about in general playing outside. Not sitting on the couch or in front of an electronic. Taking a walk in the neighborhood. Playing in the park. All of those things would typically involve me because of their ages, which is the problem. I’m too tired, too busy and frankly too inactive myself to set the right example. Enjoying being active is something that will keep them healthy for so many years to come. I know this because being active and exercising has always been a part of my life. Now I do it inside on my treadmill when they’re asleep,¬†but when I was young, it was just a part of who I was. We biked, walked, ran everywhere. A body in motion stays in motion. They need to learn to love being in motion.

There are other areas and I’ll get into them in the upcoming weeks. But it was time for me to really understand the difference between a reason and an excuse. The difference is choice. The ‘reasons’ I say some of this happened is because I needed a good job to support us and provide my family the experiences they deserve. I needed to be perceived well at work for the next raise or promotion. Maybe I even just liked the attention success and involvement at the job brought me. These are all reasons but with a different choice – choosing a different priority, maybe they’re no longer reasons.

I got here today because my daughter is really struggling with healthy eating habits. I looked at her cafeteria account and some days she’s buying 2 entrees, chips, 2 cookies – and that’s on a day when I packed a lunch! How have I missed that? Well I’ve been busy and sick. But in the light of a cancer diagnosis, finally my priority has changed.

My family’s health is my #1 priority. With¬†3 generations being diagnosed at 41 or 42, we’re at high risk! I would give up everything to ensure my daughters do not get cancer or I will die trying. My grandmother and my father died of cancer. It stops there. ¬†I will not die of cancer and the next generation will not get it!

So I’m unwilling to make anymore excuses. If I don’t have time to get to the store, buy fresh, organic food, include them in understanding what’s good for them, take them and the poor dog on a walk – then whatever is taking my time needs to change. It is not an option. Today I realized I’d give up everything for their health. Everything! And that includes riding high on the I’m so busy cause I’m a superwoman, single mom horse. I don’t need that anymore. I just want to be a good mom with healthy kids. That’s enough for me.

Advice for Single Mom Sheryl Sandberg – You are not alone!

I started this blog a couple of years ago, on Father’s Day. This was part of my first post:

“The Single Mom‚Äôs Guide to Leaning In was inspired in part by Sheryl Sandberg‚Äôs book¬†Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead…..

But something struck me in Sandberg‚Äôs book, something I‚Äôd heard before and we‚Äôve all heard before. That thank you statement to her husband, Dave. The one that says, ‚Äėfor making everything possible‚Äô. Hmmmm‚Ķ.really? Was everything not possible without Dave? Could Sheryl Sandberg really not have become the COO of Facebook and a satisfied mother of 2 children without Dave?

Now this is not a criticism ‚Äď I bet Dave is a great guy and an outstanding partner. It definitely seemed that way from the stories Sandberg shared in her book. But what does this mean to me a hardworking single mom trying to get the most out of her education, career, passion and commitment too? Does it mean that it‚Äôs not possible for me or any other single mom because I don‚Äôt have a Dave?”

Last Friday, I couldn’t believe when I heard the news about the tragic loss of Dave Goldberg, Sandberg’s husband. I immediately thought of this post and I immediately thought about Sheryl Sandberg and what she must be feeling without her partner, and it definitely seems that they were truly partners. I mourned for her and I prayed for her and her children who are about the same age as my two daughters.

Then, I thought about what I wanted to say to her and what I wanted to do.

First, I want Sheryl to know that it is all still possible.¬†It won’t feel like it for a while. But time will help.¬†What will also help is those who have come before her. Just as she did in her own book, by sharing¬†her own experiences, she will find support, inspiration, motivation, ideas and hope from single moms everywhere. No matter how we’ve come about being single, we share similar challenges. And even though many will point to the staff and assistance she will be surrounded by, we know that at the end of the day, she is mom. She is now all things to her 2 children and what I want most for her is to not feel alone in that.

That’s what I want for every single mom to know. So I’m going to start this blog back up again. Because the purpose of it is too great to abandon it. You are not alone and yes, everything is possible for you.

RIP Dave Goldberg