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

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

Center of Attention!

So, my first born, Sydney, thrives on being the center of attention. I think this has a lot to do with birth order as well as the fact that she has always gotten a lot of attention. Her first adjustment was school, when she had to learn to share the spotlight with 19 other kids in the classroom. She had a hard time understanding why the teacher paid attention to anyone but her! 

She’s gotten a little more comfortable with this concept, but last weekend, I watched this issue manifest in a different way.¬†

My daughter was at a party of an older girl she is close to. She is a couple years older than Sydney, but she also had other friends there that were older than her. So the gap between Sydney and some of the girls was 3 or 4 years. Before I left Sydney came to me with a panicked look in her eyes. I asked her what was wrong and she started crying. She explained to me that she felt weird and she didn’t know what to do.

Now, this is never Sydney’s issue. She is a very confident girl, who usually is the first to try something, the first to speak and the first to join in. But, she didn’t feel comfortable because they were talking about things she didn’t really know about and things that her and her 8 year old friends don’t worry about yet. But that’s not what really made her uncomfortable, the fact is she didn’t know what to do with herself if she wasn’t going to be the center of attention, the one talking, the one being listened to.

I think for a lot of us at work, we sometimes feel like this. We feel like if we aren’t leading the project, if we aren’t running the meeting, if we don’t have all the answers, we don’t know what to do. I think we should do the same thing I told Sydney.

Sit back and learn something from others around you.

We so often think leaning in is doing more, taking a seat at the table, speaking up, fighting to get noticed. I believe, particularly for strong, assertive women, learning how to sit back and not be the center of attention is sometimes harder, but often ¬†times more fruitful. If you’re a leader, you’ll be able to better observe those who work for you and discern their real abilities. If you are working on a project, you’ll find others will step up to the plate if you let them, actually freeing up some of your bandwidth.

You’ll also very likely become more like-able. Let’ s face it. No one likes the little girl who always has to be the center of attention, not sharing the spotlight with anyone.

So challenge yourself. Make yourself sit back and listen, not talk in a meeting, not be the one with all the ideas. Be a learner, a listener, a supporter. You may feel like a fish out of water, but you’ll appreciate the water (being the center of attention)much more when you get back in!

Now, that’s how single mom’s lean in!

Time to make the donuts!

I think most of us remember that Dunkin’ Donuts commercial where that poor guy would get up in the dark hours of the morning to make the donuts and grumble almost incoherently, Time to make the donuts. But how many of us remember watching that and panicking that one day that might be us. Surprise!¬† You’re the new star of that very commercial. It’s called Life!

I don’t know that I have some great advice to give you about this. But I will tell you, I’m right there with you. And frankly, I think most people are. Life has a rhythm to it that basically gets a little redundant after a while. What’s interesting is that our lives have a ton of ups and downs, unexpected events and challenges, yet we still find ourselves being bored.

And like I said, I think this is pretty universal. I believe it has nothing to do with being over stretched as a single mom, or overworked as a leaning in professional or overly lonely as a single. Married women will tell you the same thing. Stay at home moms Рyep! they feel this way too.

So, what I would tell you is don’t start wallowing in this feeling. When you start feeling it, recognize it for what it is. Understand it’s natural and normal. Try to do something to shake up your schedule. Start a new exercise program.¬†Plan a vacation. Change up your get ready routine. Get a new hair cut. Start a DIY home improvement project. Do something that gives you a new pep in your step.

Now, if it’s really severe, this feeling of being stuck in a rut, don’t blow it off. Sometimes we need to seek help and shouldn’t be afraid to do so.

But for most of us, we just need to buck up and take the need for variety into our own hands.

That’s how single mom’s lean in!

Click on the donut to watch the commercial!

Dog Days

About a month ago, I did something completely unplanned and monumental. We got a dog. I wasn’t even thinking about taking this leap for another couple years. But there was a lot going on and I was feeling sentimental, so I did it. Spur of the moment! I mean we left home for groceries and came home with a puppy!

And I’m not going to lie, I’ve had moments when I’ve already said aloud to myself, “What were you thinking?” And the truth is, I wasn’t! But I realized today that in the greater scheme of things, this was a great decision.

Why having a dog helps an already busy mom who’s trying to lean in?
1. Helps teach your children responsibility
2. Gives your children a greater sense of family
3. Gets you and your family outside
4. Gets you home
5. Keeps you occupied
6. Gives you a companion
7. Shows your children unconditional love
8. Brings great joy
9. Teaches your children compassion
10. Reminds you that material things aren’t so important

And that’s just the top ten.

All this came to me as the girls, Sophie the dog, and I were sitting outside having an impromptu picnic on a blanket. We were out there cause the dog was getting restless inside, so we took her on a mini walk in the front yard. She found some shade under a tree and laid down. Next thing I know, I’m getting the blanket, Sydney’s making sandwiches, Jordan’s grabbing the dog’s bowls and we’re having one of the best moments of an already nice, long weekend.

Getting Sophie without any real thought was a little crazy, and she is a lot of work. But sometimes, we have to let go of all of our logical reasons to do or not do something. In the end, I believe we’d all be surprised by how much we get out of those ‘unplanned’ decisions.

Now, that’s how single mom’s lean in!

I Could Care Less!

Really, I could. Care LESS! I’ve realized recently that at times, I over think things to the point of stressing myself out. I’m writing about this cause I know I’m not alone.

We worry about what people think when we come in late or leave a little early.
We worry about what the stay at home moms will think if we don’t volunteer at school.
We worry about what our kid’s teacher will think if we don’t sell cookie dough for the fundraiser.

But really, who cares?!?!

Are you leaning in at work, doing your very best and getting results?
Are you stepping up and carrying your weight when possible to make your school better?
Are you making sure your kids are prepared to be lifetime learners and contributing members of society?

Then stop worrying about it. Stand strong in recognizing the value you are bringing and start caring less about what others might be thinking.

The truth is, you aren’t that important. Most people are not sitting around thinking about what you’re doing. Even if it feels like people are looking at you funny when you sneak out occasionally at 4.

They could care less. They’re too busy worrying about what others are thinking about them!

Caring less! Now that’s how single mom’s lean in!

Cut Yourself Some Slack!

I’ve slacked off! Not at some point, last week! It’s officially been a week since my last post which is the longest I’ve gone since I started The Single Mom’s Guide to Leaning In.

But the truth is, I was busy! I was at a conference, took the kids to Disney, got one ready to send off to overnight camp all in the midst of my floors being redone and my house being in complete shambles!

There were things I should have done, needed to do and wanted to do, but sometimes you have to understand, you can’t do everything. And frankly, most of it was still sitting there waiting for me this morning.

So how do I get myself comfortable with letting a ball drop here or there? I cut myself some slack! That’s the single mom’s lean in! Tip of the day!

We are our own worst enemy. We keep the ‘to do’ list running in our head. We taunt ourselves if we don’t think we can finish something. We fret over what others will say or do if we don’t respond or deliver when they want us to.

So much of what we do or don’t do is not life threatening, at home and work. We hold ourselves at times to unrealistic standards, which means we’ll never be happy with ourselves. This feeling can lead us down a very negative path. So how do you learn to cut yourself some slack?

1. Surround yourself with people who applaud you for what you do.
2. Prioritize what needs to get done so you can feel comfortable with not checking off some of the things on the bottom of the list.
3. Keep things in perspective. (In most cases, the world will not come to an end if you don’t complete the task.)
4. Change the voices in your head. (Instead of beating yourself up about what you haven’t done. Congratulate yourself for what you have accomplished.)
5. Lean In! What you do get done, knock it out of the park!

That’s right. Lean In! Last week, I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to but I leaned in. I came back with great new ideas for my team and I to pursue for the company. I created great memories with my kids. I prepared my daughter for an incredible experience and I got one step closer to having a livable house again. I did a lot, but there’s still much to be done. There always will be. So, cut yourself some slack.

Have a Strong Foundation!

My 8-year old daughter loves music and when the movie Pitch Perfect came out, she was dying to see it. However, it was PG-13. Now she’s a pretty mature 8, so there are some PG-13 movies I let her see. But this one, I knew when I saw the preview for it, was questionable. So how did I decide through her begging and her tears to firmly say no? I have a strong foundation and for us, it’s based in Christianity. But I realize that’s not the only foundation and I’m not here to judge your foundation or tell you what yours should be, but I am here to tell you that you must have one. Because it is true, those who stand for nothing fall for anything.

So based on my foundation, there are certain things I don’t want my daughter exposed to. I know she’s heard bad words and luckily she realizes she shouldn’t use them. I know she’s seen shooting or killing at least of aliens or monsters. But there were concepts and ideas I don’t think an 8 year old should take in, things like using derogatory names to refer to girls, implying sexual activity, watching underage drinking, etc. That list was too long. So it was an easy choice for me. However, I had to find the information. So here are a couple of websites to help you make informed decisions about what your kids should or should not watch when it comes to movies.

http://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews
http://www.kids-in-mind.com
http://www.nickjr.com/parenting/flicks_for_kids

But, movies are just one thing. We make judgement calls everyday about what we will and will not allow our kids to do. Having a foundation helps you not have to make that decision in the moment. With it, many of your choices are predetermined. Therefore easier to make and easier to stick to!

Frankly, the same does hold true at work. You must lead at work with integrity, holding to the ground rules you have set. But they must be set. Have an established set of precepts or guidelines to help you make decisions at work whether it be in regards to how you handle a disciplinary action, allowing someone to take last minute vacation or leaving the office early. Having a foundation, communicating that foundation and living by it will ensure a healthier,happier environment at home and at the office.

It’s not always easy, but being consistent develops the necessary practice. That’s how single mom’s lean in!

Someone to call!

Here’s your Single Mom’s Lean In! Tip of the Day!

Get AAA!

One of the worst places to be is on the side of the road, with or without your kids. Whether it’s a flat tire or you ran out of gas, this is a very vulnerable and potentially ¬†dangerous situation to be in.

What’s worse? Not knowing who you’re going to call to come help you. The ex-husband, ex-boyfriend, co-worker??? Any of those people may come get you, if they take your call. But there may also be strings attached.

In many cases a Good Samaritan may stop to assist you, but this can be frightening and it may not be safe. You cannot take these kinds of risks.

AAA always takes my calls. AAA doesn’t complain or lecture me. ¬†AAA always knows what to do. AAA always shows up.

For less than 2 dimes a day, you can always have someone to call when you need help!

That’s how Single Mom’s Lean In!

Single Mom’s Lean In! Tip of the Day!

Be sure to get miles for all your travel!

Most companies tend to favor or use only one airline and often times frequent certain hotels. Be sure you have frequent flier or rewards program memberships so that you can gain miles for all the business travel you do. Then, turn around and use those miles to help you take a trip for pleasure, with or without the kids!