To Single Parents, From an Ex Single Parent

I am confident that all of us parents can agree that being a mother and father is the hardest yet most rewarding job there is on the planet. Regardless if you are a single parent or not! I believe being a parent is a privilege, a gift and a lifetime commitment. It doesn’t end when our children turn 18. Take it from me, I am 34 years old and my Dad still insists on asking me if I had my oil changed yet.

However only someone who is, or has been a single parent understands the extra pressure and emotional load it has on oneself. I know because I was a single mother for 8 years to my twin sons.

I am a firm believer that parents should not stay together strictly for the children. With that being said, if they have tried everything there is under the sun to resolve their differences & the love is gone, then I believe its better for everyone if they live seperately but hopefully can continue to parent together. This is my opinion only because I grew up in a loveless relationship. You know what it taught me? To settle. To stick and stay regardless of my feelings. Bottom line, children see, hear and internalize everything! I don’t believe they can learn about a healthy relationship while watching two parents live like roommates, or worse, fight constantly. Trust me, I am speaking from experience.

I felt like a failure when I became a single mother. I was 25 years old with 2 year old twins. What the hell happened to my life? It would take me 5 more years after that to realize my part in it. I rushed in too quick, i ignored my instincts and I settled. But there is not one day that I regretted any of that because I truly believe with every fiber of my being that I was meant to be my sons mother.

Being a single parent is beyond hard. There is not one word that can describe it. There is no partner there to reassure you that you are doing a good job. No one there to take over and let you sleep an extra hour when you’ve been up all night with sick children. The finances are all on you, and let me tell you that can be a hard one to learn if you aren’t careful. Going to the park and seeing moms and dads together can be really hard and depressing, at least it was for me. Dating takes a back seat and can be quite difficult to find someone who understands your lifestyle. Bedtime is 9pm, not 2am. You watch more kid shows than you like to admit, your house is never as clean as you want it to be, and your kids receive your attention before anyone else. You’re the only one who has to take a sick day and lose pay if your child cant go to school. You try your very hardest to be mom and dad, but second question yourself and wonder if you are even doing a good job. Christmas morning can be shared with the other parent, so some years you wake up alone. New Years eve can be fun if you spend it with other friends and their children, or unfortunately you might end up on the couch watching Dateline at 10pm when the kids crash.

However as I look back on my experience, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. God wouldn’t have handed me something that I couldn’t handle. I learned that I could parent on my own and I was doing a good job all by myself. I learned that I was stronger than I had ever gave myself credit for. I learned to fix things around the house, kill the spiders, manage finances, chase bad dreams away, wipe tears & clean up vomit all by myself. I learned not to settle for just any person who comes along. I embraced my early bedtime, after all sleeping is healthier than partying! I realized my house will never be as clean as I could like it to be and that’s okay because it means that its lived in. So what if I lose money for taking a sick day, it meant extra cuddles with my sons. I learned how to reach out to friends and family and ask for help instead of drowning in overwhelming fear. I created a bond with my sons so special that nothing, or no one can ever break it. They will be grown men one day, looking back on all the years that it was just the 3 of us. The funny puppet shows that I put on for them, the cuddles on the couch to movies &  the daily walks to the park looking for bugs. All of it was me for 8 years. We are closer than words can describe.

In my eyes, being a single mother was better than the alternative. It was worth all the tears and emotions. The glimpse into my future if I hadn’t left was grim, unhappy and isolating. My sons would have been affected because I wouldn’t have been the best version of myself.

I made mistakes, and I still do. There are no perfect parents in this world and if they claim to be, they probably have the most to hide! Alcohol was my solution for many years. I used it to cope with my feelings. Whenever I felt overwhelmed, lonely, happy, irritated, discontent. Unfortunately my sons started to see that I had a problem. I’m extremely blessed and thankful that my family gave me an ultimatum and I sobered up when my sons were 7 years old, in 2014.

So you see, single parenting is hard, but it can be done, and it can be done happily and successfully. Do not settle for just any person who comes along. Your happiness, health and well being comes first or you cannot be the best parent that you can be. When you make mistakes, learn from them and move on. Forgive yourself. Take time for yourself because you deserve it. When you announce that you are a single parent, keep your head held high. You are not a failure, you are a warrior!

When that special person comes along and you become a family, your heart will just know that its right. However, just because there will be another parent in the house it doesn’t mean life will be perfect. You’ll have arguments, parenting struggles and days where you want to hide in the closet. Shit happens! Its called LIFE. But I promise you, you will be so very thankful for all those years you did it alone. It makes you that much more grateful to have a partner in your life to help you and you created ever lasting memories that your children will take with them for the rest of their lives.

That my dear, is worth it all.

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My Prayers used to be Selfish

My prayers used to be selfish. They used to entail plea bargains and begging when I had no intention of actually following through with my part of the deal. Yet, I spent years wondering why my prayers were never answered. I assumed God didn’t care and my life was doomed. I had accepted my depressed, alcoholic ways and figured that was just the way it was going to be. I was meant for nothing else. My childhood dream of helping others was just a silly daydream that dwindled and the happiness I longed for in a relationship was that of my imagination.

That was then.

After I surrendered and handed my will over to my higher power (I choose to call him God) over 4 years ago, I have experienced the promises laid out in the big book of alcoholics anonymous. But they don’t come right away or when I want them to. I have learned that prayer takes patience. You must be patient in order to hear the answers you’re looking for. You see, God speaks through others, through situations and even through yourself. Be still, be genuine, do not pray for material items or try to make a deal if he answers your prayer. God is there. He was always there and always cared for me. I just didn’t realize it. I didn’t understand how to hand my will over to him. I didn’t understand that my prayers would be answered if I truly had faith in him. The answers may not come right away and this tests my patience! But when the time is right, and if I allow myself to be open to hearing, seeing or feeling the answer to my prayers, they come. Every single time.

I no longer pray for money, instead I ask for help and guidance through financially tough times.

I no longer pray to get me out of a tough situation, instead I pray that he helps me through.

I no longer pray that someone who hurt me, hurts too. Instead I pray for help to forgive them, and I pray for them to find their way to God.

I pray every single morning that I wake up sober.

Be patient. Be open. Be willing.

I cant let it go

Let it go, let it be

but its not easy for me.

My thoughts spin and spin

so i reach for the gin,

and away my thoughts go,

for now, I know.

I can see through its deception

this addiction, I mean,

But im stranded in my obsession.

I wish there was hope,

but this is all I know,

everyday I struggle, I just cant cope.

Let it go, let it be

but i cant, as you can see.

 

 

 

Bibles & Brushes

Lets be real right now. Theres been a lot going on about my dad passing away and experiencing the loss of him not being around all over again.

Im in direct sales. I am not naive to the fact that I am judged. BIG TIME.  I’ve had people stop talking to me, unfriending me, I even had someone message me to say that I use people and take advantage of them.

When I got sober, I decided I needed to rebuild my confidence. I needed something for me, and to remind myself that when I put my mind to something I can achieve ANYTHING! I used to be a go getter. In high school, I excelled. In college, I had straight A’s. Every job I have ever applied for, they hired me. Somewhere amoung the dark road I went on, I completely lost that part of me. I missed it so much. In March 2015 i decided to join Younique. I knew it would help me make friends again and get myself out there in the world. I feel better about myself and I’m also helping women create better lives for themselves and helping them feel beautiful!

The time I spend on my skincare and makeup is like the only time in the day that I get to forget about any daily stress for 20 minutes. Whether its the kids acting up, a death in the family, a fight with my spouse, or simply a bad emotional day, its my time to unwind and “sneak away”. I don’t drink anymore,  I’ve never smoked, I don’t gamble. I pray, write my blog, go to a meeting and do makeup. That’s my therapy.

So judge what I do for a living if you wish. I don’t care anymore. It’s more than makeup. It’s not about being popular or using people. I’m not fake or vain. I’ve lost friends and I know it’s because of what I do. Sometimes people can’t believe someone is this authentic and genuine because it would terrify them of being this way themselves. I used to be someone like that. I was so unhappy that I didn’t understand how others were happy! They were fake to me.

I’m real with what i share and I’m told by many women that they love that. So I won’t stop! Whether it’s through my writing on my blog or my makeup and skincare business. This is where I work on my confidence. It’s within !!!!! This is my stage. Just like in high school I was in drama class for 5 yrs straight. On stage I got to be creative. It was the only time i felt good about myself.

My videos, lives, blog…..they’re my stage. There’s no bottles anymore. Only bibles and brushes.

You CAN do what you want. The question is….do believe you’re worth happiness?

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A Life Not Wasted

Without his mistakes teaching me about my own path, I wouldnt have accepted the other part of who I am.

Many people believe that one who lives a broken, sad or troubled life without changing their ways before death, is a life wasted. I used to believe this as well, but now I am unsure.

Take my dad for example. He spent over 40 years drinking hard. He lost a wife, another good woman, his children. He spent the last 20 years living alone and the last 6 years with heart problems. One would say he wasted his life.

But did he?

I wouldnt have learned to be compassionate towards others with disabilities if I didnt have a father who was deaf. I wouldnt have learned that staring at others is rude. I wouldnt have learned that it shouldnt matter if someone can hear or not, see or not see, have all their limbs or not, hair or no hair. I wouldnt have learned that the heart is what matters the most.

After 10 years of drinking hard myself, I wouldnt have realized that my sons would be  gone one day too, and I would have been in my dads position, alone. I used that awakening moment to finally make the decison to stop the cycle of alcholism in the family. I wouldnt have sobered up 30 years before my dad.

Without sobering up I wouldnt have learned to forgive him. I never would have looked at him as a spiritually sick person instead of an evil person like I had for 20 years. My anger never would have lifted and I wouldnt have peace in my heart. When he passed away, I wouldnt have helped plan his celebration of life. I wouldnt be going through his belongings and taking care of what needed to be done. I wouldnt be sitting here missing him and I sure as hell wouldnt have spoken at his celebration of life.

His journey through life helped me realize that I dont want to go through the same. I dont want to lose my children or my spouse. I dont want to be someone who I am not because of this disease. The fact is, I am his daughter and I always will be. Half of who I am is who he was. His journey helped me realize that I want more than he had. His mistakes taught me forgiveness which brought me serenity. Without this experience I wouldnt be reminiscing about the good times or feeling proud to be just like him. From his creativity to his work ethic, all the way to the curly hair and blue eyes. Without his mistakes teaching me about my own path, I wouldnt have accepted the other part of who I am.

He taught me a lot regardless of his inability to be the father he should have been.

I Can hear the rain

Mandy's Memoir

I can hear the rain dancing on the ground

But a few months ago, i never heard a sound

Its like a soft melody  that my mom used to sing

But a few months ago it was a whole different thing.

My soul was lost in the midst of pain

My feelings were drowning & I felt insane

Drowning my pain was how I coped

But it did nothing for me, but diminish all hope.

I want to smile

I want to enjoy all things real

It may not be today or tomorrow

But one day I believe I wont be in sorrow.

The rain is dancing on the ground

Im so thankful I can sleep to the sound.

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Im Proud to be you Daughter, Dad.

My last name has always been a constant reminder of the father I never got to know. Every time a teacher pronounced it wrong, or I had to sign my long name, I thought of you. For 34 years Ive had your last name, but I havent had you.

Through all the years of being angry at you, deep down I hoped you would come around and want to be my father. Anger is only a reaction to feelings. My anger was a cry for you. It was calling for your acceptance, for a hug, for an “I love you”.

All I knew was your temper, drinking and ability to disappear. For a child, there is no understanding that this had nothing to do with me. I internalized it and I felt unwanted & unworthy.

Yet, God works in mysterious ways because I had forgiven you before you passed away. When I got sober and completed the 12 steps I learned about forgiveness. My anger towards you was removed. The hate was gone. In fact, I realized I was a lot like you and if my family could still love me despite my alcoholism, then I could love you despite yours.

Being an alcoholic when every generation of our family was one also, isnt our fault. However our actions and choices that cause pain to others, is our fault. I am grateful today that I learned that there is a healthy way of dealing with my feelings, and I have saved my children the hurt that you caused me. I broke the family cycle. I sobered up 30 years younger than you.

As i learned about your passing, I immediately feel a tremendous guilt for not accepting your request to meet up 6 months ago. Planning your celebration of life, and beginning the process of going through your belongings has brought up a lot of mixed feelings. To be honest, seeing my baby picture in your living room surprised me. You did care. You did love me.

Day to day you obsess my mind. Im sad. Im sad because I will never get the chance to get to know the goofy side of you that my mom and your best friend tell me about. I will never get a lesson on how to build something from wood, or introduce you to your grandsons. I cannot change anything so I must accept it. What I can do is remember the good things that I do know about you.

You were a carpenter and could make anything from wood. You could take anything apart and put it back together again. You loved to tell jokes and to laugh. You absolutely loved dogs and would do anything to protect family and children. You had beautiful curly hair and blue eyes (thats where i get it from!), you worked hard your entire life despite being an alcoholic you always went to work. You grew up deaf in a time where deafness was made fun of and not accepted like it is today but hey, you snagged a beautiful hearing girl…my mom. You sold your house to be able to go to Africa and travel to Greece.

What ive learned from your passing is that you had a lot more positive characteristics than negative ones. Ive learned that I am proud to have you as my father, and I am proud to have had your last name for 34 years. So as I change my last name, I will not do it out of spite & I will forever be proud of my heritage, my Ukrainian family, and your daughter.