The Special Times

I have had a lot of memories of my children and I spending time together. Maybe it’s just a mom thing but, even the annoying times, the frustrating times with our children are special times.

I have been involved in a lot of things with the kids, despite what Jack says. Yes! I still have Jack’s words rolling around in my head. They no longer matter to me but, his words, judgments, his way of thinking, is still there. I laugh, when these pop into my head. Why? I know the truth and that is all that matters. Now almost two years after he left his words are mere whispers that often are too low for me to hear anymore. Soon, they will completely fade away. “My” opinion about Jack’s criticism, I didn’t do things how he did them, therefore they are/were wrong.

What do I remember the most as a child growing up? Mom was always there. She was not that parent who went on every class trip, involved in the PTA/PTO (whatever it’s called now). She wasn’t the parent who was out there throwing the ball in the yard with me, or take me camping in a tent (ahh that’s why we have friends hello). We did things that her and I enjoyed. We did things she enjoyed–that at the time I felt was a slow death for a teenager. We did things I enjoyed. I remember all those events vividly. Even the things I didn’t like to do. The things I remember the most were simply mom being there to show her support. Band, choir, school concerts, talent shows. Even sitting on the couch watching tv, her doing quilting me writing or whatever I was doing are times that are most memorable. Curled up in a single bed watching The Golden Girls or the British Comedies bring back so many memories for me. Mom and I didn’t have to always being doing something. Was she less of a parent because she didn’t go out in the yard to play catch with me; or take me camping? Absolutely not. How do I know? I am writing this at 34 years old smiling as I write the memories of mom, I have.

It’s Friday and I am still on a high from last weekend that I shared with my son. Any parent who has more than one child can understand it’s not easy splitting your time between all your children to give them one on one time. My son’s Beta club had an over night camping trip to Unicoi State Park, just outside Helen, Georgia.

As my son and I are in the parade of parent vehicles I realized and said to him, “this is the first time since your sister was born (2003) that you and I have had one on one time.” He was just as excited as was. Sure we have had the couple hours here, a movie there. The camping trip wasn’t just us but, still him and I had a blast.

Mom made some mistakes. I did not realize we were not camping in tents…but a squirrels nest. Anyone know what a squirrel’s nest is? See the picture below.

Ladies and gentleman (I know there are some guys out there that think “camping” is a hotel room..don’t lie), the picture above is a squirrels nest. The only thing you have protecting you, a roof and a wooden floor. If I had known what and how we were camping in…this mom would have been a little more prepared. However, Jack took the sleeping bags when he left so I didn’t have any and again I was thinking we were using tents. So I packed the two mink blankets in the car thinking my son and I would be camping in a tent and even though it wasn’t sleeping bags we would still be warm. Of course once there, I am worried my son isn’t going to be warm enough because we only have two of these blankets, he’s sleeping over in the kid section and I am sleeping in the adult section.

I’m not a girlie girl..I have never been a girlie girl. I may not have camped in a tent growing up but the woods, wilderness and camping has been apart of me. While a couple of moms were not campers and I think one had never been camping before until this trip, I am thinking “I’ve camped in worse… I was married to a Marine after all.” Crap I even packed like Jack at this point. Am I like Jack no? It would have been nice to have an air mattress under my sleeping bag all those years we were camping, but hell no I had to sleep in a sleeping bag with this rock piercing my back. The squirrels nest was nothing. While the 3 other moms I was bunking with in our squirrels nest laid out their sleeping bags and air mattresses, I folded my mink blanket in half and put my pillow down on top of the blanket.

Did my son and I spend every moment together during the overnight trip? No. The kids were “hanging out” (it’s no longer playing with friends when you are a teen..the rules haven’t changed since I was a teen). The adults got lunches ready. I believe all total there were 11 adults, 7 women and 4 men. Once all the camp gear was set up, lunches were eaten. The agenda was to take the kids tubing down the Chattahoochee. However, a cold front had moved in the night before and the winds were high. The adults knew the waters would be cold and the last thing we wanted was to return kids back to their parents, sick. So we changed the plans a little bit. We opted to do our walk around Helen, GA Saturday. Let the kids do a little shopping and sight seeing. Our group walked around for a little while and then we found ourselves at a Go-Kart Track.

I opted to not get into a go-kart. Not that I wouldn’t have liked to. However , with little cash flow and knowing my son would probably want to do something else, I’d rather forfeit a go-kart for me than not do something else with him. The kids and adults were laughing and joking around. It was just a lot of fun to be there with all of them.

After a few hours in Helen, we all piled back into our cars and headed back to the campsite where a fire was started in the fire pit; the guys started grilling up burgers and hot dogs. The moms started getting everything else out. The kids were off in large groups, small groups all enjoying the adventure. Some of the kids walked down to a dock on the lake, some opted to play hide and seek in the woods, others just stayed up in their squirrel nest, hanging out.

I needed this just as much as my son needed this. Later in the evening the kids all crowded around the fire pit and started telling ghost stories, munching on s’mores, laughing and carrying on. I got the opportunity to get to know the moms and dads on a different level. I got to also know the kids on a different level too.

All of these kids (young teens) are truly amazing individuals. Not only are these young teens smart, they are caring, compassionate, and love to help others. While they are still young, overall they make great choices. Many of these young men and women, give up their Saturdays to help out a local pet shelter to help find good homes for the animals. I am so glad my son has these types of people in his life. Seeing them all laugh and joke together does mama’s heart good.

When a lot of the kids and adults turned in to go to sleep, a few of us night owls stayed up and sat around the campfire. Just sitting there watching the campfire with my son, listening to the night sounds and just simply being, made my heart swell.

Sunday morning we all got up and started our day. The winds were gone and the temperatures were supposed to be much warmer. Some of the parents and kids had other obligations and needed to leave after we packed up. About 20 of us remained so we could go tubing down the Chattahoochee.

If you ever get the chance to come to North Georgia take time to see Helen; take the family to the Cool River Tubing Company so you can all go tubing. It’s truly fun for all ages. Our group did the 1 hour trip down the river and I have never had so much fun in all my life. We all had a blast.

For my son and I, our trip did not end there. We decided that once we were done tubing we would stay for a little longer and walk around Helen. It was a chance for him and I to just be. We did one more little adventure and that was going to the train store where there is a model train section inside the store. For as long as I can remember, my son has loved trains. We paid the small fee and enjoyed the exquisite detail.

Five minutes into the drive home, after the awesome weekend my son and I had, I looked over in the passenger seat, he was asleep. I had a smile on my face and a quicken in my heart. I hope that when my son and my daughter get to be my age that they recall the special times.


Life of a Single Mom

No one ever thinks they will be a single parent. There are a lot of things we do not envision happening in our lives; that do end up happening.  Some of us have seen single mothers in action.

As many of you know my mother raised me by herself. My dad was out of the picture by the time I graced this wonderful earth. Child support? Ahhh no. There was no child support to be had. The money coming in was the money mom was making and that was it.

For me there was no back and forth between my mom and my dads. There were no sorted issues that put me in the middle between my mom and dad.  If he had been in my life; I have no doubt there would have been those issues.

Life as a mom is not easy; life as a single mother is not for the faint of hearts.  There are many of us out there; and there will be many more. Somehow we all survive.

When Jack left me in June 2010, I was technically working part-time and making about 600.00 every two weeks. Then shortly after he left me; hours got cut and I was making somewhere around 300.00 every two weeks. I was looking for other jobs, even though I loved what I did. If Jack wasn’t helping me financially, I needed to find another job that was secure. Not only secure but that would offer benefits as well. Something many Americans need to do when looking for a job. I am sure one of the first questions out of a potential employee’s is “what are your benefits like?” I would take jobs where others couldn’t because I didn’t need the benefits. I would however once Jack and I were divorced, and I no longer was eligible under the military benefits.

600.00 a month to take care of a 14 year old and an 8 year old. Jack refused to give me money. After all he was doing “me” a favor by making the house payment and other bills. No matter how much I tried to get through to the wall of China and try to make him realize, “it’s not ME you are doing the favor for; it’s OUR kids.” One thing he forgot about when he was off having an affair and so in love was hey “WE” GOT OURSELVES INTO DEBT.  I don’t care who you are, you take care of your children before ANY other partner. Kids come first no matter what.

I would have to call him; and GOD knows I hated calling him for money. I dreaded the phone call. Because I would have to hear, I am paying the house, I am paying this I am paying that. Well I didn’t want to hear his whining because he got handed over ALL the bills when I requested  the money to upkeep the house come to me. He said no and the stack of bills got slide across the dining room table at him. Welcome to my hell buddy. I refused; outright refused to deal with any of the companies we owed money to when I didn’t know when money would be coming. Let him deal with it.

On top of the bills were the children. I needed money for this; I needed money for that. Any time I called him it was the same old same old, what you can’t manage your money? Oh I don’t know you make about 4,000.00 a month and I make 1200.00 a month and have two children to take care of. His famous line, “its all you.” Would he give the money? Sometimes yes and sometimes no.

I had suggested he give me what the estimated child support would be each month and then we would figure out the bills. No, Jack was riding his lil bus. “He” was in control.

The problem, he believed me to be this money monger. Somewhere along the way he decided I had used him all those years we were married. Please buddy if I was going to be using someone for their money I would NOT have married a Staff Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps.  Quit drinking what your mama fed you.

Despite not getting hits on my resume I stuck out the 300.00 every two weeks as long as I could. I had learned how to use coupons  in the ending stages of the marriage. I was trying to get us on the path of better finances. With not much help from him. Jack was working an extra duty job in a local grocery store,  when he wasn’t doing his police officer job.  The extra duty was a sore spot with me because I didn’t want him working that much. Even he was impressed when I asked him to pick up some items once he was off duty. If I recall he ended up spending .13 cents and came out with 10-15 items. So you penny pitch where you can to make that 300.00 last for two weeks. It was costing me 50.00 a week to go back and forth to work. So I only had 200.00 to get the kids through the two weeks. Kids being kids are going to ask for things. I mean really just because my mom was a single mother didn’t mean I didn’t ask for stuff. They are kids for crying out loud.  10.00 here for a school function. When you go through that grocery line and you “pray” your debit card accepts the charges; it’s a good day. But there have been times I have had to put back items the kids needed so I could purchase the items they really needed. Lunch meat becomes a luxury. PB&J and ramen noodles become necessity.

To say you do not become a little resentful of your soon to be ex…he is still technically my husband is an understatement. Especially when he shows up sporting a new tattoo on his forearm to pick up the kids. It’s great he’s being all big and bad….look what the new girlfriend let me get that you would have freaked out about. Meh we’ll see how long she “let’s you” do this crap…I “let you” do this crap and we were on the verge of bankruptcy. The  kids to his place for the weekend and when they come back , it’s “look what daddy bought me. Look what omit her name bought me. My tongue bled I bit it so hard. “Oh that’s great sweetie.” or “bud” Meanwhile back at the ranch….

Of course every time you say something to the ex that you need more money or you complain about his lack of support, he says to you “Give them to me.” Meaning the kids. You have to hear that he’s got the money so it makes sense for the kids to come live with him and his girlfriend while we are still married.

In the beginning you try to be nice then you realize he’s doing everything in his power to make you miserable. Jack would say no, but this is typical Jack.

Finally things in the job aspect start turning around. I found out about this job; the same job I was doing but with a little bit better pay and the benefits were awesome. I applied, went through the interview process and then got hired. I was on cloud nine. It’s funny, I have told my friends while married to Jack I would have never taken this job because his job came first whether he wants to believe it or not. You even call Jack and try to talk to him about the fact you have a new job and you are going to need his help. For the first little while he would  have to call out when the kids are sick until I could  accrue sick and leave time. This job was a whole different ball game. He tells me that he will and I take him at his word.

In true fashion lil miss gets sick within my first week of work. I had to call Jack and I said I will just meet you at the front of your apartment parking lot. He agreed, didn’t say anything else. Once there, I sit and I wait…and wait. My first week of work and guess what I’m all ready late because of him. Then the truck comes rolling in and you want to scream. You don’t. Instead of telling me he was coming from his girlfriends place and he wasn’t at his apartment he just made me come to his “stage” apartment as I called it. I handed off lil miss, and didn’t bother saying a word to him about his lack of consideration. You just beat feet to your job. Upon getting to the job you get a little talking to from your new boss about being late and this can’t happen anymore. You try to explain the situation of why you were late but you do not want to go into too much detail….at your new job about your personal life. You take the lumps that are given; it wasn’t bad really but still you don’t want to disappoint the people who hired you, you don’t want to disappoint yourself because you are good at your job; not the best but good.

Jack was not going to ruin this for me. Most especially Jack was not going to ruin this for the kids. Yes, my job was so I could provide better for my children. My new job no weekends were involved, once I accrued time I would be able to take those days off the kids asked for and still get paid, or when they were sick still get paid. My other job as much as I loved it and as much as I hated leaving, my family came first. My family whether Jack ever gets it’s through his head, always comes first.  So you start laying down the law. From now on Jack will meet me a parking lot in my work and we will exchange sick kids there.

Of course like in our marriage what is any different than when we are going through a divorce; Jack doesn’t like to be told what to do. Of course when you tell him this he gripes and moans. He complains about the driving distance and how much it’s going to impact him. Guess what? I no longer care.

Leaving the old job to the new job, I went 3 weeks without a paycheck. Stress levels go up but you keep on trucking.  I have always been so used to saying “I’m fine, I will make it.” You are stressed about bills, about making it the 6 months probation you are on with your new job, kids need this, kids need that, added the stress Jack was putting on me with the crap he was pulling. I knew what Jack was doing and is still doing, is wrong. Of course you have the years of being married to him where he has convinced you it’s not him it’s you. Then when you tell people what he is doing…male and female they affirm your thought process of what he is doing is wrong.

Jack and I can’t even talk without it going into an argument. Why? Because Jack is a bully. He wants it his way or no way at all. It’s quite funny actually for years I had to listen to Jack tell me I caved all the time. I couldn’t make a solid decision and stick with it. Then I realized when I would say “NO” and give my reasoning’s why. It didn’t matter, Jack went and did it anyway. In the marriage I learned that. So I finally stand up and say NO and mean it. Jack did it anyway.

In January while you are dealing with lil misses head lice. Which by the way Jack made it my fault, that she got head lice. You don’t even have the money to buy the head lice shampoo and if it wasn’t for a very dear friend running out and getting me the head lice shampoo, my daughter wouldn‘t have gotten treated. You work all day and you are up to your elbows in head lice shampoo until midnight. This was truly the week from hell. While I am dealing with head lice, I check the mail and there’s the foreclosure letter on the house. We had to be out by February 7th.  Your son is sick…you have no money for the co pay. You have no money for meds. You are still pulling eggs out of your daughters hair and Jack calls and says “I can take him to the doctor if you want.” Oh just kick it on in the driveway why don’t you on the 500 mile trip. It’s when you have had you FILL of Jack and the crap he is pulling. “No Jack here is what you are going to do. I have all ready taken the day off….I got this. What I don’t have because of you is money to help me financially raise our children. So you are going to call up the doctors office and you are going to make payment arrangements for the measly 12.00 co pay…I don’t have. THEN you are going to call up the pharmacy and let them know YOU will be the one paying  for any all medications that the doctor sees fit in prescribing.” Stuttering on the phone. “I don’t think they will do that.” I rolled my eyes on the phone, “Jack do you really think that this is the first divorcing couple the doctor’s office and the pharmacy have seen? I mean really. They can do this. How do I know they can do this, because they have this thing called a credit card machine that one can manually punch in numbers on. It’s great. We did it all the time at my old job. Now do it.” In this conversation I also told him the 1100.00 he was going to pay on the mortgage…that was now in foreclosure…not to. When he asked why I said “because you are going to set aside that money so when I call you and tell you the kids and I have found a new place to live the kids and I will be able to move in. Otherwise you make a payment and the mortgage company will apply it to the loan and still foreclose on us.”

I had told him months ago it made sense for the kids and I to stay in the current house. Not just because it was the only home the kids knew, but financially. Because finding a “decent” place for the kids and I to live would be about the same cost as what the mortgage payment was. It made sense.  First and foremost as a mother I was trying to keep the kids lives as normal as possible given the situation they were in the middle of. They knew the possibility that we would end up moving. Both kids got apprehensive about it. Whether Jack wants to accept it or not, that house was their safety net. It might just be four walls but to our children that was home. To any child it’s more than just four walls. Yes we all know in life one must accept change and kids also need to be able to deal with change.  Jack’s response to everything I tried to make him see about the kids and what this was doing to them was “they will get over it” “Tell them to suck it up, it’s life.” By the end of the week I had found the kids and I a place to live. Great neighborhood. Friends they all ready had at school. I called Jack and said I needed 1600.00. He said he didn’t have it I would have to wait another two week. Then I stated that I realized it wasn’t 1100.00 so he could give me the 1100 and in two weeks give me the remaining. After all he had set aside that 1100.00. Guess what he didn’t have it. Of course I got the there are bills to pay that we all ready have and I didn’t know. I pointed out oh yes I knew, even after almost 1.5 years of not handling the bills, I knew the bills we had. When you do the banking from the time you were 20 until 32…you know exactly the financial crap the two of you have gotten into. “You had no intentions of making that house payment like you said you were.” Then you make the jab, “it’s not so easy supporting two households is it? You never thought of that when you were having the affair. Semper Fi Marine.” click.

So here the kids and I are 3 weeks until probably the sheriffs department comes and evicts us from their home. I had been in constant contact with my lawyer, here’s what he is doing now.  My lawyer contacted his lawyer. His lawyer wrote a letter back to my lawyer. I read the words and I got pissed.  Jack likes to take credit for what others present to him. All those months of me telling him it made sense for the kids and I to stay in the house, we were established in the house, moving would incur costs of start up. Jack’s lawyer wrote verbatim of what I had been saying to Jack for months. Kick it on in the drive way, buddy.

Of course by now, financially, common sense wise from a single mother’s stand point. No! Staying in that house was not making sense anymore. We all know there are pros and cons to owning and renting. I wrote this to my lawyer and told him he could use whatever he so desired to use. From a single mother’s stand point and providing for her children, staying in that house, no longer made sense. The house was 10 years old and stuff starting to go. The HVAC for the 4th time ate up another compassitor….150.00 repair. The last repair when I mentioned to the HVAC guy about us thinking about changing out units said that’s gonna be a hefty price because codes have changed since the unit was put in. It wasn’t just a simple replace the unit, you had to replace everything, including duct work. He nonchalantly said as he as putting in the compassitor “that will run about 7,000-13,000.00.” We were on septic and the last time we had it pumped out it was 500.00…that was in 2007. The honey sucker was probably about due to come out. So as a single mother what made sense was to rent. Why? Because the landlord is responsible for these repairs. Given the fact Jack wasn’t helping me financially with the kids, it made even more sense.

My lawyer got me that 1600.00 to get into the house. The kids and I were down to the wire; 1 week to get the entire house moved. I was so worried my kids were going to see us evicted and I didn’t want them to see that. Jack didn’t care, him and his girlfriend and her 3 kids were shacked up in their little abode. Meanwhile as you are helping your children pack up their worldly possessions and crying because they are packing up with tears in their eyes, holding them because there’s nothing you can do other than hold them. You keep telling them, “things will get better” and you yourself are wondering when the hell  things are  going to get better. You have to remain strong for your children.

You have all ready had to take a humble pill when within weeks of your new job, bags of groceries end up in the break room, because somehow they know. Christmas was provided by a church and if it hadn’t have been for that group of people, your children’s last Christmas in their home would have sucked big time. Even though their dad’s plan was to have them for Christmas, the kids refused to go because they wanted to be home for Christmas.

Thanks to a dear friend we moved the entire house in one weekend. I was so proud of the kids. Because as hard as it was and as tired as they were they kept plugging a long. There were times we stopped to cry a little bit, there were times we got mad at the situation and just kept loading.

Once we moved into the new house…Jack stopped helping. Even though once again you ask and you ask that he start giving you something his response is. “Not until I am ordered to by the judge.” What kind of man does this to his children? What kind of man thinks that this is ok?  It’s no longer just my opinion, it’s many people’s opinions about him. As much as he wants to think he has integrity; he has none.

I have had women and men tell me they have a lot of respect for me. The fact that I refuse to back down and I remain standing up for what is right. It’s not right that you ex shares the divorce papers with your oldest son and then says “see what your mother is doing to me?” It’s not right that Jack is not helping me with the kids financially. None of this is right; but you keep going. At some point someone will hear your screams, because you refuse to sit down and shut up to make it easier on yourself.

It’s through this experience I have affirmed what I have always known. I am strong. I am stronger than most. I am even stronger than Jack. What I do as a single mother, Jack needs two. 😀 It is what it is.

As a single mother I have learned many things.  Just keep going. With no help from Jack, I am hanging onto this house by myself.  I explained it to my friend as I am hanging onto the edge by my nails to the point splinters are digging up under my nails. She laughed when I told her that. I think she laughed more when I said, I have a darned good finger nail file to get the splinters out. The 1600 dollars Jack gave me to get the kids in the house until the end of April when he gave me 500.00 has been the only money since the kids and I have moved, he has given to “help out.”

Here’s a simple fact ladies. That pretty house, those nice counter tops, the big SUV, the fancy vacations.  85% of women would NOT be able to enjoy solely on their paychecks if they were single mothers. That’s my opinion; I could be wrong. We all know men make more in the work field. Yes I also understand there are women out there who make some big bucks in yearly salary.

Ask yourself this. If I were a single mother with what I am making right now would I be able to afford what I have right now? Nope you do NOT get to factor in child support because you have an ex called Jack. I think a lot of you are a little sickened by that thought aren’t you? Oh and guess what if you do not have an ex husband that is helping you if you make 30,000 a year here’s one little enlightening thought; YOU DO NOT QUALIFY FOR FOOD STAMPS. Despite that you have worked and you have paid taxes you do not qualify for those services.

This weekend I saw my 8 year old daughter do something that hurt but yet I was so proud of her. She shouldn’t have to grow up this fast, but she is. She set up a lemonade stand; her and her friends in our yard. I was actually surprised the kids made money. Friday the kids made about 4.00. Lil miss divided up the money evenly between her friends. Yesterday the girls did the same thing and today the girls did the same thing. What did my daughter do with her money. She went to a yard sale just down the road that was selling girls clothes and bought herself clothes. Again it hurt as a mother, but yet it was a proud moment. She knows that mom can’t even afford to go yard saling at this moment. I got paid Friday and the money is gone on bills to keep the kids in this house. Again holding on by my finger nails with splinters going up under the fingers.  She is exactly like me. At 14 I was out earning money to take the burden off my mom for all the things I needed because mom couldn’t get them for me. By the time I was 16 I was buying my own school supplies, clothes, bought my first car at 500.00,  got it inspected, paid my own insurance, put gas in it. I did this without any help.  I wonder if my own mother hurt to see her daughter out there so young working to take the burden off of her.  I don’t have to wonder however if she was proud of me,  I know she was.

My son who is a teenager is still learning about all of this. Yes kids will ask for stuff they always will. It’s part of being a kid. I have a wonderful opportunity for both of my children now.  Unlike my mother who raised just daughters as a single mother; I am raising a son and a daughter as a single mother. Guess what I cannot say the things my mother said to me about men. That would be a huge injustice to my son.  This is an important time for a 14 year old young man. This is also an important time for an 8 year old little girl. How this mom proceeds is going to impact them as adults. How their dad proceeds is going to impact them as adults. It’s like the therapist said in the court ordered parenting class that all divorcing couples in the state of Georgia are required to take before their divorce. “the kids will figure out who the smuck is and they probably all ready have.”

One thing I have had to learn how to do is,  not worry about Jack anymore and what he is doing to our  kids. I cannot be responsible for what Jack does or doesn’t do. He has to figure this out on his own.  I don’t wish Jack any ill as much as he ticks me off; I don’t even hate him.  And my friends  when they read this will say “she’s right, that’s her.” I know I am not perfect. I know at 34 years old there is still a lot of growing inside of me left to do. I am not always going to get it right with the kids. There will be times they will not like me. We have all hated our parents, we have all thought we were better than our parents. There are times I cry because the stress of it all gets too much. Crying is not weakness; crying is releasing what bothers you inside when you are hurting. Crying releases the bad so you can continue to be strong.

Why do I write this blog? Why do I share my experiences with you? Because I know there is someone right now going through exactly the same thing I am going through and that woman or even that man is wondering how the hell they are going to get through it. You will, I don’t know when, I don’t know how. I don’t even know how long it is going to take. It hasn’t even happened for me yet. It will. I have always rooted for the underdog. I believe in the Rabbit and the Turtle. It’s one of my favorite stories as a child. Believe in yourself. Most of all continue being you and what you stand for. In the end, the truth shall prevail. You are stronger than the individuals who try to knock you down.

A Thank You, to my mom on Mother’s Day.

There are many things I am every thankful for because of mom. The biggest–thank you;  preparing me to be a single mother. Without that oh-you’re-so-sneaky-mom lesson you just step into it without thinking.  Was there worry, concern of what I was going to do? Sure….for a couple weeks. My realization….hey I’ve all ready been a single mom…I was just a single mom and married. My husband Jack didn’t like that little realization I,  in-your-face pointed out to him.

For me as a child there was no getting used to suddenly my family going from 2 people to one, or from two paychecks to one. There was only one person and one paycheck. We didn’t have the fancy things, we didn’t go on vacations (accept one when I was 12); that was the first and only one we went on, ever. Everyone else was getting satellites with 200 channels….we had an antenna I had to lean out the living room window that opened the wrong damn way…wrap the vice grips and crank it around because we wanted to watch NYPD Blue. “There….no..nope…back.” Mother “there” was me holding the vice gripes, “back” was me letting go. I’m not hanging out the window all night and listening to NYPD Blue. You truly figure out what the exact precise…”just a hair” means. You also know how to “tune” in the tv by yourself while mom’s at work and you can watch the last 20 minutes of General Hospital.

I saw my mother do everything. Not only did I see my mother do everything I learned how to do everything.  Toilet keeps running?…jiggle the handle…until you go to town and get the flipper flapper and replace it.  What part of the year did I dislike the most? September/October when the 3-4 cords of wood got delivered….and weatherman is  calling for snow in the next couple of weeks. CRAP…pull out the wedge and the sledge hammer. Work smarter…not harder! Lil miss figured out real quick how to split wood small enough for the stove….in three hits. One down the middle….one more for each half. Voila. Wood splitter? Oh sure that would have been nice, we didn’t have the money to buy a wood splitter.

There wasn’t anything that her and/or I couldn’t do. We were the ultimate team. Sure there was whining. I wanted to go be with my friends, but somehow we managed to work it out so that we were both happy. I got tired of splitting wood, got tired of hearing “we don’t have the money.”

I will never forget the time that the Jehovah Witness’ came around, on a Saturday. She’d never turn them away even though she had better things to do. Mom enjoyed a good conversation. Mom was the one that taught me to have an open mind about other peoples religion. Just because it’s not your way doesn’t mean you have to toss them aside. The ladies were in their beautiful dresses and hats. And received  an eye wide opening experience when they came out to talk to mom. Mom in her Kodiak boots, jeans and a cotton shirt and straw hat…..chicken in one hand. “Ladies I’d love to chit chat but these chickens won’t  plunk themselves. If you would like to  talk;  pull up a stump and grab a chicken.” I started laughing…the women were mortified and quickly walked away.

I am telling you there wasn’t anything my mom couldn’t do. When it came to having meat in the freezer it wasn’t dad going off hunting…yeah you guessed it…mom. Most of the time I went with her, but I was a killjoy. Apparently “RUN BAMBI’S DAD!”, is not what you yell when you’re hoping to get your freezer full of buck. Mom wasn’t heartless-she was far from heartless. I would be whimpering “I can’t believe you killed him.” It was out in those woods that mom explained to it was part of life. She knew I was tender hearted. Despite everything I have been through I still am to some degree. You only appear heartless when you learn to protect yourself because you know you are that tender hearted. I knelt down by Bambis’ dad.. “I’m sorry mom shot you.” I brushed his fur and saw the bullet wound that ended his life. She got him right where she had needed to.  Mom made her shot count. It was one thing in killing something for food, it was another in letting it suffer. My tears were streaming down my face, burning my face because it was so cold. “You’re gonna taste real good in a stew.” Mom laughed “he sure will.”

There were things my mom could do that I couldn’t. No matter how tough I was, I just couldn’t do it. When she hung those deer up to let them bleed out and then skinned them…I threw up.

When it came to vehicles she could fix it. One of our trucks she always carried bubble gum in the glove compartment…..”you never know.” One day we had to pull over “here chew this.” I made a fuss “I don’t want gum right now. I don’t like that kind.” I was about five. “It’s not for you, I need you to chew it so can fix the hole in the radiator. “nah uh you chew it.” She looked at me, “my dentures will fall out.” I giggled…quickly put the gum in my mouth and started chewing it up. The sight of mom without her teeth was scary. She held out her hand, “ok that should be enough.” I spit the gum out in her hand and we were set to go.

In the summers we grew gardens, potatoes, carrots, radishes, strawberries, cabbage, lettuce. There were only a few things we had to purchase at the grocery store. And then even in the winter time we had enough veggies because she canned them to get us through the winter.  In the spring we tapped Sugar Maples. 4 gallons of sap makes 1 gallon of syrup….we had 50 some mason jars full. We had mason jars of dill pickles, chow chow, beans, You name it we had it.

She taught me survival. There are times that I wish she was here to see the woman I have become but, other times I am glad she is gone so she didn’t have to see what I have had to go through the past two years. Because of mom and what she showed me by example….I was able to get through and will continue to get through…and get my children through.

The things that our mom’s teach us by just being there, are immense. I am so proud to be a mom and a daughter. Mom wasn’t out there playing baseball, soccer or any of those sports with me. We didn’t go camping, we didn’t go on vacations, we didn’t have the best house, we didn’t have the greatest clothes. We had so much more. Just because she didn’t do those things with me she was there for me through thick and thin.

What memories do I have of mom being there. She encouraged my imagination. She would correct my grammar, punctuation (sorry I can write…but breaking it down). She taught me how to be kind to others who were more poor than we were, by always giving to others. When I wanted to be a singer, she encouraged me, but also gave me the reality of having a back up plan. When others would tell me it was not possible, she’d stand up and say “if anyone can do it she can.” Mom gave me all the support I needed. Mom was there for every spring and Christmas concert our school put on.  When I would end up in her bed more than in mine, she got frustrated but held onto the side of the bed because she knew I was scared. When I did wrong she grounded me. When I told her I was leaving at 18 to be with a man I hardly knew….she made her opinions known. A month later when I told her I was marrying him, she was on the next plane for the wedding. She came shortly after my son was born and she was there for us when our daughter was born.

I am ashamed to say what mom did for me wasn’t always appreciated. Mom’s are often taken for granted. I am glad I had the opportunity to wise up and tell her how much I love and appreciated everything she did for me as a mom….even when I sometimes probably didn’t deserve it.

As a mom I am so blessed to have all those values, morals and life lessons she gave me. What would mom say if she heard all of this today. “it wasn’t just me and what I showed you. It’s your personality, my dear, you don’t ever give up.”

What would I thank my Mom? The real question is, what wouldn’t I thank her for?

**Disclaimer. The following is a beautiful letter a friend’s daughter wrote. The only thing I have omitted are actual names. I think this young lady has said what many daughters have said or wanted to say to their mothers. I was so touched by the letter when I read I asked the mom if I could post on this blog. 

I would thank my mother for life, for forgiveness, for patience, for kindness, for understanding. I would thank her for passing on her sense of humour, and teaching me sarcasm as a fluent second language.

I would thank her for knowing when to be serious when I need her to be, for still taking care of me when I’m sick or sad, even if I am nearly 25, engaged to be married, and no longer living with her.

I would thank her for passing down her kind heart, her empathy, and her generosity to me. For properly instilling morals and common sense into her children. For holding us close, and protecting us, but also letting us learn from our mistakes when she knew it was the right thing to do..

But more important than anything else, I want to thank my mother for her. Strength. Not only for teaching me to be strong, but for herself being strong.

My mom is, without any ounce of doubt in my mind, the strongest woman on the planet. Between 1997 and 2009, she lost her Sister, Father, Mother and Husband. None of which were due to ‘natural causes’. Each time our family has gone through this, Mom has been the rock for the entire family.

From planning funerals, to taking care of everyone else despite what she herself is feeling. She has always been the person to put herself aside, and focus on the people around her, no matter how bad she was hurting herself. When she had every right in the world to break down, to close herself off, to shut the world out, she never has. And I (and alot of other people) have the utmost respect for her for having the ability to keep herself, and everyone around her on level ground in the most hectic and terrible of situations.

In the future, if I turn out to be even half of the wife and mother she is/was, I would consider myself (and the people around me) to be pretty lucky.

Thank you for considering my mother for the Mothers Day Gift.