Dear, Mama

Hello Darling,

I’d like to start by telling you that I think you are amazing, absolutely amazing. We have all been given the same size plate, but the biggest portion of your love and affection is given to your children. Without pause, you put their needs and wants above yours or anyone else’s. Your dedication to them is incomparable. God knew exactly what He was doing when He loaned you those little people to care for and nurture for Him.

There are going to be times, Mama, when you feel unsure. And there are going to be times when you don’t have a doubt in your mind. Not only is that part of parenting, but that’s also part of MOTHERing. But even during those times, you’re still amazing. Don’t minimize your parenting capabilities. You and your children are unique. Your style of caring, loving, guiding, and providing is a complicated algorithm that no one has the right to criticize. You keep doing what you’re doing!

As wonderful as every day can and will be, nothing in life is void of challenges. There will definitely be challenges. You will handle them with grace and tenacity. You will also handle them with stern words, a harsh tone, and a “bull in the China shop” mentality. Whatever you’re doing, and however you’re doing is EXACTLY perfect. If it’s what you need to do, want to do, think you should do– then do it.

I applaud you for taking a stand against disposable diapers and insisting on organic products. I celebrate you for breastfeeding your newborn and your toddler in public with no cover. I praise you for not allowing anyone near your child that has smoked a cigarette in the last decade. Whatever your choices may be, they are yours to make. You are an amazing mother. You are doing everything in your power to keep you and your baby alive, and that is wondrous.

Some days you will tackle the world and everything in it. To-do list, be damned! You woke up, got up, dressed up, and did everything you wanted to do. And the next day you don’t know if you ate, or showered, or if there’s anyone in the house besides you… and the baby. And that’s fine too. Every day is a new day. None of them are the same. And they don’t have to be. You don’t have to have a schedule. You don’t have to be in a club, in a group, in a chatroom, or a forum. You don’t have to share any of it. It’s your business.

I just want to reiterate that you are amazing. You don’t know me, but I was once thinking the same thoughts you’re thinking. When I was having those thoughts, I needed a letter like this. I needed all of the encouragement I could get because every second that I was alive, I was scared and doubting. I just knew I was doing it wrong. I knew we were doomed. There was hardly a time during any day that I felt certain, or right. But it all turned out better than I could have imagined.

Is it too soon to nurse? Did I nurse long enough? Is the swaddle too tight? Is he hot in there? I would want my feet out. I wonder if the baby wants to be swaddled but also wants his feet out? What was that noise? Was that from the baby? WHO’s IN HERE? I am so sleepy. I should sleep because the baby is asleep (like everyone says). Oh? He’s awake. Now I’ll never get any sleep! Is it too soon to nurse? Did I switch the laundry? We should go for a drive. Should I take the baby out in this weather? Is one sweater and two blankets enough? It’s 72 degrees outside. Will he be warm enough? Will he be hot? I should bring a change of clothes. Or two. I’ll bring two. Is he awake? Oh no, he fell back asleep. I should sleep. I’m hungry. Did I shower today? Or yesterday? OhMyGolfBalls!! Who is that in the mirror? Holy moly! When was the last time I showered? What was that noise? I’m hungry. Yawn. Zzzz!!

Heaven forbid the baby sneeze, cough, or have a fever! Lord love a duck. Release it all, Dear Mama. Try your best to go with the flow. When it’s time to eat, sleep, scream, or cry– you will. When the baby is hungry, or tired, or wet, or feverish, you’ll know, and you’ll know what to do. If you need help, tell someone. If you feel bogged down, overwhelmed, or deeply sad, tell someone. Trust yourself. You got this.

Tanisha Ware

Originally published on October 22, 2019 at SingleMomzRock

God Provides

As a working single mom, the ends don’t always meet. I have a full-time job, opened my own business as a virtual assistant, and volunteer with a local Christian single mom’s group. If I were dependent upon my income from my full-time job, I’d never make it. I think most parents are aware that child support cannot be depended on or used as a catch-all, because there are times when it can be delayed, or discontinued– without notice. As well, there are always unexpected situations that require money. They always require money. Thank the Lord, for His mercy and grace. Every month, my ends meet. Today, my cup overflows.

There is a Buddhist foundation that supplies a food pantry once a month. The announcement is made through our school district. I was intimidated at first, and felt a twinge of shame. I was convinced that others needed it more than me, but that’s not the point is it? Every month they service approximately 700 households with a healthy bounty of groceries. There is always something unexpected, like dragon fruit. Or fennel bulbs. But there is also a staple of pantry items that includes: white rice, pinto beans, dry pasta, and sauce. The most impressive part to me is that they always give fresh fruit and vegetables.

The first time we attended was about nearly two years ago. We went through the registration process and were seated in a high school auditorium. I was a little confused. But then we were welcomed with a song of love that was also translated into sign language. We were then advised that we could proceed to receive our donations. As we wound through the snake-like line, we began to see the bounty from which we would receive. All of the volunteers wore vests, and the majority of those handing out food items were teens or tweens. They were kind and spoke to everyone. I left there that day feeling so loved. They really gave from their heart and shared without expecting anything in return. They were courteous and helped elders and women take items to their cars. They all bowed and smiled and said thank you repeatedly.

Yesterday, we received goods from a separate and equally generous foundation. I believe they were also Buddhist. Let me explain how unprepared I was for what I would receive. I’ve been to food donations before, and I’ve always taken my own box-bags. There reusable bags, that fold up for storage and have a very sturdy bottom. Previously, all of our goods fit within two of those boxes. Yesterday, I used three and still had to ask for another box. I was completely overwhelmed by what was given to me. It filled in every gap within my cabinets and refrigerator. When I left, I sobbed a little. It’s just so amazing to be provided with $200+ dollars of food for my family.

Here is what we received yesterday: 12 fruity Cheerios and 8 rice Chex single serving boxes, 2kg of Masa, 6 organic Matcha Latte, 3 organic Roar electrolyte waters, 12 Kind bars, 2-10ct trail mix, 4 small bags Tostito rounds, 2 Kroger brand Wavy potato chips, 2 heads of romaine lettuce, 3 heads of iceberg lettuce, 2 large heads of cauliflower, 5 of the biggest carrots I’ve ever seen, no less than 18 gigantic apples, 2 fennel bulbs, approx 18 avocados, 24oz of pickles, 2 cans peeled tomatoes, 4-60 watt LED light bulbs, a 30-count jar of prenatal vitamins, a 5lb bag of frozen French fries, 3lb bag of white rice, 24 single serving whole grain frosted cereal, 8pk of Hansen’s sparkling lemon water, a dozen fresh roses. Oh, and two jars of “grains and fruit”. It seems like an overnight oats type thing. That’s nothin’ to shake a stick at.

At times, the single mom job is one that pulls from us every emotion, feeling, and strength. We make 4,278 decisions every day. Most of those decisions have to be weighed against the greater good and the long term health and wealth of the family. Our decisions affect us, our children, and their futures. At times, the sheer number of questions, answers, and decisions leads us to a place of hands-in-the-air ready to give up. It’s those days that we sob in the shower. Having to always make something from nothing is beyond nerve-racking. The decision to receive donations was hard, the first time. I have never thought it was hard since then. There’s nothing shameful about needing food, and there’s certainly nothing shameful about sharing and being generous. I am so grateful and we are beyond blessed.

Originally posted for Single Momz Rock

Fair, Is A Concept

I have three children. They are 12, and twin 5-year olds. We have recently entered the season of life called “that’s not fair”. It’s a terrible stage. It’s taxing, exhausting and I can sincerely state that I have said the words “because I said so”, more than any other mom in the history of fairness. At times, I can approach the situation as that teachable moment we all strive to find. At other times, it is surely the 74-ton straw that broke this camel’s back. How does a mother create and enforce a sense of fairness between children, siblings, and twins… when the only fairness they’ll ever see is the fairness they create?

Life isn’t fair. This is a fact that we all know, have shared, stated plainly, felt, and fell victim to. Whether it stemmed from our childhood, our collegiate career, or our workplace, we know what it feels like to stare into the complicated abyss that is fairness. A good friend of mine once explained that his sons fought over everything. What direction they were looking in, or the air they were breathing— was systematically the property of one child or the other. Looking in the same direction or breathing the same air was punishable by excessive whining, crying, and pointing by the injured party. But! When instructed to share a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; they became the ultimate teammates– nearly measuring the width of the sandwich to ensure that both sides received equality.

What is your earliest memory of fairness? Or lack thereof? Mine was access. Financial access, specifically. My childhood best friend was “well off” as my grandmother explained. And as the eldest of a prominent family, divorced in the early 80s, she was the first person I knew to experience the twos. Two houses, two sets of holidays, two parents vying for her attention and affections. She had two bedrooms, two tape players, two personal libraries. It was insane. No sensible parent should exert effort or finances to win their child’s affections, but the early 80s was not privy to this information. Estranged parents granted their children’s desires if for no reason than to ensure that their court ordered visitation was problem-free (for the most part).

As a child, growing up with my grandmother, this access hurt me. I felt slighted by the fact that I did not have the same access my friend had. I did not have two wallets to jump into. I had one home, one room, one set of everything. I never had the newest of anything. When I felt brave enough to breech this subject with my beloved guardian, she told me “well, sweetheart, life is not fair”. She went on to explain that while my friend had access to so many material things, no one could know her true heart’s desires. They were too busy trying to impress her and keep her; they didn’t have the time or energy to expend getting to know her, engaging her, supporting her. “Things don’t make a person happy; and life will only be fair if you make it that way”; my grandmother reminded me.

My contribution to the concept of worldwide fairness is to raise conscious, empathetic, loving children. Children that will reach out their hand to help another because it’s the right thing to do, not because they want something in return. My hope is that the environment that we call home is fair enough that they can see a difference between how I treat them and how others treat them. My desire is that when they look back on their childhood, on me, and on our home that their only reflections will be that of love. I know it’s not 100 percent realistic, but it’s a hope nonetheless.

Sometimes I buy one item, and request that they share. Most days we decide together on what I’ll make for dinner. Other times, I make their favorite meal items, all on the same day. I do what I can to show that the fairness comes from within. It is not for purchase, for leasing, or handed down. Fairness comes from doing what is right backed up with empathy and understanding. It’s sharing the fruits of your labor with someone, because you want them to know that joy. You want your fruit… to be their fair.

I want to teach my children that fairness is not about things, but the broader concept of just. It is my hope that they’ll see and know that a life guided by truth and reason will create an environment where justice and fairness can lead the way. Realizing that life is not fair; but choosing to commit to what is right is the only way I can model this behavior. I pray I’m doing it right.

Originally posted for Single Momz Rock

Identifying Narcissistic Triangulation *NEW POST*

a (hundred)thousand thoughts

sometimes i wonder just what exactly goes through my head all day. there are moments where i feel that i am brain-dead because nothing that is filtering through makes sense. it is a simple flooding of random ideas, notions, thoughts and feelings. nothing is discernible. that feeling is immediately followed by the complete opposite notion that i am utterly and completely insane because of the sheer number of thoughts going through my head all at once.

i just spent at least half an hour trying to track down “the average number of thoughts in a day”. there is no factually comprehensive answer with scientific data provided as proof or foundation. in fact, every article, blog post, and entry found on the topic was followed by a barrage of comments about the validity of the information and the qualifications of the definition of thought, idea, and consciousness. it made me light-headed. but the overall concept is that our minds are so filled with “thoughts” that we have a separate one almost every second (tandem with the idea that we are capable of having multiple layers of thoughts at one time). whoa.

as stated by Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now, “Thinking has become a disease”. i’ll say! a thought every second? on top of a thought at the exact same time..? one of which will draw our attention while another exists unconsciously on a plane that we aren’t even cognizant of? can you think of anything more elaborately constructed than the human mind, it’s psyche, and the intricacies of consciousness??? i cannot. the fact of the matter (in my humble opinion) is that the thoughts are not the disease. the disease is our human desire to validate every thought with feeling and action.

every thought doesn’t need acknowledgement. every idea doesn’t need validation. it is this neuroses that has brought MINDFULNESS to the forefront of “self-care”. we are so powered on, so consumed, so involved with every little thing that we have had to remind ourselves how to slow down and breathe. literally. mindfulness is centered around ignoring the tsunami of thoughts, following our breaths — in, down, up, and out, and actually being PRESENT in this place, in this space, in this time — right here, right now.

sometimes i dream about conversations i’ve had or want to have, letters i’ve written or will write, or even future blog posts. i have my best work related a-ha moments in the shower (when i’m not at work), or as i’m drifting off to sleep — prompting me to send myself an email at work. i do my best dinner recipe research during my lunch break (when i’m not at home). and i write best when i’m too tired to finish (as there are always more than a dozen “draft” posts in my cue — this will be the third post published today that was started not today; a feat i have never accomplished before). i secretly dream of and plan my children’s futures on the nights when i’m restless and cannot sleep. and i peruse memories of my grandmother when i’m home, in my kitchen, preparing a meal.

everything that i listed in the paragraph above takes place when i am not there (except thinking of my gramma). my whole thought process is void of mindfulness. i’m thinking about work when i am at home. i’m thinking about home when i am at work. i am seldom thinking about what i am doing when i am doing it. i have actually thought it through hours or even days before… making my mind available to obsess (TO OBSESS) about the next task while i am still trying to conquer the task at hand.

i put forth a conscious and concerted effort to be present when i am spending time with my kids. it’s hard to not give children all of your attention. as a single parent, i do have the task of planning ahead for most everything. particularly meals and outings. we have a pretty solid schedule through the week and on the weekends we throw caution to the wind and let the chips fall where they may. but as of late, i’ve been making a point to not plan ahead. to just sit down and let them clamor over me. to lay on the floor and play with them. to let them pick the books i read, and to turn the pages. it allows for so much more conversation and interaction. they grow so fast…

i try to track my thoughts. when i’m at work i make endless lists to assist me with task completion. i actively use Outlook, and Evernote. i also use Notes, and Reminders on my phone. for a few months, i was also using a bullet journal, which i’d like to get back to, but requires a little more time than i have readily available. and with all of that, i still forget things. sometimes big things. perhaps if i just slow down, breathe, and focus on the current project i’ll be more productive. i mean, what good is an unchecked task list?

here at home my dishes are piled up. the laundry, both clean and dirty is also piled up. the storage closet is filled to the limit with clothes and shoes that are too small and need to be donated. the refrigerator could use a good cleaning. and the pantry could use a purging. at least the beds are made and the bathroom is clean. my eyes wander about the apartment looking at the flaws and problems. then i see this knee high stack of books. library books. that is where i will let my thoughts settle. we check out 33 books from the library two weeks ago. we read them all. i read them for, with, and to my kids. it was time and laughs that we shared together. those are the thoughts that mean something. those are the thoughts i will validate. this is where i will let my obsession rest… in the gaze of my beloved children.

a life better than what we had

isn’t that what we always say? especially when we are accused of doting on or spoiling our children? we want them to have a life better than what we had. we want to give them more than what we had. we want them to want for nothing because we wanted but couldn’t have. if that’s truly the case…when do we stop? which generation will be the ones to say “i struggled, i wanted, i craved, and i never got… BUT i’m just fine”!

i know i’ve said those words. i know i’ve held (and hold) those very feelings. but is that a founded desire? are my children lacking in anything? their recital every single night of our three stanza prayer will tell you no. they are not lacking in faith. their smiles, size, clothing, hair, and shoes will tell you no. they aren’t lacking. not in love, food or hygiene. their desire to read book after book after book at bedtime will also tell you no. they are not lacking. not with reading, not with mother-child interaction. in fact, i don’t see any position in which they are lacking. they’re all very well cared for. they’re safe, happy, loved, well, and thriving. what more could I be looking for?

i think that’s the question that fuels parenting. i think wanting for them, and living vicariously is what makes the next generation the “leaders of tomorrow”. if we didn’t want for them, push them, challenge them… where would we be? not we as in us the parents, but we as in society. where would society be if there wasn’t a newest youngest brightest on the verge of something spectacular?

but do we honestly have to give them more or better? in all honesty, we turned out fine… with less. is giving more what we what? i don’t, not really. i don’t want to provide more. i want to provide better. better quality. better substance.

i want my children to have a strong faith in God. i want them to see and believe His purpose for them and their purpose for Him. i want them to exhibit honesty, confidence, grace, generosity, and kindness. i want them to stand out among their friends, among their classmates, and in the world. i want them to be better than me… in all ways. i want them to have character, be characters (they’ve already got that one checked off the list), and be utterly unforgettable.

enjoying your children

after the fourth grade field trip, i picked up the twins, went home and freshened up, left to pay a bill, went out for pizza, and ice cream, and then to our local small town grocer for organic fruit and granola. all, minus the filed trip, with three kids waddling behind like the little ducklings they are. after loading my herd of kids into the car, and watching to ensure that the ten year old returned the shopping cart without damage to neighboring vehicles or injury to his person i turned to get into the car. there was a lady standing by my driver’s side headlight. she said “i just wanted to tell you, it was nice to watch you enjoying your kids, that’s all”. i said thank you. but after starting the car, her heartfelt words had a moment to sink in, and they surged to my core. i looked for her and pulled up next to her parked car. i rolled down my son’s window and told her that i really appreciated her kind words. i explained that i often (and was currently in the midst of the) struggle with that very feeling and motherhood can be so “consuming” she said. she said thank you for the thank you and i left. that brief but endearing interaction made me feel really good.

i was recently reviewing my blog posts and realized that there are three major themes: parenting, mothering, and my kids. needless to say, these are the themes of my actual life. i live and breathe kids. and as with normal parenting, normal mothering, and normal kids… i sometimes wonder if i’m doing the right thing. i have been told (many times) that my children are beautiful, well behaved, and kind. my eldest was taught to hold open the door for those following him. he does it, (impressively) to a fault. we have left many establishments, only to be stuck standing outside the door because my sons chivalry won’t let him close the door if anyone is within a football field length of the exit. as often as i’ve been a little irritated, it has been immediately dismissed by the compliments given to him (and me).

tackling a day of errands with three kids in tow requires a super hero cape, a utility belt, and the kinetic power of patience. sometimes it seems like an insurmountable task, but what’s a mama to do? not shop? not pay bills? choosing to not doing anything for the good of the household is NOT an option. ya gotta do whatcha gotta do. kids need to see their parents, up, dressed, out, and active. they need to watch you interact with the world, see how you handle yourself, and listen to your words as you speak with others. you are their role model, after all.

sometimes it’s hard to find joy in the endless monotony of parenting. there are times when we need to be selfish, but the guilt of even wanting to care for ourselves outweighs the need to do so and we don’t. sometimes we need to exercise discipline and the guilt of having to be the bad guy makes us feel mean and sad. there are times when one more load of dishes or laundry might push us over the edge. the numerous spills and sticky fingerprints alone is enough to drive anyone absolutely bonkers. but in the midst of it all, the greatest good you will ever do is accomplished. the greatest good any of us can ever do is raise (and contribute to the raising of) kinder, smarter, dedicated individuals who strive for stronger faith, a larger sense of family, more empathy, greater acceptance, and peace — above anything else. the occasional compliment from a total stranger is just the fuel we need.