Posted in family, Friends, Life Lessons, Love, Parenting

My Thoughts on Raising Kids After Divorce

Good evening. It’s been a while since I’ve put my thoughts to paper. Tonight has me feeling reflective. So I thought I’d write til my thoughts are exhausted. I pray you are well, wherever you are.

This was the kind of week that had no breaks. None. Every day was long. Tuesday I spent almost $400 on new tires. Then my son’s school nurse called – he was sick with upper respiratory sinus junk. He’s been home all week, so I’ve worked from home all week. This was the kind of work week I like – full of learning new things, of reaching for new solutions. I love to learn. I love my job.

Friday, though, is what is on my mind tonight. On Friday, I had an accommodations meeting for my daughter at the High School where she is a Senior.

In preparation for this meeting I reached for a binder I made for her last year when she was undergoing inpatient treatment for depression and anxiety. I made a title page that says Stephanie’s Story. Included in this well-organized binder were basic program information sheets, attendance notes for multiple days missed, worksheets she had done in individual and family therapy, notes from psychiatrists and therapists, and at the very end – divorce/custody papers.

I hadn’t looked at this notebook in over a year. Looking through its contents reminded me of how far she’d come; it reminded me of how far we’ve come together. She went from depressed and anxious and cutting and low self-esteem to Miss bubbly 4.0 who almost has her cosmetology license and wants to be a pediatric nurse. You can read her backstory in a previous blog called Pocket Full of Shoestrings.

You see, in the middle of that rough patch, she decided she wants to be the kind of nurse who helps kids who need psychiatric care. So she is pursuing a cosmetology license in high school to pay her way through nursing school. I love it when God takes what was meant to harm us and uses it for good.

She inspires me.

It’s the last document in that binder, though, that has me thinking tonight: the divorce/custody papers.

Here are a few things I learned through divorce and custody issues:

  • You cannot get over a divorce until you’ve owned your part of what went wrong. In my case, it was being too focused on ministry.
  • Your only job is to love and advocate for your kids.
  • Even if what happened on the weekend they’re with their other parent was less than wholesome, this needs to be the first thing out of your mouth after you say “I’ve missed you/I love you”: “Tell me about the best things that happened this weekend.”
  • Pick your battles wisely – let some things go.
  • Never put down the other parent in front of or to your kids. The kids will realize it themselves if the other parent is doing something on the not-approved list. Actions speak louder. Yours included.
  • Safety first.
  • Do something kind for yourself every single day. Be intentional. You deserve it.
  • You deserve a break now and again. A vacation, even.
  • Who you hang around is who you become like. Choose your friends and adult outings when the kids are away wisely.
  • You are always a parent. You’re never off-duty. Even when they’re at the other’s house. Never be so impaired that you can’t pick the kids up at a moment’s notice.
  • Create a support system. Church. Community. Friends. Family. Don’t skip this one.
  • Write everything down (appts, financials, custody issues). You never know when you’ll need it.
  • Laugh.
  • Play board games and have movie nights with your kids. Leave your cell on the charger in the other room.
  • Be present.
  • Don’t bring your dates around the kids until you are at least “Facebook official.” This assumes you’ve vetted them and have made sure you two are going to last.
  • Remember that you’re not raising kids, you’re raising adults. Proceed with their future in mind.

I could go on.

The bottom line is, I’m at peace with who I am and where I am.

But don’t let my calm demeanor fool you. I’ve had many rough seasons over the past 15 years. My battles have been fierce and have taken a toll on me.

I learned, however, that losing is not an option, that I must keep moving forward, and that whatever I’m walking through is a life-season, not a life-sentence.

And now…I need a grande sugar-free pumpkin-spice latte made with coconut milk and 2 Stevias, si vous plait.

Posted in Friends, Uncategorized

Friends

The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive.
Proverbs 27:6 CSB

 

I’ve been quiet this week with some people. Not so much with others. I’m aware. I’m processing something.

What I’ve noticed all week long is how many friends I have and how much value they add to my life.

Like my “bestie tribe.” 3 amazing ladies who I can tell my heart to. Tell my “stuff” to and they don’t flinch. And when I need a “seriously, girl?!” insert-eyeroll-emoji moment – they deal it out. When one of us is at the hospital, we’re all at the hospital. When one of us is in crisis, we’re just there. I love them so much.

Then there’s my friend I get to sit next to at work. She’s this amazing lady who tells it like it is, takes charge, and is just sweet & sassy. The great thing about her is – we just know how to read each other. We observe and adjust our attitude accordingly. We either cry on and off all day or look at each other and burst out laughing for no reason.

And I have a dear friend from high school who I don’t see as often as I’d like, but when we get together It’s like we were never apart.

This week I talked to a friend of 13 years whom I’ve never met in person, but he has encouraged me more over the years than anyone will ever know. He always asks me 1. What are you writing creatively? and 2. Who is the man who is loving you as well as you deserve? My answers this week were 1. I blog, but need to get back to poetry. and 2. Uhm… You see, what had happened was…

I had a long text conversation with another friend (from high school) this week. Turns out we had gone through the same set of events together back then, yet experienced them in vastly different ways. When we finally had the ah! ha! moment, it helped us both heal.

And last but not least, I have a great friend whom I’ve only known for a year, but it feels like we’ve known each other forever. Whether I need advice or a wake up call, I can count on this person to be just what I need. This is the kind of friend you hold on to. The one who you know will be there in all seasons. A forever kind of friend.

I’ve been noticing who my friends are this week. Appreciating. Loving. Admiring. Being grateful.

You should try it.

Posted in Friends

Find Out Who Your Friends Are

I was running late to somewhere. Who knows where. But I remember I’d sat at a stoplight for a full 10 minutes before I realized I was going to be late. The stoplights had malfunctioned at the worst time of day in the worst intersection in town. And there I sat – cross-traffic whizzing by as their light was apparently stuck on green while mine was glaring red. People honked. And swore. And played on their cell phones. The traffic jam was now jamming up two city blocks. I called the police non-emergency number to report the issue. 5 minutes later, the city truck pulled up and I was on my way. Late, but en route.

I was talking with a friend from high school this week. Our conversation reminded me of the scenario above. “Melissa,” she said, “I feel stuck. My life just isn’t turning out like I’d hoped. I mean, I love my house, my husband, our kids – I just wish I had a different career and lived in a different location. I feel like I’m late to what I really want to do in life.”

Have you ever just felt stuck? As I’ve listened lately, I’ve heard varying versions of this friend’s story. I have felt this way lately too. I’ve been waiting for something, have realized it isn’t likely going to go the way I’ve dreamed it would, and have just been sitting here for a while, honking, screaming ugly, frustrated thoughts, playing on my phone, hoping the light will change from red to green.

Anybody? Just me?

So what, then, do we do to get unstuck?

Well I may be old school, as the kids say, but my best advice would include taking a lesson from Pooh Bear, and the friend I mentioned earlier, and call on some friends to help us out.

Pooh Bear’s ordeal was, in fact, his own fault. He’d eaten too much honey and found himself stuck in Rabbit’s front door. One by one his friends come by, but it’s not until they all formed a chain and pulled together that Pooh went flying across the Hundred Acre Wood.

At the stoplight, the situation didn’t get fixed until I called for help.

This is your sign. This is me giving you official permission to call for help. In fact, make sure you call a whole team for help.

I have a few really close friends that I know I can count on when I’m stuck. Sometimes I just need to talk it out. Usually one or all will remind me to count my blessings or pray or just stop doing or thinking (fill in the blank), or to change something or other that I hadn’t thought of because I can’t see my situation clearly from my own perspective.

It really is okay to ask for help. Sometimes our real friends see we’re stuck and are actually hoping we’ll ask. Real friends will come at 2am, or when you need to move, or, like mine this week, when you just need an impromptu dinner after work because one of you is going through something hard and just needs to talk.

It’s frustrating to feel like everyone else I know is in the cross-traffic with never-ending green lights while I’m stuck on a side-street.

Stuck happens.

It helps to intentionally surround yourself with good friends.

Find out who your friends are.

Silly Old Bear.