Dear Deadbeat Parent


“It’s not only children who grow.  Parents do too.  As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.  I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun.  All I can do is reach for it, myself.”

                                                                        ~Joyce Maynard

Dear DeadBeat Parent,

Let’s be clear about one thing, this letter is not about putting you down, or making you look bad, this letter is truth, and I think, as I speak for myself, my children and all the other  single moms and dads out there struggling for support.

How the heck do you do it?

That is the question, how can you walk away, knowing that your flesh and blood, your children, are out there, crying at 3 am,  living their lives, going to school, running with holes in their shoes,  making new friends, scraping their knees, getting their hearts broken, graduating, having birthdays, menstruating, fabricating, and creating?  Your children are getting all A’s or struggling with C’s.. they are dyslexic, anorexic, or athletic. They are learning to walk or learning to drive.  They are  sick in hospital, or hiding out at the park, longboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding or snowboarding.  They can add, subtract, divide and multiply, recite the alphabet and sing a song.   They can touch their toes,  lick their nose, spray a hose, and make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They smile with pride when they accomplish a goal, or cry in disappointment when things go wrong. They laugh with their friends, and play pretend.

There is one thing they cannot do: They can’t share any of this with you! 

Do you ever wonder how they are?

As I watch my two leave for school, all grown up and proud of who they are, I remember it wasn’t always this way.  When they were little, they would compare themselves to those who had a daddy in their lives.  Even though sometimes the dad was apart from their children, he was present.  I wonder if you are present even when you see them.

When you speak to us, all I hear is:  “Wait, I’ll be there (financially and emotionally) when I get back on my feet”. This, every single time you call for the past 15 years.  Isn’t that a tiring response? Have you even challenged yourself to reach the “feet on the ground” trick?  And really, what does that mean to be “back on your feet”?  I mean there were times when, during my single mom moments, that I was unbalanced, unprepared, unsafe, unwell, underestimating myself. I  often felt unloved, unsupported, unappreciated and yes, at times, unhappy.  However, I still laugh at my kid’s corny jokes, or, when they were little, sat with them in the living room having a Teddy Bear picnic. To tell you the truth  is was then, and is now, those times when I feel or felt most grounded.  Kids have a way of doing that, bring you back to who you are:  A fun, loving, caring and attentive parent.

So, let me get this straight then, quality time = needing feet on ground?

Interesting….

Another question, and its an important one, how does one “detach” themselves from their own children. How does that work?  Do you turn off the love valve, or ignore your own feelings?  Do you imagine they do not exist, that they do not need your love, or they are aliens from another planet?  How do you not listen to them each time you call when they say: “Dad I miss you, I love you and I really want to spend more time with you?” I mean, often, when they were little, they would cry for you daily.  They would ask me where you are and why you couldn’t pick them up that weekend. Then, who was left with their anger and picking up the pieces you have broken?  Yep!  ME!!

It takes a Village, and the Village won!

Also, how do you convince yourself that financial support for your children is only my job or the job of my dad, my mom, good friends and family? How do you feel when you cannot provide for those glasses, the braces, their food, a roof over their heads?  How do you sleep at night when you know they need winter clothes, hats and boots, or need a trip to the dentist? Doesn’t that bother you? I know I cannot handle it for very long. I wonder if you know how much guilt I have felt over the years having to say no every time they NEEDED something.. I mean kids often want things, and sometimes even when they do not need an item it is a challenge to say no. Imagine when they NEED new shoes, money for a birthday party, school trips and events, camp, school fees, books, acne cream, and sanitary napkins.

The words “because your dad doesn’t give us a dime!” almost comes out of my mouth in anger, yet I resist.  Ok.. ONCE!!  I did, in a moment of panic at a grocery store because I didn’t even have a dollar left to buy my daughter a pack of gum.  She was having this huge 4 year old fit, and the frustration I felt was bigger than not being able to buy a pack of Juicy Fruit.

MAKE IT HAPPEN!

That is what I do.  I’m an acrobat who makes things happen. A magician of sorts.  I step on my pride, run to church sales, stand in line at food banks, walked into community centers, worked, even when I was unwell to the point that I had to stop!   I run campaigns, and ask for money.. I have even been criticized for that once.  Yet, the support from friends and strangers is amazing.. but you wouldn’t know.. do you?

Call me super mom with one weakness:

I play a huge role –HUGE!–in their lives, if you havn’t noticed.  However, do you know what goes through my mind, VERY OFTEN.  As dreadful as this sounds, I worry.  I think about “what if I passed away?  Who would take care of them like I do?  Listen, care, nurture, and love them?  Who would fight for them, cry for them, let them speak their mind without reprimand?  Who would do that?  Certainly not you.  You are not back on your feet yet!

So as I sit here looking at their pictures on my wall, while they are at school, I think about how I chose you to be their father, and if there is one thing I AM grateful for is that I have them because of you.

My daughter said yesterday, despite her own “dad” issues:  “Dad IS the best dad to me, because he is my dad and I love him”.

You are, one lucky guy!

P.S.   Take the challenge, pick up the phone, get that job, stick with it, and have a Teddy Bear picnic with them no matter how old your children are.  You will find ground, I promise.

“The guys who fear becoming fathers don’t understand that fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man.  The end product of child raising is not the child but the parent.”

~Frank Pittman, Man Enough

Mother’s Fantacy : Debunking Myths


 By Delaroche,Paul (born 17 July 1797 - died 4 November 1856) France“We should no longer allow a mother to be defined as ‘just a mom.’ It is on her back that great nations are built. We should no longer allow any woman’s voice to be drowned out or disregarded. As we affirm other women, and as we teach our sons, husbands and friends to hold them in the highest regard, we honor both the mothers whose shoulders we’ve stood on and the daughters who will one day stand tall on ours.” Oprah

I remember an argument with my Father during my “know it all University student days” studying to become a teacher.  I lashed out at him for spanking me ONCE!  I mean, I was in the middle of taking Child Developement courses and ALL the text books would portray the perfect family. How an authoritative parent is better than an authoritarian parent or permissive parent.  How yelling, screaming, and belittling will scar a child for life, spanking was a redundant and destructive way to discipline a child,  AND giving in and not being a consistent parent was a “no no”.

So much stuff to remember.  Is there a test?

My father stood his ground stating that I was out of control, and that spanking was the only way!  Was he right, probably not.  Do I agree with spanking, no.  Have I ever spanked my children, yes!… and yes dad, I forgive you.. I understand now.

We have all these ideals in our minds about how “motherhood” is this blissful place where puppies and unicorns live, and that our time with our children, the whole 18 years plus they live with us, will be grand.  Oh.. and I swore to myself  I will never EVER yell, scream or spank my kids.  EVER!

Well guess what?

When my daughter arrived into the world (my first-born) I can honestly say that is was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.  Just watching her in her little pink hat as she was laid next to me, admiring that she was mine.  All my childhood doll playing days came up, and this one was alive!  No, I am not comparing my daughter to a doll, well maybe a little, however, when 3rd week of 3 o’clock feedings came or when  every single time I went to sit down to eat, she would wail so loud, we renamed her:  Godzilla! (please google old Godzilla movies  and find a video of it screaming she did sound exactly like that).  The feelings of gooey love still came, however, these new “unknown” and unexpected feeling came too:  frustration and resentment!

Nope, I didn’t resent my child (yet) I resented the fact that my whole life of “freedom” was in shambles.  I was terrified and self-judgemental and I was afraid I was doing it all WRONG!

Sleep when she sleeps!

Right!! Worst advice ever!  When she sleeps, I am busy washing clothes, bottles, and doing household chores.  I am making dinner for the family and trying to find some time to watch tv and talk to my friends.

As the years passed, and my son came along, I quickly realized that all my motherhood fantasies went out the proverbial window.  Woosh!

I am not being cynical, I am being truthful.  I hated being pregnant, especially with my son, because I felt like a whale! I mean, he was almost 10 pounds when he was born.  Sleepless nights did not end when they were babies, and tell me:  “Why is my heart always on my sleeve?”

After taking at least 3 parenting classes, attending parent support groups and reading all the textbooks, I realized that I do not give myself enough credit as a mom. I was comparing.  I bet you don’t either, if you are a man, do you give yourself enough credit as a dad?

Did you know self-centeredness is “normal” for a teen! Wow good news!  

The other day I was in a support group talking about raising my teens.  (If you think raising a toddler is challenging, wait until you raise a teen).  Being a single parent, again, I try to set limits and show my children I am there even though I am going through a depression.  The frustrating part is discovering that “Godzilla” is back, and my son is following right in her footsteps!   The tantrums are different, and boy are they self-centered! So I am patient, kind, and ask them what they “need”.  I ignore, nurture and am way over protective.  I feed them, buy their favorite cereal, and throw in their laundry once and awhile.  When I said to the social worker that day, how proud I was of my children since the separation.  She asked “How proud are you of yourself?  Kim, you do not give yourself enough credit!  I think you are an amazing mom!!

“Me?? An amazing mom? What makes a mom amazing?”

But I yell, and scream, and take my own tantrums.  I ignore and tell them when they are invading my space.  I cry, swear and fart in front of them.  I do not give them enough chores, and we don’t even do any activities like “normal” families. Plus I feed them way too much KD and peanut butter jelly sandwiches!  They eat sugary cereal, and frozen pizza!   How can I be an amazing mom?

“Because you listen”

“Oh”

See, we can sit here all day and compare ourselves to the “super-moms” of the world.  I never was very good at balancing work and mothering.  I was never good at being patient and calm.  I do fly off the handle.  But I love, encourage, nurture, praise and say “I’m proud of you” and “High five” when its time!  I make their favorite foods, tuck them in (even at 13 and 15).  I am honest and let them know my depression is not their fault.  I don’t hide myself from them, and let them know exactly where I stand.  I give them choices and let them choose.. I tell them that they are the master of their destiny.. that they decide where they are going in life. AND I know how to apologize when I’ve been wrong.  And I listen.  I would say, that listening to my children and what they have to say has been my lifeline.  It works!  I had to put my urge to “butt in” aside and let them know “I really do hear you and I understand”.

So.. technically, my job, is to grow them up to leave .. teach them how to be a good decent human being.  Give them the tools to work it out themselves, and let go… see them, hear them, and praise them!

Yes, motherhood, has it’s most wonderful and fulfilling moments, yet,  As Monica Wilcox, from Femme Tales Truth with Humor,  states in her article:  Motherhood:  My Energy for Your Opportunity

“This is motherhood; the sacrificing of one’s needs (but hopefully never one’s self) for another.  It’s agreeing to let another consume more of you than any other relationship would dare. It’s giving without the expectation that you will receive. It’s unconditional love.  And wouldn’t you know; it’s bloody hard!”

So, yes, my father did spank me once, my mother loved her wooden spoon, and I followed a bit in their footsteps.  Yet, being a mother is a lifetime job, a job I wasn’t trained or certified for.  My own mother taught me great nurturing and love, she also made me feel so comforted and she too “tucked me in” even as a teen.

These are the things my kids will remember, and these magical moments are the ones I hang onto.. but don’t be fooled by the myth of motherhood, just stand by and take in all the hugs and kisses you can get.  It’s the good memories that will last in the end.

From me to you

Happy Mother’s Day!  

Kim

Santa to me is…


My request this Holiday Season, was to write a letter to Santa. Asking him for whatever it is you wanted: From world peace, compassion, to the next IPAD or that “thing” you’ve eyed at the store. I The point of this excercise was to pour your heart out or even get mad at him for that “thing” you really wanted but never received.  

Making Christmas wishes is not only for Children, I find when I write my letter to Santa, I feel surrender happening.  

This first prompt is not a letter but description of the writer’s beliefs and profession of faith:  

Santa to me is:   by Sherry Barrett

When Kim posted this I was not sure how to go about it or what to say, so here is my thoughts on it.

Interestingly enough I do not remember writing letters to Santa as a child, wonder why. God is my source so I would pray to him for world peace and to rid the world of famine and to help every child to have love and a safe place to live and grow up and to stop the pain I was living in and that no child would be hurt as I was. So many prayers sent to God through those formative years and still to this day, knowing that God can handle everything far better than I could and would eventually make good out of the bad and bring about healing as I have watched it all unfold holding on through it all to the time when I would shine forth as gold as He said. Been quite a journey thus far and I look forward to the continued healing and what I become in and through it to be a better person and help others to do so too.

I remember seeing sleigh tracks and hoof prints on the lawn as a neighbor I later found out tried to make it look like Santa had come, I remember going to see him in the mall, we had out picture taken once with Santa, and I remember getting gifts that were from Santa as well. I remember my older siblings finding the gifts that were hidden away and knowing their was no Santa who brought them. I remember the church buying us gifts from the special tree as well to make out Christmas special.

Santa to me was like God as He could be everywhere and know everything and so I believed in him and prayed to God. As I said I was a deep child and thought alot about things and so figured in my ming thatwas how it worked I guess.

Thankful for the memories and the gifts and the Spirit of the Season.

Sherry Barrett

Moms are a soft place to fall. My most cherished memory.


I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. ~Abraham Lincoln

I wrote this not long ago, and wanted to share with you my MOST cherished memory with my mom as a child.  I thought since Mother’s Day is tomorrow, this would be an appropriate time to post it.  Please note I changed our names.

‘’Mom, can we do our nightly prayer tonight?’’ she asks. “Sure Penelope, just let me finish putting your little brother to bed’’. Penelope loves when her mom tucks her in. It gives her those butterflies, which run from her tummy all the way down to her toes. She can’t help but get crazy excited every time and frantically kicks her feet under the blankets to let the silly’s out. When her mom arrives, Penelope is hiding under the covers. “Oh dear! Where did Penelope go?’’ teases Joan. “Penelope, Penelope where are you?” “She’s gone outside”  whispers a little voice from under the covers. “Oh no! Not outside my little angel will get cold’’ as they banter back and forth Penelope finally emerges from the covers: ‘’ Mom I’m here!” she yells. ‘’Oh my’’ says Joan. “I thought you disappeared. I was worried”. “Don’t worry mommy. I’ll never EVER leave you.”

Penelope couldn’t imagine leaving her mom, that would be to scary, however, she loved to play little tricks on her mom as it kept her in the room longer.

“OK Penelope’ time for sleep” Joan says as she tucks the blankets under her daughter’s body making them all tight. “But mom! Our prayer? You start and I will repeat K?” “K” and Joan starts to recite:

“Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen”

….. Then I would fall asleep, dreaming of Mary with her long blond hair keeping me safe and lulling me slowly to sleep…

J

Happy Mother’s Day!

Who is the parent here?


The one thing I have learned about being a parent is it seems to bring up every single one of my childhood issues. – Me

parent types

The toughest part about being a parent is not letting your own past affect your parenting. You can say, if I had to describe myself, that I am a permissive parent. Yes, I finally admit it! If Dr. Phil says: ‘’you cannot change what you do not acknowledge’’, then I have to acknowledge I let my children get away with murder. If there is disrespect in my home, it is because I teach my children, though my actions and NON-actions, that I can be disrespected.

I have two children: a pre-teen boy and a teenage girl. Both children, for the longest time, have not had any chores (except for their rooms), inconsistent parenting, and the most tolerant mom around. Don’t get me wrong, I am no wuss (well maybe sometimes), however; I am a parent in constant learning. The journey into self-respect for myself is translating into respect between all parties.  I want them to grow up in a loving, caring home but it is my job to send them out in the world as loving, caring, responsible, hard working adults.

What I think many of parents do in 2011 is try to make sure their children are happy by all means. I don’t know if this has something to do with us 30/40 something’s feeling like we were not heard as children; however, I know some of us let our children get away with too much. Well, I do anyway. Therefore, I had to devise a plan.

First, the one thing I have put into place in my home is consistent discipline. I’m still a rookie, however, I am starting to say what I mean, and mean what I say. I may go overboard at times,  or once and awhile give in; however, when I give a consequence I make sure I can follow through with it. No more screaming: “Your grounded for 3 weeks with no computer!!”. “Three weeks with no COMPUTER? and GROUNDED?” I say to myself pulling my hair  “What was I thinking? She’ll drive me nuts on day 2!”  Presently, I make sure I can follow through on those consequences I give my child.  If they are not sufficient, I can make the necessary adjustments the next time.

Second, I started to give my children chores. The rules are clear. They must have their rooms clean at least once a week and they must help with the dishes. Why so little you say? Well, it’s the same thing as the consequences, I’d rather give them less and follow through that too much and give up. So, as the weeks go on they will be doing the dishes on their own. Every one taking baby steps and the transition is much easier all ‘round.

Thirdly, and this one is a toughie, I’m practicing speaking less. My son is 12 and already thinks my voice is annoying!! Why? Because I’m all talk and no action. So hopefully steps one and two will help me through this phase, which is a challenge.

Since my son is ADHD I’ve had the privilege of taking a few parenting courses. Yet, no parenting course in the world will help if I don’t put the tools into practice. So, like me, give yourself some room to breathe, when you are ready, AND just you: Not when your neighbour or mom whispers “Don’t you think you should teach your children blah”.  You’ll  see, whenyour  frustration level so uncomfortable that your  eyes are  about to pop out of your  head, you’ll know its time for you  to change the things you can, and change what you can finally acknowledge.

and I say:  I’m a mom, and I’m a permissive parent on the road to good parenting!