Happy New Year!!!

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Happy New Year to all!

May this coming new year be filled with much happiness, ease, peace, smiles, snuggles and most of all love.

I will be bringing in the new year with my divine little soul – my son. This will be our first NYE together since he was a baby and I can’t wait to share this one with him. 2013 has been an extremely testing year for me, and I would have to say one of the hardest to date I have had to deal with.  I feel quite positive about 2012 with it representing my last year of study; my son finishes primary school;  my determination and motivation to get healthy, and well again and to turn fat into fab. I am also taking on the lessons I have learnt this past year and know I am now stronger than ever before.

If we only have one person in our lives that loves and supports us, I feel we are extremely fortunate, let alone if we have more. I am personally surrounded by the most amazing, inspirational, loving, caring, supportive people and I truly feel blessed. I would not be doing all I do and succeeding the way I am without such people in my life. I would like to publicly thank each and every one of you who has touched my heart, my soul and has helped carry me, love me and support me in this last year.

I would like to wish all of you a fantastic start to the new chapter in our lives and one year ends and another begins.  If we can all try and live in peace, do one to others as we would like done to us and cherish all the lessons we are thrown to manage, I feel this world we live in would be such an amazing place.

Love, light and peace until the new year.

Take care of each other – give that extra special someone another hug and bring on 2012.

Shelly xo

Ho Ho Ho…Santa is just a sleigh away

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How are you all feeling with Christmas only around the corner and the New Year is shortly to follow?  I personally am feeling exhausted and am looking forward to having some quiet time without the normal hustle and bustle of life, if only for a few days.

Time has got away from me of late and I have not been able to write as many posts as I would have liked and there is always too much to write than what time permits.  The one thing I wanted to talk about is how some of us, this time of year can really find it hard to make ends meet.  If you are anything like me, the last thing you want to happen is for your child to have any inkling into the despair one can feel, and for them to never feel like they have missed out.  This is certainly one promise I made to myself when I gave birth to my son and to date, he has felt he is the luckiest boy around. There are moments I have to express that times are tough; we cannot afford things, and explain that he never really goes without. My son also knows that the study I am currently doing, as well as the various jobs I am doing are for us as a family.  I feel this is important for any child, no matter what the circumstance is so that they do not take anything for granted. There are too many children out there who are unappreciative of what their parents do for them and what life offers them as a result.

My big tip for planning when it comes to Christmas is to take advantage of the mid-year toy sales where they offer you the option to lay-by to Christmas Eve.  I have done this for many years and it is the only way I can survive and manage the financial side of things with Christmas. I get much joy out of giving and even more so now when I have many friends with children who are like family to me and I want to spoil them. I know I don’t have to, yet I choose to and I love doing it. By taking the lay-by option, this allows six months to pay off your purchase.  Obviously you cannot go extreme and by the whole shop (although the temptation might be there), we do need to stick to our set budgets. I make a list of the children and family members I buy for.  When the catalogues come out, I browse through them to get an idea, sometimes I check with the parents to make sure I am on track and have a set amount to spend on each before I enter the store.  I also make purchases throughout the year (even if I can’t really afford it) when items are on sale.  Quite often you can get something that is worth double what you pay and for me; I get much pleasure in knowing this.  Start the collection early and do not leave it all to the last-minute.

I guess for anyone and even more so for a single parent earning the only income to support their family, that PLANNING is the key. It has worked for me and I feel it should work for others.  In saying all this, sometimes nothing can help ease the pain of not having enough money to pay the bills, buy the presents, and have the array of food on the table and so on. This year I believe has been one of the hardest for me financially in the 10 years of being a single parent. I cannot explain why as I am working just as hard, if not more. Perhaps it is because the price of living keeps going up yet our pays does not – perhaps it is because my son is getting older and along with this comes a higher price tag.  There are associations out there that can help you, if you feel you are in dire straits and even if it is only for now you are feeling stressed and unable to do it all.

To start with as I have found through research is to start with contacting local charities and civic organisations to find out if they offer an outreach to the needy during the festive season. Churches can also offer assistance and if you belong to one why not call them and see if they can assist you.  Local communities often have their own Christmas drive, maybe give them a call and find out more and follow the leads they give you. If family members or friends offer you assistance in any way, do not feel ashamed of taking them up on it as I am sure if the shoe was on the other foot, it would be you helping them.

Some of the associations I know of are:

The Smith Family

Centrelink

The Salvation Army

To be honest, this year for the first time in 10 years, I have had to ask for help and advice. I contacted the Salvation Army (Salvos) after a friend of mine who has done volunteer work discussed it with me. I was not aware of the help they offer and was surprised in how loving, supportive an open-minded they are.  The big advice my friend gave me was to not feel ashamed.  This is something I struggled with as I am a very proud and independent person. I HAVE to do things on my own and find it hard to accept help when needed.  It took a lot for me to call the Salvos, yet I did and when I visited them, I was greeted by volunteers who made me a coffee and offered me a chocolate or muffin while I waited to speak with someone. I was trembling with nerves and fighting the voice inside telling me I should not be there. I was questioning everything and trying to analyse the situation. It was like a battlefield within my head with two opposing sides having their say.  Once I entered the office and the woman introduced herself to me, I was reassured I was ok and that what I was doing was ok. The female volunteer praised me for all I am doing for my son and the life we are living and again like my friend said to not feel ashamed of being there.  She then added, “We are here to help and although we cannot always do all we would like, we will do our best and sometimes that is just to listen to you”.  It was further explained the different sorts of options the Salvos are able to offer someone who is in need. For example, helping to pay a bill (if the bill is overdue and you have already asked for an extension), they also offer food hampers, gift hampers for children, bits and pieces depending on what they have in their office at the time. As I was waiting for my name to be called and after I had my meeting, I noticed all the different types of people visiting the Salvos. There were young and old, nicely and poorly dressed, a mix of races and cultures which was lovely to see the Salvos did not discriminate against anyone.  If you are someone in need, it does not matter where you come from or how you look. Some people were popping in just to get a free cup of tea or coffee and to see a friendly face and have someone ask how they were.

I left the Salvos with the information I needed and felt a sense of relief. The visit did not answer all my questions nor did it fix all of my problems, yet knowing a place like this existed was a breath of fresh air. I discussed the experience with my son and expressed the hesitation I was feeling.  He said to me, “Mum I think you should feel very proud”. I replied by asking him why he feels I should be proud. He said “You have looked after me on your own without ever really asking for help in 10 years. I think you should be very proud of yourself Mummy”.  Bless my darling boy!

I don’t think shame ought to be an emotion anyone should feel regardless of whether we have only asked for help once or many times. There are organisations, institutes and people from the general public who are there to help those in need and want to help. This could be because of financial hardship, emotional issues, employment, or just needing an ear to listen and hear our voice.

On this note, I would like to wish you all a Wonderful and Happy Christmas and may the New Year bring much love, laughter, happiness, light and peace into your lives and souls. A new year can mean a new beginning, a new journey or chapter in our lives.  Let us not dwell on the past, or wish the future away. Let us live in the NOW and make the most of what we have and remember that there are people far less fortunate than us. If we have one, two or a handful of people around us who love and support us, then how lucky are we.

Take care until next time

Love and light

Shelly xo

What is in a name?

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What is in a name? How much importance does our name carry and what does it mean to a child?

On my son’s birth certificate, his surname is his fathers.  At the time, obviously you don’t think about the possibilities of not staying together so the name for me was not a major point of discussion.  Once we had separated, I started to feel uncomfortable whenever I had to use both our surnames, for example making a doctor’s appointment and so on.  I could sense people looking at me in a particular way, questioning my relationship with ‘MY’ child and acting curious of the background behind the two different names when read out loud. I had to deal with this and I did without anyone really knowing how it was cutting me up inside.  Then, one day my son started to question the difference in our names.  He was also suffering and it was causing him confusion and despair and he let me know he wanted the same as Mummy. I tried to explain the legal side although I did this poorly and quite possibly caused more confusion for the poor soul, however I did my best. I also explained what I thought was morally the right answer as I did not know better

As time passed, my son kept bringing up the subject of his name and asking if he could have the same one as me.  I felt awful as I wasn’t sure of the right answer to give him.  After some thorough researching and checking on my court orders, we (my son and I) came to the decision we would change it and we did.  My son’s name is now hyphenated with my surname first and his father’s second.  I had an appointment with the school principal who agreed graciously with the new name and from the following year, my son took on a new identity almost and he had never been happier.  I sensed he felt more connected with me now we shared a name and over time, my part of the name is more used than the other.

As I have sole responsibility (which in the older term was known as sole custody), I actually have the right to apply to get a new birth certificate with the desired name.  This is certainly on our ‘to do list’ and once we can afford this, we will be changing the name officially.  My son’s father was not happy about this decision at all and at times has caused stress and grief, and an overreaction causing embarrassment, yet at the end of the day it was in the best interest of the child. In my case, it was my son’s choice and after much discussion and counselling of the idea, I supported him and his decision and it could not have worked out any better.

I ask you if you, have been in a similar situation – if so, what did or would you do?

Do you feel it was right that I changed the name of my son although different to what is on his birth certificate?

Do you feel this decision takes anything away from the father, particularly if they do not play a major role in the child’s lives?

I would love to hear your comments and discuss this subject as I feel for many it is a sensitive issue for all involved.

Love and Light

xo

I have found some sites for those of you who are curious about name change and children’s rights.

Ferguson Cannon Lawyers:  http://www.fclawyers.com.au/fact_finders/view/120/category:3

Births, deaths and marriages registries:  http://australia.gov.au/topics/law-and-justice/births-deaths-and-marriages-registries

Australian Human Rights Commission – Children’s Rights:    http://www.hreoc.gov.au/human_rights/children/index.html

What is “Family”?

image by Clker.com

A couple of years ago, my son was in an emotional turmoil.  He was questioning “What is family”?

He didn’t understand where he belonged in the scheme of things.  He knew he had his Mum, Uncle and Aunties and all his cousins and special cousins BUT he felt incomplete in some way. I feel it was a stage in his schooling that made him question where he fitted.  He would cry, get angry and lash out with this confusion.  It was my aim to find something that could help him understand that “Family” is made of up of many dimensions and indeed a family and a wonderful one at that.  I searched book stores, online and anywhere else I could think of for something appropriate to help ease the pain he was enduring. There were books and articles for “My parents are divorced”- I didn’t get married to name one example and I could not find one thing that I felt was appropriate.

image by author

With this in mind, I decided to write something myself. I would love to publish a book one day and I have all the visual in mind of how it would be displayed.  Pushing the goal aside I focused on my main priority which was to help my son in understanding the values of what family really means.  Through my poem it helped and he feels more love than anyone with the family he now recognises is his.
I would like to share this poem with you (it’s a work in progress) and I am searching for a title.  What would you suggest?

I know I am loved
This much is true
I’m normally so happy
But sometimes I feel blue

My Mum tells me I’m handsome
So clever and so smart
I have so many friends
Yet sometimes I get an ache in my heart

 I sometimes feel confused
And I often ask why
So many questions
But no answers so I sigh

I know we can be different
We are not all the same
Mummy says life can be like this
And I am not to blame

Mummy says we are normal
Just because there is only us two
Families are made up of so much more
And our family can be me and you

Some kids have two mummies
Some might have two Dads
There are some who are adopted
Or brought up by Grandma and Grandad

Mummy says that no matter
Families come in all shapes and forms
As long as there is love and security
There are no such things as a norm

I sometimes feel angry
And want to kick and scream
I cannot explain my feelings
And often it feels like a dream

I know Mummy loves me
Although I sometimes feel I am missing out
There are meant to be others who care for me
And with this I feel angry and want to shout

Promises are often made
Many times they are broken
I feel frustrated and let down
Like a bad dream and then I am woken

I still have questions unanswered
And maybe that is how it will be
Yet in my heart I now know I’m so loved
And feel lucky for all who are around me

I came across this article and wanted to share it with you. I feel it is a great reference in understand what family really is.  It is not so much who it should be, yet what we can supply for ourselves and our loved ones. As long as we can provide the main elements, we all can provide a “family” 🙂

http://singleparentsnetwork.com/Articles/Detailed/245.html

You are not alone!

Do you feel the emotions of disappointment, failure, loneliness, victimisation to name just a few as you enter or live in the syndrome of single parenthood?

Do you find yourself asking, “how the hell am I going to do this”; “how am I going to find the money to survive”; “how will I ever find love again”; or “am I the only one going through this?”

The choice of raising a child on your own quite possibly is the hardest decision you will ever make and not one to take lightly.  For others this lifestyle was not a personal choice and one-handed to them by default.  Whichever way you have found yourself in this predicament, we all hold our own stories to tell, and nevertheless we live a life of similarity.

Why this Blog is for you
Do you often have questions where you feel it is impossible to find the answers? If you do, then you are like me and the road of walking as a single parent can and is daunting and quite isolating. Sadly the statistics are proving there are more single parenting families in current times than ever before. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported in June 2011 just under a million homes consisted of lone parent families, and of this 83% were single mother families.   When looking at this ratio, it is obvious those of us who can feel alone know we are not and it gives more reason to have places and associations available where one can obtain relevant information.

Single parents have a duel responsibility in their households and get tired beyond belief. Compared to two-parent households, lone parents have not only reduced money but also half the adult time resources available as cited in a journal by Salome Bronnimann from The Master’s College.  Single parents try to fit everything into the day and still be available for their children’s emotional and psychological needs and doing this is a juggling act whilst maintaining some form of sanity, dignity and individualism.

Where to begin
Solo Talk SP will provide information on various issues of single parenting, relating between emotions one could feel, through to the dramas of cooking, dating and finding love. The Blog will also provide links and posts associated to organisations that exist and may supply the data you are trying to find.  Centrelink, Child Support Agency (CSA) and Relationships Australia are just the starting point in finding the answers among others who offer a variety of services which can assist you in the healing process and to help you move forward.

By following this Blog, you will be sharing in a personal journey of a single parent, while finding answers too many of your questions along the way. You will find encouragement and assurance in knowing you are not alone in the world of single parenting.

*image from dudoism