I DID IT!

image from horseshoepets.com

image from horseshoepets.com

How I’ve missed writing for my Blog and writing in general!  Here we are well into 2013 and what an eventful year it has been already.

At the end of November 2012, after endless sleepless nights, hours and hours of studying, hair pulling, tantrums, tears, exasperation, elation, highs and lows, not to mention the physical toll it took on my body, I finished my communications degree. It then wasn’t to mid January 2013 that I found out my fate, which was that I had indeed gained the marks I needed for my final two units to complete my degree and now I am waiting for my official invitation to the graduation in July.  I DID IT! OMG I did it and I’m not quite sure how I did, but I did and the feeling is amazing yet somewhat confusing.

image from deepbox.com

image from deepbox.com

I am not sure if it has hit me yet, the fact I have finished. I mean I know I am no longer opening up text books, responding to discussion forums, writing into the wee hours of the night to complete assignments and studying up for exams – that of course is obvious, yet somewhere within me I’m struggling to adjust. My body is still on the same time clock of the ridiculous hours I kept and the lack of sleep. I’m feeling somewhat lost in not knowing what is next. I am missing my connections with my fellow university students and that feeling of truly accomplishing something.  Its crazy isn’t it! After 3 years of studying fulltime, working 3 jobs, raising a child on my own and all the other bits in between of managing, I should be ecstatic that I now have time to reflect, adjust, catch up and relax and more importantly to be a good mother to my son. I am not saying I wasn’t a good mother, as I know I was, but he was neglected to a degree as any spare time was taken up with studying or working. I did thrive for a balance and I feel in parts I achieved this and I also know deep down the end result was always in the back of our minds, and that there was a reason for all the sacrifices made.

301472_10151109792581553_1711493253_n-1As I take this time to reflect on my recent journey, I am realising what I have discovered and learnt goes way beyond the units I studied in my degree.  I found that there is much more to life than what is put in front of us. Knowledge goes further than the books we read, the papers we skim over or the television shows we watch.  We can become complacent in the mundane things in life, and that is ok, yet there is so much more out there in the big wide world to be exposed to, to absorb, and be exposed to. I truly believe now, that with determination, motivations, discipline, and making sure you surround yourself with wonderful loving people that anything is possible. It could be the smallest of goals or something on a larger scale, yet if it is something that you truly want, then there should not be anything stopping you in achieving it – YOU CAN DO IT!

From the depths of my heart I would publicly like to thank my amazing family, my wonderful friends, my beautiful university friends and to all who have supported me throughout this adventure. Your unconditional love, motivation, encouragement, ears for listening, your spoken words, the countless snuggles you have supplied and for believing in me…

I LOVE YOU and THANK YOU! XO

Ho Ho Ho…Santa is just a sleigh away

Image property of author

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 “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

I’m sorry!

Please do not say you are sorry. Do you know what you are saying sorry for?

Perhaps this statement is a little harsh without explaining the meaning behind it and I feel an explanation is in order.

Let me rewind nine years ago and when I became a single parent. My darling son was only 14 months old at the time. To finally make that choice
to be on my own emotionally and to act on it physically was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Although I knew in my heart and soul it was the right thing, it still did not make it easier. I was in the relationship with my son’s father for seven years. I met him when at the tender age of 21, I thought he was fantastic. We always had a fiery relationship and I do take responsibility for my part in the demise of the breakdown and breakup.

I am a Scorpio; very passionate with a sting. I am told more than once (I dare to admit) apparantly I have a look which can kill on the spot. I do tend to forget but I do not forgive and all this adds to my makeup of who I am. On the other hand of being a Scorpio, I am a very passionate person, I am extremely loyal, I am vulnerable and feel I put others first before myself. Like anyone else, there is good with the bad.

To get back to how I became a single parent; we were young, carefree and the only thing important was to have a great time which we did have…in the beginning. I was 26 when I fell pregnant. Some may say this is young, some may not; yet before this, I had travelled overseas (on my own), lived out of home for years, did the party scene for many years and basically had a fulfilling life. I was not planning on becoming pregnant, not at this stage in my life.  I felt totally blessed when I found out I was pregnant with my son as I was diagnosed with Endometriosis at the age of 19 and had already suffered two miscarriages. I honestly thought I could not have a child, and although I was not sure if I would be raising this child up alone, there was no other option than to keep him. I had a difficult pregnancy as I was sick 24/7 along with fighting food poisoning twice which both times lasted over two weeks. I had a virus throughout the pregnancy and in the last couple of months suffered sciatica. In addition to the ill-health I endured, I also suffered emotional, mental and physical abuse which only seemed to get worse as the pregnancy progressed. I will not go into details, yet it was absolutely horrible and I felt helpless. I did not want my child to become another statistic or go through what I went through having separated parents myself from a young age. I tried to make the relationship work, I did everything that I could within my power, but it was not working.  By the time my son had turned one, I knew what I had to do. One of the difficult areas of this breakup was that not many people knew about my secret life and what I had been going through. I felt responsible for my ex partner and financially and emotionally carried him for a long time after the separation as well as during the relationship.  I finally made the decision and acted on it.  As I had mentioned earlier, it was one of the hardest things I have done, but also one of the bravest things.  I really did not know how I was going to survive yet I knew my son and I would be better off than staying in an extremely unhealthy environment.

Throughout the time of the separation and even now when people find out I am a single parent, their response is…”I’m sorry”. Why be sorry? I can understand people feeling compassion, sympathy and empathy yet please don’t be sorry that I am a single parent. It is one of the best things I have done and from making this choice, I have created a happier, healthier, more loving and balanced life for my son and myself. I embrace being a single parent as I know how my life was and what it would have been if I had stayed in that situation.

Mind you, in saying this, being a single parent is probably the other hardest thing I have had to go through. I am still learning and feeling the hardship of being on my own raising a child. I feel there are many organisations, information and places for people in my situation, yet to find these is very hard. This is the reasoning behind my Blog. My vision is to provide information I have found beneficial through my journey as a single parent. Unless you are in this situation yourself, you really do not know what it is like. You can imagine, that is for sure, just as I can imagine what it would be like being in a two parent situation raising a child. I know it is something I want to feel and share with my son, to become a larger family. I feel in being a single parent, society can title us with a certain image, a certain persona which isn’t always right or fair. On the flip side, we can embrace this title as it shows we are strong-willed, a sound mind and we are quite powerful within our own right.

In thinking about another term to use rather than “sorry”, perhaps there is another word that could be used. To be honest, I am not sure of what that could be and maybe someone could suggest a term that we all feel fits just right?