Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Funny Thing About Pain

I know, my titles are usually weird, but maybe you think this one is weirder than usual. I mean, there are good things about pain -- it tells you you're alive and lets you know when to stop/when you're doing something hazardous to your health and well being. But what can be funny about pain? Well, in my opinion the funny thing about pain is that you can become accustomed to it.

Our bodies are so adaptable. You can become so accustomed to being in pain that it no longer feels painful. It feels normal. You can become so accustomed to being in pain that you don't even realize you were in pain until the pain is gone and then you wonder how long its been gone. Sometimes the absence of pain can almost feel painful. Its like taking a hot shower and gradually turning up the heat until it damages your skin without you even noticing it or boiling a frog. Did you know if you start off with warm water and gradually heat it up, the frog will stay in the pot and be boiled alive?

A while ago, a dear friend commented that in all the time he's known me (about 18 years), I was the most miserable while I was married to Joey. I totally disregarded it as just something people say when you get divorced. Just one of "those" comments that means nothing, but is somehow meant to make you feel better. And then, as I have found myself more, I realized that he was right. As I learn more about the me I am in the aftermath, I can clearly see that I was in pain and now I can feel the pain has receded some and I have no idea when it receded. Or why. Nothing out of the ordinary has happened. I haven't had any magical healing experience. I have only started to get to know myself and started to realize how much I like myself without him here. It is so much easier to like me without being yoked to someone who was supposed to love me, but didn't. Its so much easier to like me when there's no one here to tell me I'm a frog, no one here to turn up the heat. Its like finally exhaling after holding your breath for longer than you ever thought possible or like finally breathing in clean air. Its freeing, liberating, beautiful. Its hard not to inhale too much at once. And its about time.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Maybe I'm just too picky?

Maybe I'm just too picky or maybe I just know what I want. And I'm fully aware that what I want might not even exist. But I've compromised before and look where that got me. . . not somewhere I would like to be again.

I have no idea what I want or need, but I'm looking for a Christian man who doesn't smoke, drink, or do drugs, and is ok with waiting until marriage to have sex. You would think that the Christian part seems to imply the ok with waiting until marriage to have sex part, but I've already chatted with 1 guy online who claimed to be a Christian and the first and only day I spoke to him, he expressed an expectation to have sex -- and soon. Apparently the number 13 following the word mama on a dating site indicates that you have 13 children, which implies that you will indiscriminately have sex with anyone anytime. Oops.

After about a month on the online dating scene, I'm not holding my breath. I'm not even sure if I would want to meet anyone at this point. I want to be ready, but I don't know if I am. I'm just so sick of being lonely.

If you are interested in finding out more about this subject, feel free to check out this blog. Its a very articulately written, humorous blog on this topic and bonus -- I actually know the author in real life.

Friday, January 13, 2012

An Emotional look at Online Dating

You're probably wondering why I would decide to try online dating. I just got divorced in September. It might seem like this is too soon, but for all practical purposes, I've been alone raising my kids for almost 2 years. For a bit there, I thought my husband was still in it with me, but for all practical purposes I have been alone since May 2010. And for all emotional purposes, I've been alone since October 2010. So that little piece of paper might say the divorce happened in September 2011, but in my heart we have been divorced since he left and never looked back.

But why online dating? Well, I am a single mom of 4 girls who doesn't drink, smoke, or do drugs and I don't want to be around people who do these things. I haven't dated since high school. My youngest is 1 year old and it is really hard to leave her and I just can't justify doing so just to go trolling bars in search of men I wouldn't date anyways because I don't want to date anyone who drinks. I don't want to introduce my kids to anyone I'm dating until its serious, so I certainly don't want my kids to be there when we meet. And I have no idea of where to go to meet people besides a bar and I have never been in a bar and don't want to change that. I guess I could meet someone at church, but I go to church every week and so far I have yet to meet anyone.

Its a crappy situation to be in and I have no idea how to fix it. The only thing I could think of to do to try to fix it was to try online dating, so that's what I'm doing. I'm not at the point where I'm willing to pay to try online dating, so I've found a couple free sites and I'm not really that active on them, but it makes me feel better to think that I've done what I can to try to fix it. The rest is up to God.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Practical look at Online Dating

I never in my life thought I would dive into the world of online dating, but lately I have been dealing with a lot of stuff that I never thought would happen. I guess that's life. I'll probably do a follow up post on this later regarding why I chose to pursue online dating along with some personal anecdotes regarding experiences I've had so far in this journey, but for now, this is just going to be a factual post about the different online dating sites I've checked out and which I chose to use and why.

Well, first, there are the personal ads on Craigslist. I know, it seems like a weird place to look for companionship. I typically just check craigslist for toys and fridges and then there's that whole Cragslist Killer thing, but I will admit that in a moment of weakness and loneliness I did check out the personals there and let me just say wow. That is all. I did meet a great friend through craigslist, so its not all bad, but I probably got emailed by upwards of 50 people, 49 of which turned out to be skeevy, pervy, creepy, or in some other manner not someone I would choose to continue to speak to via email, much less meet in person. So I guess this venue gets a 2% success rating so far? By the way, the skeeve factor was bad enough that I am no longer posting or looking on here.

Then there's POF. That acronym stands for Plenty of Fish. As in the saying "there are plenty of fish in the sea". Ha ha, very clever, not such a great place to meet people, but it is free and unlike other sites where you can "join for free", you can actually send and receive messages. I don't have a clue how many people have messaged me there, but so far there's been a 0% success rating of finding anyone I would like to continue to speak to via email, much less meet in person. Not sure why I joined it. People do crazy things when they are lonely, so I guess if joining online dating sites is the craziest I've gotten (and it is) then I'm ok with that.

And then there is Single Parent Meet, which advertises a free membership, which turns out to be a membership where you can post your info, but can't contact anyone else or read messages others send you without paying for a membership, which at this point I am not willing to do. I did have a profile on there, but I deleted it when I realized that it was totally pointless.

Christian Mingle is pretty much the same boat as Single Parent meet, the only difference being you can read the messages others send to you, but you can't reply without paying for a membership. I had a profile here, too, but I deleted it for the same reason I deleted the profile on Single Parent Meet.

And then there's OK Cupid. Its another free site where you can send and receive messages without paying for a membership and the best part about this site is there's an app for that.

These are just the sites I've seen, so if you know of any other sites or want to share your personal experiences, feel free to comment. If you are involved in online dating, remember to stay safe. Don't give out any personal information right away, meet the person at a public place, make sure that someone else knows where you are going and when you are going to be there and stick to the plan. Safety first :) That's the most important.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Purposeful Parenting

I'm all about living propose fully these days and to me, living purposefully is all about putting thought into everything you do. That sounds like a no brainer. I mean, we only have one life and none of us know how long we have, so who would want to waste their time, coasting through life thoughtlessly? You might be surprised by the answer. Coasting through life thoughtlessly is a habit and once started, can be a hard one to break away from. I, personally, spent at least 6 years of my life in this manner and to this day catch myself in the act of acting thoughtlessly. Now that doesn't mean I catch myself doing anything immoral or illegal, just that I catch myself doing without knowing why I am doing what I am doing and I think knowing the why is just as important as the what. If you don't take the time to know why you do what you do then it's much easier to fall down that slippery slope of doing what "everyone else" is doing, which is sometimes ok and sometimes not. But how do you know if you are on the ok path or the not ok path if you don't put any thought into what you are doing?

The same concept transcends into the parenting arena. It seems to me that the more calm, cool and collected parents are those that put a great deal of forethought into their parenting. It also seems to me that parents in general used to put a lot more forethought into their lives prior to having children. First if all, it seems to me that more people married prior to conception and spent time getting to know each other and their own views and their spouse's views on children and child rearing prior to conception. Then when they conceived, they read all the books about what to expect when you're expecting and what to expect the first 4 years and how to shepherd your child's heart. People cared enough to plan what their children would eat, where they would play, what schools they would go to. Everything typical was planned for ahead of time, that way when the child rearing began, they had the time and patience to think about the situation and decide the best course of action to take when something out of the ordinary came up. This might explain why parents had less problems with 12 kids 100 years ago than parents today have with 2. And this is something that is much easier to do before you have kids because, let's face it, kids have a way of making it hard to think clearly.

I, on the other hand, was never going to have kids. So I never thought about how to raise the kids I was never going to have. Then I had my oldest daughter and I was hooked. And 7 years and 3 kids later, I still want more. And 7 years and 3 kids later, I really wish I had done the research and figured out my opinions and stances on parenting. I'm doing it now, but I can really see how it would have been a lot easier to read and comprehend without having to stop every other word or sentence to mother.

To me, the key to purposeful living is knowing yourself, your policies, your authority and then taking all that knowledge and turning it into action. I would be doing a lot better at living purposefully if I didn't find myself falling into old habits of doing without thinking, but I am getting there slowly but surely. Another key is knowing the purpose of your tools and resources. The purpose of parenting books is to provide you with information to help you decide how you want to handle parenting. To help you make up your own mind. To enable you to parent purposefully, not mindlessly.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Importance of Being 2

Last night, I was 2 again. It was a crazy day and I made the executive decision not to cook dinner and instead to order pizza. We ordered Dominoes because my mom likes Dominoes and there's an App for that that I wanted to try. Seriously, there's a Domino's Pizza App that has a pizza tracker on it that tells you what stage the pizza is at. When I ordered, it said the pizza would take less than 30 minutes to receive so I promptly forgot about the pizza and played with my 2 year old. About 30 minutes later, it felt like pizza time and I remembered the pizza tracker, so I went to my phone and it said the pizza was out he door and on its way to us. I got the money together and my daughter asked to hold some, so I gave her a quarter to hold and then I decided to be 2 again. I decided we would wait outside for the pizza to be delivered. We did the pizza dance and summoned the pizza's arrival with cat calls of "here, pizza, pizza, pizza". We asked the moon where our pizza was and stomped like elephants and pretended to be hungry pizza monsters. I asked her where the pizza was and she said it was coming and continued to reassure me despite me pointing out that we could not see it. This went on for about 15 minutes. When the pizza dude finally arrived, we learned that they put the garlic on the crust of the first batch of pizzas and had to remake them. I am assuming this occurred after they marked the pizzas out for delivery and I am glad it did because I had such a great time being 2 with Izzy.

And what is the importance of being 2? Freedom. To be excited. To express every thought and bodily function that we experience. To move any way we want to move. To be positive and hopeful despite our circumstances.

I think we should all be 2 on a regular basis, pizza or no pizza. Next time, I'll do it without pizza and let you know which way is better.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The truth about gifts and other things

What can we say about gifts? Plenty. Especially following the biggest giving season of the year. Whether you got what you wanted, got what you hated or got nothing at all, chances are you have something to say about gifts. Well, here's my say. . .

First, let's discuss the purpose of gifts. In my opinion, there are several purposes, but any gift given without ulterior motives attached should be given for the purpose of bringing someone else joy. Keeping this in mind, gifts should be given to help make the receiver's life easier, provide them with something they need that they otherwise would not have, make them feel special.

Somewhere along the way, people started predetemining gifts, prescribing what gifts should be given when and which gifts were taboo, but I think the best gifts are those that show you that the other person knows you, knows your life, appreciates you and cares about you. The best gifts are gifts that will be used or cherished or both. This seems like a tall order to fill, but really, it isn't. People will tell you what they want or need if you care enough to listen and pay attention.

For example, I told my ex repeatedly that I did not particularly like or use jewelry and that if he was determined to get it for me, I really preferred silver and yet at nearly every gift giving occasion, I received jewelry and it was typically gold. It was nice that he remembered the occasion, but it always hurt that he never seemed to take my preferences into consideration when choosing gifts for me. And with small children who had broken jewelry in the past, it really only got used after he left when I sold it to support my kids. On the other hand, I received the gift of a mug last Christmas that I used daily until its mysterious disappearance which I noticed and mourned. This year, I received a mug from my daughter which I love twice as much because it was from her and because it filled that need that she had listened to me talk about and cared enough to remember.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sometimes it really sucks to be a single parent. There's a learning process you have to go through to change from married parenting style to single parenting style and I don't think I've completed that yet. I still find myself trying to play good cop, bad cop and when you're the only cop, you just end up looking like a wishy washy idiot that can't make up your mind and boy do kids know how to capitalize on people who can't make up their minds. They figure if you can't make it up on your own, then maybe they can make it up for you. And if they succeed even once, they will keep it up until you grow a pair and learn how to make up your own mind before you talk to them or until they get their way every time.

It can be an uncomfortable process for all involved and it takes a lot longer to establish your authority once you've shown an inability to make up your own mind and stick with it, but it's worth it. Households ruled by children with usurped authority function much less happily and harmoniously than households ruled by parents using their God given authority. It's had work to weed out the undesirable behaviors and teach your children right from wrong and it's never ending work, just like washing clothes and doing dishes, but just like with chores, if you teach your children to do it the right way, you can the trust them to take over and do it themselves.

But how do we teach our children right from wrong? How do we "make" them obey? The truth is, we can't. We can teach them right from wrong, but we can't make them learn it and we certainly can't force them to do it. Children are not marionettes. They do not have strings that, when pulled, produce results that can be predicted. Sometimes it seems like whenever I figure out something that works with my kids, I changes. They are like kaleidscopes only without the predictable patterns. It's confusing and frustrating and sometimes completely unfathomable to try to parent them because sometimes they make no sense whatsoever. It's easy to get frustrated and forget that sometimes we don't make sense to ourselves and we are adults and we can see inside our own heads. If we can't understand ourselves 100% of the time, then how on God's green earth can we ever expect to understand anyone else 100% of the time, especially someone else that is less developed and has had less time to figure out what they think and want and need.

It's a confusing and frustrating endeavor, being a parent. Not one that should be taken lightly or without thought and consideration and time spent in prayer. Not for the faint of heart or the impatient. Nor the faint of will.

I bet you think this is the part of the blog where I tell you the magic cure to save you time and effort and keep you from getting frustrated, but honestly I am still figuring it out myself and from what I've determined so far, there is no universal rule or shortcut. The most important thing is to love your child(ren) and act accordingly. Teach and lead them out of love. If you are angry or frustrated, take a step back, take a break and wait until you are no longer feeling angry or frustrated and then correct them out of love. Unless they are under 3. If they are under 3, scream into a pillow and correct them right away because if you wait they will have forgotten what they are being corrected for, which makes the correction pointless.

Take the time to get to know your kids, your self and thoughtfully and prayerfully consider every circumstance in consideration of the end goal, which in my case is raising children who will love God and desire to obey Him out of love.

In case you haven't guessed, this is another of my goals for this new year. To parent purposefully.