Dreams Deferred Are Not Dreams Denied

July 26, 2009

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Langston Hughes

This is one of my favorite poems for several reasons. When I was younger, I used this poem as my impetus, my inspiration for working hard to make all of my dreams come true. I did not know what happened to a dream deferred but I was certain I did not want any of my dreams festering inside of me. I wanted to live them out in freedom and celebration. As I matured, some of my dreams changed, but they were never deferred.

It was single parenthood that introduced me to deferred dreams. Putting the needs of my children before my personal amibitions, dreams and goals was the right thing to do and for that I have no regrets. However, as my children transition from dependence to independence, I have time to revisit my personal dreams that have been deferred.

My situation is not unique. Single parents have often had to defer their own dreams in order to help their children make theirs come true. This is the natural order of things and I hope that single parents willingly do this with love and without regret. However, to defer a dream is not to deny it. Single parents, don’t forget your dreams! Keep them safe until the time is right for you to revive them and make them come true. Write your dreams down. Keep them close to you where you can see them regularly.

Often we get so caught up in the struggle of making it from day to day that we forget our dreams and begin to think that the struggle is all there is. We live and breathe this struggle and its all we think and all that we know. One day, we even start to believe that it is all we are. But I say no. We are more than our struggle. We are still the dreams we had before this struggle began and because this stuggle won’t last for always, there are still some dreams we can have when we have overcome this struggle.

I invite you to post your dreams below. Who were you before you became a single parent? What were your dreams then? What are your dreams now? Do not push them aside and do not forget about them. Share them. Share your dreams with me. Share them with other single parents who need someone to help them keep their dreams alive. Whatever you do, whatever happens, whatever your struggle, don’t stop dreaming! 

Single Parents, dreams deferred are NOT dreams denied. Post your dreams below.

 

Intro: Single Moms Raising Sons

July 12, 2009

“Boys today are in serious trouble, including many who seem “normal” and to be doing just fine. Confused by society’s mixed messages about what’s expected of them as boys, and later as men, many feel a sadness and disconnection they cannot even name. New research shows that boys are faring less well in school than they did in the past and in comparison to girls that many boys have remarkably fragile self-esteem, and that the rates of both depression and suicide in boys are frightening on the rise. Many of our sons are currently in a desperate crisis.

We now understand that girls lose their voices as they enter their teens, and are becoming lost not only to themselves, but also to us, mostly as a result of society’s gender stereotypes about girls. Spurred by these insights, we are starting to make some progress in helping girls gain greater freedom, speak in their true voices, be heard and become empowered so they can better develop their individual capacities and strengths as women.

But what of their brothers? And what of our sons?”

Introduction – Real Boys, William Pollack, Ph.D

What of our sons? Statistics seem to say that boys raised by single mothers are destined to fail. If you are a single mother with sons, this is a frightening thought. What can you do, as a single mother to ensure the success of your son(s)?

SingleParent411 has created a Toolkit for single moms that are raising sons. It provides them with the information, encouragement and empowerment they need to kick their parenting into high gear for the success of their sons.

Stay tuned and read each tip in the Toolkit. Share your comments and your thoughts below. Feel free to share wisdom and tips of your own and let us know how your journey is coming along.

Stay Tuned to SingleParent411!

Having It All…Without Losing Everything

July 12, 2009

I always hear people talking about having it all…the perfect job…perfect family…perfect life, etc.

But, what about the rest of us? Some of us don’t WANT to have it all.  We’re forced by circumstances and life choices that we’ve made or others have made to DO it all. So we don’t even have the luxury of considering whether or not we want it all.  We’ve GOT it all and now we’re trying to figure out what to do with it.

That makes the real question – How do you have it all without sacrificing anything?

Compromise is not new to me. It is a word I learned early in my marriage. Until then, the only word I knew was excellence. I pursued it with zeal, almost with a vengeance. Once married, however, I learned compromise. Life wasn’t perfect and some days, excellence was nowhere to be found. So I learned to live with compromise.

After my divorce I discovered a new word: failure. It was a bitter pill for the woman of “excellence” to swallow but it lodged itself into my throat and threatened to strangle me until I had choked it down. Even for the woman who had learned compromise, failure was tough for there is no compromise in failure. It is final. There is no give or take. There is just failure. To kill failure then, I went back to the familiar. I attacked it with excellence. I was determined to be the best single mother ever and have the best children ever thereby vanquishing failure and dispatching it back to whatever dark corner it had slithered from. 

I involved my boys with sports from the early age of 3. I was team mom to both teams even though they were not on the same team and often had games at the same time or 10 minutes apart on opposite sides of town 30 minutes apart. I thought this is what a single mother of excellence would do. They were involved with Church and Youth Group. I ran myself ragged. I baked cookies from scratch, I cooked full meals daily. I made hot breakfasts and hot lunches. I hosted sleepovers and outings in the park. I drove children to the movies, roller-skated (yes, I know) with them on Saturdays and coached basketball, a game I had never played except in gym class, for several seasons.  I did all of that and more in the pursuit of excellence. I think I was under the misconception that if I did enough; single parenthood would never have to touch my children. If I sacrificed enough, they would not have to sacrifice at all. If I did without, it would ensure they had plenty.

After a while, excellence burned me out. I was a single mother of two small boys and being all things to all people at all times was leaving me nothing to and for myself.  I had nothing and yet, stood to lose everything.

I had to make a change. Excellence was killing me so I needed a new path. I could no longer give 100% to 100% of things 100% of the time. Close to my breaking point, I had to make hard and fast decisions. I had to decide for myself, what are my priorities? What do I have to do? What do I want to do? What will I get to when I can? And perhaps most importantly, what will I let go?

That was my first step in the process of defining myself, deciding what kind of mother, single mother, woman I was going to become. In order to do that successfully, I took a leaf from Clint Eastwood’s book and tailored it to fit my own situation. I decided – a woman’s got to know her limitations. 

It was here that I found what I should have been searching for all along: balance. Not excellence, not failure and not even compromise. Compromise was only a tool to use to achieve balance, not the end result that I should settle for.

Finding my balance helped me achieve another important objective: self acceptance. It was in this period that I found inner peace. I accepted the fact that to no one’s surprise except perhaps my own, I was not now, nor would I ever be a perfect Mom. There were things I wanted to do but had no time to do, just as there were things that I should do that did not get done. But through it all, I worked to my fullest capacity to get things done and done well. I enjoyed cooking so I still cooked full meals most days. I hated cleaning however, so I became the Queen of “straightening up” as opposed to “cleaning up.”  Balance. 

Operating within my capacity, and no longer above it, decreased my stress and increased my self esteem. When my daily tasks became manageable, I actually began to manage them without ending my day at exhaustion’s breaking point.  Balance.

What happened next was a wonderful surprise to me. I graduated from managing my life and that of my children to creating successful lives for us. What was happening to me was after I defined myself, and then accepted myself; I noticed instead of just being myself, I was becoming my better self. Finding my balance then ultimately was the key to finding myself.

Have you found your balance?

Welcome to SingleParent411!!

February 5, 2009

Wanna know what’s going on in the exciting world of single parenting?? Stay tuned to find out!!