Single Mom Out Loud

The joys (and desperation) of raising a boy without a man


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Nope. 30 Ain’t The New 20.

Turns out, 30 years old is just 30 years old. An age that means you are old enough not to feel young anymore, but not old enough to complain about it. It’s like the middle child of ages… no one is impressed or thinks your turning 30 is a big deal but you.

Today one of my good friends is joining me and turning 30 and I’m not having one of those aha moments of gratitude about my age, which trust me, I do have. A lot. I get that the alternative to aging is terrible, but this post isn’t about that. Instead, I’m treating myself to a blunt assessment of what 30 years of life feels like and what is ahead of me. If you are reading through this post hoping for some kind of wise reflection at the end about how age is “only a number” or “you’re only as old as you feel inside,” abandon ship now. This is going to go full-on honest, with zero redemption, and without a neat resolution to lift you up. I’m going to end it in the middle of a thought with a preposition, because.

Aging by the Numbers
Once you reach your first milestone of aging, you quickly learn that if your age ends in a “9,” it’s somehow worse than if it ends in “0.” So, 29 is actually a worse age than 30 because you are the oldest of the twenty-somethings and dangerously close to putting a fork in another decade of lost dreams, unrealized potential, and your skin’s losing battle with elasticity. You figure out that at least when you turn 30, or start any other fresh decade, you become the young’un and can cobble together a fair amount of optimism for how you are going to take hold of this decade and make it your bitch. It’s sweet you think that.

Being the OCD number freak that I am, as I age, I learned that the “0” to “4” at the end of your age is fantastic, and once you hit the “5,” like 25, you round up. You are essentially 30 and everyone knows it. Second halves of decades go faster. It’s proven… probably. You can tell you are in the late half of the decade because people will say, “Wow, you look good… for your age,” which is not even a compliment. But take it. It’s as good as it gets.

So, 30. One third of the way to 90. Ninety. Nine-ty. We all know how fast the first 30 years flew by, so, in the blink of an eye you’ll be that old person who has fallen and can’t get up — only it won’t be so funny then. And here’s a curveball… I’m not even sure I want to live to 90. Think of all the meals you’ll have to think about and cook? I’m already sick of all food. Think of all the people you’ll have to pretend to like. Think of all the dumb things you will have to hear from 21-year-old idiots who think they are smarter than you and got life all figured out.

And think of your body. If I take my body today and add another 60 years of aging to it, I don’t think that’s going to be a good time, and let me tell you why…

Gravity.
Can you even imagine another 30 years of gravity having its way with your skin, fat, boobs… your junk? Yeah, that’s right, guys. Gravity ain’t helping you either. If it’s sagging now, it’s not going to get any better unless you start walking everywhere on your hands, which is something I have seriously considered.

Digestive System.
A few months ago, my body gave me an early birthday present. Suddenly, without any warning, and because it clearly hates me, it decided, unilaterally, that it was done processing the sugary food I love the way it used to when I was 28. Yup. Just, “F you, B. I’m not processing your shit anymore.” Since then I have gained more weight than I have lost and every single meal is a trip to guilt hell.

I can’t express to you how much I love sweets. Instead of this blog, I toyed with the idea of just writing an ode to sweets, but I couldn’t see through the tears to type it.

You’re 30 now. No sugar for you. Unless you want to be a fat whale.

Sleeping Injuries.
You know, that complete immobility you feel in your neck that’s the result of nothing more than sleeping in your bed? Yup. I spent the day unable to look left. I can barely look right, either, but I’m trying to sprinkle in a little bit of optimism here. The truth is if I just sit here and look straight ahead, it hurts like hell. With every radiating shard of pain, my body seems to be saying, “You know you’re old, right?”

And it’s not just cricks in the neck. It’s all kinds of weird body aches you will now get just by sleeping. You’ll think wistfully about the time you fell off your bike when you were 12, Evel Knievel style… over the handlebars, into a complete asphalt roll… and were completely fine. Nothing even hurt. Nothing. You walked away from that with full mobility. Now, you just wake up in the morning and your knee buckles. And because you are in complete denial about the aging process, you start to ponder what might have caused it, out loud, to anyone who will listen. You throw out ridiculous things like that exercise class you took a week ago, that bike crash when you were 12. But it’s nothing. Nothing caused it except good old-fashioned aging mixed with the seemingly benign act of sleeping.

Zits
I wish I could think of one upside to turning 30, like at least I no longer have to deal with acne. But just this weekend I got three zits. Two unpoppable ones on my forehead that seem to be hardwired into my skull. And one massive blackhead on my chin that I managed to squeeze, creating a cut/soon-to-be scar, while the blackhead stayed perfectly intact, mocking me. I don’t know how to pop a blackhead. I’m 30.

Bars
Perhaps the most annoying thing about turning 30 in my opinion is having to share your favorite dive bar and secret bottomless mimosa place with 21 year olds. What I once love about going to bars and hanging out with “adults” is now just another reason to complain about aging. We are now those “adults” we used to look up to when we were 21. The other day I had a 25 year old BOY offer to buy me a drink. Yes boy. Anything under 30 is automatically a child to me.

No thank you. I will stick to my bourbon that I paid for. You can move along to the children’s table at Ihope please.

Heartwarming Conclusion
Lest you get caught up in the “30 is the new 20” nonsense, brought to you by the makers of Oil of No Way, I’m here to tell you that it isn’t. Twenty was 10 years of youth-you-will-never-get-back ago. What you have gained in wisdom is now being cancelled out by your lack of memory. What you have gained through experience is being cancelled out by “nobody gives a crap what you think, old dude.” So, guess what? You’re just 30. Halfway to 60. One third to 90. A good 12 years past high school graduation. Probably two years away from qualifying for an AARP card, which you should totally get… I hear the deals are amaaazing. And 20 years from complete irrelevance, if you’re lucky. But don’t despair. It’s all good, because at least you aren’t 35. That would be half way to decade hell.


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Mother’s Day: An open letter to my 2 year old son

Dear Son,

You are loved. You are worthy.

If there are only two things I want you to always remember, these are it. As I type this letter you are sitting in your room playing with your little wood car. That’s your favorite car. And ironically it is the only toy your father ever bought you. He bought it in your birth town in Brazil, two weeks before you were born. We left the beach and he saw it in a little local store. He picked it up for you because it was handmade. During that moment I actually thought the three of us were going to be a family. Unfortunately things did not happen the way I dreamed it would, and this week, while watching Calliou calling his father, you asked where your own father was for the first time. I don’t think you understood what your question meant, but I did, so it broke my heart anyways. I didn’t know what to say, I don’t know if I ever will, so I just ignored your innocent question and pointed out the birds.

I don’t know if your father will ever come back into your life. This is not in my control. But I do know that his absence has nothing to do with you or your worth as a person.

Forgive him. You are still loved. You are still worthy.

You may never come to understand why he walked out on you. I may never understand it either. But at least try to understand that it wasn’t your fault. As you grow older you will learn that healthy and strong people don’t abandon multiple children. That’s behavior of someone who is weak and afraid.

Forgive him. You are still loved. You are still worthy.

But it’s not all his fault. I shouldn’t have tried to constantly control him and I should have controlled myself instead. I should have acted better.

Forgive me. You are still loved. You are still worthy.

There are times the guilt of not being able to give you a traditional family consumes me and I get very depressed. There are times I can’t handle all the pressure and responsibilities and I get upset when you make the smallest mistake.

Forgive me. You are still loved. You are still worthy.

There are times, like now, that I am terrified you will become him. Or even worse, that you will become me. But then you smile, reminding me you are neither. You are you; An improved version of him and Me. A perfect combination of us both.

Forgive us. You are still loved. You are still worthy.

A lot of times I push you too much and I expect too much. I am afraid if I don’t you will never know how great you are and you will never reach your fullest potential. For this I don’t ask for forgiveness. I ask for understanding.

Understand me. You are still loved. You are still worthy.

I hope your life is filled with love, joy and laughter. Life is a gift, please don’t take it for granted. But life is not perfect, so be prepared for many challenges and many fears. Many mistakes, disappointments and tears.

And while you are riding the roller coaster of life, when you are down, and when you are high up, two things you always need to know for sure:

You are loved. You are worthy.

-Your Mother

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Moving Past Your Past

Friday I got a call from an ex I haven’t seen in years. Someone I was I love with for a long time. He was in town and wanted to see me. I was hesitant at first but I followed my intuition and decided to accept his invitation.

It was weird. It was uncomfortable. It challenged everything I thought I knew at this point. It forced me to look inside.

Throughout the dinner he repeatedly told me I looked differenty and Talked differently. But I couldn’t really understand what he meant. It wasn’t until I got back home that it got me thinking.

When changes happen in our lives we can’t really see it. It’s not sudden.  Changes happen slowly and almost unnoticeably. As we get caught up in life’s responsibilities and tasks we might forget to notice how substantially our lives are changing.  It wasn’t until Mr. Ex mentioned how much I had changed that I started to notice it.

When I got back home I went to look back at old pictures of us and I didn’t even recognize myself. No lines in my face. A lighter smile of someone who didn’t have all the responsibilities of parenthood but a sad smile of someone who was lost and didn’t know who she was.

I was so miserable and I didn’t even know. I was trapped inside my own body with a bright mind I didn’t know how to use.

I was angry at everything and everyone.

I was a rebel without a cause.

A fighter without a reason.
I wanted to change the world but didn’t even know how to change myself.

I wanted to control everyone and everything just so I could feel safer but reality is I couldn’t even control myself.

As months turned into years. As parenthood arrived and along with it so did single motherhood, I learned that I have learned. I have grown. I have evolved. I have become someone I wouldn’t have recognized 5 years ago.

As cliche as it may sound, some lessons can not be taught. They must be learned through experience.

Maturity can’t be forced or rushed. And it has absolutely nothing to do with age.

Going out with my ex made me realize how  much I have been underestimating  myself.

People change. I’ve changed. Life teaches us to change. With each passing year we learn something new. The irony of life is that as older and wise we get the less likely we are to share those lessons.

So here I am sharing with those who are lost the knowledge that one day everything will in fact be okay.

With times things will fall into place even though there will always be people who want to keep you chained to your past and your mistakes.

I am a mother, a writer, a project manager, an entrepreneur, and a future law student but yet there are people who still hold me to my 24 year old self. 

Break yourself free. You don’t live in your past anymore.

Forgive yourself even if others don’t forgive you. This is what struggle and adulthood has taught me.

You will know you’ve reached personal peace when things start to become so simple it’s scary. We then start to let of some needs, we reduce our baggage.

We begin to understand that people ‘s opinions are exactly just that; theirs. And even if it’s about you it’s irrelevant.

We start to give up our certainties because are really not sure of anything anymore. We stop judging because there is no longer a right or wrong, just the life each person chose to experience. We just understand that what really matters is peace of mind, is living without fear and doing things that makes us happy at each specific moment, even if we don’t get it right.

And that’s all.


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The 5 Things I Learned Traveling Alone

1. The world is not as scary as on TV. 

From the moment we are born we are told the world is a scary place. Our parents main focus is to protect us. To keep us safe in this big universe of ours. They teach us not to talk to strangers, to not trust anyone except them, to be careful when we walk alone. We are programmed to be scared. And we can’t really blame them. Children are vulnerable, innocent and weak. Children are prey to all that is bad in the world.

But as we grow up we need to take upon ourselves the responsibility to unprogram our brains.

We need to turn off the news that constantly tell us about rapes and murders and blood.

There are 7 billion people in this world. If the majority was bad, humanity would have gone extinct a while ago. I am not saying there aren’t dangers in the world, I am saying the good far outweighs the dangers.

Most people will help you get to your destination without harming you. Most people will give you a ride without killing you. Most people are good.
Be smart. Follow your gut instinct. Be open to humans.

2. Loneliness is a human experience. 

Loneliness is the one feeling I constantly experienced traveling alone. Yes, I was surrounded by people everywhere I went. I met amazing new friends that I know I will keep for many years. But a deep feeling of loneliness was part of my entire trip. I would mostly feel lonely when things went wrong or when I didn’t have anywhere to share my perfect moments with.

When a snake bit me I cried. Not because it was painful. But because there was no one there who cared about me to hold my hand.

When I watched the perfect sunset from the top of a cliff I had swam to and climbed at, I felt my eyes tear up. Not because I didn’t like what I was seeing, but because I didn’t have anyone to put my head against.

Loneliness is not permanent. It’s an experience that every human feels. Embrace it. Sit with it. Feel it. Like every other experience, loneliness is temporary. It will come and go, like it did throughout my trip.

Conquer it. Learn to live with it. And don’t ever date someone simply because you are afraid of it.

3. Control is limiting. 

I am a very controlling person by nature. I make dozens of lists a day. Grocery list. Errands list. Meal list. Exercise list. I make lists for lists I need to make. That’s how bad I like to control my life.

Every time I cross a completed item off one of my lists, I feel a bit more accomplished. This is how I have always been. And as much as this OCD organization has kept my life on track, it has also held me back. For every item crossed off that gives me a sense of accomplishment throughout the day, an item left unfinished or incomplete gives me huge amounts of anxiety. If I have to push the car wash from Wednesday to Thursday, I spend at least an extra 30 minutes before before thinking about how I have to get it done this time no matter what. I will literally obsess about unfinished errands as if my life depended on it.

Traveling on my own, I decided to plan every detail of my trip so I wouldn’t find myself lost in Central America. I planned every day and every activity but every single plan went out the window the day I arrived in Costa Rica.

The flight was late and therefore I wasn’t able to visit the national museum in San Jose. The museum was the only reason I had planned a night in San Jose in the first place.

I was frustrated. I knew the trip was set to go to shit just because I missed one thing on my list.

Then something amazing happened.

Because I missed the museum, I went to dinner early instead. And there I met a German girl who was traveling to Nicaragua. She told me the public bus she was taking would pass through La Fortuna (where I was heading) and that I could join her if she wanted. I had originally planned on taking a private shuttle that would cost me $69. But because my flight was delayed and I missed the museum, I was now able to take a public bus that I didn’t even know existed for $5 instead.

And this is how every single day in Costa Rica went. From getting lost, to getting bitten by a snake, to meeting different different people with different plans who invited me to join in. Every day went completely different from what I had planned.

And it was so much better.

For the first time in my life I felt complete and utter freedom. And it felt amazing.

4. You can run. You can hide. But you can’t forget. 

The second main reason I needed to get away and get away alone (besides to learn to embrace my loneliness), was to forget. Forget a guy I had fallen in love with. Forget my life. Forget my problems.

I ran. I hid. But I didn’t forget.

The problems kept consuming my mind. My life was still the same, but in a different continent. And the guy I wanted to forget, kept creeping up in my mind every time I saw something beautiful or experienced something amazing.

In the end, we need to learn to be alone. We are born alone and we are buried alone. There is no reason to attach us so much to others in the mean time.

Those who care, cares.
Those who don’t, just don’t.

5. We need connection not things. 

This trip reminded me how much I love third world countries. It’s such a reality check. It’s grounding. It’s refreshing. The simplicity in Costa Rica reminded me that we don’t need the most expensive cars, and latest iPhones and iPads and brand name clothes. We don’t need all this crap. It only distance is from ourselves. We don’t need tinder and countless dates with shallow conversations with people we don’t even like because we are trying to fill a void we don’t even know we have. We need nature and real human connection beyond the screen of our phones. We need fresh fruits and real food. We need home grown vegetables and chickens.

There is poverty and hunger all around us. There is injustice and oppression all over the world. Every single person reading this is privileged. We did nothing to be born in the country we did to families we did and away from war and hunger. You didn’t earn these life events. It was pure luck.

Quit being entitled. Be grateful.


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Endless Mistakes and The Search For Perfection

I’ve held tight to someone I loved for fear of losing him; I’ve lost him because I’ve held on too tight.I’ve held a stranger’s hand because I was terrified and I’ve been so terrified that I couldn’t even feel my hands.

I’ve obsessed on others to avoid my problems. I’ve created bigger problems because of my obsession.

I’ve been betrayed by someone who I thought was my soul mate. I’ve betrayed him as well.

I’ve broken the law and I’ve let the law break me.

I’ve believed in perfect relationships and I’ve found out they don’t exist

I’ve manipulated and regretted it; I’ve been honest and also regretted it.

I’ve pretended not to care about those I loved and later found myself pretending to care about those I didn’t.

I’ve fought for what I believed was true love only to find out it was just sex.

I’ve had panic attacks, anxiety attacks and laugh attacks.

I’ve destroyed phones, doors and windows out of anger and I’ve let that same anger destroy me.

I’ve kept from expressing what I was thinking to please others; other times I spoke words I didn’t mean to hurt them.

I’ve told lies because it was easier than telling the truth. I’ve believed lies for the same reason.

I’ve tried to be someone else so I would be loved and I’ve loved those who pretended to be someone else.

I’ve fell countless times thinking I wouldn’t get back up; I’ve gotten back up thinking I wouldn’t fall again.

I’ve tried to desperately change others but I struggled to change myself.

I’ve texted those I didn’t want just so I wouldn’t text those who were on my mind.

I’ve dated the wrong people hoping they would turn into the right ones. I’ve spent a lot more time looking for a great man than I did becoming a great woman.

I’ve thrown away my dignity and I’ve embarrassed myself multiple times. But always for the same reason. And the same person.

I’ve pissed away my reputation but only because I didn’t know any better.

I have literally chased a car just because it was taking away the one I loved; I’ve run away from those who loved me.

I have insecurity issues, abandonment issues and many other issues.

I’ve hurt so many but hopefully I’ve harmed none.

I regret many choices, many actions and many words. But I don’t regret the experience.

I constantly wonder what could have been and should have been if only I hadn’t done that one thing to that one person.

I am constantly learning and I’ve learned that I will always make mistakes.

I am looking to improve because I know improvement is essential.

But I am not looking for the right formula.

Because I know I won’t always get it right. 


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On Hard Days: A Reminder 

There will always be days like these. Always. Ones that make you feel like switching off the sun, crawling underneath your skin and forgetting about this whole catastrophic cantankerous world.
Today is too much. Yesterday was more than enough. Tomorrow you just don’t want to know.
You feel broken.
Your cells feel fractured in millions of places, each one dangerously free-falling out of control, slamming hard against the wretched cold, hard floor. Your body is pulled down with them and gravity’s force menacingly keeps you in place.
Everything feels to be against you. All of nature’s elements lean in to watch while you struggle to breathe as the excruciating emotions clog up in your chest.
Sometimes it feels easier to give up and to stay under the covers, rather than stepping over the weighted moments that torment us before they pass.
But, believe me, it isn’t easier and the longer you stay this way the harder it gets to blow the dense clouds that have gathered around you out of harms way.
Although you may have received a few cracks, you are definitely not broken. And I know the world can be dark at times, but there is far more light if you are willing to open your eyes and let it in.
You might have entangled with ones who snubbed you or foolishly mistook your vulnerability for weakness, but they aren’t dragging you down. You are doing it to yourself. Stop. You are more than that loss and that rejection. You are more than your grief or your insecurities or your fear of being abandoned again. 
So do not let whatever has happened so far define you, as every new encounter is a catalyst. Instead, let it catapult you ahead so that you may be carried with the waves and the wind.
You will always rise up wiser and stronger no matter how weakened you feel at the time.  
Parts of your journey may be irreparable, but you are resilient and although you may sway and bend, you will never break.
Even when people do things that hurt every fiber of your being, and you bruise and ache due to the excruciating avalanches of ice-cold loneless that freeze you to the bone, as soon as your passion for life rages inside again, you will quickly thaw out.
Existing on this planet can be harsh at times. You may stumble and falter but you must keep going. You might even fall apart but each shattered piece knows where it belongs and will find its way back. 
You’ve barricaded yourself in so that no one sees how damaged that delicate but fiercely pounding heart of yours is and you’ve hidden that contagious curve in your smile for far too long.

You’ve forgotten your unique multidimensional significance.
That’s okay. You needed some space and time. 
I’m just here to remind you to feel everything deeply. Feel it all, let it run over you. Scream if you want to and let it all out, but don’t ever be afraid of love. The stirring in your soul is necessary. Allow it to move through you and out so it touches everything that exists, regardless of proximity.
Find some thread, stitch up your wounds with colorful thread and create a beautiful tapestry all over your skin. Piece yourself together like a beloved and patchwork blanket and watch how the battle scars that adorned your mind miraculously heal.

“There is a crack in everything.That’s how the light gets in.” ~ Leonard Cohen

You are not broken. You are breaking through.