Positive Mindset, Single Mom

Why I, A Single Mom, Take Pictures With My Kids and Their Dad

Why I, a Single Mom, Take Pics with my Kids and Their Dad

Why Involve Him at All?

How involved should a single mom allow her kids’ dad to be in her life?  And why take pictures with someone you used to be romantically involved with? Since my divorce, I have joined several single mom’s groups, and each one has countless questions (or rants) about this very issue.

Some moms go to the extreme.  If their kids’ dad doesn’t want them, then they will do everything possible to make sure that the dad has little or no relationship with his kids.  Some women go the other extreme and live in the same house with their exes so that their kids can have as much access to both mom and dad as possible.

But most of us are just trying to find that perfect balance in between.

My children have always loved their dad, and he was an involved father.  We used to spend a lot of family time together, so that was a hard adjustment when things ended with us.  We still even ate lunch together for awhile after church every week, although it was a little painful for me to be honest.

With time, however, the awkwardness and pain ended.  We each have our own spaces and lives now (we actually live 3 hours apart), but we do still have the occasional meal together with the kids, usually revolving around pick up/drop off or a school or dance event.  He joins us on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought the kids, and we all eat breakfast together.   We sit beside each other at school events and dance recitals.  We celebrate the kids’ birthdays together.  I can only speak for myself, but it feels comfortable for me now, and I hope it’s the same way for him.

I do know that there is no one who I want to be at those events in my kids’ lives more than him.  He is their dad, and even though things didn’t work out the way I wanted between us, that doesn’t mean that I want to ruin things between them.

I don’t want for my kids to have two birthday parties, or to celebrate and not have one of their favorite people, their dad, in attendance because I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable.

I don’t want for my kids to run down and see what Santa got them without having their dad there the way that my dad was.

But Why Take Pictures With Your Ex?

I’m not sure when we started taking family photos at some of these events.  Usually, someone else asks if we want a photo together (sometimes they don’t even realize that we are no longer married), and we take one.  Every time, I am so happy to have that moment preserved for my children.  It is a moment captured in time when they are with the two people who made them.  And they always look so happy.

The issue of pictures as a “family” came up in one of the single mom groups that I am in and one girl commented that she has always made the point to take family photos with her daughter and her daughter’s dad so that her daughter would always have them when she grew up.  She said that she only has one photo of her with both of her parents, because her parents were not together when she was growing up, and she said that she always treasured that photo.

After she made that comment, several other children of divorced, or never together parents agreed that they also would have loved a picture of their parents together with them, but they never had that.

Even though I am no longer with my kids’ dad, that does not mean that he is no longer a part of their family.  They still have only two parents: him and me.

Every time we take a photo together, my daughter has a photo that she can put on a poster at school of her family like everyone else in her class.

Every time we sit together at her dance recital, she only has to look one place to see the people she loves.

Every time we eat a meal together or experience a special event together (like getting ears pierced or dying hair for a birthday present), she will remember that BOTH of her parents were there.

We have a lifetime of family events to attend together.

She has a lifetime of memories to create.

My hope is that she will remember all of those memories fondly, and that she won’t feel like anyone is missing.

And she’ll have the photo to prove it.

I know that not every mom has this option.  Not every dad wants to be involved.  But for those who do, why not embrace it and give the gift of two parents to your children?

But Won’t Other People Think That’s Weird?

If you choose to let your kids’ dad be involved, you may get some backlash.  Friends or family may not want to be around your ex.  The thing is…your ex is your kids’ dad.  If it is your kids’ recital, school event, birthday, etc. your friends and family should be able to suck it up like both of you are and put on a happy face for the kid they love.

Significant others can make things messy as well.  So far, we have not had this problem.  I told my boyfriend from the beginning that my goal was to have a friendly relationship with my kids’ dad.  Instead of feeling threatened, he admired that.  He joined us on Christmas morning and at other events, and made an effort to get to know my ex.

That is what adults do.  They look for the good in those people who their kids’ love so that they can be friendly and kind and actually enjoy them.

And, let me tell you…it gets easier.

At first, your smile in that photo may be a little forced, but after some time, you’ll find that it is more relaxed.  Just like that first time you sit beside each other at an event may feel uncomfortable, but after a few, you’ll find yourself laughing together about something your child did.

So, Is Taking Pictures With Your Kids’ Dad Worth It?

Yes.  It is absolutely worth it.  Share the moments.  Take the pictures.  It’s worth it for your kids, and it’s worth it for you.

Positive Mindset

Raining Lemons

Y’all.

I have been looking so forward to starting this blog about being positive and living your best life as a single mom, and then, oh the irony.  Today, the day I finally took the plunge and bought my domain, my toilet overflowed ALL OVER THE DOWNSTAIRS.

Tomorrow morning, my oldest daughter will be put to sleep for the first time for a minor procedure and her dad is not able to make it due to being between jobs and living in another state.  My youngest just got over the flu.  And then this happens.

Today is a day when I feel like I have been dealt a few lemons.  Too many lemons.  Well, I’m trying to do my best to make the best darn lemonade I can.

We are all dealt lemons sometimes.  Divorce.  Job loss.  Moving from somewhere we love.  Sickness.  Death of a loved one.  I know I have had all of those thrown at me and more.  But it isn’t about the lemons, what matters is our mindset when they come.

When lemons come my way, I try to deal with them and stay positive, even when I want to curl up in a ball and cry (and sometimes I do that first, just being real here).  However, I don’t stay in that place.  I reset my mind on the positive, and these are some of the ways that I am able to do that, even when everything is bad.

  1. Look for the positive in the situation.  There is always a positive. Tonight, I caught the water before it ruined the entire downstairs.  That’s a pretty big positive.
  2. Meditate on your blessings. My kids are generally healthy.  The flu did not spread through our home (knock on wood).  Speaking of homes, we have one and it is a nice one in my favorite place to live.  I have a wonderful family and lots of friends.  I am not doing this thing all by myself, even if it feels like that in the moment when no one else wants to take care of my sick kid and no one else is there when the toilet overflows right when I need a break.
  3. Ask for help. Tonight I called my parents for advice on how to deal with the plumbing issue (and to commiserate with them).  When my daughter had the flu, I posted on my neighborhood page looking for someone to bring me Elderberry syrup (I had cash) and I had two different strangers bring me things I needed to take care of her since I couldn’t get out.  Even though my daughter’s dad won’t be there tomorrow, my boyfriend will be at the hospital when we get there and my dad is going to come when he has to leave so I won’t be alone.  If you need help, ask for it.  Then pay it forward.
  4. Create more positives. If your life right now is just one big lemon, focus on the problems and tackle them one by one.  Have no friends?  Make some (get started here).  Dating life stagnant when you don’t want it to be?  Put yourself out there.  Unhappy with your health?  Start making choices to move towards your goal.  Create more positives in your life instead of focusing on the bad.
  5. Accept that life will not be perfect.  Life is not perfect for anyone.  There are some things that we just have to deal with.  Parenting is hard.  Relationships take work.  Dealing with an ex on a regular basis because you have children together isn’t super fun.  Focus on the things you can change and control, and look for the good in the situations you can’t change.

I am not perfect, and sometimes I have to have a bit of a breakdown before I get to the stage where I can look at the positives, but it really does help to reset my mind and look for the good in a situation instead of wallowing in the bad.  Because no matter how great a person’s life looks, there is always at least a little bad.  And no matter how awful your situation or mine looks, there is always at least a little good.

What are your tips for keeping a positive mindset when it is raining lemons?