Noncustodial Mom and Founder of CFAA Speaks Out

The next guest in our interview series with dynamic women is a non-custodial mom, competitive fitness athlete, survivor of domestic violence AND my cousin (I’m so proud that I get to say that), Nichole Cruz. Before I share her insight on fitness, motherhood, divorce and moving on, let me share what I have learned from her. No matter what she has struggled with she is not bitter; she’s better because of it. She has learned to channel any negative feelings she has as a result of her circumstances through fitness, accept her reality and try to make the best of it. Check out our interview below and enjoy!

ncruzKela: You are a divorced mom of 3; is it difficult to balance dating, work and motherhood?

 Nichole:  When the children were younger, being a divorced mother and juggling day to day tasks was quite challenging and exhausting.  After my divorce I maintained working hours that were conducive to motherhood 8 to 5pm and even starting my own business to create my own hours.  I also incorporated my children into my workout routine; taking them to a local track and bringing along soccer balls and bikes so they can exercise while I ran.  In terms of dating, it was always important for me to keep my social life separate from my role as a mother.  I dated when the children were spending their time with their father.  It’s never easy dividing your time, however putting each role into their respective levels of importance is key. 

 Kela: Divorce is difficult for most, as we all know. How has fitness empowered you, not only physically but emotionally and mentally?

 Nichole:  I am a survivor of domestic violence.  I began my transformation a tad bit backwards, from the outside in.  After my third child, I returned to the gym with a friend of mine and began to gain physical strength and transforming my body.  As the physical changes emerged, the emotional and mental changes followed.  I began to rediscover my outer and inner strength which in turn, empowered me to leave the marriage, as a stay-at-home Mom, with no money – only my children and a minivan to my name.  One’s sense of self and self-confidence comes from FEELING good on the inside.  I began mine from the outside: I felt confident looking in the mirror which transformed my inner being.  The Phoenix tattoo on my back was a symbol of rebirth – of going through hell and emerging stronger and more powerful than before.

 Kela: How difficult is it being a non-custodial mom? What are some things that you did to cope once the custody decision was made? How did you help your children cope?

 Nichole: Traditionally, women were awarded custodial custody of the children post divorce, which was initially what happened in my case.  As the children grew, my ex-husband and I amended the original parenting agreement several times and most recently via a custody battle, my children’s father was awarded custodial parenting time.  Although it was not by choice, I had to determine how I was going to maintain my relationship with my children as they were accustomed to.  Because they are teenagers, it is a little easier to cope with the decision although it is still unsettling.  They all have cell phones, so I will either text or call them daily.  I ensure that I am involved with their education by keeping in contact with their teachers, keeping up with their grades and attending their sporting and school functions.  I try to stay involved in every aspect of their lives so that where they sleep doesn’t limit their contact with me or mine with them.   I also make sure that my parenting time with them is quality time, reconnecting and enjoying each other’s company, yet getting down to business and still being “Mom.”

 Kela: What advice do you have for other divorced moms? Non-Custodial moms?

 Nichole: My advice to other divorced Mom’s would be to make sure you stand up for what you want in terms of your children.  Your voice is extremely important and deserves to be heard.  As a non-custodial Mom, you may have to fight harder in order for your wants for your children to be heard and valued.  Don’t allow anyone to make you feel lesser than a mother because the legal system dictated the percentage of time you are allowed with your children.  Make sure the children know that you love them and are always accessible to them regardless of where they reside.

womanexercise Kela: Okay, let’s talk fitness. Give me 4 easy, but beneficial exercises a mom can do from the comfort of her own home?

 Nichole: This is my passion!  There are so many things you can do at home to stay in shape!  Body weight exercises are perfect to tone your muscles without going to a gym.  The following is a sample circuit which incorporates cardio and weight bearing exercises to get that metabolism stoked!

 60 seconds jumping jacks/running in place

60 seconds squats – thighs parallel to the ground

60 seconds push ups – if it gets tough, drop to your knees but KEEP MOVING

60 seconds crunches/sit ups (10 crunches, 10 situps – rotate for 60 seconds)

60 second rest

Repeat circuit 5 times – you will have completed 25 minutes of a muscle toning, total body workout! 

 Kela: How important is physical fitness for those who lead stressful lives?

Nichole: Physical fitness is not only important for the average individual, but more so for those who have stressful lives.  Exercise can cause release of chemicals called endorphins into your blood stream. These give you a feeling of happiness and positively affect your overall sense of well-being. Physically, exercise improves your cardiovascular functions by strengthening and enlarging the heart, causing greater elasticity of the blood vessels, increasing oxygen throughout your body, and lowering your blood levels of fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides. All of this, of course, means less chance of developing heart conditions, strokes, or high blood pressure. Mentally, exercise provides an outlet for negative emotions such as frustration, anger, and irritability, thereby promoting a more positive mood and outlook. Exercise improves mood by producing positive biochemical changes in the body and brain. Regular exercise reduces the amount of adrenal hormones your body releases in response to stress.  Beyond the stress, it’s important to model a healthy lifestyle for your children.  Our children are becoming more sedentary as our society increases technology.  Being fit increases the likelihood that your children an even your grandchildren adopt a healthy lifestyle and opt for healthy choices. 

ncruztn1 I am a 38 year young mother of three, a Personal Trainer as well as a Competitive Fitness Athlete.  I have been competing in Figure Competitions for approximately 4 years and most recently placed 5th in a local competition.  I have developed an association: CFAA -Competitive Fitness Athletes Association, to promote, develop and cultivate the competitive fitness athlete of color.  To learn more about the sport and about CFAA please email me:  cfathletes@gmail.com.  The website is soon to follow.

Advice for Single Divorced Moms

Single Divorced Mom and Actress, Nia Long

As a stepmother, I realize that we have very difficult positions in our stepfamilies. Many have been thoroughly discussed and explained right here on this blog. However, as a former single mother, I understand how difficult this position can be as well.

It is easy to lose yourself while going through a divorce or breakup while trying to raise a child simultaneously. As I’ve stated in earlier posts, the divorced mom has to keep going regardless. Finding the time to grieve the loss of a life she once knew and figuring out a way to move forward is a challenging task for the single divorced mom because she is often times the custodial parent.  She is responsible for the daily tasks involving the children and can’t stop for long periods of time to cry, scream and/or just collect herself. As a result, her emotions are often all over the place and she clings to what she feels like she has some control over – HER CHILDREN.  For a minute, let’s put ourselves in her shoes. Ex-husband gets more free time to grieve, to figure out his next move and to date. I realize that he’s a parent too, but let’s be honest; an every other weekend dad pales in comparison to the job of a full-time mom. On top of that, he has the nerve to demand when, where and for how long he can see children who she is primarily responsible for AND, don’t let him get a girlfriend or a wife, who is now on the other end putting in her demands as well. The nerve of these people trying to step in and tell her how to raise children that she’s had to give up her life and sacrifice so much for. Dad is clearly out having a life, while her time is limited because she has the kids most of the time.

I bet she’s thinking, “The nerve of these people.” “They should show me a little more respect as the woman who primarily cares for these children, instead of acting like my opinion doesn’t even count!” I certainly know that’s I initially felt this way as a single mother. It truly did feel like my ex and his wife were ganging up on me instead of working with me to raise our son.

As you can imagine I was initially really upset because the situation felt extremely unfair to me. But, then I started to look at the situation from a different point of view. I realized that my ex asking for more time to spend with our son could actually work to my benefit, duh! All along I had been complaining that while he got to run off and live his life, I was the one who had to sacrifice to be the full-time parent. Well giving him more uninterrupted time would give me more time! I’d be a fool to challenge that just because of my ego. As a result, I decided that he could have him whenever he wanted and our son could visit with him whenever and for how ever long he wanted to. I would not stand in their way because by doing so, I was standing in my way as well.

In a interview with Clutch Magazine, actress and divorced single mother, Nia Long said that she looks forward to her “Nia Time.” She went on to say that part of maintaining her peace of mind is making sure she carves out those moments for herself; moments to workout, take mini vacations or spend time with her girlfriends.  By doing so, she is able to return to her mommy duties refreshed and recharged, ready to do it all over again! She also encouraged single mothers to ask and accept help and expressed that her ex-husband is very involved in their 9 year old son’s life.

It’s important for the single divorced mom to get out there and get her groove back. I want to encourage you all to let go a little and allow your ex-husband to spend more time with his kids. It doesn’t mean that you’ve lost or will lose anything. Your babies will ALWAYS be your babies, no matter how wonderful stepmom is, she’ll never be able to replace you. Find comfort in knowing that and use this time to get out there and regain your independence. Take a mini vacation, do something that you’ve always wanted to do, flirt a little, laugh a lot and finally realize that more time for dad means more time for you! It is possible to still be a divorced mom without losing yourself.

So to all my modern day divorced mommies, the next time the kids are away, (don’t worry they are in good hands) promise me that you will play. Put on a little black dress, call up a girlfriend and get out there and get your groove back. Remember, you are more than just a mom or an ex-wife, you are a beautiful woman who deserves to feel like that every moment you get. It doesn’t make you a bad parent. It will actually make you a better one!

Grace and Peace,

Kela

Divorce and Single Fatherhood

Picture having 3 rambunctious little boys, ages 5, 6, and 8, while dealing with diabetes and in a less than thriving economy. Some would take bets on whether the extreme exhaustion or diabetes (aggrivated by stress) would take you out, but neither has taken 32 year old Carl Torrence out just yet. He awakens every morning to the pitter patter of six little feet, complicated schedules, cooking, cleaning and the overall joys and perils of fatherhood. He’s a regular modern day Mr. Mom – only there’s no Mrs. Carl is a single father who has been raising his boys since they were only 1, 3 and 5.

Carl has been separated from his wife for almost 4 years and divorced for a little over a year. Initially, the boys stayed with their mother but a month after the separation his oldest son started acting out.

“My oldest son started acting out. She couldn’t handle it so she sent him to live with me. Two months later, the other boys came to live with me, too. She often times would say that she didn’t want to be a mom.”

Because Torrence grew up in a broken home himself and was raised by his father, he always knew that if he and his ex-wife ever separated or divorced he would want his children.

“I was raised by my father and I used to tell my ex-wife that if something happens between us, they would live with me.”

However, Torrence decided to leave his very young children with their mother initially because he didn’t want them to suffer and he didn’t think he could properly care for his children at the time. Not to mention that he never saw his mother when he was younger and didn’t want the same for his children.

Carl admits that he had a really tough time taking care of his boys.  He was selling real estate in a terrible market and he couldn’t afford day care for his 1 and 3 year old. He lost his job, his house and had to obtain government assistance just to feed them. He moved them to a fixer uper that didn’t even have heat, nor did they have beds. Some nights they slept in a tent in the living room and he told them they were camping so they wouldn’t know the reality of their situation. He didn’t know what or how he was going to do it some days, but he knew he was happy that they were all together.

When I asked Carl why he just didn’t get a divorce at that time and then make her pay child support, he said that he was afraid of losing his kids.

“This is a woman’s state and I thought they would demand that I return my kids to my ex-wife, even though she didn’t want them in the first place. Most women are vindictive. When they get mad there is no telling what they’re going to do and I didn’t want to lose my kids.”

Because my husband is currently experiencing parental alienation (usually women are the alienators), I was curious to learn whether or not Carl has ever felt as if he’s alienated his children from their mother and he responded with an emphatic NO! He also said that he never says anything negative to her or about her to his kids.

“I never pushed her away. My boys love their mom, but right now they need her to be something she’s just not, and I do all I can to create that person in their minds. I told my ex-wife that the door remains open for her to come back into their life and they will be accessible to her as long as they needed her.”

When asked about dating, Torrence admitted that he would like to date, but said the woman will have to be VERY special if she plans to interact with his boys. He doesn’t want his sons around any old type of woman.

“I don’t want to just date any kind of woman, he said. She must be goal-oriented, not married and love kids. These boys require a lot and I need to know that she can handle what she signs up for.”

From soccer practice to grocery shopping and from cooking to cleaning, Carl is redefining fatherhood; proving that some men love their children just as much as women do and instead of running away from their responsibilities, they are running to them!

“My job as their father is to prepare them for life; for the things that I know are coming and for the things that I don’t know are coming. I will do all I can to be the best parent I can be to make sure that they grow up being well-rounded young men.”

Loneliness – A Reality of Being Newly Divorced

It almost seems like every day as a single parent you are dating your kids.A wonderful evening is dinner with your children with an hour episode of Hannah Montana, ICarly, and Josh and Drake.You end the evening with a charming but gentle story about a person who has nothing and in less than 40 pages ends up gaining the whole world.You teach faith to your children as you amiably pray with them and agree with God that they will grow up to be that person that gains the whole world, just like the characters in the book.You kiss them on the forehead and remind them that you love them. You turn and exit the room realizing that you don’t have anyone to tuck you in, kiss you on the forehead and pray with you.What used to be a warm bed is now filled with pillows that mimic the fact that you are alone.

You exit your child’s room pissed off because this is not what you dreamed about. This is not what your parents prayed about for you.Instead of having gained the world, this story has ended horribly.You find yourself looking at your collection of children books and what used to make you happy as a child makes you irritated.You say to yourself that all of these childhood stories are lies.If you are a man you might begin to think that there is no such thing as a Cinderella but a gold-digger instead.And what does seven men living with Snow White make her – a ‘hoe’?If you are a woman you might wonder if your Kent is really Kermit the frog and if your Prince Charming just got out of jail and is without a job. All of a sudden a little person that wears a dark outfitand looks just like you, sits above your left shoulder and reminds you that your ex -spouse left a bottle of tequila that you bought 10 years ago on your honeymoon. You were going to open it on your anniversary, but hell he or she is gone. You take a moment to reflect on your past relationship then you open the bottle and take a few shots, not really drunk but tipsy, you find the courage to pick up the phone and call your ex just to say, thank you for nothing, laughing as you hang up the phone.The morning comes and you find yourself with a headache and the reality that you are starting over again.They are gone and you are left picking up the pieces.

Loneliness is a reality of being divorced.What used to be so common is now so uncommon.You want to cry but ever y time you try to deal with your emotions you can’t because you have to do something for your children.Let’s not forget the haunting sounds of family that are missing.It feels like your house is filled with ghosts.You look in the direction they once played or slept only to find they aren’t there anymore. Your parents call you everyday just to make sure you have not tried to kill yourself.You will not watch romantic movies because it too much to handle.You hate to see couples and you feel like the universe has robbed you of your dignity.You hate running into people who knew you and your spouse, because they always ask how the other person is doing.Over and over again you have to say that we are going through a divorce.What really makes you mad is when they say those magic words, “I am so sorry.”You have this 30 second dream where you kick the ass of every person who should have told you that your marriage was going to end one day.When you come back to reality they are still talking, you find an excuse to end the conversation, instead of saying, “Could you please shut the hell up, before I kick your ass!”

Even though it seems that your world is ending, your life is just beginning.I have learned that regardless of the circumstance the sun will rise again. What appear to be your darkest days are the days where you display tremendous amounts of strength.The reality is that you are not dating your kids you are putting your kids first while trying to find a balance.It takes time to learn how to be the responsible parent while learning how to reconfigure your life.Instead of trying to find love, spend time trying to find you.Explore the things that you always dreamed of doing. Take a dance class, meet new people, explore the world though the eyes of a new opportunity instead of through the eyes of a broken marriage.Remember, you are not alone; millions of people have gone through a divorce.Even me, I am a new inductee into the blended family crew.

Antonio Love is a recently divorced father who is currently raising his daughter. He is also the author of Talking What Ya Want and Divorce, Who Needs Furniture Anyway. For more information on Antonio Love and his movement, please visit www.antoniolove.com.

BFSO Loves The Newest Seattle Seahawk, Aaron Curry!

On Saturday I watched the NFL draft with my number one draft pick – my husband. We actually DVR’d it because we were gone when it came on. My baby surprised me with a movie (we saw Obsessed and it was FANTASTIC!), and afterwards we enjoyed sushi, strawberries dipped in chocolate, wine actually it was sparkling grape juice because we don’t drink, the most delicious cheesecake and the house to ourselves for several hours. It was wonderful!!!

At any rate, I actually enjoyed watching the draft; not only because I get to spend some time with my husband, doing something that he enjoys more than life itself, but because I love hearing the stories behind the players. Like many of the previous drafts, this year’s draft featured many players who come from single parent and blended homes and homes without fathers. I was amazed when I heard what these young men had overcome, their positive attitudes despite their circumstances and their caring hearts. One of my favorites this year is the newest Seattle Seahawk, Aaron Curry.

Born April 6, 1986 in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Curry was drafted fourth overall by the Seattle Seahawks as a linebacker. After watching the tears in his eyes while he gave a hug to his little friend, lukemia patient, Bryson Merriweather, I could tell that this was a very special day for both of them. Immediately, I fell in love with Mr. Curry!

Curry had known Bryson for a mere 10 days, but it looked like they were long-time friends. When Curry found out that he was going to the draft, he called St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis to see if any of the kids might want to accompany him and Bryson’s story captured his heart.

The 12 year old was at football practice one afternoon and was having trouble breathing. His mother took him to the doctor thinking it was asthma, but the doctor informed her that it was lukemia. She said that football actually saved his life.

Aaron Curry with 12 year old lukemia patient, Bryson Merriweather

Aaron Curry with 12 year old lukemia patient, Bryson Merriweather

Because Curry grew up in a rough area of Fayetteville, North Carolina and had minimal contact with his father – his father is former Detroit Lions, Reggie Pinkney, he felt the same way about football.

“It kept me off the streets, allowed me to get a great education, and always gave me a place to cope with my frustrations,” Curry said.  “Without football, there was no way I was going to be able to manage some of the things that I went through.”

A likely match, Bryson and Curry flew to New York on Wednesday. They enjoyed a private tour of the Empire State Building, lunch at ESPN Zone, video games and of course, the draft on Saturday. It was the first time in New York City for both Curry and Bryson and clearly a time in their lives that neither would forget.

Curry was raised with his two older brothers by his mother, Chris Curry. He has had a minimal relationship with his father, former Detroit Lions and Baltimore Colts defensive back, Reggie Pinkney. And it looks like Ms. Chris Curry did an EXCELLENT job with this young man despite minimal contact with his father.

Aaron Curry's father, Reggie Pinkney

Aaron Curry's father, Reggie Pinkney

WE LOVE AARON CURRY! His heart, positive attitude, and strength should be not only admired, but celebrated. Often times athletes get a bad wrap, but Aaron Curry proves that SOME are really caring, compassionate citizens of this world who desire to give back.  BFSO salutes Aaron Curry!

Divorce – Who Needs Furniture?

An excerpt from the book, Divorce, Who Needs Furniture Anyway?

I never would have thought it could happen to me. I have spent endless days evaluating the things that has brought me to this moment of truth. I am going through a divorce. I am single again. What was a ten year investment has crashed like the economy and I find myself handed a pink slip reminding me that I am no longer needed for my services. I am beyond crying I am shell shocked, as I look at her boxes as they fill a home that was designed for us. I flip channels on the TV because I can only assume that this is a romantic movie and somehow the love and romance will soon spark and somehow it will be fixed. Needless to say that time never came as I still get caught in ignoring the world around me as it is packed away. I sit and sip wine as if you were still sitting here. Only to remind myself that it was only my imagination, that you have never sat next to me. Feeling disgusted that i am caught dreaming about a dream. Dreaming of a world by which two people are in love with the thought of being in love. That we both live in a world of us and and everything else is just in it. That time never arrived as the movers have pulled up to the house. I was naive to the warning signs. That this marriage was long over, I guess when communication was like having a business meeting and sex was like an appointment, that just might be a sign that the relationship is over. However, I loved as If I was blind. While the movers start loading the truck.

We sit and talk for the last time, civil like friends. Reflect on the good times you wish me the best and I tell you I hope you find the happiness you could not find in me. Then we both agree that our little girl would stay with me and we will raise her together. Then Bobby the mover asked are you about ready. You nod with a yes. We hug for the last time. I walk you to the door I wave as you get into your car and drive away. As I locked the door, an epiphany in my heart arose that I was locking a door to season of my life that was over. That my life at this point would forever be different. The way I look at my life, love, and relationships will forever be changed.

I cry because I feel free to love again, but I am nervous about starting over again. Optimistic about the new life that I will design for me and my child, nevertheless scared of failure. Wanting to date but stuck with 1993 pick up lines. I have a swag that is unbelievable but I will not play games. Wanting to get my groove on but I am stuck reading bedtime stories and watching Hannah Montana. Refuse to parent from a cell phone as I try to start my life over again. Have to get my hustle on but the daycare close at 5:30 and bedtime is at 8. My parents say I doing a good job, I said that this is all their fault. That they cursed me, that all they have ever taught me was how to be married, I don’t know how to be single. I would have never thought that this would be apart of my journey. Who would have ever thought that Love would have to learn how to love again . What the hell, who needs furniture anyway. She left me with a TV and the Nintendo Wii.

Antonio Love is a recently divorced father who is currently raising his daughter. He is also the author of Talking What Ya Want and Divorce, Who Needs Furniture Anyway. For more information on Antonio Love and his movement, please visit www.antoniolove.com.

An Ex-Wife Wants to Smack Other Ex-Wives!

I was perusing my blog favorites this morning and ran across a very interesting and insightful post, written by one of my favorite ex-wives on Adventures in Divorce. She exudes what I’ve been talking about all along on this blog; that it’s okay to have certain feelings of jealousy and ego, as an ex-wife, when your ex moves on, but you can’t act on those feelings by using your children as pawns. It’s just plain wrong! At any rate, read her post below, entitled, ‘Please be a Little Selfish. I’m sure you’ll find it insightful as well.

This morning I was listening to the Russ Parr Morning Show on my way to work, and the People Poll Question was about women who use their children to blackmail and manipulate men. Specifically, it was about a guy who had written in because after 3 years of being broken up, the mother of his daughter stopped letting him visit his child as soon as he started dating again, despite the fact that she’d had numerous boyfriends (whom she’d also brought around the child). This is a subject that incenses me to no end (or as Peter Griffin would say, it really grinds my gears)…. women who use their children to manipulate men by means of denying visitation. I think it is the most asinine, childish, short-sighted and stupid thing a woman can do, and if I could smack every woman who’s been guilty of this I would….. but then I’d die of arm exhaustion because it happens so often, unfortunately.
(The exception, of course, is if there are LEGITIMATE safety issues involved, and I’m not talking about “I don’t know his friends/girlfriend”….. duh, you guys aren’t together anymore, you don’t share a life anymore, so of course he’s going to have people in his life that you don’t know, and vice versa. Save it.)
I’m not going to sit up here and say I don’t understand the feelings associated with your ex moving on, and not liking the fact that another woman (or man…. baby daddies act up, too) is having a role in your child’s life, whether that’s because a maybe-not-so-secret desire to be with your ex or just the ego factor (that (s)he’s gotten over you and moved on) or whatever irrational reason drives human emotion. I get that. But I draw the line at using your children to lash out at your ex by denying visitation and/or poisoning your child’s mind with negativity about his or her other parent.

If you’re going to be selfish and self centered, do it the way I do it….. I love my kids, but I love my “me time” as well. Ok, I’m being facetious and extreme here with the “selfish and self centered” characterization, but really….. I feel like it’s a win-win when my kids are off spending time with their dad and with each other (remember, Daughter primarily lives with me and Son lives with him, so they’re not together all the time anymore). They get to spend good, NECESSARY quality time with their father and each other, and I get a regularly scheduled (and sometimes bonus) break and I know that they are with someone who loves them and cares for them just as much as I do. I can do the things that I want and need to do for myself (I keep a standing nail appointment every other Saturday), I can travel, I don’t have to worry about cooking square meals, I can sleep as long as I want, I don’t have to chauffeur anyone around all day, and I don’t have to entertain anyone or find someone else to entertain them.

Right now my kids are spending the first half of their spring break with their dad, and I thoroughly enjoyed only having to get myself ready this morning and I’m looking forward to a nap after work and not hearing anyone whine about eating veggie burgers (again!) and a cup of yogurt for dinner. This weekend I’m going to Washington DC with my kids, my beau, and we’re picking up his son (who lives 3 hours away) on the way and he’s going, too. I was a little worried (we both were, actually) that his mother wouldn’t let him go because it’s not his dad’s weekend and because he would be going with me (she’d expressed some attitude about me before, but nothing major), but surprisingly she said yes. But please…. let someone offer me an extra free weekend of babysitting, I’d be all over it.

(I suspect the decision hinged on the fact that she’s been busy finishing up her Master’s program and needs him out of her hair anyway…. or maybe because now she’s boo’d up too, which seems to have upped her cooperation level considerably…. but whatever, I’m looking forward to our Brady Bunch Dating trip.)

Sometimes I worry that I’m a little too un-mom-like for not taking pleasure in being such a martyr to my children by being at their beck and call 25/8, and actually enjoying some time to myself every once in awhile……..or perhaps I’m just finding the positive aspect of an unavoidable situation (i.e. the kids can no longer be with both of us at the same time). I tell my Ex that he can take the kids whenever he’d like. I may miss them, but I know they’ll be back and I know they’re well taken care of. And I know how crucial it is for fathers to be involved in their children’s lives. There are enough deadbeat and lackluster dads out there that we as women don’t need to discourage the ones who are good, responsible and loving fathers.

So ladies, next time you have that itchy creepy jealousy feeling that makes you want to “show him a thing or two” and not let him see his child…. please, for your child’s sake, be a little “selfish”.

Divorce, Dating and Kids

For many newly divorced, single parents, dating can be literally mortifying! Some may have not even dated in years because they were married. Some don’t know how to date. Some don’t have times to date. Not only is finding enough time to date an issue, but introducing your new mate to your child(ren) can be a bigger issue.  How and when do I introduce my children are common questions that divorced/single parents have.

When my ex and I decided to go our separate ways I was admittedly fearful of dating. My ex and I were together for nearly 6 years; which means I hadn’t dated in that long. Not to mention that I was finishing up my bachelor’s degree, working, my father was terminally ill and I was raising a little boy, alone (my ex is an overseas basketball player). So as you can imagine, dating was literally the furthest thing from my mind. Sure I enjoyed nice dinners from time to time with gentlemen, but I was not interested in seriously dating anyone. Additionally, I decided that I wasn’t going to bring multiple men in and out of my son’s life so I told myself that I wasn’t going to introduce anyone to my son unless it was serious. However, after my first ‘serious’ (I decided to give dating a try after I obtained my degree) relationship didn’t work out I had a new realization. I realized that not every level of dating necessitated including my son. As such, I concluded that seriously dating didn’t mean that we spent a lot of time together, we were enamored with each other or that we were even exclusive. Instead, seriously dating meant that we were not only committed, but talking about our future together; meaning marriage, parenting, children, etc. After that, I only had one other man that I was dating around my son and I married him.

Once you’ve decided that you are in a serious committed relationship, you’ll want to have meaningful dialogue about your new mate with your children. Although it’s important to affirm your unconditional love and commitment to your children, you don’t need their approval to involve your serious beau or belle in their life. Remember, you’re just initiating a light-hearted conversation about it. If you make it too serious, then they’ll take it too seriously and begin to have fear of how things will change once the new beau or belle enters the family.

In my case, I just asked my son, who was 4 at the time, if he would like to meet mommy’s new friend. I told him that we would all do something really fun together and get to know each other better. I allowed him to choose the activity and emphasized that we would all just enjoy getting to know each other. He asked some general questions such as; is he nice and will he play with me? Overall, he didn’t seem hesitant about meeting him and never questioned my love for him. That being said, I realize that this scenario will play out a little differently with older children. As such, you will likely have to have more meaningful dialogue with them. I would begin by emphasizing your love and support of your children individually and then your family as a whole. Then ask the children questions about what they would like for your family. What are they looking for in someone that you might bring into the family? This will help them feel included in your relationship that is important to you. It helps them feel less like an outsider in your new life.

Dating after divorce can be scary, but it is possible to find love a second time around. You just have to remember that accepting parent dating relationships is sometimes a slow process for children. But, if you carefully order your steps, they will begin to see that including another person in your family is about expanding your family; not dividing it.

Divorce Parties by Kela Price

I was watching the Tyra Banks show the other day and her topic was divorce parties. Various women were talking about how they were celebrating their divorces however; when they all shared their stories individually, you could see the pain in their eyes as tears rolled down their faces. I could tell that they were trying to convince themselves to celebrate their new found singlehood, but really didn’t feel much like celebrating at all.

Divorce is a very difficult and scary thing to deal with. It can literally turn EVERYONE’S  world upside down. And although there is and should be a brief grieving period, one shouldn’t dwell on what could’ve, should’ve or might have been. It prevents EVERYONE from moving on; your ex, your children and YOU! Yet, so many women have trouble with truly moving on after a divorce.

So I pondered this concept of divorce parties for several days prior to writing this post. I wanted to be absolutely certain as to how I felt about the concept; making sure that I don’t promote the idea of divorce as a solution to all marital problems because it is not. If your husband leaves the toilet seat up, calls you a bad cook or even dislikes your mother, these are not reasons to even contemplate a divorce. But, if there are issues that you just can’t move past, such as an affair, then sometimes moving on is the best option for everyone.

When the choice is made (sometimes it’s made for you) and after you’ve had that brief grieving period, it’s time to look toward the future. This is where the concept of divorce parites come into play. At this point, there’s no more dwelling on how your ex-husband failed you, how you failed your ex-husband or how you both failed the children. What’s done is done and now it’s time to move forward. First, take some “me” time. Time to rediscover who you are; not you the wife or you the mother, but you the individual. Fall in love with her, get your confidence back and embrace the new you. Embrace all of the potential that your future holds instead of dwelling on the past. Second, figure out what’s next. What are you going to do with your life? If your husband was the breadwinner, then you might contemplate going back to school or finding a new career path. Third, use your past in a positive way from this point on. Instead of dwelling on the negative, use it to propel you forward. Learn from the positive AND the negative; his mistakes AND yours. That experience, believe it or not, will play a huge role in the person that you will become.

I got to the point where I actually thanked (not literally) my ex for all of our shared experiences because they shaped who I am today. I learned what to do and what not to do. I learned what I would tolerate and what I just couldn’t. One of my favorite artist is Brandy because there is a song on her Afrodisiac album called ‘Who I Am’ (a song about her own “break up”) that sums up how I feel and the point I am trying to make. The course is as follows:

“Thank you for all the tears, all the stress. You’re the best. I feel blessed. I’m a better woman now. Look how I smile, all you did was help the next man. This experience made me who I am.”

So for me, divorce parties symbolize a celebration. It means celebrating new beginnings, the new you, being grateful for your past and embracing your future. Adopting this way of thinking decreases one’s chances of holding grudges, being bitter and taking it out on everyone in the blended family. It allows you to embrace what’s to come instead of dwelling on what should’ve been and enables the entire family to move on.