Sunday Morning Coffee Musings: Single Mom War Stories

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I can tell you first hand accounts of being young, with child, and single. I can tell you “war stories” from without and from within. It’s all in my book, Healing the Single Mother by Nicole Jackson. But, on this day, if you are a newly single mother of young children or teens, by way of divorce or NOT (I was not) I want you to know one day you will look back and realize, “This TOO HAS PASSED.”

All of your sleepless nights, tears (bottle up by the Creator), fears, mistakes, lessons, and heartaches/breaks, perhaps the lack of participation from the other parent, lack of respect from others, the statistics, will all pale in comparison to the child(ren) you are trying to raise into productive, respectful, law abiding, compassionate adults. One day, you will look at them in awe, in bewilderment, and wonder, “Who is this amazing person?”

If you are trying to instill morals and values into them be relentless at it. I hope you let them know it’s not okay to hate other people because of their race, gender, or sexual orientation or to mistreat people because of their occupation as the janitor or trash employee (which make a decent wage in some cities actually). Stress the importance of an education, higher learning, a trade, or being an entrepreneur. Talk to them about finances and good credit. Teach them how to learn from their mistakes and your mistakes. You know, you do make mistakes and it’s okay to let your children know that you are not perfect.

If you are doing something and it’s not working, it’s okay to try something different. What worked for us as children, or your parents, may not work for this generation. But what does work and will always work is spending quality time with your children without distractions. Game nights will always work. Listening to them, allowing them to express their feelings and thoughts always works. Discipline always works. Real life conversations will always work. Getting out in nature, the park, will always work. Loving them through the teenage years and hard knock lessons, will always work. Encouraging them, cheering them, correcting them, will always work. Saying no will always work even if they don’t like it or understand. Saying yes will always work. Being their perfectly, imperfect parent…will always work.

~Nikki

Parenting Young Adults: Ignoring Clear Instructions

 

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I bet you thought I was talking about the young adult? No, I was talking about the parent “ignoring clear instructions.” Today I was driving taking the long way home so that my college student and I could change the scenery and feel some fresh air. We had a discussion. After the discussion, I could sense she was thinking and feeling something. I asked what it was and she said she didn’t want to talk about it. I pried. She said I really don’t want to talk about it but…

She did. And she said I really don’t need any advice or support or encouragement. And what did I do? I did not try very hard to resist giving just that; advice, examples, support, etc.

Transitioning from parent to guide isn’t easy. Some parents never make the transition. I mean you are forever a parent but your role changes several times. As a parent we want to be more, less, or the same as our parent (s) were depending on our experience. Personally, I try to be there in ways my parents didn’t know how to be or in ways they didn’t understand were important. I learned today that I was doing something I don’t like done to me. Sometimes when I am in my thoughts and feelings, I just want to be there. She wanted to be “just be in her feelings and thoughts.”

This wasn’t a life changing, threatening, urgent, put on my Life Tour Guide moment, it was a “Oh. Okay. Let me turn on the radio or go to my own happy place and space” moment. Oh well, you live and learn in this PG (Parental Guidance) life. I’m just passing on a “take it or leave it” tip.

~Nikki

Sunday Morning Coffee Musing: Time Well Spent

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My mom is the primary caregiver for my father. He has Parkinson’s Disease which is a result of being in contact with Agent Orange when he was in Vietnam. He also has other illnesses and diseases that have developed after Parkinson’s. Imagine you retire and you develop a disease that DRASTICALLY changes your outward appearance and your mental and emotional well being.

My dad has always been this strong guy with muscles. I remember him lifting weights and hanging from his biceps. I remember the big round weights that go on the weight bench. I remember the children in the neighborhood racing against him and they would lose. So, if it’s hard for me to see all of that, his mobility, his muscles, his strength disappear, it must be incredibly hard for him to deal with. He’s stubborn, but I think by now he realizes he needs help or assistance. Yet, he fights to keep most of his independence because he doesn’t like anyone doing anything for them. Especially, if they make it known they really mind doing it for him or that it’s a problem. I get that and the stubbornness from him. My dad has always had a sharp mind. He still has it. He is like a walking history buff and Bible. He is still pastoring and this is his last year as his health has really declined. Last week when he was in the hospital for rehab, we talked about poetry and just when I thought I knew it all about poetry he throws out poets I never heard of. He recites some lines. This is my dad.

This week my mom was out of town on church business and I was “hired” to take care of my dad. Even though my mom is the primary caregiver, all six of us children are there to do our jobs. We all chip in. Some more than others because some work full time and others have illnesses of their own (like me). We seem to take on our roles and fill in when needed of roles of the others. It just worked out that way. I took care of Dad this week and I got to see him in a different way. I got to see the struggles in a different way. I heard the yelling as he napped. It was something about war. I got to see the depression that he sometimes denies. I got to experience the moodiness and irritability that we rarely see. But, I also got to see the determination to wash his own clothes, put his dishes away, wash up, and put his clothes without my assistance a few days. I saw the sweat pouring down his face and the tiredness that followed those simple tasks.

My favorite part of the experience was getting him out of the house to sit on the porch as he likes to do and we listened to a famous sermon on YouTube by Reverend C.L. Franklin (Aretha Franklin’s father). He was unsure he could get out of the house or go anywhere with his new fancy walker (which he calls the Cadillac). I had to encourage him and he made it to the barber shop with his new walker.

Even though it was really hard work taking care of him all week from 7 am to 7 pm it was time well spent. The pain and exhaustion that I felt daily, the pain meds I had to take, the willing myself to get up, the swelling and the joint inflammation, the mental battle,  reminded me of why I had such a hard time working my last full time job.  By the time you recover, it’s time to work again and creates an endless cycle that worsens your health. However, all that I experience this week was worth the quality time spent with my dad. Care giving is a job. It’s a job for the one doing it all the time and the ones who do their parts regularly and the ones that have to fit it in. However, it’s rewarding knowing that you helping someone you love and it has it’s moments that will someday become memories.

~Nikki

Sunday Morning Coffee Musing: The Auntie Mom

I was an Auntie before I was a Mom. I remember when my first nephew (that was younger than me was born) like it was yesterday. My dad was cutting the yard and we got the phone call that it was a boy and his name was Jeremiah. It was a sunny day in June with clear skies and I remember the grass being so green. My Dad started to sing “Jeremiah was a bullfrog and he was a friend of mine.” He meddled my nephew with that through childhood and even now! My second nephew I had the pleasure of giving him his middle name and he was my first job at 8 weeks old. He later gave his younger daughter the same middle name! I was a babysitter. Those two gave me a run for my money! And there were more nieces and nephews to come.

I am writing this piece for my friend Jackie and Alicia whom are Aunts, and all of the women who want to have a family someday and to the ones that may not be able to. You are a mother by heart. You are a mother because you nurture someone somewhere. You may even be a mother figure to a friend, a sibling, to a class, the motherly one on the job, a doggie mom. You care. You will jump in and fill that roll as an Auntie Mom. I tell my niece Brea I am your Auntie Mom. She’s the fireball of the bunch and I keep close reigns on her because I love her. I was once known as the General and Sargent but, I have been promoted to Lieutenant by my nephew Brandon. I am the Aunt that will play football, dolls, fix you a good meal and bake cookies but, I also believe in discipline.

All of my nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews are my children. I wanted more children but, I am unable to have any more because I had to have a hysterectomy. That was tough and sad. But nothing beats hearing, “Auntie! Auntie Nikki! Ti-Ti!” and getting those hugs. It’s the same feeling as “Mommy!” and receiving love in the hugs. It’s the same pressure to watch what I say and do and how I live my life. I still have to impart instruction, wisdom, and love.

~Nikki aka Auntie Mom

Smokey Row Coffee Co. Oskaloosa

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We pull into Oskaloosa, Iowa late night on a drive from Memphis, TN and suddenly I perk up as we cruise down Market Street. What’s that? A coffee house? I will be back in the morning!

We were only in Iowa overnight as I rode with my brother to pick up my nephew from William Penn. We stayed at my second family’s house which is a home away from home. I went to “my” room and once I was underneath “my quilt” I was fast asleep. After getting ready the next morning I headed to this coffee house. It is huge with plenty of room, coffee, and uniqueness. I was overwhelmed and I am sure everyone knew I was a tourist as I snapped pictures of everything. The service was fast and as friendly as one could be on a Saturday morning. The hustle hand yet to bustle but, all of that changed as it neared 9:30 a.m.

Caramel flavored coffee was my choice and what a delicious blend! The caramel was subtle and not overpowering. I like to be able to taste my coffee and flavor at the same time. Each table in the shop is different, nostalgic and coffee related. I thought that was so cute!

And the menu…Breakfast all day, Lunch, Dessert, Kids Menu, Dinner…you name it! It was better than a Starbucks (No shade! I still love you Starbucks). It wasn’t carbon copy and I love the sunlight coming through the huge windows and so many places to go within. A parlor-ish feel for a coffee place is really different. I like different. A book vault? Upstairs? A stage for lets say…a live local band? Yes. All of that and more.

Fancy that. I purchased a mint green mug and a sconce. I eyed a big hunk of tiramisu but, decided next time and by next time I mean fall. I hope to be able to linger a bit longer with laptop in tow and just enough space for lunch and a milkshake. I am sure I can walk those calories off in the square.

~Nikki

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The Fallout of Protecting Your Peace

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Whenever you begin to set boundaries to preserve and protect your peace of mind and your sensitivity, or even to enforce those boundaries, there will probably be fall out from individuals who lack the respect of those boundaries. I have discovered that people want you to bend and break to appease them and often they wouldn’t do the same for you. Nor would I want anyone to compromise their peace of mind for me. And that is the difference. People will create problems, want you to solve them, and then become upset if you don’t. They don’t care if what they want makes you unhappy. This is blatant selfishness. Recognize this as a flaw in character. Also, people like this will often either get angry in hopes you will change your mind or run a guilt trip hoping for the same results. When you comply to neither they will call you mean and selfish (I am laughing as I type this) but, you and I both know they are merely describing themselves! Some leave you alone entirely or distant themselves.

You have to become okay with this. I know it may be difficult but, do not cave and compromise your peace or the sensitivity of your nature. I was created with a big heart and compassion but, not at the sacrifice of my own peace. Never again. Emotional manipulators are professionals at what they do. They have been use to throwing tantrums, running guilt trips and playing games to get what they want and you are left footing the bill, debt, or uneasiness. I stood my ground recently and I owe no one an explanation of what I want and why I want it the way I want it. I can’t do what you want me to do to make you happy and I am left to grin and bear it or wallow in the nagging feeling of “Why did I do that? Why didn’t I say NO?” Just remember even if you have the money or can accommodate someone’s request, if you don’t FEEL at ease, DO NOT DO IT AND OFFER NO EXPLANATION. You don’t have to explain your no.

~Nikki