by Christy Sims
Christy is a native from Chattanooga but has been blessed to call Montana her home for the last 19 years. She has a BS in Environmental Science from Montreat College and spent several years working for a global leader in the biopharmaceuticals industry. Currently, she is a small business owner as a Holistic Health Coach and Holy Yoga Instructor. Her greatest joy is being a mother to her amazing boys who love soccer, hunting and fishing. She recognized early into motherhood that flexible employment was not just a great idea but a must.
As I reminded my two boys that I was to leave town in 2 days (a rarity for me), they gave each other an exuberant “high-five” across the dinner table. These are the same two boys who had been in a fist fight with each other not long before. So the brotherly high five prior to my escape was a sigh of relief for me. They don’t need me as much as they used to and it was a sign that allowed me to fully relax on my vacation and travels. And it was a sign that some of the most important lessons I am trying to teach them– forgiveness, and celebrating life– are sinking in for them. .
As a single mom for the past 6 years now, going out of town is a true rarity for me, much less galavanting off to Arizona with my oldest friend for 6 days of Holy Yoga and sunshine! But I needed a break, and my parents were happy to fly across the country to stay with their grandsons. One of the big lessons I’ve been learning in the past 6 years is that I need to take these breaks; taking time for soul care is high on the list of non-negotiables.
At first, I admit, I felt like a victim. My thoughts were that I “had to” be a single parent. But now I realize, I “get to” be a single parent to my precious boys. I also “get to” work two jobs that allow me flexibility around my kids’ schedules and I also have my own health and wellness business. So, yes, I’m busy. But I love it. On top of it, I “get to” parent my little men for the greater part of the school year and I “get to” have them all week and every other weekend. On the contrary, they get more time with their amazing, outdoorsy father during the summer months. Our life certainly has had its ups and downs, but over the last 6 years we have continued to grow closer and stronger as a family.
I always tell people that I am happily single when they give me that “oh, you poor thang” look. And it’s true, I am happily single. Through time, healing, forgiveness, and prayer it is now my reality. Forgiveness is priceless.
If you are a single parent, can I ask you a question? Do you operate your life as if you are a victim? Like I said, I operated in victim mentality for longer than I care to mention. It may seem like the easy way out. But in the long run, it hurts you, and it hurts your kids. Healing takes time, and your mind is an amazing gift, and the most powerful tool you have to change into a mindset of “get to” and of celebrations versus a victim mindset. The words you speak and the thoughts you think have more power than we realize. In the book “Switch on Your Brain,” Dr. Caroline Leaf says, “Your body is not in control of your mind~ your mind is in control of your body and your mind is stronger than your body… We are not victims of our biology or circumstances. How we react to the events and circumstances of life can have enormous impact on our mental and even physical health.”
To get out of the victim mentality and into a mentality of forgiveness and celebration, I have had to make the space in my life to be intentional about my mental health and my mindset. I’ve had to learn to live a life of forgiveness and celebration. Some things I’ve worked on:
- Give yourself permission and grace to deal with all the layers of healing. And take time for yourself.
- Forgive your spouse~no matter what. Even if he/she hasn’t asked. Even if you don’t think you can. Start speaking the words (in private) “I forgive you.” Forgiveness sets you both free.
- Forgive yourself, and ask for forgiveness. It takes 2 my friends, so let’s be honest. We are so good at blaming and not seeing our own faults.
- Figure out your family Mission Statement and your non-negotiables. Write it down, and talk about it. Tweek it together; get your kids involved. They need to know how they can individually contribute to the family.
- If you’re the Mom, be the Mom. Don’t try to play both roles. It’s weird, and it just doesn’t work. If your spouse is no longer in the picture at all, seek out positive role models for your child within the church or the community.
- Never ever talk ill of your former spouse (and when you do, call yourself out in front of your kids and let them know that it is not OK). Less is more in terms of explanation. Apologize appropriately. Don’t use the “I’m sorry, but…” scenario. They need to see that you’re not perfect either, and it also shows them how to do real life together.
- Learn to talk about your former spouse in a respectful way. It gets easier, I promise. Remember that you CAN change your mindset by the thoughts you have and the words you speak. From my favorite book of wisdom, “A word of encouragement heals the one who receives it, but a deceitful word breaks the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4).
- Learn how to communicate to your former spouse either directly in person or email but NOT through your children. This is so lethal; be the adult.
- Take the high road, no matter what, no matter how painful.
- Seek counsel and support when you need it. Don’t put it off. Get it together because your kids are watching and they need an engaged parent.
If you take nothing else away from this blog, I hope you will take away these 2 foundational truths: The power of your mind and the power of forgiveness. They are game changers and will set the tone with how you move forward as a single parent. Let’s get real here for a sec. You are raising little people who look to you as their guide. You are the single most important aspect to the development of their bodies: physically, socially, psychologically, spiritually. So stop having mental “fist fights” and start focusing on more “high fives.”
As parents, we all ultimately want the same thing: to give our children wings to fly, and to have the courage to jump. I believe that every decision we make is important. Not only to our children, but to our grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
Every day is a gift, friends. How do you want to spend it?