Saturday, August 6, 2016

What Being a Single Working Mom Can Look Like

Everything anyone ever wants to know about my life right now is in this picture.   For me, this shot is all at once beautiful, sad, encouraging and frustrating.  It speaks to my daily struggle but also to the ultimate beauty, thrill and hope that each day brings.

I became a single mom not by choice almost 2 years ago when my daughter was newborn and my son was nine.  After a 13 year marriage, the devastation and heartbreak was like none I'd ever felt.  As I look back, I crawled my way out by seeing each roadblock as a challenge I needed to overcome.  As I saw each challenge completed, I felt lifted up by my success and encouraged to continue.  The challenges don't stop and there are days when the heartbreak of a marriage lost is still palpable.  Some days, I give in to the sadness and frustration.  I call it the rabbit hole.  It's filled with self doubt, loathing and fear.  Some days, getting out is easier than others.

At first glance, this picture is pretty funny: a woman breastfeeding while trying to blow dry her hair.  Anyone who breastfeeds beyond infancy has a moment like this.  They walk and talk and know what they want when they want it.  

In this moment, I was attempting to do what I need to do every day to maintain my humanity, femininity and self worth.  Walking out the door, showered, well-dressed and with a manicured appearance helps to encourage me that I have a life beyond being a slave to my children's needs.  Growing up with parents from Europe, my mother never walked out looking like a slob and I refuse to give in to being lazy in any part of my life.  

So here I am, taking the time to make sure my hair is clean and done.  No ponytail chic on this day.  But Baby Girl wanted my attention.  Some days she is appeased by an episode of Peppa Pig but this day she wanted to keep me close.  Nursing a demanding toddler can be exhausting and draining but I know all too well that these days are numbered.  Soon we will wean and I will long for this time with her.  With her sweet, soft skin on mine, her arms clutching me tightly and her breathing slowly steadying as she suckles softly.  She is appeased and happy.  

In this moment, I'm her everything.  I can give her the best of me.  Parenthood is marked by the most intense love any of us will ever feel along with the fear we are failing at every turn.  We fear the judgement of others, the inevitable wrath of our grown children and we measure our success by our childrens' own achievements.

All of this is magnified as a single parent.  There is no one to talk things over with, no parental strategy, no one to keep you in check or bounce things off of.  There is only what's left for many:  a deep love for your children, a determination to get things done and hopefully a fearlessness that helps in the decision making process.

There's a final aspect of this photo that is barely seen but to me is the last piece of my heart's puzzle.  My 11 year old son is taking this picture.  If you squint, you can see him in the mirror.  In our daily lives, he is like he is in this picture, watching me and supporting me.  

Unlike Baby Girl, he grew up with 2 parents.  He feels the loss like I do.  The stronger I became, the more confident he was that we would be okay.  He still watches me for changes in mood and responds accordingly.  Sometimes, he is there, like in this picture, helpless to assist in his sister's needs and in others he is a God send, loving her as much as I do.  I asked him to take this picture because I wanted to remember and I wanted him to see.

One day I will look back at these days that seemed so challenging but produced such love and beauty, hoping that the knowledge of one accomplishment will give me and my children the courage to face another with the hope that they will know that they can rise up too.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fruit Salad Rules (or Fruit Salad, yummy yummy)

One of the most important things we can do for our health is eating right.  Step one does not start with your health care practitioner but with you and what you eat.  For some, desserts can be the hardest thing to pass up.  So this is my first blog and I thought I would break the ice on a topic near and dear to my heart.  Making a good fruit salad.   

With BBQ season upon us, I find myself being asked by my family to again make fruit salad.  Now it may seem like an easy task (and it is).  However, there are a few rules to follow. This insures it that yields no leftovers and has people reaching for the fruit salad instead of a sugary dessert.

1.  Most obviously CHOOSE FRESH, RIPE SWEET FRUITS.  This means perhaps passing over fruits you love for others.  NO bruised or brownish pieces go into the salad.  Throw them away.  Taste each fruit as you go.  If it's nasty or too tart get rid of it. Over buy and bring the unused fruit to work everyday or make a smoothie for breakfest.

2. Choose VARIETY over bulk.  I know that huge melon will go a long way but I honestly never use it in my fruit salad unless there are very few ripe fruits.  Even one of 5 types of fruit will yield a sh**load of salad.  Go for color and texture differences.  It will make the salad appealing to the eye.  And as you cut, if you find you have more of one fruit over another cut less and save it for another day.  BALANCE is an important part of a good fruit salad. 

3.  USING FRUITS THAT BROWN EASILY like apples or pears can be tricky.  Cut them last and make sure they are really fresh.  Adding an acidic element like lemon or lime will slow them from browning.  If you are making the salad far in advance from serving it, make sure it is well refridgerated or skip apples and pears.  Honestly, I NEVER use bananas.  Unless you are serving right away, save the bananas for smoothies.

4.  This is a big issue for me and perhaps the most important rule!  CUT THE GRAPES IN HALF!!!  If you take anything away from this blog it's this one.  Nothing infuriates me more than chasing a grape around my bowl and watching it hurl itself onto the floor.  ***The same rule does not apply to blueberries though!  It will turn into a hot mess and if you've chosen ripe, sweet blueberries (see rule #1) they will be easy to catch with a fork.

5. Learn how to SUPREME AN ORANGE.  It's really easy and makes your salad look really professional plus there's no pith or pits.  Here's a video to teach you how:

6.  Add a TART FLAVOR to balance the sweetness of the fruit.  I love to add kumquats for this.  Kumquats are small round fruits that look like oranges and are the size of grapes.  Every part of the kumquat is edible including the small pit.  I chop them up and add about half a cup for a large bowl of fruit salad.  Lemon or lime zest also works if you can't find kumquats.

7.  DRESS THE SALAD.  Salad with out dressing sucks, even fruit salad.  Personally, I like fresh mint with lemon or lime.  You can make a it with an cardomom, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar.  Or Greek yogurt and honey.  In Mexico, they serve fresh mango slices with chile pepper sprinkled on it so don't be afraid to add a little hot spice (repeat a little). Vanilla extract is another good addition to the fruit salad, but please none of that "imitation vanilla".  Splurge the extra couple of bucks for some real vanilla.  If you are using more tropical fruits consider adding coconut extract or coconut flakes.  For more the party crowd, consider an alcohol soaked fruit salad.  My mom puts Sambuca in her fruit salad but Amaretto or a flavored brandy is great too.  What ever you chose, test it out on a small portion of salad before you dress the whole thing.

Good health like everything else doesn't come in a day.  It's the small choices we make every minute. 

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.
Jean Jacques Rousseau

Thanks for listening.

Sabrina Havens, LAc