Co-Parenting 101: Finding Your Own Tribe

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My guest post on The Cubicle Chick

Over the past seven years, I’ve gone through the ultimate lows while engaged in a high conflict co-parenting relationship. Feelings of inadequacy, isolation, depression, and severe anxiety have plagued me the majority of the time. I only exacerbated the situation by shutting down physically and emotionally, at times feeling unable to process all that I was going through myself. A ball of fury at most times, ready to explode or break down at any moment; my emotional sanity drowning. Not able to process the feelings myself, I refused to talk with anyone about what I was going through and how it was affecting me. Scared that if I were to open my mouth and share my truth I wouldn’t be understood.

When you have to literally fight for your child, have to fight for what they deserve, in front of a stranger in a robe, it changes you. When you look at the father of your child and realize you don’t know him and never did, when he reminds you of your own deadbeat dad – it changes the person you are. I guess it only changes you if you let it. My experiences have hardened my already dense exterior. They don’t understand. They can’t understand. They don’t know my ex. They don’t know my struggle. This is what I told myself over and over and over again.

I grew up with a fierce sense of independence, which hasn’t made it comfortable for me to ask for help or open up to anyone. Even with my core group of friends, I found myself opening up and then instantly regretting it. Afraid that they’ll see too much of my mess. Afraid that I’ve exposed too much of myself. Afraid not of their reaction, but my inability to move past my own grief of a failed relationship. Grief that my daughter’s father will never be what she needs.

I didn’t value having a tribe for a long time. That fierce sense of independence got the best of me – I could do it all on my own. Or so I thought. I struggled for awhile finding my tribe – worried that my instincts were off and I would trust the wrong people, again. Finding your tribe and people you can open up too isn’t easy. I needed to find my tribe because I realized I couldn’t continue attempting to be a good mother or good friend without having emotional support, especially when I was in and out of court with my ex.

Read the rest of “Co-Parenting 101: Finding Your Own Tribe” over on The Cubicle Chick!



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Boston Families: Enjoy a Stay-cation at @SeaportBoston during February Vacation!

It’s February….when did THAT happen? As much as I’d love to whisk my daughter off to somewhere warm and tropical with clear blue water during February vacation we’ll be here in Boston. With the snow. Sigh. As a working Mom, I’ll be working through my daughter’s school break, which means she’ll be at camp making 9 million rainbow loom bracelets. Its hard juggling working full-time and spending quality time with my daughter, that’s why our weekends are usually jam packed with full itineraries and adventures. This can often be difficult because so many activities (especially during the colder months) are expensive! And I’m a single mom trying to budget, which means we have to limit how many fun activities we can do per month.

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I’m always on the hunt for affordable and most importantly FUN local activities where my daughter can really enjoy herself. This February vacation, the Seaport Boston Hotel is providing that kind of experience – fun and affordability – all close to home! Did I mention the hotel is pet friendly? I encourage my local families to consider a stay-cation at this lovely hotel during the school break! Located on the historic waterfront at One Seaport Lane in Boston, there is local access to ice skating on the Frog Pond, the Children’s Museum, Science Museum and historic Fenway Park and more!

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The Seaport is making February vacation (February 17th – 23rd, 2014) at their hotel the PLACE to be for families with their School Vacation Getaway Package, for 2 adults and 2 children. For a special rate of $159/night (plus taxes & fees) your family can relax in a deluxe room along with several family-friendly options to make your stay memorable:

  • A $30 Seaport Gift Card at check-in (for incidentals, not the room rate)
  • A welcome toy for each child from Seaport’s Treasure Chest
  • Complimentary use of Wave Health & Fitness, including the indoor pool
  • Free family flicks daily with complimentary popcorn (two shows: 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm)
  • In-room use of a DVD player and a family movie
  • Access to Seaport’s Lending Library – offering books for kids of all ages to borrow during their stay
  • Complimentary wireless internet access

My daughter would be all up in that pool! And that’s not all. Guests taking advantage of the School Vacation Getaway Package can take advantage of several food and beverage options at each of the hotel’s dining spots:

  • Seaport’s Bakery Café: a breakfast package for $12, a lunch special for $8 and cookie decorating for $5
  • Aura restaurant: a breakfast buffet for kids for $8 (kids under 5 are free)
  • TAMO bar & lounge: a family lunch/dinner special for $30, which includes a cheese pizza for four and four non-alcoholic drinks of your choice

You and your family get full access to all of the above for just $159/night! That’s a steal in Boston and provides you the chance to “get away” and enjoy fun activities in the heart of Boston! You won’t want to miss out on this amazing deal, so be sure to book your stay today online at seaportboston.com by entering SOCIAL in the promotional code box, or by calling 877-SEAPORT.

Does your family stay local during February vacation or do you go away?



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Learning to Love Yourself While Battling Depression #DayofLight

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The #DayofLight: Bringing Depression Out of the Dark is a movement aimed at bringing awareness to depression. Today those who have struggled with depression share their experiences and resources and stand together.

This is my story:

I can’t remember how old I was, maybe 7, when I witnessed my mother’s depression suffocate her.

I was only able to glance into her room, her brown body still in the bed, before the ambulance came. Though she survived, we never talked about what happened that day, but I knew. As the youngest of four I was often shielded from the dark realities of my single mother’s struggle to survive and her battles with depression. At that young of an age I didn’t understand why she acted the way she did – why she was cold, mean, unable to show me deep affection, why she prioritized her boyfriend over her children. And I realize now that my own battle with depression began through witnessing my mother’s struggle.

I didn’t need a medical provider to tell me that what I was feeling was more than an overwhelming feeling of sadness. I knew that the feelings that were taking over me were much deeper and scarier than just being sad.

Growing up we didn’t discuss feelings. My mother’s goal was to raise strong independent black children. We would grow up and soar and fly without needing help – without showing fear. When we didn’t act accordingly, there were severe consequences. So when these dark feelings grew within me, I acted as I was taught. I hid them, concealed them, kept moving forward with a smile on my face. Because showing any kind of weakness, especially as a black woman was unacceptable.

So I moved forward, on the outside a shining image of a strong single mother, helpful, attentive, outgoing, and happy. I gave all that I had to making other people happy that I had nothing left for myself. When I’d get home and peel off that mask, and looked at myself in the mirror I hated who I saw staring back at me. She was weak. She was fragile. She was suffering. She was fat. She was ugly. She couldn’t do anything right. I mean who would get pregnant at 19 with someone who didn’t even love her? Who would seek out men’s affection because she had never felt real love from her parents? Who would consider self-harm as an answer? Someone weak.

I hid my depression and later my anxiety attacks from everyone. No one knew that I was leading a double life. I couldn’t let the truth escape because I didn’t want to show how vulnerable and scared I was. I didn’t want people to think I was a basket case. I wanted people to believe that I was fine, that everything was just great. That that smile I wore during the day carried on at home. I had to conceal the truth. No one could know that I would sometimes spend weekends in bed crying thinking about death. No one could know that I’d drink myself into a stupor just so I could stop feeling so damn much. No one could know that I didn’t find pleasure in anything anymore. No one could know that I thought I’d be better off not being here.

Read the rest of “Learning to Love Yourself While Battling Depression #DayofLight” over on The Young Mommy Life.



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Help – This Single Mom Doesn’t Budget!

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I have a confession—I don’t have a budget.

Sure, I’ve created them a few times, but actually sticking to them, nope. Once I entered the professional world in my early twenties, I wasn’t making great money (not that I am now) but I was sure I didn’t need a budget on my limited income. As time has gone by and my expenses have grown and gotten more complicated I find myself forever playing catch up on my bills and making somewhat impulsive and unnecessary purchases. I’ve got this chick, Sallie Mae, on my back every month wanting me to cough up ridiculous amounts of money I don’t have to pay for my fancy education. I don’t check my bank statement nearly as much as I should (though I did after the Target scandal) and it’s often because of fear.

I don’t want to face things that will cause me further stress. I don’t want to face not having enough in my savings account to support my daughter and me in the event I wasn’t able to work. Not having a budget and not being smarter about my spending in saving is something I can’t ignore any longer, and is a big priority for me this year.

Clearly I’m doing something right if I’ve managed to hold down my own apartment since I was 21. My bills get paid, sometimes late, but they get paid…eventually. Within the past couple of years I’ve made some smart investment choices with securing rental and life insurance. I understand when I make good decisions and I know when I make not so good decisions…like avoiding my frenemy Sallie when she calls…and emails….and calls. I’m in denial – I work in nonprofit and yes, the rumors about pay in the nonprofit field are correct – even with years of professional experience and a four year degree, I’m underpaid. But that’s no reason to not be smarter about my money.

To read the rest of “Help – This Single Mom Doesn’t Budget!” and to share your tips and advice head over to The Young Mommy Life.



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How Do I Support My Daughter’s Bilingual Education?

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Even though I check off African American and Hispanic when I complete paperwork, I’ve never fully felt Spanish…even if I’m half Colombian.

My father and his family emigrated from Colombia and settled here in the great U-S-of-A. They all speak Spanish fluently and for them English is their second language. I grew up without my dad being in the picture and unfortunately that meant I didn’t learn at all about my Colombian heritage nor did I learn to speak Spanish. I remember being so irritated in high school when Spanish didn’t come naturally, I was embarrassed. Embarrassed that I embraced being half Colombian, but couldn’t pass my final Spanish exam. And now, my full name is quite Latin, as is my daughters, and once I open my mouth and tell people I’m Colombian, the immediately ask: Do you speak Spanish? And I always feel like a fraud.

I felt I missed out growing up without learning another language and when I was choosing schools for my daughter one thing was for sure – learning Spanish would be part of the curriculum, and she’d grow up bilingual.

My daughter has been enrolled in a dual-language immersion school since she was in Junior Kindergarten and is now in the 2nd grade. All of the teachers are fully bilingual, with many of them from Spanish speaking countries. Now that she’s in 2nd grade she has a full week of Spanish, where all students and staff speak in Spanish, and then a full week of English. The school strives to make the classrooms as diverse as possible and try their best to mix classrooms with half Spanish speaking students and half who speak English as a first language at home. Even though it’s a public school it’s quite competitive, and how Spanish is integrated within the curriculum is unlike any school around.

Read the rest of “How Do I Support My Daughter’s Bilingual Education?” and over on The Young Mommy Life.



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