Tuesday, February 19, 2019

So you’re a single parent now... What next?

So. You’re flying solo as a mom or dad… Seriously. All of us who have been there remember that initial feeling. “How. In. The. Heck. Am. I. Going. To. Do. This?” Even without knowing you, I’m about 99.99% sure that the events leading up to this have been big to get you to this point. Divorce, death, abandonment, incarceration, terrible breakup, etc. No matter how you feel at this point, whether it be heartbroken or relieved, you are still about to face a daunting task. No matter the age of your child(ren), the challenges of single parenting aren’t for the faint of heart. They are also almost impossible to understand unless you have experienced them.

Good news though! It’s also one of the most rewarding and amazing experiences life can provide (in my opinion). I promise that you will be told all of the struggles that come with it, but let me assure you there are so many hidden perks to it as well.

All that being said, I want to encourage you on this journey. Seriously, by no means am I an expert parent. Nor have I been a single parent for as long as some of the other way more amazing single moms/dads that I know. I’m just a single dad who overshares and cracks way too many daily dad jokes than legally allowed in the continental United States. However, isn’t that the beauty of this whole experience in life? Take a little of this, try a little of that. Mostly though, just learning from others’ mistakes. I am confident I’ve probably made more mistakes than anyone else I know… sooo…. I’m basically a freaking guru by that logic. ;)

I hope even a tiny bit of this is helpful or at least gives you a chuckle.

1) Build your village.
Geez. How many times do we hear “it takes a village…” To be honest, that junk is true. However, as a single parent, it’s just you. You’ll crack quicker than my lips during January if you try to do this solo. And that’s why I love the concept of a village. It’s not just “a bunch of babysitters.” There’s different people with a huge variety of jobs, relationships, specialties, personalities, etc. Find people you can talk to about life. Seek out a sweet older person with a little free time who would love company. Search for someone who has kids the same age as yours. Make those connections. Even if at first it seems forced. (It did for me. Very forced.) You’ll need them in the future. Also remember, some of the work is on our end as single parents. People want to help us, but it’s our job to seek them out and cultivate those relationships.

2) Learn how to walk the line between “socially acceptable” and “who cares.”
To be honest, this is probably my favorite one. I tell this to my kids almost every day. “Listen guys, there are things in this life you just gotta do: Wear underwear, wait your turn in line, bathe, and don’t fart in elevators. But! Don’t think just because you feel pressure to do something that you have to do it. You wanna wear your shirt inside out and backwards or talk to every new person you meet at the park in your made-up frog language? Freaking rock it, kid.” This applies to us too!! So yes… ugh… while we have to do those things sooccciieetttyy says we should, still let your weird, unique flag fly! It’s impossible to please everyone. So just do you, man.

3) Know it’s going to be extremely lonely, but that loneliness is super important.
This might be one of my most unpopular tips, but I really firmly believe that single parents should really try super hard to not have a relationship until you’ve done single parenting for at least a year. That year is freaking LONELY. All by yourself every night with your kid(s) asleep. But it’s in those quiet times where we can really begin to not only discover ourselves as parents, but really take the time to find who we are becoming. Maybe it was because I became a single parent through divorce, but immediately jumping from a married guy with kids to a single full-time dad of four was a crazy mental process. Not only did I have to process those changes, but I didn’t want to lose myself in the mix as just “a divorcee” or “a dad.” That truly single time helped me discover the person I wanted to become through this process. Plus, my kids needed me in my free time. All of me. Again, I’m not saying this is an easy feat. But to me, in the end, it is so totally worth it. Because over time, you’ll become more and more self-sufficient AND more aware of the mate you truly desire and truly need.

4) Re-evaluate your priorities. It will surprise you how much is actually non-essential.
When I first became a single parent, I foolishly tried to continue everything I was doing when I was still part of a marriage. Going to every kid’s birthday party (and trying to bring the best gift!), helping and participating in way too many volunteer activities, going to my children’s class for every single classroom party/event/field trip, paying every single bill on time, etc. Finally, one day I realized I needed to really dig and discover what’s actually truly worth my free time (because there wasn’t much of it). Amazing – once I cut out a few of the “have-to’s” off of my schedule, my stress level came way down and became much more manageable. After that, I was able to go through my list of what I had cut out and add things back in as I had the time and energy.

5a) Schedule special time for you and your mini-me(s).This has probably made the biggest difference in my kids’ lives. Trust me, I get it. Besides the school hours, I was basically with all four of my kids all of the time. It was about 4-5 years of me doing it full-time solo 24/7, 365 days a year. However, after a while, I began to realize that being with my kids wasn’t the same as “being with them.” Just marking a special night on the calendar to do something fun like go to the park, doing a fun craft, or going on a fun night out will make such a difference to them. I kind of began to view it like a relationship. If I never carved out specific time for my significant other, it would be easy for that flame to die down. Being together all of the time is great, but if I’m not putting in work to show them that they are valuable and worth my time/energy for something special, they might not feel as close as I truly desire them to feel.

5b) Learn your kids’ love languages.
Quality Time, Physical Touch, Words of Encouragement, Gifts, and Acts of Service
It’s one of the gifts of single parenting. We’ll see their true selves. All of the good and all of the bad. With that, it is pretty easy to pick out your kids’ love languages. Do they like to snuggle on the couch? Receive little letters telling them specific ways you are proud of them? Help you build something? Go out shopping to purchase a family member a special present? Once we figure out how they like to receive love, we can nurture those avenues to help them understand how they show love to others. Even when we’re at our lowest, showing love to someone else is always the best way to cheer ourselves up. Being able to model that for our children is an amazing experience.

6) Finally, cut yourself some slack.
All parents majorly screw up. However, as a single parent, most of the time there is no one to tag team in when you are really tired, upset, or stressed. This simple fact will lead to us saying/doing things to our children that we will regret and feel horrible about. Our kids are smarter than we think. They know we love them and are genuinely trying our best. So let’s not be so quick to loathe and berate ourselves for mistakes. Instead, let’s take a moment to collect ourselves, apologize to our children, and remind ourselves that no one is perfect. Single parenting is a huge learning process. Learning from our mistakes is what helps us grow. So chin up! You’re doing great!

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing,

Monday, February 4, 2019

All about the Megow Kids’ Names

Flashback Post
About 3 years ago today, I wrote this post. I was recently explaining their names to a friend and this popped in my head. So I thought I would share it again.

Stevie Joy Megow

Stevie- She was named Stevie after her granddad Steve Weldon (Crissy’s dad). He and her mom Karen are simply fantastic people. They are both very sacrificing and humble. Stevie’s gender was kept a surprise, so we didn’t know if we were going to have a “Titus” or “Stevie” until the moment she came out. Fun side note, the day Crissy went into labor I had a mega zit on my face. This thing was pretty much Mount Olympus. She was in labor for a few hours and Stevie got stuck, so it was kind of a waiting game for the birthing process. I knew that since this was the first kid there were going to be a ton of pictures. I don’t remember much about that day, it was crazy. I think I just kind of zoned out and felt like I was in the way since there were about 3 nurses, a midwife, and the doctor all in the room. So during the break between contractions and prepping for the c-section, I snuck off to the bathroom to get rid of this thing. Anyways, I just remember everyone was like “Where the heck is Seth?!” and I peeked out of the bathroom and said “We are both trying to give birth here” and pointed to my pimple. Hahaha. It clearly wasn’t the best time to make a joke. Crissy did great and Stevie was born happy and healthy (and I just left the volcanic eruption to take place later that day). 
So back to Stevie’s name… It was also just kind of symbolic. Crissy was the first born of her siblings and Steve pretty much raised her by himself for the first few years of her life (before he met Karen and they got married). It was just a way of give honor to a man that gave up pretty much all of his teenage years to work hard and raise a little girl by himself.

Joy – All of my girls were named after some aspect of God.

Stevie’s first nursery. So thankful for friends who helped do this!
 Autumn Orozco (who did the tree) & Felicia Love (who did the calligraphy)
I loved this room and truly miss this little room.

The reason the name “Joy” was chosen was the honor my Nana “Joye Megow”. I remember her telling me that she wanted to meet one of my babies before she passed. When she told me that, I remember that was the moment her not being with me really set in. I truly loved her and my Papa so much. (I actually talked a little about my papa on the blog, read it here). After my Papa died, me and my Nana became really close. I used to go over there as much as possible and she would just make me laugh so hard. She was also the sweetest person ever, but had a bit of feistiness in her that I loved. Gosh, I have so many stories about my Nana that I might just a post about her someday. However, one of my favorite things about her is she always drank Lemon Lime Gatorade. Sometimes, she would cook this extravagant 3 course fancy dinner and would serve it with a bottle of Gatorade J It’s little things like that, that make me miss her so much. I wanted to carry on her legacy, so hence the name Joy (although it’s spelled different and Joye wasn’t my Nanas given name). Her real name was Gertrude which she apparently hated hahahaha. Ok. I will stop talking about my Nana or I will probably just keep going on and on with funny little tidbits I loved about her. I did share one hilarious story about her and Facebook awhile back (check it out here).

Fun Fact: My nana got to meet and get to know all four of my kids J

The name Joy is so well suited for her. My Stevie is such a JOY. She constantly is doing the most kind and generous acts. Plus, I love her sense of humor. I could listen to her tell fart jokes and make up silly songs all freaking day. Everyone that spends time with her will definitely pick that up. (Duh, I think my kids are the coolest). Hahahaha.

Neela Grace

Neela – Truthfully, the name Neela just popped in my head one day when I was thinking about my great-grandmother, Leila (pronounced the same as Neela except for the first letter). I called her “Mamaw”. (I don’t have any pictures digitalized :/ )  Anyways, my Mamaw was just so awesome. She was constantly doing something and was so sweet. I used to love spending the night over there, because she would order just me a Pizza Hut “Bigfoot” pizza and laugh as I attempted to eat the whole thing. She also used to live close to us growing up, I remember me and my older brother, Thad, walking through the woods to go to her house. Once we got there, I would climb up in her trees and eat apples and pears. She would always bring me out something to drink. It’s actually one of those childhood feelings that are super heartwarming. I picture that’s what Heaven feels like, but like a million times more intensely better. Also, she gave me my first bible (that I still have)! Considering how much I loved her and how much I loved the name Neela when I thought of it, I was pretty persistent that was going to be her name. As Neela gets older, she actually reminds me so much of the great woman she is named after. They are both busy bodies and ALWAYS outside. I remember my Mamaw being like 87 years old and out there picking weeds. Hahaha. Neela is pretty much always on her hands and needs outside as well, but instead of gardening, she is usually digging for bugs or critters. J

I also love that Neela pretty much cares nothing about what she wears.
She just wants to get out and learn about some nature!

Grace- Hahahaha. When Neela was around two, the common Megow joke was the Neela needed so much Grace, it is was in her name. Not only was she about the clumsiest kid you had ever seen, but she was known to be fairly difficult to manage ;)  However as she has grown, she has really started to exhibit a real grace in her life. Neela is in the one in our house that NEVER holds a grudge. The other kids at times tend to harp on past grievances against their brother or sisters, but Neela hardly ever does. She is just so quick to forgive and truly let go of any anger or mean spirit. Her outlook is so positive and delightful. I love seeing her always wanting to be first to forgive and hug. Really that extends way past just our home life. Neela is constantly walking up to people in public and telling them nice things or giving them hugs. It’s a great reminder that God’s grace for my and everyone’s crap to see this little girl just loving people. I absolutely love it about her :D

Titus Robert

Titus- I remember being about 16 years old living with my parents and thinking “When I have a son, I’m going to name him Titus.” And I did. Hahahaha. Actually, as I got older one of my favorite Bible verses in found in Titus.

Titus someone who I think naturally gets this concept. He knows God loves him so much. Instead of giving and serving others to benefit himself or to look kind to others, he really has grasped the idea of living an unselfish life and pointing the reason to Jesus. Titus seriously is the most giving individual I have ever met. I’ve told this story before, but one time at his birthday party after unwrapping presents, he starting giving his unopened presents to his friends. He loves finding money, just so he can give it away. I honestly think it’s a spiritual concept he can’t understand at his young age. It’s the concept of acknowledging that God is so abundantly merciful and gracious that pretty much all of our good deeds aren’t worth anything to save ourselves. Once we grasp this and accept this, we want to just draw into this Amazing Goodness. Maybe it’s just me, but when I draw close to God, I just want to serve, give, and help. I see my Father give and love, and I want to make him proud by being as close to him as I can be. I believe Titus innately has this sense of humility in him. As a father of a son, it’s pretty much the best thing I can imagine to see in my boy. He makes me so proud and I learn so much about God’s desire to bless us just watching him. He’s my little buddy J

Robert - Besides being named after a one of the early founders of the church, his name Robert is a family name that runs pretty deep in my family. My granddad’s name was “Robert S. Megow”. My dad’s name is “T. Robert Megow”. My name is “Robert S. Megow”. I wanted to keep this going with my son, so I named him “T. Robert Megow”. It’s a great way to acknowledge my lineage and also to honor my dad. My dad is awesome. He’s pretty much great at everything he does and is also so giving and self-sacrificing. My dad is always putting himself last to help people. The more I see Titus more and become more humble, the more I see my dad in him. It makes me really excited to see that. My dad is awesome and my hero.

Titus with his Paw (my dad)
Side note: I really hope Titus names his son “Robert S. Megow”. To me that would just be so neat.

Olive Hope

Olive – Last but not least is my little baby girl Olive. Honestly, by now you’re probably suspecting some amazing story about how Olive’s name was chosen. Well truthfully, after watching the movie “Little Miss Sunshine” and we just fell in love with that name.

If you haven’t seen this movie, watch it. It’s hilarious.
Just a warning, it’s not really appropriate for children at all. Hahahaha.
Congratulations Olive, you’re named after a movie not appropriate for children. :)

Really though, I love the way her name was created. It’s so spontaneous and fun; like “Hey, let’s name our kid that!”  When I think about it, it reminds me not to over think things and to look for God is the little places you wouldn’t think to look. Olive definitely does not overthink. At all. That girl is pretty much spur of the moment. She loves to be spontaneous and do things on a whim. I love that about her. As long as we are going, she usually has a big cheesy grin :) Seriously, all of my other kids like to specifically plan what they are going to do and how they are going to do it. Not Olive, she just goes and plans later. In a 30 minute window, she has seriously done the following: Ride her bike in a Minnie Mouse costume barefoot, took a bubble bath in said costume, played with the tarantula, made up a song on the piano, and ended by eating a can of green peas. She just kind of does what she wants, when she wants to do it. I know she’s younger, but I can already see this little trait in her. She’s definitely her own person and my first and only “Diva”. Hahahaha. I secretly love it…

Hope – I absolutely love that my last child was given the name “Hope”. It’s after my favorite scripture and probably a lot of you guys’ favorite too.

God has a plan to give us HOPE and a future. Olive was a little tiny when stuff started going down in my life. I will never forget the night, I was sleeping alone in the bed and just prayed out loud for God to show me some sort of physical affection. I promise a few minutes later I heard the door open, Olive climbing up next to me in my bed, giving me sweet kiss on the lips, and going back to her room. I know it sounds like I just make that stuff up, but it actually happened exactly like that. Immediately, I thought of that verse. Sometimes, I just love to look at her sweet little bucktoothed face and be reminded that God does have plans for me. They are filled with Hope and a Future :)

Be Blessed,