Tag

single mom

Browsing

Here in the Garden State, New Jersey, where I live with my son – and have an open and active child-support case with his absent father who lives in Indiana — a class action lawsuit seeks to end the automatic suspensions of driver’s licenses of parents who are behind on child support payments. According to the law office of David Perry Davis, the family law attorney who filed the suit this spring, the class action is slowly making its way through the court system.

So how are New Jersey single parents reacting, while we wait for a verdict? Some are fuming: Karina P., from Totowa, says the only way she was able to collect child support was when her ex’s license was suspended. “He didn’t pay up until he couldn’t drive. This law should stand because it pissed him off into paying.”

Some single parents could care less. “I make more than my ex and can support our children and myself just fine. I filed for child support to make him feel responsible for the kids he left in the dust,” says Anne Marie G., from Summit. “He pays on and off and just enough not to get caught up with a warrant.”

Others feel conflicted. “I’m lucky, because my ex-husband takes paying child support seriously,” says Renee L., from Long Branch. “If he did fall behind and his license was suspended, I wonder how he’d drive to work,”

Will punishment really make them pay up?

All 50 states now have statutory or administrative provisions that restrict, suspend or revoke driver’s licenses for failure to pay child support. Each state’s criteria varies. But Renee has a point. Is this enforcement technique really effective? The current New Jersey law – automatic suspension, no allowances – can be a double-edged sword. “You are potentially taking away your ex’s ability to earn income,” says Kristi L. Terranova, a family law attorney with the Pashman Stein law firm in Hackensack. “This is especially true if your ex lives in an area without readily accessible public transportation.” No license could mean no job, thus no possibility of paying what’s owed.

But if New Jersey’s automatic suspension law ended, that doesn’t mean deadbeat exes would be totally off the hook. If the class action lawsuit succeeds, here’s how it would work: Once a parent fails to pay child support for six months, the court would step in. If the court felt the parent had not made a good faith effort to pay, it could suspend that person’s driver’s license immediately. But if the court felt the parent was delinquent because of circumstances beyond their control, it could extend the past-due payment schedule. And the extension can only last so long. “Any payment plan cannot extend beyond the date the dependent child reaches the age of 18,” Terranova explains. Ultimately, if the parent doesn’t pay, their license is history. The punishment aspect stays – the nonpaying parent just gets a chance to make excuses and explain how they’ll make good. “If there’s no punishment to face, the non-payment may continue indefinitely,” says Terranova. “Under New Jersey law, both parents have an obligation to support their child or children.”

To suspend or not to suspend?dreamstime_s_31331604

I’m still on the fence. My son lives with me 24/7. If I lost my job and got jammed up money-wise, I would have to find a way to borrow to keep things going. I don’t get to hide out in another state or dodge child support payments. My son is under my roof and needs his cereal and clothes — and a birthday present for his friend’s pool party.

In other words, my financial responsibility is so much more real than it is for an absentee dad in Indiana who simply writes a check — or not. I can only imagine my ex doesn’t spare a penny when it comes to raising his other children. Automatic suspensions give single moms like me more leverage to make sure we get our children what they’re due.

But not cutting my ex any slack could backfire on me. My son’s father is self-employed and I know he needs his vehicle to drive to the corporations he sells industrial tools to. My child support isn’t garnished from his paycheck, because it’s not issued by someone else — he’s the boss. Child support, for us, is based on our tax returns and pay stubs. If my ex lost his right to drive, I imagine my child support would get kinked up, and fast. And I definitely wouldn’t want that.

What do you think: Should parents behind on child support lose their licenses? Tweet us @singlewith #childsupport

For more information on how to file for child support read this article I wrote for parenting.com.

DID YOU LIKE THIS POST? Sign up for our weekly newsletter!  You’ll get great new essays, advice and ideas by and for single parents, coming to your email inbox. Also, register for our Singlewith Forums, to become part of our community and start connecting and getting support from fellow single moms and dads. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter (@singlewith) and Instagram (singlewithphotos). In short, JOIN US!

Photo by  takahiro taguchi on Unsplash

Weeks beforehand, I started marking X’s on the calendar each day we got closer to the big date. Knots tightened in my stomach. I paced the living room floor rehearsing my send-off speech. But the weekends, oh, the weekends, I relished. My son and I squeezed in every conceivable mother/child activity… movie nights, pajama parties, arts and crafts, cooking classes, breakfast for dinner, sand-castle building and sports of all kinds. My phone captured so much proof we could relive those moments whenever we wanted to.

Then the big date arrived. I remember triple-checking the bags I had packed. I paced some more and kept peeking through the blinds. I thought, maybe I won’t see his car outside or that my phone wouldn’t ring. Or that he’d forget. Or maybe his flight was delayed.

But he showed up. And I could see him wipe the sweat from his brow as he pulled into the driveway.

Trying hard not to lose it

In the weeks before saying goodbye, I went on a selfie spree, documenting everything we did together.
In the weeks before saying goodbye, I went on a selfie spree, documenting everything we did.

My son and I went outside to greet him.

I tried really hard not to cry. But, one by one, the tears came. Then, in a flash, it seemed like there were 10,000 of them. Some drying and sticking to my face, others rolling down to my T-shirt.

And I stood powerless, knowing there was nothing I could do. My ex and I have shared custody. It’s been decided by a judge; recorded in legal documents.  I felt the warmth of my son’s hand leave mine. And through the fog in my eyes, I watched his father buckle him in his car seat, counting the clicks and clacks in my head.

I was fully prepared for my son to have a mega meltdown. Or cry, even a little bit, but (maybe, thankfully) none of that happened. He was excited to be going with his dad for the summer.

His father and I stoically stood outside of his car, barely making eye contact. We both know the drill. Then I went over my checklist.

“You have the health insurance cards, and copies of his prescriptions?” I said. “And don’t forget, he’s wearing a size 12 shoe now.” Almost without taking another breath, I continued on, “And for clothes, the 4T’s are getting smaller on his stomach but the pants still fit. He’s not allergic to anything, but use that organic sunscreen I put in his bag. Oh and at night, he has to go to bed at 8 and he likes to have a small light on in the bathroom. And…”

Annoyed, he finally cut me off.

“I got it.”

With that, my entire body deflated. I thought, “Gosh, I’m a control freak. Certified word vomiter. But really, a three-word response?! Did he hear me at all? Ugh, he really doesn’t get it, like I do.”

Learning to let go

Raina's son
One of my favorite photos of my son.

Suddenly, I remembered how hard this is for my ex, too. When we were together, we worried about the same things for our son. We wanted the best for him at all times. We both wanted to be at the school recitals and doctor visits. And although we now live nearly 900 miles apart, we are both still parents, just on different schedules: Dad gets court-ordered summer placement, and I get everything else.

And now it was Dad’s time. I had to respect that, even though it’s the most agonizing, anxiety-ridden eight weeks for me.

Thanks to technology, my son and I stay in contact regularly. We send pictures back and forth. His dad sends pictures of their outings and of our son just doing kid stuff.

As coparents, exes, whatever, we don’t always have our act together, but we’re trying to move on. We’ve mourned the loss of the relationship, the people we were and the life we thought we’d share. Now, we just focus on raising a happy, healthy, kind-spirited little boy.

Finding the upside

Usually, the first 40 hours after my son leaves are the worst. I can’t sleep, I don’t clean up the toys he leaves out. I barely cook, because I can’t cook for one. And I don’t know what to do with all the free time I have and end up binge-watching TV and eating Pringles and ice cream sandwiches.

After those initial days of loneliness a bit of my anxiety subsides. I begin to plan what I am going to do. And that’s when things start to get fun. I began to focus on myself and my goals. I do a lot of running. I read books. I work on my writing. I don’t rush home after work. I stay up late on weeknights and I sleep in on weekends. I sip my coffee more slowly in the morning. I eat dessert before dinner. I drink wine with my girlfriends. I go on real dates, not just playdates at the park. I pee in peace – no shouting from the other side of the door. Oh, and I take bubble baths! Bubble baths. With candles. Those are the fulfilling moments I enjoy for a sweet, sweet eight weeks every summer.

Coparenting in any situation is tough. But I always try to look at the bright side. For a few weeks of out of the year, my son creates lasting, lifelong memories with his dad. And to this single mom, that’s priceless.

DID YOU LIKE THIS POST? Sign up for our weekly newsletter in the box (above, right)!  You’ll get great new essays, advice and ideas by and for single parents, coming to your email inbox. Also, register for our Singlewith Forums, to become part of our community and start connecting and getting support from fellow single moms and dads. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter (@singlewith) and Instagram (singlewithphotos). In short, JOIN US!

Photo by  sydney Rae on Unsplash

There has been a ton of debate around “who has it worse” in the mommy wars battle between single moms and married moms who feel like single moms because their spouses are often not around.

I’ve been in both situations and my vote, if I have one, goes to the bona-fide single mom. Here’s why:

When I was single, I wished and hoped I would someday meet a nice boy, fall in love, and we would have beautiful children. When I was single, I did everything by myself and since that’s all I’d ever known, there was no comparison. I worked, dated, paid my bills, did my own cleaning and waited. Then…

I became a Navy wife and felt like a single mom

I got married. It was fun to have a partner to do things with, someone to discuss problems, come up with solutions, share the responsibilities and the perks … when he was home. My first husband was in the Navy, stationed on board ships that were gone as long as six months at a time. Enter a baby …

Ten days after our daughter was born, the baby daddy went to sea on a six-month deployment. I was an official “married single mom.” This was in ancient times when I’d receive a letter a week (that’s right, folks, snail mail), sent two or more weeks earlier.  Sending an email meant waiting two full days for a response, and phone calls were incredibly few and far between because it cost $4 a minute. We were stationed in Hawaii, far away from family, which meant I was going it alone … but I had the benefit of those emails, letters and calls, not to mention that twice-monthly deposit of his paycheck. Just knowing “daddy was out there” and he wanted to be home was mental peace of mind. But….

Then I became a divorced mom, doing it all alone

I moved to another state with my daughter, with no friends or family to speak of. I had upgraded to “single mom” with no support in sight. Was there a difference? You bet. Not having another adult living in the house meant all chores and responsibilities were 100 percent mine. There were some fantastic aspects to that, and I’ll be writing about that in a future post. But for now, suffice it to say in the “married single mom” vs. “single mom” conversation, single moms have it tougher. They just do. Not having a spouse, significant other, supportive baby daddy and his love, support and income makes a huge difference.I spent six and a half years fully 100% a single mom.

Then I became a married mom with a helpmate husband

I’ve been with my current husband for 7 years. He doesn’t have to travel much. I’m a grateful married mom, with support and love and extra hands most of the time. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank my lucky stars.

Bottom line: Not having help is difficult, period

It’s hard to say that married single moms don’t feel as isolated, alone, overwhelmed, and frustrated as bona-fide single moms. It’s like asking two people, each who have broken their leg, who has more pain. They will both say, “Me.” It’s all relative … someone’s personal experience is their personal experience, and when you’re having a tough time, it doesn’t matter that someone else could be having a tougher time. The tough time you’re having is the tough time you’re having, thank you very much.

I can say it’s different and harder to be a “real” single mom, because I’ve experienced both and I know the difference for realz. But I will say this:

I think it’s time to everyone to come together, stop judging and start collaborating and cooperating, for the good of all moms and kids everywhere.

About the author: Honorée Corder blogs at The Successful Single Mom and has written many books you should check out, especially the ones about single parenting. Click the titles below for more info. 

The Successful Single Mom

The Successful Single Dad

Plus: The Successful Single Mom Cooks!The Successful Single Mom Gets Rich!The Successful Single Mom Finds LoveThe Successful Single Mom Gets FitThe Successful Single Mom Gets an Education

DID YOU LIKE THIS POST? Please go to the Singlewith Home Page for much more, and sign up for our weekly newsletter in the box (above, right)! You’ll get great new essays, advice and ideas by and for single parents, coming to your email inbox. Also, register for our Singlewith Forums, to become part of our community and start connecting and getting support from fellow single moms and dads. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter (@singlewith) and Instagram (singlewithphotos). In short, JOIN US!

Photo by  Analise Benevides on Unsplash

WHY WE LOVE HER: She pursued her dream of being a singer, despite working two jobs as the single mom of four. Now that her career is taking off, she’s encouraging other parents to hold on to their dreams, even as they tend to tiny hearts.

Teen motherhood and single parenthood didn’t exactly ruin Kimberly Henderson’s life. Pregnant at 16, the Sumter, South Carolina native decided to keep the child, marry her sweetheart and stay in school. Ten years and four kids later, she’s a single mom with a single, “Tiny Hearts,” at the top of the iTunes singer-songwriter chart. The rising star, now 27, doesn’t have much patience for the negative stereotypes. “I think it’s empowering to be a single parent,” she says.

“People look down on single moms,” Kimberly concedes. She’s been called names. But she has her own label for single moms (and dads): Superheros. “You’re just one person, you’re providing, you’re going to sick visits and soccer practice,” she says. “It shows strength and determination – and you know, a lot of women can’t do it and they’re married!”

The week of Thanksgiving last year, Kimberly’s youngest daughter, Vaida, 1, was having trouble getting to sleep, and Kimberly was singing to her in the kitchen, as usual. She decided to record it, just to have the memory of those late nights. She sang Sam Smith’s arrangement of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know?” as she rocked her baby girl to sleep.

“My sister was in the room next to me and she said, ‘Kim, that was really good, you should post it on Facebook.’” Kimberly hesitated. “I was tired and I didn’t have any makeup on,” she confesses. She wasn’t thrilled to have anyone outside the family see her like that. Then, she remembers, she just thought, “whatever,” and uploaded it.

The video is indeed totally raw – bad lighting, terrible camera angle – and it is achingly beautiful. Vaida’s blue eyes go from wide open to fluttering shut as her mom rocks her and sings with a voice that’s astonishingly expressive. The post went viral on Facebook starting December 12 – within a week there were 20 million views. On Youtube, there are 2.9 million hits and counting.

Kimberly still has her day job: She works 8-3 as a certified medical assistant in a doctor’s office and moonlights as a waitress in an oyster bar for extra cash. And she’s still the one taking care of her kids – when Singlewith caught up with her she was at home, apologizing for multiple interruptions, “Sorry, I’m trying to do five things at once,” chasing the baby and welcoming the older kids home from school.

For the most part, Kimberly’s life is still pretty much the life of any parent, single or otherwise. Basketball season just ended, she says, and the kids are all playing soccer now. With four kids –Kayleigh, almost 10, Brianna, 9, Aiden, 5, and little Vaida – Kimberly says it can be hard to go out on weekends, though they do sometimes. More often, they’ll stay home and do karaoke night—all the kids like to sing – or movie night, with popcorn and candy. What’s the favorite movie? Frozen, Kimberly says, with a sigh. “Even the little boy is all about it,” she says. “It’s stressful.” (Recently, on her Facebook page, Kimberly posted the hilarious viral video of the North Carolina mom who was totally fed up with Frozen. Who can’t relate?) But things are starting to change.

“I wanted single moms and single dads … to have a song they can relate to.”

Cosco Kids, the baby products company, found out that a couple of months before the lullaby video went viral, Kimberly was in a serious car accident, and a Cosco carseat likely saved Vaida’s life. The company decided to take it a step further and help launch Kimberly’s singing career. They partnered with Break Entertainment, an artist development company, and flew Kimberly (and Vaida) out to Los Angeles in early January to record her first single, “Tiny Hearts.” The song reached number 5 on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart last week. Now Kimberly’s plans for nursing school are on hold as major record labels fly her in for meetings.

10497928_966970993332300_2794779445019927549_o“Tiny Hearts” started with a song Kimberly had written in high school, and she and the team in L.A. took some lyrics from that and wrote the rest from scratch. It’s about that time when she was 17 and all her friends were going out on dates, and she was home feeding a 6-month-old, she says. And the similar feelings she’s experienced since then, as her family has grown – feelings most parents can relate to, if they’re honest with themselves. The lyrics express a wistfulness about the life she’s missing out on, but the solid conclusion that being there for your kids is more important than anything else. “There are a lot of single moms out there that work their butts off and they have dreams… but at the end of the day, being a mom comes first,” says Kimberly. As the song puts it: “I know who I am…tiny hearts are in my hand.”

“I wanted my first song to be something meaningful that inspired me,” Kimberly says. “I wanted single moms and single dads, and parents and grandparents, to have a song that they can relate to,” she adds. “Maybe this can be our song, in the way that ‘All About that Bass’ speaks to not having to be a size zero or two to be pretty in the world.”

“You’re thinking in the back of your head, ‘I’m a mom, I can’t do this.'”

While Kimberly’s current fame was sparked by the viral video, she’s not exactly an overnight success. She’s been working on her dream for years, now. “I work two jobs because I have to, but I have really always wanted to be a singer, and luckily I’ve had support.” The first time she sang live, it was in 2011 at open mic night at Pizza Lane, a restaurant in her hometown. “It’s really small, like a country town,” she says of Sumter. Since then she continued to do little singing gigs, no more than once a week, at places in Sumter like Hamptons, a fine-dining restaurant, and J O’Grady’s, a burger, barbecue and beer place. Occasionally she’d travel to nearby cities like Charlotte, NC, and Columbia, SC, for a gig, and she auditioned three times for American Idol, getting turned down each time. She didn’t give up, but “at the same time, you’re thinking in the back of your head, ‘I’m a mom, I can’t do this,’” Kimberly admits.

10517506_997663556929710_7866871200526841328_n
A glamorous moment at the Henderson house.

In fact, until her video went viral, Kimberly hadn’t been able to pursue singing more aggressively because she has needed to be there for little Vaida and her other kids. Life has been good, but it hasn’t been perfect. Kimberly’s marriage to her high school sweetheartlasted “six or seven years,” she says. “Being young, it didn’t work out.” Then Aiden came along. “I was in some bad relationships,” she says. When she got pregnant with Vaida, she was on birth control, and thought, “I cannot do this.” The father was not in the picture and Kimberly almost went through with an abortion, but decided against it at the last minute. All of the kids’ dads are in their lives now, but Kimberly, who has been “officially single” for two years, has full custody of all four. She’s a hands-on mom and wouldn’t want it any other way.

But Kimberly has a message for other single moms (and single dads – she’s gotten a lot of messages from dads who say they can relate to “Tiny Hearts”): “Don’t forget who you are, and don’t give up on your dreams.” Over the years, people have asked her how she finds time to sing. “If you really care about something, you make time for it,” she says. “It doesn’t make you selfish. I would pick one night a week and do this. It was my relaxation – though I didn’t always get sleep.” Kids come first, in Kimberly’s world, but she believes in finding a balance somehow. “You gotta have time for yourself.”

In the end, Kimberly says, “It’s crazy. It’s like being a mom made my dream happen for me.”

DID YOU LIKE THIS POST? Please go to the Singlewith Home Page for much more, and sign up for our weekly newsletter in the box (above, right)! You’ll get great new essays, advice and ideas by and for single parents, coming to your email inbox. Also, register for our Singlewith Forums, to become part of our community and start connecting and getting support from fellow single moms and dads. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter (@singlewith) and Instagram (singlewithphotos). In short, JOIN US!

 

 

All photos courtesy Kimberly Henderson.

single_with_fitness

Welcome to our weekly Singlewith Fitness series, led  by single mom and personal trainer Natasha Forrest. This week: Simple moves that will give you the best ab workout at home – with no special equipment. (Well, if you have a toddler handy, use ’em for extra resistance.)

Natasha Forrest2Natasha is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer who specializes in Pre-Post Natal Fitness, Weight Management and Strength Training. She’s also the single mother of a 3 year old son who was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. She enjoys funky socks, giant mugs of warm tea and all things that involve peanut butter. Natasha is dedicated to the pursuit of happiness through a fit, active and healthy lifestyle and it is her desire to inspire YOU!

 best lower body home workout

DID YOU LIKE THIS POST? Please go to the Singlewith Home Page for much more, and sign up for our weekly newsletter in the box (above, right)! You’ll get great new essays, advice and ideas by and for single parents, coming to your email inbox. Also, register for our Singlewith Forums, to become part of our community and start connecting and getting support from fellow single moms and dads. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter (@singlewith) and Instagram (singlewithphotos). In short, JOIN US!

Photo by  Analise Benevides on Unsplash

ASK LINDA, PSYCHOTHERAPIST, SINGLE MOM:

Dear Linda,

My husband was the love of my life. Or so I thought. We’re divorcing after 12 years together and I just can’t stop crying. I want to pull it together for the kids, but I often am just overcome with grief. I feel like my best friend – and my life plan – have both died. To make it worse, the kids are reacting to the tension and are acting out. Which just adds to the stress and sadness and makes it harder for me to hold it together. How I can cope?

Linda answers:  

I am so sorry that you are going through this major loss. Your grief, tears and feeling overwhelmed are normal for the trauma you have suffered. These emotions are part of the mourning process, which will eventually lead you forward in your life. The “airplane safety demonstration” provides a key life lesson on the importance of taking care of yourself during a crisis such as this. The flight attendant says, “Put your oxygen mask on before placing an oxygen mask on your child.” Why? If you do not take care of yourself, you will not be here to take care of your children. When you have a major life stressor, you might forget to take care of yourself.

Your kids feel your pain and stress and are having their lives turned upside down, too. Talk with them. Let them know it is OK to feel sad. It is OK to cry. It is OK to be angry. Explain that both your emotions and theirs are real and that it is OK to feel whatever they feel. Here is the tricky part: What you do with your emotions is where you have choices. To help overcome difficult emotions, MOVE: exercise, play physical games, go skating, biking, running, play kickball, or play hide and seek. Move and get those feel-good chemicals activated in your body. Also, make sure you are all eating well and getting enough sleep.

Often when emotions become overwhelming, you might get caught up with repetitive thoughts and get “stuck in your head.” One simple and great technique for moving through these emotions is to start naming all the colors that you see. You can do this by yourself or with the kids. Try this for about 5 minutes, when you or they start to feel overwhelmed. It’s a mindfulness trick, sort of a mini meditation break: When you are concentrating on the colors and their names, you cannot simultaneously stay trapped in your negative thoughts.

Divorce or breakup is a loss, and you will need to mourn. It takes time, but you are a survivor and you and the children will come through this. A qualified family therapist might help guide you through this process together. I recommend that you seek out this kind of support for yourself and your children, since it will help you to “normalize” and move through the mourning process.

HAVE A QUESTION FOR LINDA? Sent it to info [at] singlewith.com, and put ASK LINDA in the subject heading. She may use your question for an upcoming post!
DID YOU LIKE THIS POST? Please go to the Singlewith Home Page for much more, and sign up for our weekly newsletter in the box (above, right)! You’ll get great new essays, advice and ideas by and for single parents, coming to your email inbox. Also, register for our Singlewith Forums, to become part of our community and start connecting and getting support from fellow single moms and dads. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter (@singlewith) and Instagram (singlewithphotos). In short, JOIN US!
Photo by  Marcel Strauß on Unsplash

single_with_fitness

Welcome to our weekly Singlewith Fitness series, led  by single mom and personal trainer Natasha Forrest. This week: Simple moves that will give you the best lower body home workout – with no special equipment.

Natasha Forrest2Natasha is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer who specializes in Pre-Post Natal Fitness, Weight Management and Strength Training. She’s also the single mother of a 3 year old son who was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. She enjoys funky socks, giant mugs of warm tea and all things that involve peanut butter. Natasha is dedicated to the pursuit of happiness through a fit, active and healthy lifestyle and it is her desire to inspire YOU!

 best lower body home workout

best lower body home workout