Lately, I have been doing a lot of thinking about aging as a woman, mother, partner, and goddess. My mother passed away when she 59 but was sick since she was 40 or so. My mother’s grandmother passed away when I was two, and my father’s mother passed when I was around 10. The point is, I have no aging female role models to observe, ask questions, etc. At 37, I am graying, wrinkling, sagging, aching, and more.
I don’t want to let society’s ageist cultural messages and ideas about what the ‘30s, ‘40s, or ’50s mean inform how I see myself. Age is just a number, but aging is an inevitable process. We begin to get older the moment we are born, and nothing we do can stop that process except death. Aging is all about deterioration. Agelessness, however, is not buying into the idea that a number determines everything from your state of health, to your attractiveness, to your value.
I want to embrace and learn to live agelessly. I believe an ageless attitude will help me flourish physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It is courageous to live like this. The soul is ageless, even if our physical body is not. I am in the process of discovering my ageless goddess self, and I have many ways to express my creativity and experience all the pleasures in life, from feeling good in my body and rediscovering my sexuality, to new projects and new ways of living.
Getting older is not something to fear. The number one thing many doctors say you can do for your health is to live joyously, indulging in sustainable pleasure, living fully and with a sense of joy and adventure. The body is constantly in a state of reinvention, starting at a cellular level and going all the way up. An important part of living agelessly for me is finding a way for my health span to match my lifespan. I do not want to die in the prime of my life, nor do I want to live forever sick, in pain, and miserable.
I want to be an ageless goddess who continues on this post-divorce, single mom, suburban goddess journey, recognizing there are always new things to learn and discover and new relationships to begin. I will continue to be exuberant about life and never give up on my curiosities and playful spirit. It is all about vitality, the creative force that gives birth to this new ageless life.
I believe that the real fountain of youth will be happiness, well-being, and connection to self, community, and the greater divine spirit- whatever or whoever that is for you. For each of us, our path to agelessness is different. You get to decide what makes you feel ageless and how you want to express yourself as such. It means you make your own decisions based not on a fear of looking foolish, but on feeling comfortable in your body and being keenly interested in the world around you.
This Suburban Goddess Mom is embracing the idea of agelessness, guilt free pleasures, self-love, and joy. It will be a daily practice. I will teach my daughter to be ageless too. She will learn to reject the notion that at a certain age her value declines. This lesson starts with me!
In my divorce
decree, I took the two kids and Howie took the two dogs. I was not a dog lover at heart, and I was not going to have dogs anymore. For the first year post divorce, I’d been saying an absolute no. No to
extra responsibility, no to one more thing to care for, no to the hair on me
and my stuff, no to the scratch marks on doors and wood floors, no to the
messes—inside or out—no to the expenses of feeding and vets. I mean, why would
I want to spend money on something that would mess up my house, make my life
harder, and give me yet one more thing to take care of? No way, no thank you!
But then a year went
by. I was feeling stable and at home in my new life. I had a wonderful partner,
and the kids and Chris started talking about us getting a dog. The thing that
sealed the deal was a recommendation from JoJo’s therapist that she could
really use an emotional support pet. I remember thinking so clearly,
“Goddamn it! We are getting a dog.”
We looked into
emotional support dogs. An emotional support animal is a companion animal that
provides some benefit for a person. Often the owners suffer from a disability.
For JoJo, it was anxiety. Emotional support animals are typically dogs but can
be cats; I have even heard of a peacock being an emotional support animal. Any
animal can be a support animal, but there is a process of having your pet
approved and certified. They need to be trained, and then you need a letter
from your mental health professional. There are also all kinds of
certifications you can apply for online.
So, we were getting a
dog. We picked a beautiful female Maltese puppy, which JoJo named Cupcake
Kitty. She was and still is so tiny and gorgeous. She is sassy and wild when
the situation warrants it and snuggly, loving, calming and concerned when needed.
We all love her and take turns caring for and being cared for by her. But
without a doubt JoJo and Cupcake have the most special bond of all.
Cupcake has changed
JoJo so much. She is much better about her fears of being alone and bugs, and
overall she is less anxious, happier, more open, and more loving. This little,
less than 5 lb. dog has done so much. And I don’t know what we would do or what
life would be without her. It is very important to get the right kind of pet
for your family. For us, it was a small, mostly inside, lap dog,
She is so very much a
part of our family. She was in our first day of school pics and Christmas photo
this year. I dare say I love her like one of my kids. Cupcake has changed me,
and she’s changed my family. We have more love and more laughter, more
expenses, more mess, a little more commotion, and a lot more calm and peace in
our souls. The Suburban Goddess Mom and Cupcake Kitty are an odd pairing, but
sometimes that’s all that your family needs: a little 5 lbs. of fluff.
I have numerous
“failed” relationships or relationships that just did not work for
many reasons. But as I think about it, almost all of them did not work because
I was not with someone who balanced or complimented me, which lead to me not
being myself fully. With Chris, it is different. He loves me and accepts me
fully, balances me, and compliments me so well. But I worry about the future
I wonder if we will
continue to fit together and grow together or if we will inevitably grow apart.
If I am constantly working on my own personal growth and fixing aspects of
myself I view as damaged or broken, can he keep up or meet me where I am? I am
writing this blog with all the hope in the world that he can, but these days
more relationships fail than succeed. And out of those that succeed, are those
individuals complacent or accepting of a subpar partner or relationship?
There’s no denying it,
relationships are hard work. They take time, attention, communication, care,
attraction, and so much more. But, when you find someone you want to be with long term, all that hard
work becomes infinitely worth it. Nothing feels better than feeling in love and
being the best version of yourself in that relationship. At this point in my
life I do not believe someone can complete someone else as much as compliment
My ultimate goal for
this relationship is to have it based on mutual growth and a wonderful
adventure of discovery. Mutual growth cultivates a deeper sense of self,
develops the values of integrity, honesty and transparency, uncovers our true
selves, and inspires us to be the best we can be as human beings. In this kind
of relationship, you realize your highest aspirations and spark change for the
common good. I think these types of relationships are rare. And when you find
them for yourself or you see them around you, you absolutely know.
Here are some ways to
work on growing together:
Be honest with each other from the start
Discuss the future
Be open to compromise
Be straightforward with your feelings
Accept your partner for who they are
Be good to each other
Commit to growing together
Balance time apart and time together
Learn things together
Communicate in a way that allows the other to
Laugh together, have inside jokes
Go on adventures
Say you are sorry and own it
Make time to talk about your relationship
When all else fails,
remember nothing and no one is perfect, and remember why you fell in love in
the first place. Being in a relationship is a choice, and I reaffirm my choice
to be with Chris each and every day. Who knows what the future will hold, but I
will trust in myself, Chris, and our relationship. This Suburban Goddess Mom is
nothing without her faith and belief in positive personal growth.
I am the mom of a weird
but working modern blended family. Our family includes me, Chris (my partner),
my ex (Howie), and our kids, JoJo and Brayden. When it comes to family, especially in this day and age, they
come in all shapes and sizes. Differences and diversity seem to be the new norm—couples
with children, some married, some cohabitating, couples without children,
same-sex couples, single parents,
and blended families created through remarriage and re-partnering. Blended
families like mine are created through divorce. And divorce can be painful and
messy, which can make blended families messy and complicated and exhausting. But my modern
blended family is the best family option for me, Chris, Howie, and my kids!
According to Susan Merrill, “Successful
blended families can be difficult to achieve. That’s why so many blended
families ultimately fail. There are disputes
over parenting, money, privacy, vacations, responsibilities, boundaries,
rituals, holidays, stepchild behaviors like disrespect, “acting out,” and/or
“favoritism”; common stepchild discipline problems; custody, visitation, and/or
financial support issues; stepsibling relationship problems. The list goes on
It took us over a year
to get to this point of comfortable, happy, loving “blendedness”. We needed the
time and space to heal and grow. And we needed to put the children and co-parenting
above all else. I am so happy and lucky that this happened. My kids are happy
and loved. Our life is stable and predictable. They know who they can count on
and what each of us contributes. It is not always smooth or easy, and there are
times when it is a lot of hurt. But it is important to remember why we are
doing this, always speak from a place of love, and work through any issues. For
us, it is also important that discipline comes from the birth parents. Chris
fills a loving, fun, supporting role. Don’t expect instant love, instant family,
or instant harmony. Take your time, go slow, and don’t force it.
My kids had to deal with a lot of change. They moved,
came to a very different climate (both weather-wise and people-wise), switched
schools, and suddenly had a second parent in the house. My poor partner gave up
the role of lifelong bachelor to embrace his new instant family, which happened
to include two very chatty, high-needs kids and their very challenging mother.
Lucky him! But if you ask him, he would tell you he is the
luckiest man on earth. He has a family and home that he loves, and he would not
trade it for anything.
Now, Howie stays with
us in our home when he visits the kids. We have meals together, shop together,
bonfires, watch movies, and play baseball. Yes, it was weird at the beginning
and still is sometimes, but it works. My kids love when daddy comes. They are
comfortable and want him here, and Howie seems happy and comfortable too. We
are even planning a modern blended family summer vacation.
Without a doubt, I can say that 15 months later, we are all a family; a family that loves and respects each other, and a family that takes care of each other. Chris refers to the kids as “our kids” but always maintains a respectful boundary, reminding them that he would never try to (or want to) replace their dad. The kids call him dad or stepdad, even Howie refers to Chris as their stepdad. It’s a work in progress, always, but the Suburban Goddess Mom would not have it any other way.
JoJo is my anxious child, though she did not used to be. She used to be so carefree, friendly, and full of life. But all of our life transitions have taken their toll on her. She is now an anxious, overthinking, introverted child. We have spent the better part of two years working on helping her manage her anxiety. We have done play therapy, talk therapy, gotten her an emotional support dog, talked about everything, exposed her to her triggers, and many other things. And we have made huge improvements.
JoJo’s anxiety played out in many ways. She was deathly afraid of bugs. If she saw one, she would scream and cry and claw at me. This would go on for hours, until she passed out from exhaustion. She would not be alone, ever; not to use the bathroom, shower, or even sleep. She had constant stomach aches; the gastroenterologist did all kinds of tests and found nothing. She struggled with transitions, changes to routine, and was obsessive about her eating. JoJo ate only a maybe 5 or 6 things, and if she did not have those things, she would starve. It was not an easy time for any of us, especially JoJo.
Dealing with anxiety can be difficult, especially in children. Anxiety triggers do not always make sense. For instance, JoJo is much bigger than ants and ants do not hurt people, but she was scared to death of them. The anxiety comes from an overactive, overly protective brain. People with anxiety are often very intelligent which makes sense. As a parent of an anxious child, it is very important that you remain calm, loving, and patient when dealing with their anxiety.
No one wants to see a child unhappy or anxious. Many anxious children have a parent who has anxiety themselves. While we all get anxiety from time to time, it is our job to help them work through any difficulties. It is important to understand these issues and get your child the proper help. It is important to help them learn to tolerate their anxiety and function “normally”, or as well as they can. And it is important to know that your child’s anxiety is not your fault. You are not a failure, and there is nothing “wrong” with them.
JoJo is now a much less anxious child. Most people would never even know that she suffers from anxiety. She sleeps alone, showers, and goes to the bathroom alone. She can be inside or outside alone. She even eats a few more things. Bugs are still an issue, but she recovers much more quickly. Her stomach aches are much less frequent. In my eyes, we are on the path of successful management of her anxiety.
Change and growth is always possible, but it takes support, knowledge, intention, and work. This Suburban Goddess Mom is doing everything she can to help her little goddess, JoJo, work through her anxiety and lead a much less anxious life.
All my life I have struggled to speak up and share my
thoughts and feelings. It may seem hard to believe since I blog about
everything and anything, but it comes from being a part of a large family. I
was always overshadowed by my older brother’s greatness (a genius and an
artist) and then being in a marriage where I was forced into a submissive role
by abuse and narcissism. Even post-divorce, post-transformation, and post-spiritual
growth I still struggle. I can’t speak up for myself or assert my boundaries
easily or often. More accurately, I used to never be able to, and I am learning
and working to speak up, create boundaries, and make my needs known. I was a
total emotional chicken, and sometimes I still am. Afraid to ask for what I
need, afraid to be wrong or be viewed as needy or anything negative really.
I never realized until very recently exactly how hard it’s
been for me to speak up. The two places it is the hardest to ask for what I
require and want is with my significant other and with medical professionals. As
I mentioned in an earlier post, until recently I made decisions almost entirely
passively. I made decisions by not making decisions, and then life just
happened to me. I had a victim mentality looking at it now. What
a vicious cycle I was living. How could I be happy when I was not listening to
my own needs and desires and thus never getting them met?
Speaking up and living that power is the ultimate goal. I
believe it to be a universal struggle, especially for women. Our society and
culture trains both men and women to think and behave, and it shapes how we all
and each other. How often have we
heard that a woman who speaks up is demanding and bitchy, but a man doing the
same is a go-getter? I don’t want to be seen as demanding and bitchy, but I
also don’t want to continue to live in this land of resentment and victim
I am working and learning to speak up more. Now I struggle
when the person does not listen or give me what I am asking for. I am, however,
learning and working on this. Just because I speak up does not mean the other
person is open to hearing me and does not mean I will get what I want. It is a
work in progress, as am I, the Suburban Goddess Mom.