Back to school, back to work. Back to the grind is what I say. I’m not sure I can handle it. I’m a single dad who works a big job, under normal circumstances about 15 hours a day.
My wife died suddenly last year, and it’s been rough for us all. Her parents have been very helpful, dealing with their own grief, but wanting to stay close to the children. But they’ve left for southern climes, so they’re out of the picture for the dreary winter months.
Her sister is also very helpful, and her kids are similar in age which is great as they spend lots of time together.
Since this major change in our lives, I put my head down and just figured out how to get it done. My kids needed consistency and me, and I needed distraction. But the holidays are about to end, and I’m staring down a bleak three months ahead.
How do I find the strength to carry on?
Involuntary single dad
I’m terribly sorry for your loss and for your children’s loss. You need to give yourself a break – and a chance to grieve. You haven’t allowed yourself the time to be sad, to mourn your wife, to take care of your own wound.
Without the extra helping hands of your in-laws, you need to bring in some help. Even if it wasn’t part of your budget, you need the help. Hire a cleaner/cook/babysitter who can clean the house during the day, prepare easy-to-pack food for the kids’ lunches, cook dinner and be home for the kids after school. That buys you three-to-four afternoon hours to keep up with your demanding job which should alleviate your work stress, which should alleviate your home stress, especially since you’ll be coming home to a clean house, dinner and easy lunch prep for the following day.
Find out who else does the same activities as your kids, who lives nearby and carpool. You’re still driving, but you can focus on one kid at a time, making sure they feel you are present and not pulled in a million directions at once.
Lastly, embrace the winter. You can’t fight it. You’ll lose. Plan a day out with the kids skating; take them to the country for a snowy hike; teach them how to cross-country and downhill ski; find a hill and go tobogganing. These are just a few of the fun, outdoor activities you can do this winter. Invite your sister-in-law and her family along for some fun and laughter.
Your heart is going to hurt for a while. Find ways to bring yourself joy to alleviate some of the pain. Laughter and love are the best medicines. Enjoy your children. You all need each other.
Right before winter vacation, I was getting really upset with my friend. I kept trying to make plans with her, but she was always “too busy” with family, errands, getting ready for the holidays. I kept asking, and she kept blowing me off.
We both went away with family on holiday. I sent her messages of holiday wishes over social media, but she never replied. When I got home, I checked her social, and she’s been out partying with mutual friends since Thanksgiving (we live in the States).
I’m hurt, offended and confused. We didn’t fight or argue. What do I do now?
Before you label yourself “ex” and throw in the towel on this friendship, go back through her social and check the dates. Could it be that she was out for dinner and drinks the same day she said she was busy? Are those her work colleagues or a different friend group?
Call her. Everyone knows social media is where you put your most fun, picture-perfect information – not your true-to-life daily activities. Ask her about her family, her vacation and make a plan to get together to celebrate. Then pick a date.
Follow her lead and you’ll know what to do next.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman unsure how to plan her holiday parties (Dec. 19):
Reader – “Put yourself into each of your guest’s shoes.
“I was invited to a work colleague’s “mixer.” I knew his wife and he knew my wife from company functions. But I didn’t know any of her work colleagues nor any of their personal friends.
“The groups didn’t mix. They just stuck together, as neither group had anything in common.
“If Stressed has that many people in their life, have three parties.”
Lisi – Know your people. Some are good at talking to strangers and making friends. Others aren’t.