Guest Author - Cynthia Parker
We all have an activity, a hobby, a dream that we have abandoned along the path of being a single parent. For some of us it was a degree or a business idea, for others it is an artistic effort such as painting or writing, for others it is an activity such as basketball or rock-climbing. Whatever it is, there is a part of us that still craves the adrenaline rush, the exhilaration, the feeling of accomplishment that came with participating in this activity or completing a project. Being single parents does not mean that we have to give up self. There is a difference between giving of self and giving up self. We need to set the example that our children live up to in taking care of self, as well as others.
Several months ago I decided to reclaim a part of myself that has long been neglected. I love to write – not just how-to’s and opinions and non-fiction and research papers. I write poetry, short stories and novels. But those types of writing – the creative fiction that I so love – do not serve the same purpose as the articles, columns and research. Yet I crave time to indulge myself in the creation of such works. I am well aware that it takes much more time and effort to get such creative writing published than it does to reap rewards with non-fiction. However, my soul still craves the explorations into lands of fantasy and the release of emotion that fiction and poetry brings. I have committed myself to allowing myself time to achieve a few creative fiction and poetry goals in the upcoming year. There is a chapbook competition with a deadline in June to which I intend to submit a collection of poetry. I have several novels in the varying stages of completion and this year I am going to select one and finish it! I have a collection of short stories that I intended to polish and then search for a publisher to whom I will submit them for review. These sound like small goals, but in reality, they are huge steps for me and – believe it or not – a bit frightening. Nonetheless, if I want to reclaim myself as a whole person, it is time for me to take the chance.
So, what will you do this year to reclaim yourself? I challenge all of you who are artists to pick up that pen, sit down to the keyboard, and pull out the drawing pads, the brushes and the paints. Release your creative energy and allow your children to see you indulge in the process. They may find their own creative nature through watching your release your own. You may find a common thread between you that you never knew existed. Your children will see, through your efforts, that life is not only about the struggle to survive, but also about the effort to make it a beautiful life.
Those of you who have given up running, basketball, or another sport, find a track or a team and get back into the physical exhilaration of the muscle burn or the runner’s high! Neighborhood recreation centers and local churches often sponsor sports teams of all varieties. If you want your children to be involved on similar teams but do not have the funds for registration fees, do not hesitate to ask about scholarships for children’s teams. I have a single parent friend on a very limited budget whose son plays soccer in the fall and spring and she has never paid a single registration fee. Her income makes her son eligible for a registration scholarship, but this is not an availability that the recreation center advertises. She had to ask if such was available; otherwise, she would have never known. If your children are too young to participate, then get them into the spectator end of the game by watching a few teams play and explaining the ins and outs of the game. They will soon be cheering you on from the sidelines. Allow them to participate in your individual practice sessions, giving you quality time with your children and giving them a chance to learn and develop new skills.
Maybe you have always wanted to pursue a degree. The first thing you need to do is find out where you can attend classes that do not interfere with your work hours. Many universities have on-line programs or video-streamed classes that allow you to schedule your class time at your convenience. If your degree will enhance your productivity on your current job, employers will often allow you to take time off work to attend a class. Pursuing a degree while working full-time to support your family is definitely a slow process; however, the value you place on that degree should not be hampered by the time it takes to achieve your goal. After you find the program that is right for you, then you need to check into funding to help pay for the program. Even if you think you will not qualify for government aid, you should always submit a FAFSA form. You might be surprised at the funds that are available to you in the form of grants, scholarships and loans. When it comes to scheduling time to study or balancing family life with your goal, see some of my other articles about single parents who are attending school for creative ideas and encouraging thoughts. It can be done! Do not convince yourself that it cannot.
Make this a New Year to remembers and reclaim at least one of your abandoned passions or dreams this year! Be an example of which your children can be proud!