Q: Tell us a bit about yourself-Who are you? How many kids do you have and their names?
A: Who am I? Sounds like a question better suited for my therapist than me. I’m Daniella, single mom, student, writer and blogger. I have four kids ages 10, 7, 4 and 2.5 and a partridge and a pear tree. Known for my popular Blog & Author of The Not So Single Life, it is all about Divorce, kids, dating and just making it through the day. Check it out here www.facebook.com/thenotsosinglelife
Q: You’re running your successful blog, The Not So Single Life? and raising four kids in Toronto. What are some of your tips on staying balanced and staying inspired with such a hectic schedule? Tell us more about it and why you started it?
A: Balance can definitely be tricky as I find my life is constantly filled with extremes. Either I have my kids with me 24/7 or not at all, either my kids are telling me I’m the best mom in the world or they’re saying I’m ruining their lives, either I’m eating a salad or 4 chocolate bars and a small village of cheese. With life often feeling so unbalanced the balance really has to come from within. It’s working on my inner dialogue that isn’t as hard on myself, it’s looking at the big picture and not the little details that so often bog me down. Inspiration for my blog comes from the plainest of everyday events. Divorce is so often commericalized and glamourized but hardly normalized. We’ve all seen the movies of the woman with her ‘aha moment’ and then picking up with a new hair cut, new jeans and magically a new boyfriend. But what’s never shown is the moments you break and feel you just can’t do it, the moments of extreme self-doubt, the moments of loneliness and isolation. That is the side of divorce that isn’t shown, isn’t talked about but is the most relatable. I began my blog when I discovered that the fourth year of my program has an internship that I would have to apply to. The acceptance is based on my grades and resume so I thought a blog would be great as I could do it from home and it would function as a live resume. Its inception is not the most inspirational but my passion and continuation with it is. I see how people respond and the feedback they offer. It is clear there is a real voice lacking in the divorce world and I am striving to make it heard.
Q: What is the best advice you would give to moms that are newly single or thinking about divorce?
A: Follow your gut. We ask advice of people but deep down but we know the answer, we just need the push and confidence to assert it. Divorce is not easy. The process, the institutuon, the lifestyle none of it is simple. However, the most rewarding things in life often come with the most work and pain. Following your gut looks different for everyone, it may mean giving therapy another shot, having that difficult conversation with your spouse about your unhappiness, or even harder, having that same conversation with yourself. Listen to yourself.
Q: You said, that you are blossoming after your divorce and that you got divorced to find your happiness, which really resonated & made total sense. So, tell us, how did you find the courage to find your happiness & stay so positive while raising 4 kids?
A: That courage was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to look for. I had to search, scour and dig through years of self-doubt and insecurity to find it. And even once I did, there were days I wavered, days when those around me thought it would be easier to stay, days when it was just too hard. But then you go to sleep, wake up the next morning and start again. With love from my family, an incredible support network of friends and a well paid therapist, I’ve forged on and pushed through.
Q: How did life change (your style, your routines, your social life etc…) after having kids & getting divorced?
A: Life changed in that it really became my own. On your own, for better or worse, your choices and decisions are yours. They are yours to make, to enjoy and to sometimes regret. I’ve played around with my personal style a lot. I’ve always used my clothes as a mode of expression and I’m really enjoying having fun with it. As my life changes so has my wardrobe; what I wore for dinner out with the in-laws isn’t what I’m wearing on a first date. Routines become different as my kids and I have settled into our own home. My older two have taken on increased responsibilities which has been great for them and for the younger ones to see. Socially is where things getting more complicated. Inevitably in a divorce, there are frienships that just don’t make it through and people that just fall out of your life. I was the first of my friends to get married and the first to get divorced. Consequently, I don’t have very many friends that have the same off/on schedule as myself. And while you have amazing couples you’re friends with, sometimes you just don’t want to be the ‘single’ person. I can say this has forced me to formualte friendships in places I never would have thought to look. It has made me more open minded into who I let into my life and simpultaneoulsy more particualr. When you only have every other weekend to go out and socialize, you want to make sure you enjoy the people you surround yourself with and that they are positive influences in your life.
Q: How do you manage going to school and being a single mom?
A: It’s very simple. Someday’s I just don’t. There are days the kids’ homework isn’t done and they’ve had Wacky Mac for dinner and are glued to Netflix because I have to get through my readings. My type A tendencies have definitely been an asset in this situation and I’m big into planning and preparing but life doesn’t always allow for that and surprises come up. Managing my expectations has probably been what’s helped me most. Just being realistic about my life and situatuon and limitations. As much as I want my kids to go to every playdate, sometimes they just can’t and that’s ok and nonwithstanding they will still grow up to be fully functioning members of society.
Q; Can you describe your philosophy on parenting/life ?
A: No blood on the carpet counts as a philosophy, right? As it pertains to kids, I would say my philosophy is parent with love. But here’s the caveat, I mean love as a verb. I mean love as an umbrella term under which lies communication, trust, respect, discipline and honesty. Love is often telling your children no, love is setting rules and boundaries. Love is distinguishing your children’s wants from their needs. These are all such difficult things to do, especially in the case of divorce. So much has been taken from our kids that we just want to give. But often what they really need is what’s hardest to give. A conflict free relationship between their parents, not hearing one parent shaming the other, a genuinely safe place for them to share their emotions. We all say we love our children and would do anything for them but this love is a different kind of love. It’s a love that forces you to be a better person in order to be a better parent.
Q: How has becoming a parent or being single, affect your view on life itself, and more importantly your own life?
A: This experince has made me more open mined and tolerant than ever before. Things that seemed like such a big deal before, what someone wore, their sexuality, their gender orientaion are suddenly insignificant. I’ve become a big picture thinker, looking at people and situations on a whole instead of as a list of specifics.
Q: What has been the hardest part of being a mom and going through this whole journey, spiritually & emotionally?
A: The hardest part was the realization that I’m not superwoman, that I am in fact human. Learning to ask for help, learning to admit I cannot do something and most of all, learning that it’s ok. Asking for help doesn’t make me less of a woman. To the contrary, knowing my strengths and weaknesses has made me more of one. The easiest part? I’ll let you know once I discover it.
Q: What do you do to relax?
A:When the kids are in bed and settled for the night, I use that time to just decompress. TV, reading, online shopping…often all three at once.
Q: What are some of your favorite ways to spend time together as a family?
A: It’s tricky to find things that all the kids enjoy because of the age differences. Sometimes spending time together is just a movie on the couch with some popcorn and a cozy blanket. It’s not so much what we’re doing as much as it is that we are together.
Q: What do you hope your children learn from you?
A: I hope they learn that happiness is effort but nothing is out of reach with hard work. I hope they learn to see the good in people, beginning with themselves. I hope they learn to never underestimate themselves. But mostly, in spite of the pain and hurt they’ve seen and felt, I hope they always learn to love and be open to love in all its forms.