EXCERPTS FROM BETTE’S BOOK
SOUL MOTHERS’ WISDOM: SEVEN INSIGHTS FOR THE SINGLE MOTHER
FROM THE INTRODUCTION
I have learned a lot about the courageous and resilient women whom society calls single mothers. We are a diverse group of mothers—and grandmothers. We are women whose mates have deserted us for parts unknown, women whose partners are in far corners of a giant world, keeping an unstable peace. We are mothers of children whose fathers have been rendered unavailable by business, emotional disability, illness, divorce or death.
Some of us have chosen to leave our relationships, or to adopt or give birth to a child on our own. Some of us have even made pilgrimages to bring home babies abandoned by other cultures. Whatever the circumstances, we have this in common—we are largely, if not completely, in charge of our children. We are of every color, race and religion. We are capable, adaptable, and resilient, often discouraged and almost always determined. On the road to greater maturity, we regularly become exhausted and overwhelmed, and sometimes experience exhilaration.
We may have supportive families or we may not. Some of us work, some receive aid, but rich or poor, we strive with whole hearts to do the job of raising our children well. Each of our stories is unique and amazing, embodying the pain and strength from which we can build a foundation for strength and maturity. Regardless of how we have entered this overpowering and inspiring life, we share a major common denominator—every day of our lives we are working hard with little time for ourselves, even though we need that time badly. We are tired and we are resolute. As we cope with all our circumstances, we strive to solve our problems, create fulfilling lives, and give our children what they need to grow up well. There are times when our bones ache, and times when we vibrate with energy. Always we crave support and long for understanding.
In this book I share my own story as well as the stories of other single mothers. I trust that through these stories you will recognize your own strength and gather Soul Mother Wisdom. Sharing what I have learned about healing, succeeding and becoming wise is a current step in my own journey as a single mother and as a practicing psychotherapist. I offer you what I have discovered about how to think, how to manage stress effectively, how to make, and trust, your decisions, and how to muster up the inner resources of courage and hope when things seem bleak. I believe that we can do a better job as single mothers and can feel better about our lives when we know ourselves better and know how to cope with what life deals out.
MY DEAR SISTERS
My dear sisters, we all need to find positive meaning in the stories we are living. I hope that as you read you will come to see the wisdom and inner strength in the chapters of your stories. It is my passionate dream that as you do the most important job on the planet, this book will inspire you to discover your own authenticity and positive Self-identity as you build your maturity, resilience and strength.
As you live out whatever hands you are dealt, may you find the strength within your true Self. May you live peacefully with a heart full of gratefulness, forgiveness and faith. May you parent with confidence in the success of your purpose. And may your inner spirit sparkle with the wisdom that resides in your Soul.
THE NATURE OF STRESS AND THE POWER OF COPING
The word Stress has a dual meaning. When it refers to a circumstance or situation that requires you to respond in some way, it is called a stressor. The feeling you feel when you have a stressor is also referred to as stress, or sometimes as “stressed out.” In other words, a stressor causes stress that makes you feel stressed!
Stressors, as well as your stressed-out feelings, can result from either pleasant or unpleasant situations. For example, going through a divorce, or beginning a new relationship can cause stress. When a stressor comes from a positive source, it is called eustress; when from a negative source, it is called distress. You probably know quite a bit about the latter.
While some stressors are more severe than others, as in Barbara’s story, the severity of your stress depends partly on what you are thinking, feeling and believing about the stressor. Your thoughts, emotions and beliefs affect the severity of the stressor and your response to it.
Past experiences influence how stressed you feel, and what coping choices you make. The usual or habitual way you cope is called your coping style. The evaluation step of SOLVE can help you assess how effective your coping choices and your coping style are in reducing your stress.
Some coping choices and styles appear to lower stress because they make you feel better in the short-term. However, in the long run, some choices, such as too many cigarettes or too much alcohol, have the potential to increase stress by causing other problems over time. While we cannot prevent all stress, the most successful coping choices and styles boost your skills for more successful parenting and more satisfying living by beating stress in the short and long-term.