How and Why I “Spoil” My Daughters

triumphant trio hands

From the day they were born, my girls have been my first priority. They are the best gifts I’ve ever received and my life would be incomplete without them. They continue to amaze me every day with their unique personalities and diverse talents and I know they both have bright futures ahead of them.

As I only have my daughters half of the week, I do my best to make the most of every moment with them. This involves “spoiling” them, but perhaps not in the way you think. I don’t shower them with gifts and let them get away with “murder” but I make sure they’re happy. I make their beds in the morning, I fold their clothes, I make their meals and I keep my home relatively tidy and clean. Do I assign them chores? No, I do not. Do I think this is stunting their growth or preventing them from developing into independent women? Not for a second. They’re kids and I want them to enjoy being kids for as long as possible.

I realize that there will come a day when my girls no longer live in my home and they’re out on their own making their own lives. I won’t have to make their beds or meals anymore or fold their clothing. I know I’ll miss it. While I want them to have their own fulfilling lives, I’m not looking forward to having a home devoid of my daughters. Therefore, I want us all to be happy during the years we’re living together.

In my almost 40 years of existence, I’ve discovered that the only way to learn how to exist on one’s own is to actually live on one’s own. As I went from living with my parents to living with my future husband/now ex-husband, I didn’t know what it meant to live alone until I was 34 years old when my separation agreement was filed and I moved into my own place. I lived in a townhouse-style apartment for a few months before moving into the home I have now. Experiencing days and nights without my girls was heartbreaking for several months. I was lonely and felt abandoned and lost.

I don’t want that for my girls. I don’t want them thinking that there’s something wrong with being on their own. Thus, I spoil them by showing them that a woman can take care of herself, be independent, maintain a home and achieve all sorts of amazing things without a partner in her life. I’ve learned a lot in my almost six years as a homeowner and my girls have seen me tackle all sorts of jobs on my own including fixing the furnace, staining the deck, mowing the lawn, sawing tree limbs and building a fire pit. When something needs doing, it’s up to me to do it and the more I succeed, the more they see what’s possible for their future.

Another way I spoil my daughters is by trying to be a good role model and setting the best example I can. I try very hard not to complain about feeling fat even if I’m feeling fat because I want them to always have a positive self-image. I want them to see that I love myself and my body (curves and all) and that I exercise and eat good food for health reasons and not because I want to look like some impossible standard set for woman by pictures in magazines and movie actors.

When the time comes for my girls to strike out on their own, I know that I’ll have done all I can to prepare them to tackle real world challenges. I’m not perfect by any means and I make mistakes, but I learn from those mistakes and I keep improving. I want my girls to know that no matter how “grown up” they get, they can always count on me to “spoil” them with advice, a listening ear or an extra hand for home maintenance tasks. We are and will always be a triumphant trio of powerful women.

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Return of the Muse

Me in the Boston Public Garden 6/27/14. See that glint in my eye? That's my muse ;)

Me in the Boston Public Garden 6/27/14. See that glint in my eye? That’s my muse 😉

Yes, the blog title is an homage to Star Wars: Return of the Jedi because I love the original Star Wars movies. More important than that though is that my writing muse has returned!!! She’s been MIA and AWOL for quite some time now. She’s been lost in the Land of Shadowed Sorrows, navigated the Seas of Shattered Dreams, fought amid the Wars of Unrequited Love and vanquished the Demons of Heartbroken Hopes. She survived all that and has come out stronger and more determined than ever!

I was still able to write freelance in her absence because I can write that stuff in my sleep by now. Freelance does use my creative writing skills, my cleverness and my imagination but it barely touches the surface of my Creator-given talent and passion. That talent and passion inspired me to start writing fantasy novels at 12 and continue writing them into my 20’s until I had completed 10 manuscripts based in the same world of Aindar.

I still wrote off and on into my 30’s but with nowhere near the proficiency and desire I’d possessed in my younger days. A marriage that ended in divorce, several bad experiences with men and an overall distaste with the ridiculous lack of good men left my heart bitter, jaded and mistrustful. I don’t really blame my muse for leaving amid that. How could she possibly hope to inspire me to continue to write about romance between kick-butt women heroes and the good men that fought beside them and for them when the last good man I knew was my father? She left me to fight through her own trenches while I battled my own demons and now we’re ready to work together again.

Maybe it’s my most recent trip to New England or my most recent bad experience involving a man or just the phase of the moon, but something finally snapped inside me. I’m a beautiful, kick-butt hero chick, I love myself, I’m blessed with two amazing daughters, I have a great life and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let the dishonest, manipulative, controlling and overall “evil” men of this world determine my feelings about all of them.

My father was a good man with an amazingly loving heart and he loved me unconditionally. I deserve a man I love and who loves me back and who treats me like he did. Even though I haven’t found that man in real life, I can write about him in my books…along with the less than stellar males I’ve dealt with. You know what they say, never anger a writer or you’ll end up in their next novel *wink.*

So my fantasy writing voice has returned and I’m going to use it to speak out for all the powerful, strong, beautiful women like me who deserve only the best and should never settle for “he might do” because they’re lonely. Look out world, JulieAnn’s muse has returned and she’s kicking rear, taking names and writing them down!