Let Down Your Hair and Be a Kid Again, Too

Karen's two children constantly argued over a small blue pillow in the family room. Then she saw teddy bears on sale - soft and fluffy - with tummies just the size of that old blue pillow. She picked out a brown one for her son and a white one for her daughter.

Then just as she turned away with her carefully chosen selections, another white bear - this one with a floppy arm - caught her eye. He was imperfect; no one would buy him. Suddenly, with a surge of kinship, she bought him and named him Ralph.

Many nights, after her children had gone to bed, she sat on the sofa, watched the dying fire and hugged her broken bear. Anyone who's met her in the last few years can't imagine that scene, but maybe she's stronger now because she allowed herself those evenings of hugging a fluffy bear.

Dare to Dare and Do Something Different

Peggy's week in her blue-suit office world had been rough. Now Saturday's chores loomed; it was raining and both her kids had colds. She pulled on her sweatshirt, the noticed she had it on backward. She sighed and started to turn the logo to the front.

Suddenly she grinned at her mirrored reflection and turned her sweat pants inside out before she tugged them on. Then she pulled her hair into a top knot and tied it with a pair of her daughter's lavender tights.

Not only did she feel appropriately dressed for the gloomy morning, but she still occasionally gives in to other tension-relieving "weird days."

Sometimes we have to force ourselves out of our ruts. When things start to close in on Darlene, she takes her children for a walk or, in bad weather, to the mall. Their assignment is to see how many different sounds they can identify. The idea is to do something different - and something fun.

Are you one of those who has to have things "just so"? I used to be. But when the New York editorial job offer came, and we moved into a small condo, the cost of living was so high on the East Coast that I couldn't afford wallpaper right away. So we slapped paint on the walls and moved in.

Within a couple of days of unpacking our boxes, I had hung - with dozens of straight pins - several Amish and Southern quilts to add brightness to the rooms. Then on the awkward wall next to the stairs, I hung the scatter rugs my Kentucky grandmother had braided years ago. Only a few of them were unused; most were ones I had wiped my feet on at her backdoor years ago, never dreaming they'd someday move with me to that great end of the world - New York.

When everything was in place, I stood back to admire the splashes of color against the off-white paint. It was magnificent! What I originally meant as a temporary measure quickly became my personal decorating signature.


Excerpted with permission from the book "From One Single Mother to Another" by Sandra Aldrich, Copyright 1991, Regal Books, Ventura, CA  93003.