Hi! I'm Josina,

Are you a struggling single mother?

Does it feel like the world is resting on your shoulders?

If you want to overcome the feeling of hopelessness and reclaim your optimism and joy, read on...

I'm a fourteen-year veteran and I can give you some tips and tricks that will help you on this journey. It's not a secret that single motherhood is not easy. Let me help you stay sane. I will share with you, my wins, failures, and strategies to keep going. The parenting mistakes I've made like in Coping with a Problem Child as a Single Mother, as well as wins like in A Story About a Battle for Custody. This site also features recipes for busy mothers and how-to videos. My journey is far from over, but I've learned so much that I want to share with you. Our lives may be unconventional, but we're living it on our own terms! Join the community and sign up for a weekly newsletter to receive updates and stay informed.


  • Josina Miles

"In my 28 years of practicing law, I have heard nothing like this." he said during my free consultation. I had just finished telling a lawyer a very embarrassing story about a cat, the reason my ex wanted to get full custody of our daughter. Well, that was his excuse anyway. We often argued about him spending more time with her and being consistent, so it caught me by surprise that he suddenly wanted her full time, only he didn't.

The Meeting

We were in the kitchen and I was making breakfast. My eight-year-old daughter was sitting at the kitchen table, by the window. She suddenly screamed and jumped up. When I turned around, there was a cat sitting right next to the window on the outside. She was a beautiful grey and white mix and she appeared calm and friendly. The window was closed, so there wasn't a concern of her getting inside. I had a cat when I was a little girl, so it intrigued me, but it scared my daughter. Later that evening, she was back. My thirteen-year-old was excited by having a pet and asked if we could feed her. Knowing what I did about cats, I thought if we feed her, she would keep coming back for more. I was hesitant, but I agreed. A few days later, I was at work when I received a text message from my oldest child. After school, she and her friend brought the cat inside the house, gave her a bath and had it sitting on my sofa! My first thought was my little one and how she felt about having the cat in the house. My oldest assured me she was fine and didn't seem bothered by her being there. When I got home from work, she was hanging out in my oldest daughter's bedroom. I felt a little nervous, but she was so calm and unafraid, so I allowed it. We didn't have any supplies such as a litter box or even cat food, so I told her that the cat would have to go back outside for the night. The cat was living in an abandoned car next door. She stayed in the car all the time and only came out when she was looking for food.

A New Addition

We moved her in the house. It was exciting at first to have a new family member. It still breaks my heart that we no longer have her. We went to Pet Smart and purchased supplies for the cat. That night, she officially moved in. Only two of us were happy about it. My little one was so uncomfortable with the cat, she hid in her room and screamed every time the cat came anywhere near her. It was perplexing because they cat exhibited no aggressive tendencies. She was so gentle and wanted to get to know us. Whenever I was lying on the sofa would snuggle up beside me, then lay one paw on me as a sign of affection. I never knew cats could be so loving. My little one wasn't so convinced and because of her fear, she set a process in motion that almost ruined my life.

She ran away

She would spend weekends with her dad aka grandmother. It was Sunday night, and I picked her up and brought her home. She was even more nervous about the cat than usual and was afraid to enter the house. It was late; I was tired, and I just wanted to go to sleep. My patience was thin, and I didn't want to deal with her nonsense. My anger got the best of me and I yelled at her to get in the house. Instead of running in the house, she ran to the neighbor's house, a few houses down on our block. A lady with an enormous dog who I didn't know well. She thought my daughter was running away from me because she was afraid of me. No one would believe what she did next. She locked her in her house and refused to let her out. Protecting her, she said. I could see her through the glass screen door. I called the police, then I called her dad. When her dad arrived, he took the lady's side and demanded that I kick the cat out of the house immediately. He kept repeating that I'm choosing a cat over my daughter. He would drill that into her head in the following months and made her believe it. When the police finally arrived, I was so fed up with the situation and my loss of control; I let her go with her dad for the night. That decision changed everything for the rest of year. I found myself in a heated fight between myself and his family and then the courts.

He filed for full custody

A couple days later, I found a new home for the cat. When I called to let them know that I would pick her up later, they hung up the phone on me. I went to the house after work and he refused to give her back to me. Also, she was afraid to come back home thinking the cat was still there. The police stated that without a court order, there was nothing they could do. I couldn't get to the courthouse to file in time because of work and he b

eat me to it. When I filed for full custody, I contacted a lawyer. I had one conversation with a lawyer and he never called me back. I fought on my own, but I had some concerns. In the state of Pennsylvania, they don't give preference to the mother, but base their decision on the best environment for the child. One issue I felt would be a strike against me was that I didn't really have a support system. My family lives in another state and we weren't close. He not only has a large family, but they're close and are always supportive of each other. It wasn't just me against him; it was me against him and his whole family. I felt like I had one thing going for me; I was the primary parent since birth.

He had the advantage

He got a lawyer through his company and I had to defend myself. I had gotten a lead through my company, but it was only a lead, so I would have to pay the lawyer with my own funds. I had no money to get a lawyer, even for one day. However, his lawyer wasn't present for the initial hearing. It was me against him and I got lucky that day. The arbitrator was compassionate towards me after hearing my story and I realized that he wasn't buying his story. Since the case brought against me. They asked him what he wanted

. He stated that he wanted primary physical custody and to see her every day. I would be the one visiting her or given visitations. They didn't make a final decision that day, but would have us face a judge in several months. He would render a temporary custody decision and send it to us in the mail. It upset me they didn't decide immediately, but it arrived a couple weeks later and it was official. They gave me temporary 'primary physical custody' and they gave him two days every weekend. I felt vindicated. We both got the letter on the same day and he called asking 'when should I bring her?' I could hear her in the background shouting "Today!"

The final judgement

The final hearing was more or less a formality. Months had passed without incident. When we went to court his lawyer asked to meet with me. Apparently, he no longer wanted full custody, and he didn't want to see her daily. He only wanted every other weekend! This came as no surprise. She should be with the parent who wants to see her every day. They granted him what he asked for so I still had the full physical custody. We were all happy with the outcome. I recall sitting in the waiting area before the hearing began. We were the only ones in the waiting room. The dad and I sat relatively far away from each other and didn't converse. My daughter, the diplomat ran back and forth between us, making sure that she gave us equal attention. She was even happier with the outcome because the fighting was over and she still had both of us.

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When my daughter first approached me regarding her persistent feelings of sadness, my immediate reaction was fear. Actually, I was afraid because she asked me to make her an appointment with a therapist who could prescribe her medication. I wanted her to talk to me about anything, anything but this. I felt powerless and since I didn't know the right things to say; I said all the wrong things.

I wanted an immediate fix

My initial thought was that I was being presented with another problem, but not just any problem, a serious one. Money, my usual problem, couldn't fix this. I'm a fixer. I felt like I needed get to the root of it so I could quickly diagnose her with being 'a normal teenage girl.' My reaction was like what are you complaining about? You have a good life. It may not be picture perfect or something to brag about but you're not in any danger. Whoever is bullying you, ignore them. You just need to toughen up, get a thicker skin and stop acting like a baby. And it went on... I was a being stupid, but it petrified me

She was already seeing a counselor. Her school had recommended a private institution affiliated with them, that provided counseling services to at-risk children. They came to the school and had her do a computer evaluation. The results were that she was not in imminent danger of doing harm to herself or to others, but they assessed that she may need some preventative care. A counselor would come to our house and talk with her for a few hours a week. The service lasted around six to seven months, including an extension. I assumed she was feeling better.

I was warned

Fifth grade was the year that everything changed. Until that point, she was a star student, known by all the teachers, her picture displayed prominently on the 'wall of fame' in the corridor. They often selected her to receive perks like free tickets to the theater. The principal would walk out of his office if he heard her name being mentioned and agree with all the compliments. Whenever I would attend parent/teacher conferences, they only had positive things to report like, another another spotless record or What can I say? She's great. It was at one of those parent/teacher conferences that they gave me my first warning. They told me she's a great student, they don't have any complaints, except one. She was hanging around the wrong set of people. They mentioned one person in particular, someone I knew; one of her best friends. I blew it off as frivolous. Since her grades were perfect, I didn't think I had anything to worry about. I even stopped looking at her report card. Ironically, her behavior at home was more volatile. I had a lot of issues with her. While her teachers considered brilliant, I considered her obnoxious. She knew she was smart, and I was proud of that fact, but she let it get to her head. She believed that she knew it all and would often criticize my decisions. Our relationship felt like a tug of war.

At the beginning of her sixth year, they had a school trip. Their bus a few hours after school had let out, so I had to pick her up in the evening. Her teacher, whom I'd never met, and realizing that I was her mom, approached me. Since she was busy making sure she accounted for everyone, she quickly stated that she would like a conference with me to discuss a few concerns she has with my daughter. She also stated that my daughter was a good kid, and she wants it to stay that way, so it's imperative that we talk. It was disconcerting, but I agreed to schedule some time with her.

It all went downhill

When I finally met with her teacher, I couldn't believe my ears. My daughter had not only stopped doing her homework and turning in class assignments, she was the resident trouble maker and officially on their radar. Her grades plummeted from straight 'A's to 'F's in 3 or more classes. Her highest grade at that point was a C. This was only the beginning. They took me to the student counselor's office after I burst into tears in the classroom. They recommended counseling. As a single mom, I needed all the help I could get, so I readily agreed to have her evaluated.

I stopped working for a few months, not because of her issues, but because of mine. However, couldn't have come at a better time because then I had the time to give her the attention she needed. During my time home, I noticed a trend. At the end of each school day, she was so exhausted, she would sit on the living room sofa and stare at her phone. When she dragged herself up the stairs and into her bedroom, she would crash into the bed and fall asleep. She would sleep for hours, then wake up late at night to start her homework, if she ever did it. I was on a mission to curb this behavior, but it was difficult. She'd been doing this for several months and it was proving difficult to break her out of it. I needed to return to work because my source of income had dried up; I had no choice. Shortly after I started working again, it got from bad to worse. I frequently got calls during my workday, while in my 3 month probation. The calls were weekly, then almost daily. They were like, 'she left the classroom without permission'; 'she's talking back to the teacher'; she's talking and not doing her work'; and it went on.

She was out of control

Things got increasingly bad. I was being called by the school for a meeting almost weekly. She started getting suspensions. Sometimes they asked her not to return without a parent. I had to go with her to reinstate her back into the school population and this impacted my job because at the time I needed to reinstate her; I should be at work. Luckily, they were understanding of the situation, but I know that I became less valuable to them. Finally, they began the process of expulsion from the school, but I wasn't going down without a fight. I had no choice. They asked us to go to the school district office where we had to meet with an officer. It felt like we were in court. They brought in evidence of all of her misdeeds to back up their claims. I had called in for backup myself. My aunt and uncle drove down from New Jersey and gave testimonies on her behalf. I believe that it was their efforts that saved her from being expelled. They were so impressed by the support that they gave her a second chance. She made good on her promises, almost.

As her performance at school worsened, so did our relationship. We were full of resentments towards each other. I went into full damage control mode, doing the best that I could to stay on top of her school work and using the school portal to monitor her grades, find any outstanding work. I got my family involved. My cousin kindly brought her into her family home to spend time with them. She got a much-needed break from me and me from her.

A break in the storm

Her behavior started to improve slowly. The calls from her school stopped, but they sent the occasional email or text message. Her grades remained low, which I attributed to lack of motivation. I believe that her initial drive to succeed stemmed from her need for approval. What I haven't talked about is the fact that her father is not in her life. His choice, since she was around 9 years old. She refuses to discuss this with me. Ironically, they're still "friends" on Facebook. He never responds to her posts or messages, even though he sees and reads them. She did nothing wrong, but he rejected her anyway.

One day, she came to me with a confession that she was in a fight at school. She had slight bruises on her face I hadn't noticed. What I didn't realize, because she kept it hidden, was that she was being bullied at school. The bully was in fact one of her good friends who used to come to my house and she visited often. I didn't realize that they had a falling out, and this girl was not only bullying her, but encouraging her friends to do it. When it became too much to bear, my daughter confronted her. "There's a video!", she told me excitedly. She won the fight and regained her respect. The school suspended her for a few days but she could return within two days. Honestly, my first thought was about how brave she was, and I relieved. It wasn't long before I started to notice a shift in her demeanor. She exhibited more confidence and her lethargy, prominent at the end of each school day diminished. In the weeks to follow, I decided not the pursue the therapy sessions any further.

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  • Josina Miles

We all desire clear, unblemished, non-problematic skin, but for a lot of us, it's a continuous struggle. What began in puberty and has continued through the teenage years, even into adulthood. It can be the main source of insecurity in both males and females especially if you're unable to control the breakouts. One day you're fine and the next day you're afraid to show your face to the world. I certainly do not have blemish free skin, no one does.

I knew something was bothering her the night before, but I didn't want to press the issue, so I let it go and said goodnight. I woke her up at the usual time to start getting ready for school. I was in the kitchen making some tea when she walked. My immediate thought was that she couldn't find her school uniform and I was ready to reprimand her for not getting her uniform ready the night before. She looked distraught and immediately broke down crying. 'What's wrong' I asked. "I don't know how to stop it" she said... "Look at my face". I saw two pimples around the mouth and I wondered at first if it was a cold sore because they looked swollen and puss filled. It wasn't, they were only pimples. I said come with me and we went to bathroom where I proceeded to pop them with slightly wet cotton pads. Of course they started bleeding. Once they were extracted, I applied antibiotic ointment. She calmed down, but still didn't want to go to school. I caved and let her stay home to calm her nerves. I took the opportunity to give her a pep talk and let her know that pimples don't make you ugly and it's all in her mind. She listened politely, but I could tell that she silently dismissed me.

During my teenage years, I recall suffering not only with breakouts, but the anxiety that usually accompanies the breakouts. Although you're encouraged to use topical treatments, applied at night and kept on until morning, you could never really prevent a new breakout from occurring or make the other ones completely disappear. The issue stemmed from internal processes and it limits your control. The frustration, hopelessness and insecurity that I felt resurfaced when my daughter reached her teenage years.

Before she hit puberty, I began to warn her about what may change because of changes in her body. I silently hoped that her father's genes which she strongly exhibited with his freckles, would over-power my defective genes that unfortunately didn't skip my generation. She turned a teenager, and the changes began, but luckily it wasn't as severe as the ones I experienced growing up. Mostly, I warned her about not fretting over them because it could only make things worse. I used to circumvent the inevitable eruptions on my face, taking drastic measures that had extreme and irreversible consequences.

In my desperation for clear skin once and for all, I visited the doctor hoping to get a prescription that would cure me of this curse. Determined to take control of my skin, I needed something stronger than over-the-counter lotions and potions. What I demanded was an over overnight miracle. I wanted to wake up in the morning and see fresh, plump, beautiful skin. I got my prescription for a topical gel like substance that came in a white tube. It felt like I was putting water on my face and I couldn't really see it, so I kept adding more. A few days later I had 2nd degree burns.

It wasn't immediately clear that I had burns because my face looked normal, just didn't feel normal. I recall not being able to move my face normally and wrinkles occurring around my mouth when I talked or smiled. I finished with the professionals yet, so instead of going back the doctor, I went to a dermatologist's office in the mall. I explained what was happening, and they laid me down on a table and swiped some cream over my forehead and cheeks. My face instantly turned black and you could see the burns. It was burn mask, and it was horrifying. I look back now in amazement because if I had continued to use the face gel, it would have removed my skin completely. It only took off the first layer.

They gave me Keri soap and a buttery cream to take home. After a few days, it started to peel. The burnt layer was shedding off and revealing a newer skin, but it wasn't pretty. It came off in patches and there were marks left behind.

It would take a couple years for my skin to get renewed.

But, I didn't stop there... I was still a teenager. I still had acne, and I was still in search of a cure.

Skin care products became my obsession, and couldn't stop buying them. I would have tried something new every day if I could, but I didn't, so I settled for at least bi-weekly. I tried so many brands of soaps, lotions, butter, scrubs, skin brushes and I was tossing them as fast as I was buying them. If I didn't see results within two days, they were out and I was on to the next product. I spent a lot of money, but my skin remained unchanged only good days and bad days, mostly bad. It wasn't until I hit my mid-twenties that I finally got a reprieve from the breakouts, confirming that hormone fluctuations was the culprit. I was uneducated on how the largest organ on your body, the skin, works or even how my consumption both internal and external affects the way my skin reacts.

My teenage years are long gone and I'm now living in the phase of an aging adult. Although my skin isn't perfect because of the damage I've caused, I have learned a few tricks that have kept my skin relatively problem free:

Keeping It Simple

I no longer use multiple step programs to clean my face. I realized that it wasn't my skin care routine that was creating the problems in the first place; it was my hormones. Eventually, I retired the 3, 4, 5 step routines, and settled for washing my face and sealing in the moisture. My skin became more compliant and less reactive.

No Soap On My Face

In high school, I noticed a friend's skin looking very flawless and refined, so I asked her what was her secret. She casually replied that she only uses water to wash her face and not solvents. Impressed, but I still couldn't bring myself to not use anything at all. I don't use soaps to wash my face anymore. I've noticed that every time I've talked myself into trying a facial cleansing product, I noticed my skin changing for the worse. It feels dry and appears to be thinner. When I ceased using soap, my skin became low maintenance. I found that I didn't need a moisturizer, but I used one anyway because I enjoyed the routine of applying some after getting out of the shower. It helps to seal in the moisture. Year ago, a friend of a friend had recommended that I apply moisturizers when my face is wet. Doing this has always made my skin feel well moisturized. My favorite product to use directly out of the shower is coconut oil. It has always been my number one product, even after trying many other products. My skin prefers single ingredient products. The only drawback is that it does nothing for scars or blemishes. My skin scars easily, so while the texture is good, the scars remain visible.

No Foundation

It makes me feel insecure. I've worn it to feel better, but it made me feel like I had something to hide, which I did, and I hated that feeling. I've nothing against foundations of any variety. The purpose is to give the appearance of flawless skin but no one has flawless skin, and sometimes the coverage looks worse than just leaving it bare. My 9 year old daughter who I've instructed not to use soap on her face because of her sensitivity to a lot of products, is the closest I've seen to flawless skin, and even she gets inflammations now and then. We don't allow kids to cover their skin with foundation. It perplexes me that once we get to a certain age, we're encouraged to cover up. Why? Pressure to wear makeup to feel better about ourselves is an act of cognitive dissonance. We don't feel confident in our real appearance.

Root Cause

The teenage years is the most pivotal time of your life. It's the bridge between childhood and adulthood so it's absolutely a stressful time. One of the major causes of acne is stress. According to Web Md they've surmised that there's a correlation between an overactive sebaceous gland and stress. It can be a vicious cycle being that stress causes acne and acne causes stress.

Their reaction to stressful situations can be the cause or exacerbate the condition. It's like a volcano. It lays dormant for a long period, then erupts by an underlying trigger event. Many people, when under stress, will make choices counterproductive for an existing issue. For instance, they may choose fast foods over healthier choices which may cause inflammations or continue a habit of picking their faces, which can introduce bacteria to the surface of the skin.

Stress is a factor of life that may not be within our immediate control. Knowing this, it's important to find coping mechanisms to minimize the effects of stress when we cannot eliminate the root cause.

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