It's Really F*cking Hard to be a Single Mom — But My Kids Make It Worth It Every Day
It's a Sunday morning and I stumble upon a meme that reads, "Finally, it's Sunday: The day of rest" and I literally laugh out loud. I'm a mom and I know: Moms don't rest on Sundays — or any other day for that matter. On top of raising three tiny humans, my relationship status on Facebook has been set to single for eight years. For the most part, I really do love the independence, freedom, and strength I have gained from being a single mom.
But there are days where I long for a partner to share it all . . . or maybe I just want to share the hard stuff. I fantasize about being able to say to someone on a random weeknight, "Hey, the kids need water and fruit for their lunchboxes tomorrow, would you mind picking some up?" As I mulch and garden, I daydream about what it would be like if someone walked outside and said, "I got the rest. You go take a shower and relax." I crave a partner to help with decisions about everything large and small: Birthday presents for the kids, financial decisions, discipline issues, and the simple-yet-complicated question of what we should have for dinner tonight.
Being a single mom is freaking hard stuff. It's exhausting, defeating, lonely. The hard truth is that I don't want to do it all by myself sometimes. Actually, I'm not sure I can do it all by myself, at least not the way I want to do it and certainly not the way my kids deserve.
The hard truth is that I don't want to do it all by myself sometimes. Actually, I'm not sure I can do it all by myself.
But I do my best. That's all I can do. I try to keep us afloat and try to do it with a smile and a heart full of love. Some days I succeed. Many days I fall short; I yell or I'm distant and caught up in anxiety, fear, and exhaustion. These are the days when I learn the most valuable lessons in the most painful ways. It's these days, the days when it is hard to get out of bed and the gratitude is nowhere to be found, that I find myself imagining a life that's just a little bit easier. These days always end in regret and guilt. But as they say, in pain there is growth, and I've learned so much from my years of single-momming. I've learned about love and compassion and patience and tolerance. I've learned that I'm only human and that I'll make mistakes and that my kids will, too. So I apologize and I forgive. I try to be better and steer clear of self-pity. And I've learned to get creative with self-care as a way to cope with the intermittent feeling of being totally overwhelmed.
Sometimes self-care is skipping the laundry and leaving the dishes in the sink. Or writing a note to my child's teacher to "please allow Emmet to have one more night with his math homework" because we had meltdowns last night and homework fell to the bottom of our priority list. Or maybe self-care is biting my tongue when my daughter walks out of her bedroom in the morning wearing plaid shorts in February with a paisley tank top. Sometimes self-care is not asking "Did you brush your teeth?" in the morning because I know the answer requires more energy than I'm able to give. Or maybe it's texting my boss "I'm going to be 30 minutes late" and honestly not giving a F about what she says, thinks, or does in response — because those 30 minutes will restore my sanity.
I still have a lot to learn as a single mom, but one thing I know for sure is that I need to be more like my kids.
And on those days where there aren't any minutes to steal, I do my best to keep my priorities in check. I try to focus on what I have rather than what I'm missing. When I forget, my kids are always right there to remind me of all the blessings in my life. I have three amazing kids who are healthy, happy, and well-adjusted. They love and they are loved. They say sorry and they forgive. They live in gratitude and they are always 100 percent in-the-moment. Their thoughts are not consumed with worry, fear, or regret. They don't waste their days fantasizing about how life could be better. They live. They smile and laugh a whole lot and they don't even notice if the trash has been taken out, if the dishes are piled in the sink, or if the laundry is folded neatly in their drawers.
I still have a lot to learn as a single mom, but one thing I know for sure is that I need to be more like my kids. More present. More grateful. More playful. Less anxious. Less fearful. I imagine the time will come when I change that Facebook status changes from single to in a relationship and when that happens, I know there will be many things I miss about the single mom life. I guess it's my job to just soak in every busy, exhausting minute and embrace the hugs and the laughter right along with the mess and exhaustion.