“Are you serious right now, alarm clock? I swear, I just laid my head down”, I said to myself, still half asleep as the radio plays some cheesy advertising jingle. I reach over to turn it off, and realize, it’s Saturday. 5:45am on a Saturday really sucks! And just as I am snuggling in to go back to sleep, I hear the cat puking from the other side of my room. “Lovely!”, I snarl. “I’ll clean it up when I get out of bed, later”. Well, about an hour later, I roll out of bed to have my morning pee, and wouldn’t you know it, I step right in the cats vomit! I grumble to myself, “Gross! This is going to be a wonderful day!”
Over the last few years, most of my mornings have started out similar to this. Not always with cat vomit under my feet, mind you, but not wanting the sound of my alarm going off. Even as I lie there in bed, my brain goes a mile a minute thinking of all the ‘stuff’ I’ve got to get done. Why do the days seem long and the nights seem nonexistent? Maybe it’s just been too much for too long.
It isn’t easy being a single parent. Let’s face it, it isn’t easy sharing the parenting with your partner either. Parenting is tough. Society today has us parents believing that our children have to be busy all the time. We are always running our children to this soccer practice, that dance audition, this hockey game or some church function. It’s like ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ gone crazy! Somehow we parents feel guilty if we don’t have our children in multiple activities, just because Sally next door is involved in over 5 things. It’s insanity! It’s a recipe for exhaustion. Yet, we still go along with it.
When I was a young girl, I did one activity and it was only once a week. That was it. I remember coming home after school, watching TV for about an hour before supper was put on the table. Then I was washing the dishes, doing my homework, and off to an early bedtime. That’s not the lifestyle my children have. Everything in society today is about achieving some super human ability to outdo the previous generation. Where will it end?
If you aren’t pulling your hair out with just that, pile on all the adult ‘stuff’ we have to handle. Bills, paying rent, buying groceries, fixing the car, charity events, church obligations. The list goes on. The responsibility on our shoulders is heavy, and it doesn’t matter if you seem to eliminate one, about two more climb on board.
Now, for those of you who aren’t juggling life as a single parent, let me enlighten you. As you are sharing all of this with your partner, I am tripping over all of this all on my own. Yep, just me. I have no one to share these responsibilities with. There isn’t someone folding the laundry for me while I run an errand to the store. I have had to manage my days, all on my own. Things have gotten a little bit easier, now that my children are much older. They do help out with the household chores, and what a relief it is, let me tell you! But over all these years, on my own, I have dealt with some incredible stress, and exhaustion.
The one aspect of single parenting that I find the hardest to deal with is not having someone to bounce an idea off of, or discuss a problem with. I am the only one to make the decisions, no one else around to consult with. Its raw instinct and gut responses, which can to lead to an aftermath of reconciliation, sometimes. I just have to go for it, although I may suffer a consequence for it later.
But there are those times, when everything works out A-okay and I gain a little more strength and confidence. Now that my children are older, I have to be more clever and witty with my reasoning over every question and request they make upon me. It is challenging at times (They have come up with some doozies, whoa!). But I try to trust in the foundation that I have instilled in my children and believe that my guidance will balance everything out. I have tried to encourage their own decision making.
Let me see if anyone else can relate. How can I possibly teach my children how to make their own decisions well and positively when I struggle with that very issue myself? Seriously, I think I live with self doubt most of the time. Like I said earlier, there is no one else, no husband to confer with when making a decision. I just decide and hold my breath that it was the right thing to do. I remember reading a book years ago that talked about self discipline for children. Letting the lessons learned in life be the discipline for your growing children. I think that applied more to me than it did my children.
I also find that financially, I struggle. I have only one income providing the necessities of life for my family. In my situation, because my son is a special needs child, my choice in career had to be one of availability. I wasn’t climbing a corporate ladder, pursuing an acting career or on call to serve the medical needs of the world. I needed to be available for my son, in whatever the day brought. So flexibility was key, in choosing my job. This didn’t roll in the dough for me as much as I would have liked, but I made the best of life, for as long as I could. I have been very careful in the choices I make for my family.
We don’t go on vacations. The extent of our vacations are spending a weekend at my parents house. We eat out in a restaurant, or fast food for that matter, once in a blue moon. And name brand clothing, what’s that? They do have the odd piece of clothing with a popular logo on it, given as a gift of some sort. My children are provided for first, I have had to put myself last. So, I only have one pair of sandals to wear for the summer, I am happy with that, at least I have something.
Now please don’t misunderstand me, I love being a mom to my kids. It has been tremendously rewarding, I am not complaining. Being a single parent has its joys too. I tend to celebrate life on a much higher scale than some of you. Because when everything seems tough, those joyful moments seem so much more incredible. And I have to admit, it’s nice being in control of the remote for the television. My children and I have a close relationship. We talk things through, express ourselves openly and laugh together a whole lot! It doesn’t mean there aren’t any tears, there are sometimes, but we cry together and support each other, which is really amazing. I am so proud of my children and who they are becoming as they grow. And I know I have had a small hand in that.