A friend said to me last week, “I’ve said it before. I don’t know how you do it.”
I shrugged. I know what he means. I don’t have a concrete explanation. I just do.
Back when I was a happily married mom of two, I would see a single mom and think “I could never do that.” But of course I could.
You never know what resolves you have until you have to put them to use. We can ALL do it. When push comes to shove. When we have to. Whether it be a death in the family. A sudden health crisis. A devastating fire. A job lay-off. A divorce. (And please, I’m not saying these are all equal and the same, just random examples of things we might not be able to predict and have to deal with). You don’t know it’s coming, and you do what you have to do. One foot in front of the other. One breath at a time. One new morning full of sunshine. A clean slate every day and a chance to make better decisions. Good decisions. Good choices. Or just the opportunity to have more choices. Or a clear-cut path.
And so it is with being a single mom. If you’re in the same situation, you know how it is. You don’t HAVE downtime to sit and think about your situation. There are little ones who depend on you to forge the way ahead. To get through it. By any means possible. You just do.
And that’s not to say that every day is rosy. I cringed a little inside when a friend said I was very nonchalant about it last year when it was all fresh. How could I be anything but? How could I serve my children if I was a sniffly mess? As much as I hate that they were (are) a part of it, they save anyone from dwelling. They almost force you to take those first unsure steps and get back on the horse and start riding off (sunset or not).
There has been a theme riding around some of the “mom” and “parenting” blogs lately about keeping it real. Sometimes blogs are all happiness and light, life is perfect, here are my beautiful kids and the wonderful meal that took me five minutes to make. And oh yes, my bake sale contribution of homemade granola bars, my flawless make-up and my happy husband. Some days are like that. Well, here minus the husband! Some days are not. I try to keep it real here, but I don’t want it to be a total downer either, you know? There’s a balance somewhere.
Yes, I think my kids are totally awesome and adorable. Most days, they are. This week, when a friend sent me an e-mail that said I was awesome, I asked him if he could perhaps tell my son how awesome his mom is, because these days I hear “Mom, you’re so mean!” an awful lot. To the point that he now has to give me a DSi game (starting with the newest acquired ones first) every time he says it. Sometimes Madeline gets so mad, fists all balled up in tight little knots, it’s all I can do to wait for a glass of Mom Juice before tossing everyone into bed. Nick stomps in the door, fresh from a day at summer camp, wanting to know “what’s next?” And is completely and utterly disgusted when I am tell him that we have no plans for the evening (because I like to schedule downtime, thankyouverymuch!).
But this is all normal. Ebbs and flows. Real life. I never thought I would be a single mom. But I am. And it’s absolutely fine. We are all fine. Good days and bad days. Just like the families with both a Mom and a Dad in the same house. And the ones without kids. And the ones with two Moms or no Dad at all. And the single Sex in the City girls, NYC or otherwise.
We can all do whatever it is that we have to do. When we need to do it. When we are called to do it. It’s there. Inside you. Whenever you need it. As the conversation with Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz famously went…
Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?
Glinda: Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.
It’s there where you need it. However often that is. Swear.
There was a dribble of milk left and he asked if he could just drink from the carton. I said yes. Only because he was finishing it. Years from now, when he’s a teenager (ack!), I might not be asked.