Dear Single Mama,
I’m sorry. I forgot how hard it was. I forgot about the messy house, the messy emotions, and the car that you just might have time to clean sometime in about 6 months. I forgot about the stress of working full time, and still having time to eat dinner with your kiddos. I forgot that dinner is probably take out of some kind, despite your best intentions to finally cook. I forgot about saying ‘no’ more often than ‘yes’ to anything extra. I forgot about missing dinner with friends, girls night out, and never having time to get your hair cut. I forgot about the guilt of saying ‘no’ to the kids too, ‘no’ to the sleepover because you can’t figure out the logistics of rides, or you’re just too tired to have to do one more thing. I forgot about running out of toilet paper, and cleaning supplies, about forgetting to sign your kids notebook, or turn in that permission slip.
I got so used to having it easy, that easy had started to feel hard. But I didn’t remember what hard actually felt like.
I wrote posts like Go, Momma, Go and The (Not So) Dirty Life without thinking back to when trying to get away for a few days involved 6 weeks of planning, and organizing child-care, going over special dietary needs, and setting up a million back up plans.
I forgot that, no matter how many baskets you put around the house to keep it clean – the last thing you are going to do at the end of a long day of work and driving kids to activities – is walk around your house picking things up and putting them in baskets. In fact, chances are you will end up passed out in bed by 9pm with one of your children’s knees or elbows pressed uncomfortably into your abdomen.
I forgot how lonely it gets, even when you’re too busy to really dwell on it. It’s not only that you have to do EVERYTHING; the garbage, the dishes, the laundry, the baths, the bills, the cleaning, etc. But when it’s done – or when the kids are gone – or they actually fell asleep in their own beds for once… it’s just you. It’s a lonely that settles in, in such a deep place that it becomes a part of you.
And dating? I forgot that dating is more painful than stubbed toes. And I don’t just mean finding the time. I mean, making the time, and then finding that it’s been wasted on someone you don’t really connect with. And then, even if you do connect, you just don’t have the energy left in life to put anything towards sustaining a relationship! At some point you just stop even trying – assuming that like in all the great rom-coms… it’ll happen serendipitously at the right time. Somewhere around 55…
I am so sorry that I forgot. But, I remember now. And I am so here for you.
My current best advice:
- Go, Mama, Go… ahead and not do anything. Don’t spend a weekend away, don’t feel the pressure to go out on that one day of the week your kids are both at friend’s houses. Put those pjs on, take out the contacts and just rest.
- Leave that laundry in the corner of the kitchen, cleaned and unfolded. If you take the time to fold it, it probably wont make it into the drawers soon enough (because that takes another week) and your darling kiddos will tear through the folded basket undoing all your work. The fact that you cleaned the clothes already makes you a hero.
- Cheese and crackers totally count as dinner. So does cold cereal or any leftover thrown over lettuce and drenched in ranch dressing.
- Say Yes. You still deserve to live, to have fun, to go out if you want. I know you’re exhausted. But don’t lose yourself in the drudgery every day. Do something that feeds your soul and makes connection at least once a month.
- Make your kids help. Even if they were spoiled rotten before. Now is the time to teach them that you are a team and you need to work together.
- Wine in the bath really is as good as the movies make it seem. Pour the bubbles, pour the glass, get a good book, or a magazine (or play Netflix on your iPad propped up on a chair). My girls are so used to ‘mom bath nights’, it doesn’t even phase them anymore. Although be prepared to answer homework questions yelled through the door.
Best of luck to us! And hey, maybe all us single moms can get together one day! Are you free in 3 months, on that Friday morning between 9:30am and noon? Or I also have an opening from 4:00-4:45pm…otherwise we can plan for sometime next November, things should open up by then.
This post originally appeared on Madison Mom.