Last week, I spent a good portion of Thursday afternoon on the phone with a close girlfriend who has been going through a rough time in her marriage. She is contemplating divorce and waivers on a daily basis from “he sucks and will never change” to “well, he’s not so bad”. The fear of having to do it “all on her own” as a single mom really scares her as it should. Being a single mom is no walk in the park. Quite frankly, it really friggin sucks at times. I know this, I am one.
She says to me, “God bless you. I have to give you a lot of credit. I don’t know how you do it. You get your kids together in the morning, you go to work, you pick them up, you get them to their activities, you run the moms group, etc… You do a lot and I don’t know how you do it.” My response? Many moms can relate to this. I don’t know how the hell I do it. I just do. Half the time I am referring to dinner as breakfast and to Monday as Friday. My children tell me on a daily basis that I have “mommy brain”. Mommy Brain aka Shit for Brains. I continued on with, “I just do it because I have to. I don’t have a choice.” The struggle was, and continues to be real, married or not.
So I fibbed a little bit. I am a single mom but I’m not. I am blessed to be sharing my life with a wonderful man who was crazy enough to merge his life with mine. We have been cohabitating for over a year now. It most definitely makes the single mom gig a little easier to deal with. I would never wish him away but at times, I admit I do like being by myself and doing things on my own and not having anybody else to answer to. However, I ain’t gonna lie. It is a hell of a lot easier having an extra set of strong hands around to help out with the heavy lifting.
I became a single mom in 2009, when my now 10 year old daughter was only two and I was pregnant with my now almost 8 year old son. Technically, I was still married but my now, ex-husband was working 2000 miles away so I was on my own even though I was married. We were separated in 2010 and divorced a year later. Seven years later, I have full time career and I am a full time mommy.
Prior to seven months ago when my ex-husband relocated to a different state, we had 50/50 shared physical custody. Even though I was a single mom, I have to be completely honest. I did get a break 50% of the time. Half of the week I could do whatever the hell I wanted. I knew the kids were safe and happy with their dad when they weren’t with me. I focused on the kids when they were with me and I focused on my career the rest of the week. I also had a fun little social life as well. What? Mom’s deserve some fun here and there. It is just a matter of finding the time which I was fortunate enough to have for almost 6 years due to our “life friendly” custody arrangement.
Not a bad gig huh? The real crux of being a single mom was the financial part of it all. I was doing it all on my own on very little pay and no child support. “What?” You say? NO CHILD SUPPORT? I’ll save that story for another day. For me, figuring out how to raise my kids on little money was the hardest part of it all but I did it. For most women who are considering separation or divorce, it is one of the most poignant points of contention in deciding whether or not to move forward. Everything comes down to the almighty dollar unfortunately, and if you don’t have money it can be extremely difficult to go out there on your own.
Where am I going with this? I’ve been married, I’ve been alone, and I am now married again without the papers. While my friend might view me as Supermom/Superwife/Superwoman, I am really not that different than any other mom out there. Listen ladies. Married or not, we do 75% or more of EVERYTHING. I will admit that my ex-husband was a helpful guy around the house but we still argued about who got out of bed first on the weekends and whose job was more important when there was sick baby who needed to be picked up from day care. I still did 90% of the cleaning, cooking, feeding, etc.
When I became the atypical part-time single mom, life was actually easier aside from being pretty poor. I got a break every week for 3-4 days. Once my ex-husband moved out of state and left me with the job of raising our kids full time, coupled with my choice of becoming a “kept woman” again by shacking up with my soulmate; my job became much more complex and harder to manage. Don’t get me wrong, even though my partner and I haven’t said “I Do”, he is my husband and a phenomenal stepfather to my kids. In our household, titles aren’t given due to formality. He traded in bachelor life to be a “husband” to me and father #2 to my kids. It was his choice and actually his idea. Actions always speak louder than words and I must give him credit where credit is due.
He is the greater provider financially, which I am eternally grateful for. He helps with pick up from school. He assists with getting the kids to practice or games, if I can’t. He takes them for haircuts when I am at work. He cooks dinner on the nights that he isn’t working in his restaurant. He does this all by choice and I am blessed and extremely lucky. I don’t take any of this for granted. I do not make him do it. It is his choice and the majority of the time, he will be the one asking me about schedules and tasks and volunteering his time to help if he can. In addition, since my children were not sprung from his loin, I don’t feel the same sense of disappointment that I would if he didn’t step up to the plate like a good dad or husband should.
Blah, blah, blah. Yes, I know you are thinking, “what the hell do you have to bitch about and what exactly is it that you do that makes you worthy of being coined “Super-Whatever” it is your friend calls you?”
I get up EVERY morning to do the dreaded morning routine. This involves cooking, cleaning, dressing, brushing, nagging, refereeing, counseling, and chauffeuring. This doesn’t include everything I must do to get myself ready for my day since I have a full-time job. I also take care of the night time routine as well. Did you empty out your backpack? Did you do all your homework? Do I need to sign anything? Eat your dinner. Go take a shower. Go brush your teeth. Oh, you haven’t finished your homework? EVERY-SINGLE-DAY. Rat race? Hamster in a hamster wheel? Ever see the movie “Groundhogs Day”? Same shit (excuse my french) every day. I’d love to see my hubby do what I do on a daily basis. The kids would eat him alive.
I also do all the laundry for myself and the kids. I do 98% of the cleaning all week which includes at least 3 hours on the weekend to do one super over haul of the house; bathrooms, vacuuming, dusting, etc. Speaking of the weekends. My “hubby” is a restaurateur. The weekend is his busiest time. Thursday evening thru Sunday afternoon, I am on my own. I still work every day, make my own money and pay all of my own bills. Yes, he helps me out but I do most of the tedious stuff. I am not afraid to say that I am awesome and I know it.
What is the moral of the story here? Go get a divorce. No. I am just kidding. I’m not a bitter ex wife who advocates for divorce. I support positive health and wellness among mothers. If momma is happy, everyone’s happy. Everything I do and all that I preach, centers around healthy relationships. I know too many people, male and female, who are utterly and completely miserable in their relationships. If divorce or separating is going to lead you down a healthier path, then do it. Just don’t let the guise of having to “do it all on your own” create this panic or fear that makes you stay in an unhealthy situation.
Married, divorced, cohabitating… It doesn’t matter. Let’s be honest. Mom’s do it all for the most part. Don’t ever sell yourself short. We tend to beat ourselves up and focus on what we think we aren’t doing and fall in to the trap of comparing ourselves to all the other moms we see on social media nowadays. No matter how much or how little, what you do is enough and commendable. YOU are a badass warrior princess. Go out there and raise that spear, sword, or glass of wine or coffee. Raise it really high and scream at the top of your lungs loud and proud, “I GOT THIS!!!”.