Single Mom: The Kids Will Be Alright
What happens when being the single mom to your four kids is exhausting?
I’ve probably made one actual full-on from-scratch dinner since the divorce.
That’s pretty much four solid months of eating out or with friends or throwing together bits and pieces of stuff in the fridge on plates.
We still all sit at the table.
But it somehow seems easier. Less involved. For everyone.
I made more than one school lunch, but just barely. I’m not sure who caught on first (me or the kids) but buying turned from a novelty into a regularity.
Bedtime is still often a race to the finish, not unlike how it used to be, with idle threats and heavy sighs at requests for more kisses and longer “private talks” that I regret almost immediately after I make them. Even during, on some nights.
Fewer books read, admittedly. Embarrassingly.
“Is this the short version, Mommy?” they’ll ask, too smart for their own good.
I haven’t stopped much to think about the change in lifestyle now that I’m back near where I grew up, one that is now peppered with dear friends, new and old, places to go and see, and things to do actually do other than catch up on True Blood Season WTFAREYOUKIDDINGMEWITHTHIS and work.
I have more help than I have ever had before, though not the free babysitting and help from relatives and grandparents like I had hoped, but worth every single penny.
Four kids, yo.
At some point in my parenting tenure, I equated lunchboxes, homecooked meals, and bedtime stories for every child with being a good mother.
I think we all do at one point or another, as much as we know it’s simply not true.
But now after living my version of mediocrity, which was sending them off for almost a full school year with $2.45 in lunch money in their pockets every morning and requiring pre-bed reading time on their own on most nights, I realize this has little effect on their happiness.
However, its effect on my own state of being has been immense. Immeasurable. The 1950’s version of a mother still ingrained in my core, as much as I know it’s not who I am or who I’ll ever be and that’s a good thing. But I hear the voices, or really, the text messages wagging a finger in my face, stinging hard even though they’re hypocritical at best.
I’m bouncing back to somewhere in the middle.
Where some meals are cooked and others are heated. Lunches are made and bought. Stories are read alone and together.
I’m prioritizing what’s most important to the best of my ability right now, which means time alone with each child, even if it’s just 5 minutes every night at bedtime. Time with all of us together, which usually ends up being in front of our television. Loving them up and down and all around, in the small corners of their hearts. Picking my battles carefully.
I’m learning that our days and weeks will ebb and flow. That house rules will be made, bent, and sometimes broken.
But the clear message I’ve received as I watch my children since the separation, the move, and the divorce, is that they’re going to be alright.
Oh hell, they’re going to be better than alright.
And dammit, so am I.
Actually, I already am.