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Single Mom: The Kids Will Be Alright

Jul02

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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.

Mostly.

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.

Or $891232.

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.

About the author

Kristen Chase

http://www.coolmompicks.com
Kristen Chase is a writer, author, and a single mom of four. It's as exhausting as it sounds (at least the mom part). Also, awesome.

Kristen is also co-founder of Cool Mom Picks and author of The Mominatrix's Guide to Sex.

 


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16 Responses to “Single Mom: The Kids Will Be Alright”

  1. Nancy Jul 02 at 2:55 pm Reply Reply

    “Is this the short version, Mommy?” HAHAHA! My four year old won’t let Daddy read certain books because “he leaves too many words out.” So yeah, the kids are definitely going to be all right. :)

    • Kristen Chase
      Kristen Chase Jul 02 at 4:00 pm Reply Reply

      Thanks Nancy. I love when my kids ask me that. At least I know they know how to read, right? 

  2. RookieMom Heather Jul 02 at 7:32 pm Reply Reply

    Happy Mom = Happy Kids is never more true than in a single mama household.

    (My two-year old catches the short versions.)

  3. Debbie Jul 03 at 12:32 pm Reply Reply

    “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.” 

    Thank you for writing this. It speaks to me. I had to find “my middle” too. As a working mom, it’s not easy. But I think the hardest thing was silencing the voices in my head that equate being a good mother with the ability to live a “Pinterest perfect” life full of original crafts, perfectly-decorated cakes and well-planned activities. I now know that my kids are happy making cookies from a mix, eating a store-bought cake, and playing with crayons/paints/craft materials without a ton of advanced planning and instruction sheets and YouTube video prep by mommy.

    Splashing in the pool, watching the LEGO movie yet again, or going a bike ride can replace a well-planned geocaching trip with activities designed to teach about reading a compass, etc. Those things were driving ME crazy after a long week at work. Trying too hard to be fun for my kids drained me until I learned that my kids were happier with a less “perfect” life. 

    • Kristen Chase
      Kristen Chase Jul 04 at 10:55 am Reply Reply

      It’s funny, Debbie. Fun for them and fun for me is so different. I’m trying to think like them more. Usually, it only takes a cardboard box and not those Pinterest perfect crafts *I* think they want. 

  4. Avitable Jul 03 at 12:52 pm Reply Reply

    I love to hear this. And nobody who knows you ever had any doubt that you would be anything other than alright. Better than alright, even. Happy!

  5. Single parenting is tough, but you had a ton of practice at it while he was in the field, TDY, or deployed. You got this, lady. Those kids are going to be just fine with you as their mother. 

  6. Rita Arens Jul 03 at 6:59 pm Reply Reply

    You’re doing great.

  7. Christina Amen Jul 06 at 2:10 pm Reply Reply

    This is beautifully written and I loved every word!

  8. alison Jul 06 at 7:17 pm Reply Reply

    The kids WILLl be alright, and im doing all of this too. It was a long divorce, and a girlfriend of mine stayed with us for a year when her marriage ended 6 weeks after mine did. We have been on our own, just me and the kids, for a year and a half. I had to hire a nanny, their dad is not involved in raising them. My kids though are happy, calm, well loved and well behaved at 6 and 9. We are alright. From one single mom to another, we’ve got this!

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