What it’s Really Like to be a Single Parent

The other day I went to my doctor’s office for an appointment and was making small talk with the nurse. I told her about an upcoming solo vacation I was going on for a weekend, and the nurse asked me if I was taking my daughter. I told her no, she was with her dad that weekend.

“Oh,” she said. “So you can like get away and do things by yourself when she’s gone. Man, I wish I were divorced so I could get a break from my kids!”

🙆🏻‍♀️🤔😐

I thought of a couple sarcastic, semi humorous possible responses in my head, but chose not to verbally respond to her statement, knowing that it was probably more of a commentary of her sentiments about her own marriage and responsibilities, and less of a statement about divorce.

Because no one who has ever been divorced says stuff like that.

And what the nurse didn’t realize is what it’s REALLY like to be a single parent.

Preface: This is my perspective, based on a few different factors pertaining to my individual situation listed below.

    I am divorced and have my daughter alone about 75% of the time.
    For various reasons, I do not co-parent with her father. We have more of a “business relationship.”
    I do not have a partner in my home. It’s just me and my kid.

So in essence, I’m about to give you my take on single parenting from someone who is truly single parenting 75 % of the time to one child.

Here goes:

Single parenting is like living inside a computer that never turns off. There are many different tabs and programs open and only you can close them because you’re the one with the username and password and operating instructions. Oh, and the operating instructions are ones you have developed yourself based on your own experiences as a child except for you have to keep tweaking them as you realize your childhood and even your child is quite different than you. People may try to help you and sometimes you’re like oh my goodness, thank you for your help, YES, because your computer is so warmed up from running all the time, and you have all these different tabs open, like a tab for meals, clothing, homework, cleaning, extra curricular activities, one for trying to figure out tweens or toddlers, and not even mentioning the tabs for your own life.

In contrast, many homes with two involved parents have a computer they share. They exchange operating instructional notes. They both know how the computer works. And they can divide up the endless tabs and responsibilities. And sometimes one of them can say to the other, “I’m losing my patience with this kid we are trying to figure out. I need to walk away from the computer, so can you keep tabs on it while I go to the grocery store and get a mental break?”

But the single parent has to keep all the tabs open even when she or he wants a break. Any breaks taken from the computer are never, ever spontaneous. No one just randomly shows up at her door at the exact moment she needs a break. That doesn’t mean she or he never receives technical support to keep their computer up and running smoothly. But it does mean she is the only one responsible for running that computer. It is she who must make decisions and decide how to fix it most of the time.

It is the times when my child is most emotional that I feel the greatest responsibility of single parenting and running that computer. When she is devastated about a loss, or extremely excited or nervous about an upcoming event, or angry with me because she didn’t get her way, I feel her feelings and I hold space for her and I realize that THIS IS IT. I’m her emotional support and I have to be present. I have to help her process.

It is in those times that I sometimes literally fall to my knees and say, “Lord, lead me, because it’s just me and my heart leading this kid, and I don’t know what in the heck I’m doing. Give me wisdom and strength to bear this great responsibility.”

Here’s the thing, though: I cannot bear witness to the challenges of single parenting without bearing witnesses to the beauty in it.

I am no more proud of anything than I am of the work I do as a single parent. I am not doing it perfectly, but I am doing it. I know that there are times she wishes, as many children of divorced parents do, that her parents were not divorced. What she doesn’t know, and may never know, is that I fought very hard to save my marriage to the point that I had lost myself completely in another person.

However, I found myself as a mother when I had the freedom to be me. I found myself when my daughter was two years old, woke up vomiting in the middle of the night, and cried for me. I found myself when she was three years old and fell running at the pool and got a concussion, and I scooped her up off the ground and rushed her to the doctor. I found myself when I took her to a child psychologist at the age of four because I was so worried I had no idea what I was doing raising this strong willed, vibrant little girl. I found myself when she received straight As all year long and won an award, and I was the sole person there to support her. I found myself when she got in big trouble in first grade for throwing her shoe over the fence during recess and she went the rest of the school day wearing one shoe.

In a million and one ways, I FOUND myself due to parenting my daughter alone.

And while I do not wish the challenges that come with divorce or single parenting on anyone, I am grateful for the million and one ways that the experience of single parenting has forced me to find myself.

With great responsibility, also comes a great reward, if you are simply willing to find yourself in the midst of the hard stuff.

Forgiveness and Stuff

Easter and I have a crappy history.  It all started back in Easter of 2006 when I woke up on Easter morning, curled up in a fetal position on my bedroom floor, after finding out my then-husband was having an affair.

There are no words to describe the feeling of a deep betrayal, but I will attempt to do so. Yes, there is shock, grief, anger, loss, etc. but there is mostly a bizarre emptiness that takes over you. It’s a realization that the water you’ve been drinking for years has been poisoning you, while you are unknowingly guzzling it, believing it to be clean. And you start to wonder why you believed and trusted the water to be clean in the first place. Could you have possibly known it was poisonous???

However, on Easter Sunday, 12 years later, I woke up feeling much differently.  I was excited to go to a kundalini yoga class that morning at a new yoga studio.  I hopped (no bunny puns intended) into my car and began to drive there.

What happened next was surreal.  As I was driving down a main road in downtown Indianapolis, I spotted a car in my periphery that was moving slowly towards a stop sign at an intersection I was crossing.  In the next second, I felt a devastating impact and held my breath as a car crashed into my back passenger side door.  I spun in my car, gripping the steering wheel, feeling the shock of what in the hell just happened and then finally screeching to a stop, with my vehicle perpendicular to the road.  I looked up, and saw the other vehicle slow down from the impact of hitting me. In fear, I felt myself wanting to make eye contact, but as I was looking at the driver, he suddenly pushed on the accelerator and kept driving.

The next moment was filled with uncontrollable crying as I dialed 911.  (Crying is my jam. It’s just what I do.) A police officer stopped and pulled over next to me.  I assumed he was the one who had been called to come to the scene, but I was wrong.  He told me he had just gotten off duty, but would stay with me until the assigned officers arrived.  He told me to call someone to come and get me, since the car was undrivable, and to begin calling my insurance company to tell them I was the victim of a hit and run.

I continued to let the tears flow, while talking to the insurance company, feeling the release of the trauma and shock as the next two police officers arrived.  I replayed everything that happened in my mind as I retold them about the vehicle crashing into me.  I found myself wanting to apply blame…to someone.  Who would do this?  Who crashes into someone, and just drives away?  Who looks at someone who is clearly in fear and/or pain and just keeps going?  Who floors their gas pedal because their fear of dealing with the hurt they have caused, outweighs the courage to face the damage they have done? 

Since I couldn’t answer those questions, I then looked at myself.  Was there anything I could have done to prevent this from happening?  Even though I had the right of way, could I have possibly anticipated that he wasn’t going to stop?  Why didn’t I get a good look at him?  Why didn’t I look at his license plate number?

And then I started to blame the city:  Why aren’t their cameras at every intersection to record this crap?  Why didn’t anyone come out of their home to help me?  Why was there only one person along the way who stopped to help?

As the tow truck came along, the driver listened in to the conversation I was having with my friend who came to pick me up.  “Who does this?”  I asked her.

“Someone high.  Someone who has a warrant out for their arrest.  Someone who doesn’t have a driver’s license.  Someone…afraid,” she insightfully said.

“Someone who drives a Buick,” the tow truck driver chimed in, as he handed me a piece of the offender’s car he found in the street.  I looked at it.  It was the Buick symbol.  A piece of the person.  A piece of the vehicle which had crashed into me, on this bright Easter morning in 2018.  I cringed, but took the piece of the car as a clue to the piece of my pain.

A week later, I am sitting in the sunroom writing this post to you. At this moment, I realize there is much to be grateful for. I am grateful I am physically okay.  I am grateful for my friend who came to help me and for the police officers and the rental car employees, and for my insurance company.

I look at my daughter, thankful she wasn’t with me, and yet, terrified of the thought that she could have easily been sitting in the backseat at the point of impact.

But overall, now that I have some perspective, what I am reminded of is this: blaming others does not solve problems. What solves problems is doing the work–turning inward and acting on what we are called to do. And what else solves problems is deciding to act with compassion that is founded in truth, justice, and community.

I recall the moment when I looked over at him, and he floored the gas and drove away. That moment, to me, symbolizes all the moments when we look at someone in pain, and choose to keep walking.

We’ve all done it. We’ve all been the guy that drove away.

When we see homeless people on the street and somehow think they are not worthy of our attention, we are the guy that drove away.

When we hear the voice of someone in pain, speaking out about the injustice he or she feels, and yet we ignore it, we are the guy that drove away.

When we choose to not see others as being as valuable as ourselves, we are the guy that drove away.

When we choose to ignore those that we perceive to be different than us, we are the guy that drove away.

And please, don’t for one second, think that I’m “a good person” or “noble” for thinking this way. I’M JUST AS JACKED UP AS EVERYONE ELSE. I’m simply calling the sentiment into the light that “I am the other.”

It’s painful. It’s hard. But it’s a truth worth examining. And it’s what I believe DOES solve problems. The faster we can accept the reality that hurt people hurt people, the faster we can do the work and start to protect those who are suffering in our community.

And the faster we can actually begin to forgive.

I am a Pokémon 

It is 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I am lying here in darkness and typing this blog on my phone on the eve of my 41st birthday. 

I am contemplating who I am and how I want to evolve. I’m like a Pokémon or something. (I don’t really understand Pokémon at all, but I know they, like, evolve, right?)

I want to continue to evolve and change who I am by changing what I do. In honor of my 41st year of life, I am sharing 41 truths I’ve learned as I have changed my thinking and my actions over the years. 

I love to elaborate. People who know me know that I’m the queen of elaboration and talking too much and overexplaining things.  But I will refrain from doing that in this instance because I only have a few minutes to write before my yoga class.

So here we go. How to evolve like a Pokémon, a.k.a, 41 random things I have learned:

1. Kids pay more attention to what you do than what you say.

2. A daily practice of meditation and prayer will change your life.

3. Judging others is not good for your health. It’s also a negative “low vibrational energy” way of thinking. 

4. Choose being truthful over being nice. 

5. You don’t have to be nice.  Like, really, you don’t. 

6. It is your responsibility to practice loving kindness, but this does not equate with being “nice.” It simply means you act in love for others and for yourself. 

7. The most courageous people show up even when they don’t feel ready. 

8.. That still, small voice inside of you will never let you down. It is there to protect you. It is the voice of God, speaking to you in quiet moments of truth. That is the voice that reminds you of what you need in this life, what to do next, and who you are. 

10.  When you are laughing you are healing. 

11. Practicing yoga helps you develop an understanding and compassion for your body.

12. Talk to yourself like you would talk to someone you love. 

Geesh, I can’t think of anything else. Maybe I don’t know 41 things. I’m going to yoga and then coming back.

13. It is not our job to make everything sunshine and rainbows for our kids. It is okay for them to experience pain and discomfort, and we walk beside them in this experience without trying to take it away. This is how they become resilient, kind, empathetic adults.

14. You don’t have to wear underwear. 

15. Processed food can make you ill. 

16. Meditate and pray. I know I already said that but that one needs to be on the list twice. 

17. Do not be afraid of pain.

18.  When you feel sad or anxious, go outside and breathe in the outdoor air. 

19. Let people be who they are. 

20. Do not assume what others are thinking. Ever. Ask them instead. 

21. Things that matter are going to take some time. 

22. You deserve happiness, respect, and peace of mind. 

23. What we cannot see, we cannot heal. 

24. There is no power in pretending. 

25. When you’re angry, ask yourself, “What needs to be protected?”

26. We can do hard things. 

27. Drink lots of water. 

28.  It is beneath your dignity to maintain relationships with people who do not honor your self worth. 

29. Relationships that you have to keep a secret are not relationships that contribute to your freedom. 

I can’t think of anything else. I lied about knowing 41 things.

==================================

Hey! I’m back four days later, and I’m now too legit to quit, which brings me to my next truth…

30. Don’t quit on your goals just because they are hard or you’re having a brain freeze.

31. If you want to find your tribe, you must first find yourself. 

32. When choosing a life partner, consider first and foremost if the person is right for you (and your kids, if you have them). Family members and friends love to give their two cents, but when it’s all said and done it is you that must live with the person. 

33. Ask for help when you need it. 

34. Set boundaries with people. 

35. Get your “news” and facts from reputable books and research–not television news channels. 

36. Don’t write lists like these. 

37. I know nothing. 

38. Only you know what’s best for you. 

39. After all, I’m a Pokémon. 

40. When trying to decide whether or not you should stay in a relationship or marriage “for the kids’ sake,” remember that you being in a state of unhappiness is not healing for you or your children.  You being authentically YOU is what your children desperately want from you. 

41. You are what you love. So make sure who or what you are loving is good for you. 

Maybe Love Isn’t What I Thought

I bow my head in preparation for Namaste, as I hear my yoga teacher say, “As you go about your day, open your hearts to love.” I cringe. Yuck. I can’t. I don’t want to. When you love, you hurt.

************

I am four years old. I am sitting on the countertop of my parents’ kitchen in Kokomo. My mom picked me up and sat me there because she is about to give me a spoonful of cough syrup. I ask my mom, “What is love?” She looks at me strangely, and cocks her head to the side as she ponders a response.

“Love is…caring for someone. Like, me giving you medicine now. That’s love.”

************

I am 25. I sit in the women’s Bible study at the Baptist Church. I look up at the pastor leading the study. I like her because she tells me what to do and I have been searching all my life for someone to just tell me what to do.

“Love is a choice,” she says. “Pray for your husband. Show him love in your actions. You will not always feel like loving him. But you can make the choice to be loving.”

***********

I am 27. I am lying in bed in my apartment in Lexington, Kentucky. It is 1:00 am. My husband is not responding to my texts. I wonder if he is coming home. I feel crushed because I know in my soul that he simply doesn’t give a damn about how his actions affect me. The words from the Bible study echo through me, “Love is a choice. Make the choice to be loving.”

And so I do. Again and again. If this is love, I hate loving.

***********

I am 34. I look into my boyfriend’s eyes. He tells me, “I more than like you. I think I’m falling in love with you.” I repeat this back to him and believe it, because I feel it. I know it is a feeling, though, and feelings can be fleeting.

When we break up 9 months later, I channel my inner Whitney Houston and tell him, “I will always love you.”

**********

I am 35. I do not speak to my ex boyfriend anymore and barely remember loving him. He is a memory.

**********

I am 33. I see my daughter running at the pool at the YMCA. She slips, falls hard to the ground and has a concussion. I cradle her in my arms and carry her out of the building. I drive her to the doctor. She vomits and then falls asleep as I am driving. When I arrive at the doctor, I run in and tell the office staff through tears, “She has to be seen! Right now!!”

I know she is going to be fine, but I am afraid. I love this baby. She’s all I have. It doesn’t matter what she does. Love isn’t in the doing when it comes to her. It just is.

***********

I am 39. I tell a man I love him. He is not my boyfriend. It is…complicated. I tell him not to say it back because I am afraid he doesn’t love me back. But then I realize I don’t care. I realize I can love without receiving love in return. This is both a good thing and a bad thing.

It is good, because it causes me to love without expectations. It is bad, because I forget that I am worthy of being loved in the same way.

*********

I sit in hot yoga class. I am 40. My teacher repeats the same mantra at the closing of class. “Open your hearts to love.” I realize that I am not cringing this time though. Maybe that’s progress.

Perhaps love is not simple. Maybe it is layered. Maybe it is light and it is dark; sadness and laughter. Maybe it’s supposed to be scary because it requires courage. I am still terrified to love; but I begin to think that love is a lot like faith. When you have faith, it does not mean things will go as planned; it simply means you show up and are open to what may flow out of you and to receiving what comes back.

*********

Today, a week before my 41st birthday, I lie at home in bed, and take out a book I have been trying to read for some time, Marianne Williamson’s Return to Love.  “As we demonstrate love towards others, we learn that we are lovable and we learn how to love more deeply…We will always learn what we have chosen to teach.”

These words are words I can now understand, but they are still hard to swallow. I want to love but not stop loving myself. Perhaps that is the whole point: what you put out will come back to you. In some way. In some form. No love is wasted.

Happy Re-Birth Day to Me


9 years ago today, after laboring for 30+ hours, my daughter, Aliana, was born via Caesarian section at 7:50 am. After experiencing what my OB-GYN proclaimed to be a freakishly challenging pregnancy, that included sciatica, kidney stones, preterm labor, and gestational diabetes, it was mind-blowing to me that a human this extraordinarily healthy had actually been percolating inside of me for nine months.

On this day, June 15, 2008, I was 32 years old, yet I was just a shell of a person.  I had no personality, no likes or dislikes, and no idea how I had gotten myself into the mess of an abusive marriage.

And now I had this tiny, gorgeous human with a full head of curly black hair, that was staring at me with the deepest coffee colored eyes I had ever seen.  And somehow, those eyes were the only thing that ever could break me of my numbness.  You see, I could no longer disassociate from my life, because that would mean I was disassociating from MY OWN CHILD. 

In the intensity of her gaze, I imagined she was saying to me, “I am here.  I am LIGHT.”

Her existence broke me into a million pieces so that I would be somehow be forced to make a plan to put myself together again, because her eyes–HER LIGHT–showed me that she needed a mama who was whole, and that mama had to be me.

One day, I was giving her a bottle when her father entered the room.   I don’t remember what I had said that upset him so much, but he spat on me.  His spit ran down my face and dripped onto my shirt.  I didn’t react, as I knew that would make it worse, but Aliana did. She screamed at the top of her lungs and she no longer wanted the bottle.  Her screams and her terror reminded me of my own terror–reminded me that I needed to finally be terrified in order to be her mother. My heart of darkness slowly began to crack, and I allowed her light to seep into me.

Her birth was my rebirth, so in many ways, this day, June 15, is sacred to me and forever will be. It is a day that I was also born, as this baby was the one who brought me back to life.

Sometimes people say to me, it’s unfortunate that you and your ex husband conceived a child together, because that means you have to still communicate and can’t be completely unattached. What people who make these comments don’t understand is that if I hadn’t had my daughter, I might still be living in that marriage. Aliana’s existence propelled me into a completely new level of life, because I finally loved a person so much that I didn’t want her to live the way I had been living.  The love I couldn’t feel for myself, I could feel for her. 

Something deep inside of me knew that I could never be the mother she needed unless I could fully be myself, and the journey to self discovery started with her birth. 

Changing lives is serious business, and this girl wasn’t even planning on getting into that business; the universe simply deemed it so.

And for that I will always be thankful. Happy birthday, Aliana. 

The Day I Learned about Being an Athlete

I started doing Crossfit. 

The official Crossfit website describes Crossfit as follows:

“CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity

The community that spontaneously arises when people do these workouts together is a key component of why CrossFit is so effective…

The CrossFit program is driven by data. …This data has important value well beyond motivation.”

So basically, Crossfitters are intense, community oriented, data nerds. OH MY GOSH–THESE ARE MY PEOPLE because that’s me in a nutshell: intense, extraverted, community lover, and I’m all about data. (https://hashtagsareforfootballfields.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/my-personal-life-in-graphs/)

So, I went to a demo class, liked it, and then signed up for a series of six foundational classes. 

After the foundational classes, I nervously went to my first “official” class, and came out sweaty and sore and feeling VERY good.

“OMG I’m so excited about Crossfit!! I’m so excited about Crossfit!! I’m so excited about Crossfit!” I told everyone within earshot and annoyed them.

And then…

I went to official class number two. 

Now. Listen up. Because I need you to understand that I’m not dumb. 

Prior to attending this class, I looked at the posted “workout of the day” and thought it looked hard but doable, if I scaled it. (A good Crossfit gym/coach is great about scaling movements for newbies.) I even convinced a friend of mine to come with me.

“This workout is going to be fun!” I told her. 

However, when I walked in, I saw about 30 people lifting heavy weights who were not scaling anything. And the workout they were prepping for was definitely NOT THE WORKOUT POSTED on the website. 

“Umm, maybe I can just walk out and no one will notice,” I thought to myself. 

“Welcome, Emily!” a voice said. It was my foundations teacher.

Oh crap. 

I turned around. 

“Hi! Umm, why is this workout different than the one that was posted for Crossfit today?” I asked. 

My teacher explained that they were doing a “special” workout in its place for competitors in the Crossfit games, in order to prep the athletes. 

“Okay, well I’m not in the ‘Crossfit Games’ and I feel weird,” I said.

“Just do the workout,” he said, smiling. 

He was not picking up on my wide eyed, “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME” look I shot him.

I really, really did not want to stay there. But then I kept thinking about what I’m always telling Aliana to do: “Just show up and be brave.”

Shit, WHY DID I TEACH HER THAT??? 

The fearful part of my personality was having a major temper tantrum inside as I watched the first group of Crossfit athletes do this workout that was preparing them for the games. 

“You are going to look SO stupid,” said the voice. 

“You are NOT an ATHLETE!!” said the voice. 

“Shut up,” I told the voice. A Crossfit athlete standing nearby smiled. She probably thought I was telling her to shut up, I thought. Great. Now I look stupid AND people think I’m mean. 

Things continued to get worse. 

When it was time for my turn to do the  workout, the coach started running around, calling out for judges for my round. 

“Did he say judge?” I asked my friend, and before she could say yes, my “judge” appeared, just in time for my freak out. 

So, as if doing this workout in front of people who are Crossfit athletes isn’t embarrassing enough, NOW THEY ARE SENDING OVER SOMEONE TO JUDGE my ability to do the workout. 

“You guys,” I said to my judge and anyone else who would listen, “this is my second official Crossfit class. And I don’t know what I’m doing. And I am afraid I may die. And I’m almost 40. (My new favorite excuse I use for anything). And, I just don’t really need a judge,” I explained.

Someone started telling me that everyone had a judge today since this is the Crossfit games workout.

“BUT I’M NOT IN THE CROSSFIT GAMES!!!”

That someone did not care. 

“This is my second official class! I’m going to suck at this and my judge and everyone else will be like, ‘Why the heck is that dumb lady here?!'”

“You’re going to do great, it’s ok,” he said. “You’re here and that’s awesome.”

I stared at him deadpan.

My judge even looked worried for me as the clock was getting ready to start. She asked me again if this was really only my second class and I said “YES!” in desperation. “Okay,” she said, “everything will be fine.”

And before you know it, the clock started and mass chaos began. 

I ran over to the bars to do the first movement: hanging leg raises. I kept looking for a box to jump up onto the high bar, but all of the boxes were taken. “It’s okay,” my judge told me. “Just jump for the bar.”

I looked up at the bar and shocked myself by jumping up and grabbing it. I fell off multiple times, but still, I couldn’t believe I HAD GRABBED THE DAMN BAR. I kept putting chalk on my hands each time I dropped, and hopped back up again. 

After that bar craziness was over, I had to jump rope. “That’s easy,” you may be thinking. 

UM, NO, IT’S NOT. 

I was trying to go too fast and kept tripping over the rope. My judge looked concerned again. She temporarily ran away and came back with an expensive jump rope which magically allowed me to finish the set fairly quickly. 

“Thank you,” I told my judge 300 times.

Then, it was time for squat cleans. 

I don’t know how to do a squat clean. And after all that jump roping and those leg raises, I FELT LIKE I WANTED TO DIE. I wanted to die and I didn’t even know where my water bottle was. 

I told my judge I felt like I was going to die. 

“Die?” she said.

“Yes! I need water!” 

“Please go drink water,” she encouraged me. 

After guzzling water, I suddenly realized that however much time it took me to do this workout didn’t matter, because my only goal was to simply get through it. 

“Okay, I don’t know how do a squat clean,” I told my judge. 

“I’ll teach you,” she said. 

At that moment, I actually took time to look at my judge’s face. And you know what I saw? KINDNESS. She wasn’t laughing at me. In fact, nobody was. She had the kindest, most gentle eyes, and warm smile. 

“Let’s do this,” she said. 

She picked up the bar, and started teaching me squat cleans. I remembered that I actually had learned this before, but just had no memory of what it was called. I kept practicing, screwing it up, and practicing again. 

“Sorry!” I said, about 200 times (not a hyperbole), each time I did it wrong, as she was teaching me. 

“No! There is no ‘sorry’ here,” she said, smiling. 

I was so afraid of annoying her by my slow learning ability to intuit these movements, that I hadn’t noticed she was not annoyed at all. 

When the buzzer finally rang, I dropped that dumb bar. 

“Oh my God,” I said. “I got through it,” I said.

And since I love hugging strangers, I ran over and hugged my judge. 

“Thank you! Thank you for being you! You are awesome!” I told her. 

“Um, YOU are awesome!” she said. 

And that is the story of the day I learned that part of being an athlete is just showing up and doing the work. 

  
(The smiley face next to my name means I got through it.)

I Don’t Have a Model

I was talking to these hooligans, a.k.a, my parents on the phone a couple of nights ago.

   

My dad said, “I wish you would just call us more and respond quicker to our emails.”

This may seem like a guilt-trip statement, but it’s not. You see, my dad’s not really a guilt trippy type of person. He’s just honest and speaks from the heart. 

I felt a twinge of something–maybe guilt, sadness, inadequacy–when my dad said this. Because he’s right. I don’t respond efficiently enough. And these are people who deserve to hear from me. These are people who REALLY love me. 

So it got me thinking about a couple of different things. The first thing it got me thinking about is the fact that I still feel kinda overwhelmed by this single parenting thing at times. It’s consuming.  And the second thing it got me thinking about is that I am so overwhelmed by my “to do list” that I have unfortunately neglected those who are most important to me.

When you know someone will always be there, you sometimes forget how important that relationship is to you. And  I do NOT want to be like that. Because at the end of the day, there are a handful of individuals in my life who know me deeply and are committed to loving me. And while I have A LOT of responsibilities on my plate, I want to make it a practice to invest in those relationships. 

So that ⬆️ was the second thing I thought about. Now back to the first: 

Being a single parent is consuming. 

I DON’T HAVE A MODEL for this single parenting thing. My whole family consists of married couples. I have tried to not think about this too much, because it’s, quite frankly, an overwhelming thought, which can lead to negative self talk like, “What the heck are you doing? I mean, seriously, no wonder you have motherhood-induced ADHD- BECAUSE YOU are just on freaking auto pilot.”

And then this thought can turn into a meaner voice. It says, “Just who in the HECK do you think you are? People think you have your crap together and YOU DO NOT. You can’t even get your parents called back.”

What a mean thought. 

So I put the thought on the shelf. And I did what I do when I feel overwhelmed–I put my phone down, stopped doing chores or thinking about chores, and snuggled up to Aliana, to remind myself of why I do what I do. 

And after that, I just did the next thing, and reminded myself to practice self-compassion sometimes for when I fall short. Which is like, all the freaking time. 

And even though I didn’t grow up in a single parent household, I paused that night to think about the millions of single mamas and single daddies in this world who just somehow miraculously parent their children BY THEMSELVES. They may have their moments where they feel truly overwhelmed. Where they pause and think, “Geesh, it would be nice to have a partner to help me do the dishes. It would be nice to have someone stay at home with the little ones while I go for a quick walk and get some fresh air. It would be nice to have a partner around so that I didn’t have to experience my child’s emotional meltdown or temper tantrum ALONE.”

There are MILLIONS of single parents going through that. Right now. Every second. And they just put on the game face and are brave and keep going.

So I’m not alone in the struggle. My struggle is universal in some ways–by single parents and those who are not single parents. My struggle is simply this: I’ve got a lot of crap on my plate, and I’m doing the best I can. While I do the best I can, I’m going to work on being still so that I can love those who need my love. Being still means to cut out the “I’m so busy” crap, and making time to just BE. 

You can do it. I can do it. We can do it. We can do hard things.