Oh, how do you do it?
This is the first question I typically get when I tell someone I’m a single mom. Fair enough - I agree that it’s tough. I didn’t start off in a two-parent situation, but as a single mom and it’s all I know. And I do the best that I can. I was fortunate to bring home an almost-three-year-old girl, Luna, from China in January 2017. I recognize I was very lucky... Luna was already potty-trained, slept through the night like a champ, ate whatever was put in front of her, and never seemed to go through separation trauma (at least not yet).
But that didn't mean it has been easy. I remember being home for a few weeks and crying on the couch that I was never going to get my 'old' life back. She wanted my time and attention ALL THE TIME and that was exhausting. And I don't have the ability to tap out - to hand her off and say I just can't do it right now. Or send her off to dad’s house so I can get a massage or plan an evening with friends. So I say no sometimes. I have to tell her I can't take her to the playground, and I can't stop what I'm doing to read ten books. I have to cook, clean, etc. and I just need to catch up on one episode of House Hunters. And oops, the lawn didn't get mowed this week and I forgot to bring cupcakes to the school party. And I feel bad about it. And so she plays by herself, or watches a show, or pouts that I'm not spending enough time with her. And I do make time to focus on her, and the lawn gets mowed eventually, and store-bought cupcakes are just as good as homemade (right?).
What I think I miss most is adult conversation. To have someone ask me about my day. To not have to repeat myself sixteen times. To not have to hear Luna recite ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ for the tenth time that hour, even though it is very cute every time. Careful about calling me because I may just babble on for a long time because all I’ve been doing for the last two hours is singing Kids Bop.
"I recognize I can do a good job, but I can't do it all by myself. "
So how do I do it? I just do. I’m organized when I can be. I plan ahead when I can. But today we don’t have any milk in the house and it’s either get to the store or take her to swim lessons after school because I still have a job that expects me to be doing work five days a week.
I have always called myself fiercely independent and have rarely asked for help in my life - up to this point. I recognize I can do a good job, but I can't do it all by myself. I, fortunately, have an amazingly supportive work environment, neighborhood, babysitters and family. And yes, sometimes I leave her at preschool for an extra 30 minutes just so I can take a quick walk to clear my head between work and picking her up. And yes, I often look forward to Monday mornings because I am EXHAUSTED on a Sunday night after a weekend of being on 100% of the time and somehow work seems less chaotic. And yes, sometimes I wish she had another parent or sibling to keep her company, as does Luna. I know she gets lonely and would love someone to play with. But that’s just not in the cards for me. And I’m also not sure she would want to share me.
But there are so many wonderful parts about being a single mom. We have a really special bond that no one can get between. We literally do almost everything together and have fun doing it. I didn’t know if I was going to have a family of my own, and while it may not be a traditional family, it is still an amazing family. My ‘old’ life is a distant memory, but I don’t miss it now. I look forward to picking Luna up at school every day and for her to tell me how much she missed me because I missed her just as much. Do you know what else I look forward to? Luna growing up to be a strong, independent woman who realizes she can do it all because she saw her mom do it.