Sometimes when I get bogged down in my own life – the stresses of work, pressures of family, and the duties of being a single mom to three kids…I have to take a step back and find my support system.
Many times, this is my wonderful mom. I always joke that she’s the best husband I’ve ever had. She helps with the kids when needed, she’s done loads of laundry for me to help get me caught up, she’s done homework with my kids, activities, and even been a chaperone to their field trips (since my work flow doesn’t often permit me the time to take off in the beginning of the week easily). When she sees me get really run down, she does all she can to help get me back on track.
Other times, it’s PLM, my lifelong friend. She’s someone I can always go have a good cry on her shoulder and vent, vent, vent – then she always reminds me what an optimist I really am. She may not live the same stress I have, but she empathizes totally within her own and gently guides me back on track as well.
Occasionally I turn to The Boyfriend, although it’s more difficult to feel support over the phone (although he’s amazing at it when he’s actually here, with me <3 ). I know he tries, but sometimes he’s not able to respond. I know that’s because instead of me being able to tell him face to face, he’s got his own life – 240 miles away. Recently when I reached out because I was having a panic attack, he was tied up at work and never really was able to respond. I assume by the time he got home, he was probably so exhausted, he just couldn’t deal (his days at work have been long recently). This turned out to be a good thing because the anxiety (and having no outlet for it) actually convinced me to step out of my box and take up an offer of a social situation I may not have normally put myself into.
Recently, I met a new friend at a party. I swear, single parents have a radar for each other. I don’t know if it’s the circles under our eyes, the silent sadness of having to watch your kids be their amazing selves while having no one to share in that joy with anymore, or if it’s just the desperation we all feel to try and have a social life, the way “single” life is supposed to be – but it’s there. As my new friend and I were joking about endless laundry that you stay up at night watching guilty pleasures on TV or bad movies, H said “there’s a group of us”. I laughed and asked “really?” Then I was invited to join this group for a movie night, on a Tuesday. I have to tell you – it was fabulous. This group of single moms and dads get together, often during the week because we all have the same issue of our weekends being filled up with kids and activities, so they have it on nights when their ex-spouse has the kid(s). They typically meet up in a town about mid-way between the locations of the friends (which is about a 20 mile radius from the town they meet in) and just cut loose.
It was so nice to have that presence. Even going into a room of essentially strangers, it was nice to see their eyes weren’t just saying “who is this person” rather “hey, we know your story because we are living it. What’s your name?” I felt totally at ease.
It’s nice to have that physical presence of people who won’t judge me if I can’t make an outing because they know how crazy my life is. They won’t be bored if I talk about work or any of my geeky likes, because they are so happy to not be talking about kids for a couple of hours that anything is a relief. Although, I have found that single parents that have primary custody of their kids do tend to like a lot of the same nerdy things. LOL!
It was nice not to come home to an empty home, wishing there was someone else there to tell about my day while my kids were at EX’s house for a few hours. It was nice to feel understood. It was just nice to be in a room where I could be with others, feel support, and possibly even put some of the things stressing me on the back burner.
Finding your support systems and using them is the only way to get through life – especially as a single parent. <3