Sharing that my husband and I are divorcing in a prior post was hard for me. Not because I was embarrassed, but I wondered what happens now? Everyone of my Facebook friends (I have a lot) who didn’t know will now see this. It’s out in cyber world. Never to fully disappear. But, I had to put my “big girl panties on” and breathe. It’s not the end of the world. I am learning and this path that I’m travelling has given me new experiences to share with you.
The latest experience is single motherhood. Now, I have to tell you that Lee absolutely abhors when I say that I’m a single parent. He says, “No, you’re not. I’m still in the picture.” He’s right, but we’re not together. We are learning how to co-parent and not destroy our one and only child. We are still family. So, I wanted to share what I’ve learned as a somewhat single parent.
I’ve been doing this somewhat single parenting thing for over a year now. It’s hard at times because in the midst of the separation and pending divorce, our son has had to get used to having two separate homes with two separate set of rules. This was happening as he was turning five, graduating from daycare and starting kindergarten. Not much pressure huh?
We didn’t intend for our relationship to crumble at such huge milestones and we opted to put him first in making sure that he knew that he was our number one priority. It hasn’t been easy. We’ve made mistakes. We’ve argued. I’ve cried. Our son has cried. We shared birthday parties. Family dinners and holidays. We still try to keep a united front. He is our son and he deserves the best of both of us. That being said, I’ve had to learn and in some cases re-learn things as a somewhat single parent.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- I can’t take for granted that my son has two parents with two separate household rules. I can’t control what goes on at dad’s house anymore than he can control what goes on at my house. I have learned to breathe and let him run his house how he sees fit. He’s a great dad and just like me, he will make mistakes, but he will correct as he sees fit because he loves our son more than his own life.
- I can’t do everything as though I’m married. Lee taught me this. He said, “You can’t make decisions for Brennan as though we were married. I have a right to not want him to do something.” Wow! No truer words. I had to learn to let go and let flow. So what if I can’t sign him up for another sport because his dad doesn’t want it to infringe on his quality time? I need to suck it up. They need their time.
- I need a network. I have a core group of friends that know when I call them in distress, I may need them to grab my son. My mom taught me this. When I was growing up there were many times that my mom couldn’t attend a financial aid workshop, college preparatory program or school performance because she was working. I understood. Her network of friends stepped up and stepped in. They were the village and we were better because of it. Someone was always there and that made us feel special.
- Be present in the moment. I can’t change the circumstances of our lives now, but I can be present in the moment. When Brennan is with me, his time is valuable. Our time is valuable. I am picking him up from school, taking him to soccer practice, going to church and teaching him how to read. I give him the best of me because that is what he deserves. He is my priority. Focus on making sure he is adjusting as well as can be expected.
- Be grateful for the down time. This was hard for me because my son has only lived in a house with me since his birth. I went from kissing and seeing him everyday to following a schedule. How do you do that? What do you do with the silence? What about not cooking dinner or story time? How was this supposed to work? I cried the first night he spent away from home, but I learned to be grateful and just stand. Stand in the silence and figure out what I want to do. I learned I like watching reality TV. I reconnected with old friends. I’m writing more. I was even asked to be the Assistant Editor of my girlfriend’s magazine that is coming out later this year. (More on that later)