National Single Parent Day is March 21st. And it got me thinking…I wish I could give all the single parents out there a hug, a big box of chocolates, then the day off to do whatever the hell they want. But since that’s impossible, I’d like to remind you of a few things:
From one single parent to another, I see you.
I know you have moments when you don’t know how you’ve made it this far, or how you can keep going. But deep down, you know you will because that’s just what you do. You look at your children and there’s no question in your mind you will give it your best every damn day.
I know you have times when your heart is shutting down and you aren’t sure if you will ever find love again. When you think you should just focus on your kids, your career, and yourself and not let anyone in. I know you wonder if it’s worth it.
I also know you feel guilty for thinking you may want to welcome another person into your life because you should be putting all your energy into your family since you are doing this on your own.
I know there are days you so badly wish you had another set of hands to help you with after-school activities, bedtime routines, and all-nighters when you are up with sick kids.
Trying to remember everything now that you are on your own is almost impossible. I know you worry if other parents think you are slacking when, in reality, you are treading so hard just to keep your head above water it feels physically painful sometimes.
I realize not seeing your children for days on end is excruciating, holidays can tear you apart, and there are times when you just want things to go back to normal and would be willing to accept having your old relationship back even though you know it isn’t fit for you because it somehow seems easier than this.
But you won’t because you love yourself too much. And holy shit, that’s a powerful thing.
I know you have moments of happiness, days even, and you catch yourself watching your kids and realizing you are doing a good job. Sometimes you let the guilt take over and you think things like If only I stayed, or Maybe I didn’t try hard enough.
But then there are times when you sit with your new normal and it feels pretty damn good and nothing can take you down. Not a nasty text from your ex, not a note sent home from school, not your jeans feeling snug. Nothing.
I know you can go from feeling free and wonderful to a complete failure within minutes and you miss looking at another adult across the dinner table.
I know you play the husband and wife and it’s exhausting as hell some days. But then there are times when you are so glad you don’t have to consult with another person and you just do what you want– like lie in the middle of the bed and munch on chips. Sometimes you smile because you are the only one who controls the thermostat, and can decorate your way. I know there are nights you love to serve cold cereal for dinner and sit in front of the television.
I know you see families crossing the crosswalk together and you get a pang in your heart. Looking at couples holding hands can make you think, Just wait, it won’t always be like this.
And you don’t want to be so cynical, but you can’t help yourself.
You feel things so much deeper now, and there are times when you welcome it and there are times when it annoys the hell out of you and you want things to roll off your shoulders the way they used to when you had a spouse to go home to but now– now it is different, you are different.
You are better and worse.
You are stronger and more fragile.
You are happier and sadder.
You are the yin to your own yang.
You are all of the things because you have to be, yes, but more than that, you are all these things because you are amazingly resilient; you are really good at life; and you are brave to take on this journey.
This single parenting thing is enough to make you want to check out some days, and really tune in on others. Balance has been tossed out the window with your wedding vows, and you go from trying to stay busy, to wanting to isolate yourself and eat peanut butter cups while staring out the window.
And you are not alone.
But look at you.
Look at what you’ve accomplished for you and your family. Look at how you are reinventing yourself and learning and growing all while trudging through this shitstorm.
You are amazing, and I see you. So, please take today, tomorrow, maybe some time next week to celebrate yourself.
Then don’t forget do it again. You are deserving. And yes, the best gift you can give your kids is a happy parent, but learning how to take care of yourself is a pretty damn good gift to yourself, too. Just because you are doing this thing alone, that’s no excuse to forget that.