As a single mom, one of the most valuable things for me has been the community of people I have built around myself and my son — our village.
When he was a baby, I surrounded myself mostly with other stay-at-home mothers whom we would meet at playgroups and our neighborhood park. They were all great, but I began to realize that our experiences were very different. They couldn’t truly understand the struggle I felt having to do everything by myself, and after a while, I became resentful. They were married and happy, and I was coming out of a long-term relationship that didn’t work out. Some of those issues were my own, of course, but I knew I needed a few single mom friends who understood me in ways that my married friends just couldn’t.
As my son got older, I found myself feeling most comfortable with, and spending the most time around, my long-term friends. The friends who had been with me through various phases in life, pre- and post-motherhood. They knew me. They knew the details of my situation and were always willing to let me vent about the stupid shit my ex-partner had done or complain about how tired I was.
They never minded the fact that my son usually came to dinner with us because he wasn’t okay with me being gone for more than a couple hours. It was always great for my sanity and self-care when my friends and I were able to get a couple hours to ourselves, but knowing that I could bring him along without judgment was a godsend. And back then, it was the only way I was able to do anything outside of the house.
My best friend and I have kids the same age, and she lives only minutes away. She was always my closest married friend — she listened to my bitching, validated my feelings, and sympathized. Even though she didn’t totally understand what I was going through as a single mom, I never felt the same kind of disconnect between us that I did with my other mom pals.
And like me, my best friend has been open about her problems too. So when she told me that she and her husband were considering separation, I was sad truly sad for her (and her child). But on the other hand, I was desperate for a single mom friend, and who could fulfill that role better than my BFF? I didn’t wish for her marriage to be over, but if the decision had already been made, then I felt like we could support each other through the trials and tribulations of single parenting.
These days, life feels like it did back when we were younger and single, except now instead of watching wedding shows, we’re watching Bubble Guppies. Having her in the neighborhood means that we can grab a quick drink if we need an hour away from the chaos of toddlers. It is the sanity-saver that we both need, and seeing as how this solo parenting gig can be pretty isolating, it is nice to have someone to connect with on a regular basis.
Because we have known each other for so long, we also know each other’s exes, and so when they do really stupid shit, we are the chiefs of the petty police. Is it immature? Sure. But we don’t care. She’ll leave passive-aggressive comments on my ex’s social media posts, and I make really offhanded comments about her ex when he’s in the next room. We always have each other’s back. It’s that simple.
This girl has been pushing me to date for a long time, even though I have told her repeatedly that I’m not in the right headspace for such things yet. Besides, I share a house with my parents and my kid, so that complicates things further. She has already stuck her toe back in the dating pool — which is so her — and again I find myself living vicariously through her, because even after all these years, she still sucks at sexting and flirting. I am basically like her Cyrano, and it has been kind of nice to fall back into those roles we had long before kids.
But I have also been there for her when it comes to the more serious side of things. Divorce sucks, and there have been times when she just needs a shoulder to cry on. I completely understand when she is burned-out and offer to come over and keep her kids entertained while she takes a nap, cleans house, or heads out for a job interview. She would do the same for me. Her support and companionship have always been valuable, but now that we’re tackling this single-parenting gig side by side, I feel this way even more so.
I am not glamorizing being a single parent. It’s really freaking hard. More often than not, being a single parent is incredibly isolating and lonely. Creating a group of people whom you not only trust, but who also understand you is crucial for your state of mind. I have been lucky to find a couple friends who totally get it — and me.
On Facebook, I’ve also found an incredible support group through which I’ve built lasting bonds. There is a sense of camaraderie when I am among them because so many of us have already been through similar situations. Being able to talk to someone who truly understands your problems firsthand because they have lived through them too? It’s something you don’t know you need until you have it. When you’re at the end of your rope and you need a friend who will tell you that you can get through it? It’s priceless, really.
The members of my tribe show up for me, support me, love me, and it is so refreshing. They’re the family I have created for myself, and I am so grateful that they want to be here for me and also let me be there for them. It’s like I always say: “We single moms have to stick together.” And we are.
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