Half-a-Mom

With my 6 year-old daughter spending half of her time at her Dad’s house, sometimes I feel like less of a Mom.

Not to sound like an advertisement for reduced calorie food…but I have 50% fewer kisses good night, 50% fewer pushes on the swing, 50% fewer dance parties, 50% fewer dinnertime jokes, 50% fewer I love Mommy artwork, 50% fewer forts to build, 50% fewer silly songs to sing…all the things that my children and I shared, there would be far less going forward.

I waited a long time to become a mother. I waited until I had a career that allowed me to work from home. I waited until my mother was close to retirement so that when I needed daycare, it would be with my mother. I chose to work in an industry where I set my own schedule. I sacrificed a very good living so I could be available to do play dates, to volunteer at school, go to daytime playgroups and have family dinners. I knew so many moms who struggled with full-time work and raising children. My X and I agreed that was what we both wanted.

I thought I did all the planning and waiting so that when I did have kids, I could spend as much time with them as possible. I didn’t want to miss the little or the big things.

But I was unable to plan for or control one crucial component of my life – that the father of my children would fall in love with his job and another woman at that job.

With a marriage beyond repair, and believe me I did try to put Humpty-Dumpty together again, I had to face a new reality. Motherhood would look a lot less like June Cleaver and more like Murphy Brown (I haven’t watched network TV since the 90s so excuse me for my outdated examples).

But I have always been a lemonade from lemons kind of girl. While my kids won’t grow up in the exact way I had hoped and I will miss some of their growing up, I have adjusted my life to make it as good as possible.

  • I still volunteer at school – mostly on the days she is not staying with me.
  • I still do playdates – they’re just less frequent and usually involve another mom I’m friendly with so I get some friend time, too.
  • I spend high quality time with my daughter when she’s home – fort building, drawing, reading, LEGO building, playing, swimming.But I still show her that she’s a normal kid – Mommy has to make dinner, clean the house, go grocery shopping, give her chores to do and discipline her when needed.
  • While she is home, I try not to work. I will usually squeeze in my work on the days she’s not home.
  • I attend as many of her extracurricular activities and school functions as possible.

Although this motherhood is not what I would have chosen, there a few perks.

Being a single mom has made me a better mom. I can’t blame my X for this (other things, sure) but I was not my authentic self as his wife. And I mothered the same way I wifed – on eggshells. I was often afraid to parent because I was afraid of him. Now I make decisions at my house that I feel are best. I am more efficient, self-disciplined and a better role model for my daughter.

I also have down-time, which I use to work or spend time on myself or friends and family.  I think of it as a recharge.

In the end, I’m fortunate to share my life with the two little humanoids I call Scooter and Boo – and have them share a part of their lives with me.

 

Defining the Single Mom

I am a single mom.

I am single. I am also a mom. Hence, single mom. Seems simple to me.

But because I’m new at the whole single-mom thing, I’ve been poking around on other single parent web sites. And one thing is clear: there is no clear definition of a single mom. At least not one that everyone seems to agree on. And some people are pretty feisty about who is and who is not a single mom.

There are the single moms by choice. These moms choose to either adopt a child or have a baby on their own.

There are also women who are single, become pregnant and have their child outside of a relationship.

Then there are moms who became single after having kids inside of a relationship.

There are moms who are 100% on their own – no support from family, friends, the  other parent or the state.

There are moms who have support from the other parent.

There are moms who share equal custody with the other parent and have a co-parenting relationship.

There are moms who share custody with an unreliable, difficult or troubled parent.Perhaps they are more towards parallel parenting.

And then there are moms who are not the custodial parents and see very little of their children.

There are moms who live alone with their kids.

Then there are the moms who have moved in with family or friends.

Perhaps some single moms have more right to call themselves a single mom than others…the other parent died, disappeared, is a total deadbeat, or was non-existent in the first place.

While other single moms, like me, share parenting with the another parent. Some might consider me more of a co-parent than a single mom.

But here’s where I struggle and why I still call myself a single mom even though I share joint custody…my children’s father is likely mentally disordered and difficult – “Joint Custody with a Jerk” difficult. Our children and I are fortunate he is financially supportive. However, that support comes with a heavy price tag of weekly drama, yelling, petty revenge, manipulation, verbal and emotional abuse, bullying and intimidation.

I wish that I had a fellow parent who was emotionally capable of discussing issues that effect our children without any of the above.

On paper, we share custody, expenses and responsibility equally but he is not an equal parent to me in other crucial areas – emotional support to our kids, spending adequate and appropriate time with our kids, spiritual and ethical guidance and modeling good behavior. Often, I feel as if I have three kids – my X, my son and my daughter. So, excuse me if sometimes I feel like a single mom and that I openly call myself a single mom.

There are all the political commentaries about single motherhood causing global warming…or was that the downfall of America? I forget.

Whatever. It’s hard enough being a mom and raising your kids with or without the support of a partner. Nevermind being responsible for all that, too.

Parenting Most Days and Other Days

Most days, you love your child beyond anything you have ever loved before. Your face lights up when you see them. You would do anything for them. You cry at the thought of any harm coming to them.

But other days, you see your child bent over the side of the pool. You think about all the eye rolls, the sass and the tantrums. You want to slowly lift your leg and ever so gently, shove her into the pool.

You don’t do it. But imagining it is almost as good as doing it.

Brave – A Disney Movie for Moms

I took my 6-year-old daughter to see Brave last week. But because this movie turned out to be more for me than her, let’s say she took me.

I enjoy Disney movies for the most part. I think there are some positive messages. I enjoy the music. But the one thing that gets me in most of the Disney movies is that in order for the heroine to be happy, she must do one or two of the following things:

  • Fall in love and live happily ever after.
  • Run away from home and defy her parents (usually one parent as the girls come from single parent homes more often than not).

I much prefer the message of Princess Smartypants. I wish someone would turn that book into a movie. But I digress.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a hopeless romantic. I love the idea of falling in love and marriage. I love being married and being in love. But being in love or being married is not the end-all, be-all.

What I really liked about Brave is that it was a very different love story. One between a mother and daughter.

As a mother to a little girl, I can say with 100% positivity that my relationship with Scooter has the ability to provide me with the greatest sense of fulfillment but also disappointment. Sometimes, it’s like looking in the mirror and I don’t like what I see. Within her, are all my hopes and dreams for myself. Every morsel I wish I had known, I want her to know so she can be better than me. That is a lot of pressure.

The daughter, Merida, rebels against her mother and runs away from three dopey suitors. The mother wants them to compete for Merida’s hand and for Merida to be the perfect princess. After fleeing and out of desperation, Merida consults with a witch who conjures up a spell to change the mother’s mind, to not force Merida to marry at all.

If you haven’s seen it, I won’t reveal any more details. But it is this spell which ultimately reunites Merida with her mother. Her mother finally accepts that Merida may choose her own path and she does not have to be exactly like her mother. In my mind, the title, Brave, refers to both women: Merida for standing up to her mother and father and; for the mother who ultimately goes against tradition by not forcing her daughter to marry one of sons of the three rival clans.

While I sat impressed, my daughter was terrified by the scary bear scenes.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so worried about the messages in the Disney movies because all my daughter got out of Brave was that bears are terrifying.

Seriously? You’re Going to Flirt with a Pregnant Woman?

While pregnant with Boo, my second child, I had lots of good prego-mojo. My skin glowed, my boobs were huge and my hair looked great. And I felt great.

But it still surprised me that men would give me that look or even flirt with me. Between 4 – 7 months, there was a significant increase in men flirting with me.

Um, don’t you see the gigantic belly? Maybe not – you’re too busy looking at my chest to notice that I’m having a baby.

I immediately checked with two men for the male perspective.

My cousin, whose experience with women could rival Don Draper’s, said that it was a fantasy for many men to have sex with a pregnant woman. Since my X-husband was only repulsed by my pregnancy and me pregnant, I found this info both shocking and comforting.

My psychologist, who is qualified because he is both male and deals with crazy people every day, said that I gave off some very powerful pheromones. But then he said that these men might think I was easy, since I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring at the time. Not so comforting.

What did I conclude from this? Men are weird cavemen who will hump anything, even if it is a woman impregnated by another man.

Just something to think about as I head back into the dating world after a 9 year hiatus.