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a lot less like June Cleaver and more like Murphy Brown (I haven’t watched network TV since the 90s so excuse me for my outdated examples).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.