I am married and a single mom.
I’ve started this post so many times….
Parenting is not easy, regardless of your partnership status. Lately, I’ve been trying to pinpoint the unique challenges that face moms who parent by themselves, but are still involved in a committed relationship. Perhaps your spouse is in the military, deployed for months or years. Maybe your spouse is in a career requiring frequent overnight/48 hr. shifts. In my case, my husband travels for work and is home, at best, only two days a week. Whatever the scenario, you’re married and alone with your children.
The permanence of my situation is just settling in, and I haven’t really found anything helpful in the vastness of the internet. It is such a strange feeling–like a loss but not. Divorce but not. Alone but not alone. Certainly, I don’t have the added fear of my love being in a battle-zone, on dangerous beats, or fighting fires. Even so, the worry about his safety during travel and the long stretches where we don’t speak creeps up and settles around my heart like barbed wire.
I waited to start this post until I had answers about how to cope effectively. Certain I would figure out how to be less lonely, devise an amazingly simple routine, and learn to jump out of bed singing “Sisters, are doing it for themselves!” I waited to offer you my amazing system!
I have none.
Instead, I’ll share what I’ve been told and how the advice has worked for me:
Take care of yourself. You’re all you’ve got, so you have to make sure you keep stress low and your health a high priority. I exercised last week and started taking Xanax.
Practice mindfulness and living in the present. Make sure you are not focusing on “what if’s” and imaginary future situations–those only cause anxiety. My recurring paranoia: what if something happens to me, and my oldest (age 4), doesn’t know how to enter the password on my iPhone and navigate to the number pad to enter 9-1-1?* How long will it take for someone to find my children? Will they be OK while I’m dying on the floor…naked…in the shower…? HEEEEELLLLLPPPPPP!!!!!
You only have little one’s once. Your time will “come.” Enjoy these moments before they are gone. This actually makes me more stressed…and guilty that the touching moment we spent painting turned into me yelling. a. lot. And when exactly does my time come? Will I be prepared for it? What if no one wants me by that time? What if I die and I’ve done nothing? This isn’t mindful thinking… Oh, no! I’m failing at that too. HEEEEEELLLLLPPPPP!
When you feel lonely, call on your support network. This does work. Most times. Just like it worked when you were single…
Make sure not to take your stress out on your partner when they return home. Be open and communicate. Ask for the help you need. This is great advice. It really is. Let me know how it goes for you.
Hit me up if you’ve got some good advice to share–or have been told some whoppers! I know there are more of you out there. Let’s laugh together. Life can’t always be summed up neatly in 5-step lists. These messy moments just might turn into the Jackson Pollock of your life…or a some junk that you toss in the trash. Who knows?
*P.S. The answer to teaching your kids about 9-1-1 on your iPhone (especially if you are like us and have no other phone in the house) is PRACTICE! Remember the phrase N.A.P. for emergencies: name, address, phone number. Have it posted somewhere easy for them to see, like the fridge. Practice having your child swipe your phone and navigate to the call pad. It’s good to know, even though you probably won’t need it….probably…