Parenting Single - January 2015

January 07, 2016

Posted By: Shaunescy


“You’re so strong. Where do you get your strength?” my childless manfriend asked me recently. I must have been venting about my constant struggle to gracefully juggle kids, jobs, house, pets, friends, uncooperative eyebrows, a dog-poopy backyard, a guilt-inducing neglected gym membership . . . and he told me exactly what I needed to hear. He reminded me that – despite the toll it takes and the frustration and exhaustion I sometimes feel – I am doing it. I am getting up everyday and doing the best job I can for myself and my kids.

It’s not always pretty, not nearly. And sometimes it’s ugly, like yesterday when the power cord from my snow blower got tangled up in the machine’s blade and, swearing like a ornery sailor, I sliced my finger open while trying to extract it. But I, like all the other single parents I know, keep going. Because I’m the only mom that my kids have got and neither they nor I deserve any less. But as they – and I – get older, I also understand that sometimes I need to stop trying to do it all by myself, take a breath, refuel my energy and let my kids step up and help me out. I’m learning, albeit slowly, that I’m not doing anybody any favors by shouldering the burden alone and getting run down. It’s not good for me and it’s not good for my kids. As my friends and family keep reminding me, the more I do for my children, the less they do for themselves and this will actually end up hurting them – and draining me — in the end. As hard as it is for me?to say no or ask them for help, I’m realizing that they will be stronger, more independent people in their own lives if they are able to fend for themselves.

I try to remember this again as a shooting pang of mommy guilt rears its pesky head for the third time in the last hour. See, I’m cuddled by a cozy fire at Chico Hot Springs enjoying my first-ever romantic getaway without my kids since the divorce. I have gone away with a man who is not the father of my children. Granted, it’s only for two days in a town that’s only an hour away. But it still feels weird and wonderful and scary and indulgent and liberating. Weird because my kids love Chico and we always come here together; wonderful because I’m spending time with a man who cares about me; indulgent because I so rarely stop and do things for myself and liberating because it feels amazing to shrug off responsibility for a couple of days and focus on relaxing.

As I let my mind wander instinctively back to my kiddos, wondering how their day is going and whether they ate a good dinner, I remember what my son told me before I left yesterday. He said, “I hope you have a great time in Chico, Mama. You deserve some you time.” I mean . . . he’s 12 and even he understands that I need some me time. So, if he grasps and appreciates this concept, then I should too, right? Right. But first, let me just call my kids to say goodnight.

Nora Daniels lives in Bozeman with her two awesome kids.

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