Monday, May 30, 2011

Single Parenting: Ready Or Not Here I Come" By Mary Heath Wise

Being a mom is wonderfully awful--it is an oxymoron in every way. Brantley, my son, is the most active child I have ever seen! It’s like he never just kind of “hangs out” for a minute to play with something. He is always grabbing and pacing looking for “trouble”. Sometimes I just want to scream at him out of frustration that he won’t go to sleep and I am late on a really important phone call I have to make and need him to be asleep. There are times that I think, “If I have to sit here opening and closing the shower door one more time, I think my head will explode.” Then the next minute he runs off before I can put his clean diaper on and proceeds to pee on the hardwood floors and slip in it, hitting his head and screaming. When I became a mom, I knew it would be challenging, but I thought it would mostly be those commercial moments of snuggly tenderness that make it all seem so worth it. I never knew it would be picking poop out of the bathtub and getting so little sleep for the first year of his life that I feel like I can hardly think straight, let alone take care of a child running around everywhere. I didn’t know my life could seem so chaotic and insanely boring at the same time. Then he will give me that little grin that makes me remember in that moment just why I’m doing this and why it is one of the most important things I’ll ever do. When I do get those moments of snuggles or kisses or that hilarious thing he just said, it is so amazing! Those are the moments that get you through. My child is not a super snuggly child though because he has places to go, and most of the time he bats at me in the air to “go away” so he can busily get on with the next thing he “has” to do.

It’s funny because I often feel a little hurt when he wants me to “go away” or if he wants someone else to comfort him when he’s hurt. There is a part of me that wants him to need me so that I can feel like I’m doing my job well. I have to remind myself that it’s not about me and how I feel, but I need to let him go do things and not make them about my own feelings of insecurity. I’ve had to be reminded again and again that that is normal for him to want someone else. It doesn’t mean I’m not a good enough mom. He’s with me all the time, and I became boring a long time ago. It is actually a sign of healthy attachment when they can go enjoy something without clinging to you. Clingy behavior can be normal at certain times and ages, but overall, it is not a sign of healthy attachment, and that is something I have to remind myself of constantly when he seems to rather be with someone else.
As a single mom, I am so blessed to have been able to be at home with my son. But it’s time for me to go back to work now, and I feel the terrible feeling of “how do I provide for us and afford childcare and spend enough time with him?” I am having to do the job of the mom and the dad, and it is a daunting task. Often I just feel like I’m not enough, and I put too much pressure on myself to be able to do everything that all the other moms do out there, but I have no one to help me accomplish those things like most moms do. I don’t get the luxury of saying, “Honey, will you watch him while I cook?” or “Will you give him a bath tonight while I clean up the kitchen?” It’s all on me, and it’s a lot to accomplish. I often beat myself up for not spending enough time with him even when I’ve spent tons of time with him. I’ve had to just let myself do the best I can and congratulate myself in that.
It’s been wonderful to have the opportunity to stay at home with him, but it is isolating as well. I get excited to go to Target just to be around other people! :) As a single mom I find it hard to make friends. The single people don’t understand that your schedule just is not that free. But the married folks don’t ask you to hang out because you aren’t a couple, and they typically want couple friends so that their husband has someone to hang out with too. So, it is an isolating and lonely place for a single mom who already has the weight of the world on her shoulders caring for a young child alone.
Even though parenthood has been quite a challenge in many ways, it has made me grow up and take responsibility in ways I never have before. I now know that the choices I make directly affect another human being, and I take that very seriously. It is hard to keep a balance of the weight of the responsibility I hold and the fact that my son is in God’s hands, and I can’t control everything that happens. Although I think it is essential to protect your children, my tendency is to be overprotective and not ever take my eyes off of him because I don’t want him to experience any of the pain that I did. But my over-protectiveness can cause him pain all by itself. And in the end, you can protect them as much as possible, but you can’t keep them from pain. It’s inevitable, but it’s not always bad in the long run. My pain has made me into the person I am today, and it has given me a depth and a love for people that I never would have had before.
Parenting is such a game of balancing things. It stretches you and makes you feel and do things that you didn’t know were in you. When your child hurts, you hurt. When they are excited, you’re excited. It feels like they are almost a part of you. It is always a balance to allow yourself to feel that intensity of bonding yet the healthy disconnect that allows your child to be their own person without it changing your own identity or sense of worth. Being a mother is quite an experience of self-revelation and going to a depth that you didn’t know was possible.

1 comment:

Jenn Bateman said...

Love this line:
I didn’t know my life could seem so chaotic and insanely boring at the same time.

YES!! I feel my days are so busy, but at the end of the day when asked what I did, I can't think of anything other than driving, picking up, making food, cleaning up food. It can be insane!