Last week over several glasses of wine and some vodka with girlfriends we started talking about our #pastlives. The life we had when we were married, stay at home moms, when we went to the gym, and play dates at the mall, and posted cute pictures of our kids at the park enjoying the sunshine. When we only bought organic food and thought feeding our kids chicken nuggets was paramount to child abuse. You know the life we signed up for.
Not this life of single mamahood where we work long hours, sometimes feed our kids ramen because it’s all we can afford and have not taken our kids to an actual park in months.
A few days later the question was asked if we knew ten years ago where we would end up would we still make the decisions we made. Well this is my answer. Yes!!! Without a shadow of a doubt yes!!! Obviously because if I didn’t I would not have my kids so that of course is the obvious reason but it’s more than that. This is not the life I signed up for but it’s a damn good life and it’s MY life. I did make the right decisions, I did everything I was supposed to do and I still ended up here so no I would not change it.
This life is messy, and stressful and full of tears and heartbreak and feeling helpless. This life lacks the luxuries of my #pastlives but this life is mine and it’s great.
Single mamahood is a challenge that forces you to be a bear like no other challenge. You find a strength in you that you did not know you had and you are forced to be the grown up that your kids need you to be.
My kids and I have become a team, bonded through the change – its us against the world. When we moved into our new house we sat down and decided what we wanted our home to look like. What rules did we want and how we wanted to live. It was all of our new start and we got to decide what we wanted our family to look like and create it. When the kids walk into my house often with left over attitude I frequently tell them to turn around leave their attitudes at the door and remember who’s house they were in. Since they were involved in creating this home they respect it. We still have challenges they are children but there is a clear expectation they set out. We have become a team and I have become a better mother. I did not sign up to be a single working mother but I did sign up to be the best mother to my kids I could be.
The process of healing from a divorce has been a huge process of self discovery. There has been a lot of internal soul work, forgiveness of others and myself, and understanding. There came a point when I realized the compromises I made were more of myself than I should have compromised and I have got to rebuild those aspects myself. I have become a hybrid of my old and new selfs. The advantage of being rock bottom is that when you pick yourself up and rebuild yourself you can choose which parts you leave behind. I did not sign up to have my heart broken, but I did sign up to be true to my heart and love fully and that is in my future.
When you go from having a large amount of disposable income and suddenly go to a single income it’s a shock. A big shock for everyone. I not only had to learn how to budget again but live on half the budget I was used too. If you ever want a learning curve try living on half what you are used too. This forced us to really look at what our needs vs wants are. I don’t know if I have got better at it or if we have just got used to it but it no longer feels like we want for anything. Instead of going out for dinner and movie we do movie night cuddling on the sofa, instead of going to arcades we do game night at home. Instead of schedules packed with activities and lessons we play basketball in the drive way and are working towards running a 5k together. We have found new different things to fill our time and most of the activities actually focus us together. The first time in months I had extra money I went to store and bought all the foods I thought we missed – I asked the kids what they wanted for dinner and they replied with breakfast for dinner. I was beating myself up for months that I was not feeding my kids meat every night for dinner but in reality they were happy with breakfast for dinner, grilled cheese and tomato soup, bacon sandwiches and home made burritos. When I realized they were happy with “budget food” it was actually a relief. I did not sign up to live paycheck to paycheck, but I did sign up to teach my children the value of what they need vs what they want.
The hardest and biggest change for our family was me going back to work. Sure I had worked on and off during my marriage but usually part time and often at home so I could still be there to focus on the kids. It’s a huge difference compared to Mom has a full time job a career even that she is trying get promotions and grow because she is supporting the family now. Mom was no longer there to help with homework. Daycare, after school club became our lives instead of the park and play dates. Tears usually mine over missing school events. A life that if it’s not on the calender it won’t happen because Mom is stretched as thin as she can humanly go. Our lives are on a schedule the kids have learnt how to be more responsible because Mom physically can’t just come rescue them. I did not sign up to be a working mom but I did sign up to raise independent responsible kids who understand the importance of working for our goals and I get to lead by example.
Being single is hard after years of having a spouse to go every where with you. It was hard for months I did not go out for dinner, I was not comfortable eating out alone with the kids, I didn’t want to date and my married friends went out with their husbands. It took a while for me to find my tribe. I have strengthened friendships with married friends we now have a monthly girls night out which they need as much as me, I also have new single momma friends who are on this journey with me. I have friends – not mothers if my kids friends or wives of my husbands colleagues but people who like me for me and just me. I have started dating now as well. Between friends and dating I have a social life again, I am trying new places I never would have before, discovering new things about myself and most of all having fun. I did not sign up to be single and dating in my 30’s. But I did sign up to live life to the fullest and now I am.
So no this is not how I imagined my life would look at 34. As I sit here writing this in the dark with two sleeping kids in my bed because they heard something outside. No this is not the life I signed up for – its better.