I just wanted to take a minute to say how much I admire the single mom's I know. I admire the grace and poise with which they navigate the difficulties that are inherent in single parenting. Even you women who have wonderful co-parents, this life is not an easy one.
I know that mothers who are still in relationships with their co-parent are amazing, and navigate the difficulties of being a mother as well. I am no longer in that group, so I am going to address the group into which I have been thrust.
I am enormously grateful for the examples I have around me of these beautiful single women. I don't think I could do it without seeing their example. They share with me the difficulties they encounter and they share with me the ways in which they solve or even just get through those difficulties. I do not navigate it with the same grace and success as they do, but I am learning. I am trying. And I hope that in the end, my daughter will be aware of my efforts in her behalf more than she will be aware of my failures. Because,my failures? They are varied and sundry.
Every decision I make, I make with her in mind. What can I do to make sure she knows how much I love her? To make sure she understands how important and amazing she is? How do I divide my time so that I can provide properly for her materially, but not focus so much on earning money that I never see her? How do I weigh the things I want against the time she needs? How do I find the time to care for myself so that I might be the best mother I can and still make sure I have time for her?
I went from being a WAHM, spending so much of my time with her, caring for her, teaching her, to working full time with a longish commute and handing that care over to another. I am extraordinarily grateful that none of this happened until she was in school full time. And I am more grateful than I can say that my mother is able to care for her after school. I do not honestly know how I would be able to do this without my mom and stepdad and the invested care they provide for my daughter. I am blessed.
Going from being the primary caretaker and WAHM to being an absent working mother broke my heart, more than I can say. And it still does. Despite the wonderful, amazing care she gets from her grandparents, she is my daughter, my body, my flesh, my heart. And it hurts me to leave her, and it will always hurt me to leave her. But, leave her I do, because caring for her is my job, and part of caring for her is providing for her material and physical needs. So, I leave her to go to work, earn my living and hope that what I do is worth it. And then I come home, and I talk to her, I ask her about her day, I try to help her navigate the difficulties of her life, which are as big to her as my own are to me. I don't always do it right or well, in fact, I often feel like I neither do it right nor well, but I am trying. It takes some time to make adjustments to this new lifestyle, really. Too much time, I think. I want it to be ok now. I want to know how to manage my time now. I want to make things work properly now. I am not a patient woman, I am afraid, I want it now. I know that I can't have it all now, I know that it takes a lot of work to, well, make things work, and I will work and I will keep working, hard, because I have to. Because I have the greatest motivation to keep working and trying to make it work. My beautiful daughter is worth every heartache, every hard day at work, every day the apartment is a mess, every dirty dish, every load of laundry, every weekend spent without adult interaction, every temper tantrum navigated, all of it. ALL OF IT. I can only hope that I manage to raise her as well as my parents raised me.
And so, again, I thank the single mothers around me, the great women I know, for their willingness to share their struggles with me and their successes. And I thank them for being so admirable, even though many, if not most of them, do find themselves so. They are.