I read once “Anxiety happens when we think we have to figure out all things at once”.
I wrote this on a sticky note and posted it all over my house.
I am a single mom now. A single, widowed mom. An immigrant-turned-US. citizen, single widowed mom. Wow, spelling this out, makes me wonder how I am even able to stand on my own two feet? Snark alert! I have pretty thick, sturdy and strong Eastern European legs….and 2 young boys. Very young boys. How will I ever conquer the feeling of being unsteady and slow when a whole household rests on my shoulders every day?
After two master’s degrees in engineering and finance and with a certified accountant paper in hand, let’s just say I was not prepared for this single widowed life.I studied seven years post high school and I still have no idea how to manage everything a mom and a dad do, as a team, on a daily basis.
At this point, my life is a hectic rollercoaster ride. Time management is more crucial than it ever was in college or in my career life. Our daily schedule starts at 6 am with breakfast preparation. No option for school lunch means I’m stuffing 2 lunch boxes with healthy meals every morning. Out we rush to work and school. My boys get out of school at 3:15 pm; my schedule ends at 4 pm. Childcare is extremely hard to find for 45 minutes every day so I am relying on strong friendships to help us through those short-long hours. Then we rush to swimming, tennis or piano lessons, which all cost money. Before you know it, dinner time is knocking on the door. There is no one to call for back up, unless I am prepared to shell out the babysitting fees. Help for a single parent on a single paycheck is hard to justify. Sometimes it feels like our children suffer, and they are our most precious possessions.
I really planned out my life. Going to college, getting an education while working hard to earn a reputable degree was something I truly appreciated in life. I was fortunate enough to travel and learn languages, experience different cultures. I had my first child at the age of 32 and my second at 35.
We had a life insurance policy like responsible adults, however none of these choices effect occasional hardships.
How did I begin my single parenting life?
- Accepting that I am on my own was just as important as admitting at an AA meeting that yes, you are indeed an alcoholic. I am now the sole decision maker in my household. I am allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. There is nobody else blaming me or harping on me or helping me when I need to face the consequences of a not-so-smart decision. However, this will allow me to be more confident and hopefully wiser the next time around.
- Setting a clear schedule and holding myself to it is very helpful. The lists can be, 1. very important to accomplish today, 2. need to make it happen in 2 days, 3. short term goals, 4. long term goals.
- Have a daily, weekly to-do list going. Yes, the cat litter box will not clean itself and the garbage bags don’t walk to the dump…A leaking roof can’t be put off and the snow has to be shoveled. You got my point. We have to put on the big-girl pants and be proud of how much we can accomplish on our own. (And It doesn’t hurt to have a very helpful back-up friend to call when you need to load 40 lb. bags of wood pellets to stack up in your garage.)
- Create a very handy tool box. You know what to ask for Christmas. Head light, hammer, screw driver, etc. And your best friend is YouTube!
- Befriend our neighbors! Nurture these relationships. If our kids need them to call 911 or need help when we are not around, neighbors are our best allies.
- Phone calendars are a must. They will remind us of our never-ending list of things to do every day. This way we are not searching for the “missing kid”, (that thing you know you had to do today but you just can’t think of it ….)
- Try to move closer to school or work. (IE: try not to live in the woods). We need a supportive friend circle and a helpful community and we get that by nurturing our friendships and trying to give back. Yes, single parent hands are always full but we can also multitask like an octopus with 8 arms.
Last but not least: we must take pride in being a single warrior. We got this, our kids are looking up to us and realizing that we are a superhero! Yes, sometimes in an awfully wrinkled cape and mask, with a messy hairdo and grubby sweatpants, but we are still flying through the air with our caffeine-fueled compassion, nonetheless!