Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Does Single Mom In Suburbia Still Exist?

I haven't blogged in awhile and this is why.....

We all know the rhetorical answer to this question, of course. However, I have a more specific rhetorical reason for asking this question…..Am I  still a single mom in suburbia?

I write this because as many readers know, I have been dating someone for over a year now. What some readers may not know is that we got engaged in January, we had talked about this step together of course – and we are very happy. Before you ask, just like everyone else is asking, “WHEN are you getting married?” the answer is in a couple of years or so. We realize that we have made a very big commitment to each other, this does involve our children, and we want to be as prepared for marriage before we enter into marriage. We made the very big decision of moving in together a few months after the engagement, which meant the moving the kids in together and the actual move happened about a month ago. What I was not prepared for was/is the question of my new identity because in the majority of society’s, friend’s, and some family member’s eyes:  In making these two steps I have relinquished my title as a single mom?

To say I have not been struggling with this would be a complete lie and it leaves me asking myself and others (if I had the courage): what makes a single mom?

By my tax claim status – yes I am a single mom and will be the next two or so tax years.

Am I single as in not married? Yes. Am I a mom? Yes. OK, therefore I would be a “single mom.”

Yet, many would say, however, you have a future husband who is there when you come home and loves both you and your daughter. True. Many would say, you have someone to have dinner ready on some weeknights now. True. Many say, you live in a house with a man, your children, and his children and are becoming a family. Somewhat true. If you have ever done it before, I would assume you would agree that this is not a just add water family situation. It takes time. Bonds take time. Love, trust, building relationships all take time.

Beyond that, I still act as a single mom/parent. I have the same financial responsibilities with no increased income besides splitting rent and utilities, though a house of 6 costs a lot more to feed than a house of 2. I still have to work, therefore having my daughter in daycare or with a babysitter 40-50 hours a week throughout the year. I take her to all her appointments, make all the phone calls, fix all the ouchies, take the brunt of all the meltdowns, use every bone in my body to be diplomatic with my daughter’s father who is still angry with me for living my life and goes weeks without contact in between partial visits with my daughter. I am still paying off the debt from my daughter’s medical bills I couldn’t afford to pay at the time. I am still paying off the debt from the credit cards I had to use to in between paychecks to get by. I am still staring at pictures of just the two of us from pregnancy to 4 years old. I am the next of kin and in case of emergency 24/7 365 contact number.

My future husband is still learning how to be comfortable living with a 4 year old in the house, just as I am learning how to be comfortable living with another adult, two tweens and one teen.  We are still learning what our roles are with each other and with our kids and what the kids’ roles are with each other. This is not the Brady Bunch, people – it is real life.

So with all these new things, different things, difficult to discern things – I get frustrated that to others my role or my title as a single mom is , or so it feels, being challenged. When a widower re-marries, do people assume that the parent who passed away will become just a memory and nothing more and that the step-parent will take over as mom or dad? No. Does someone who never knew their or a biological father never hurt from that circumstance? Not that I have seen. Has all the work I have done on my own from pregnancy to now vanish or become less relevant, less of a battle, less courageous now that I have a partner?  I would like to think it doesn’t or that it won’t. That everything, every step, every tear, every question my daughter will come across that has do to with her biological father being in and out of her life will not be answered solely by me for the next  14 years or more?

I am not saying that I don’t want to hope to foster an awesome and loving blended family home with a beautiful (but completely worked on throughout many years) marriage, I do. But to erase what has been my life for over 4 years, the only years of life my daughter has known, seems a bit much, because we couldn’t have had a shot at this new family picture if I was first not a single mom and my fiancĂ© not first a divorced single dad.

And that’s all I have to say about that....except that I will still continue the single mom in suburbia blog with my new adventures. And maybe, just maybe, create a new one about our blended adventures. OK, now I'm done ;) 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

To My Mentor

To My Mentor:

This isn't the first letter I have written you, in fact I remember the first letter I wrote to you on real paper with real pen in junior year history class. Now I am using a combination of something called Microsoft Word, an iPhone, and Facebook…we've come a long way baby! Who knows what the next letter will entail, maybe I may just search for that old paper and pencil from the last century ;)

I have been lucky enough to have you as a friend and mentor for well over 15 years now. You first taught me how to have and maintain female confidence, you taught me about relationships and how to handle both love and loss. You taught me about forgiveness and how friendships can survive distance if they are important enough. You taught me MORE about relationships and about self-respect, even during the times I didn't have enough of it for myself you told me the consequences (in a letter as well I believe) of not having enough but when I didn't listen you knew the best way to make it stick was learning that for myself.

Then the next segment of life began for the both of us – real jobs, real relationships, followed by families. This is where a period of perseverance got us both where we are today. Maybe what seems like through very different life paths, but I was lucky enough to have you as a sister in life to show me by example, support me no matter what, and be there without judgment when I needed you the most. Then the most scary part came – you told me the cold hard truth about childbirth and the time following – that’s true love right there!

Your life change had already came twice when my life change came along and I am thankful for that. It allowed you to mentor and teach me in a whole different way. To say I didn't know what the heck I was doing would be a understatement but I always thought of you whether I thought I was doing it right, wrong, or the way I wanted to do it. That was probably the best lesson about motherhood that you gave me – only I knew the right way for my kiddo and it was perfectly fine if it didn't match anyone else’s way.

When the going seemed to get a little tougher, you introduced us (for a second and less annoying time) to Rachel Coleman – in fact we just got finished reading a Signing Time book as that is still a huge part of our life and communication. You taught me how what we eat can really affect us, not to mention kids. You teach me how to try and be a more patient mother in the everyday - it's like WWSD if I can hold back a loud voice or snap in the moment. You listened even if it had to be over email because we both had our hands full. And you have never forgotten us, and we have never forgotten you! 

I am happy to know our friendship and my learning from you is far from finished – in fact I am about to begin a couple new journeys that will need much brain picking. I love you very much and am so grateful to have you in my life! Have a beautiful birthday my friend and a fantastic year – in which I will make an in person visit more of a priority!

Live, laugh, love –

Your student and friend (I think the image below captures us perfectly)

P.S. It's a "home day" and has only taken me roughly 2 hours to get this done. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

It's Not Personal, It's Business

Tomorrow we or I go into the world of man’s law. Many people may think they live in this world of man’s law every day and I guess to a point they do: speeding limits, work uniforms, following codes, paying fines, etc. There are some of us who are, no matter the circumstances, obliged to cross our family lives and members into the world of man’s law because of choices we have made for our families or ourselves out of what we deemed best. And in a lot of those situations, I think people chose to do what was right or best for their families in the long run. I do know that good or bad, some had no choice at all.

I had a choice. I chose life for my child, life free of physical harm for myself, and a journey that would be very difficult but lead me back to my faith and my family. This choice entered me and my child into the world of man’s law that I am speaking of. The one I enter into again tomorrow – full of prosecutors, respondents, defendants, magistrates, and lastly judges. It’s the latter one that decides either if I know what is “best” for the child I have been nurturing and raising for 4 years or if he knows best. A man who I have never met.

I know that when I enter man’s world the other part of my kiddo’s last name will likely be present and possibly (due to history of my experience in the world of man’s law) declare mis-truths about me or himself. I wish I could say he was a Godly man or believed in God, however, I can say neither which makes the world of man’s law a little more difficult.

So once again I fluff and hang the court clothes on the door, get my papers ready, say more than one prayer, and prepare to perform the task I learned of holding my own hand behind my back pretending it belongs to someone else, shoulders back, and face man and his world of law.