I often have people say to me ‘I don’t know how you do it’. By ‘it’ they mean parent as a single mom. A full time 24/7 single mom. No shared custody, no week on, week off. It’s just me and my kids day in and day out. I MAY get a weekend off every once in a while……..
People ask how I do it because the truth is parenting is hard enough for two people to share the job, so many can’t fathom how someone can do it alone. But what choice do I have? This is life now. I can’t jump in my car and run to Sobeys alone. I can’t turn to a spouse and say ‘tag, you’re it’ when dealing with my kids fighting or a tantrum. It’s a never ending one player game of tag. I’m it. And it’s impossible to win, so I just give my all and hope for the best because it’s all I have to offer.
My sisters often tell me I’m Superwoman for how I handle parenting. For how I’ve gotten through the emotional rollercoaster of the last 3.5 years taking care of myself, and them, on my own. I know it’s meant as a compliment but I have trouble accepting it because, well, I feel like the farthest thing from Superwoman.
Superwoman is the epitome of strength, in my mind. While I have been through enough to know I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit for, I find it hard to believe that Superwoman would feel burnt out. Would Superwoman struggle and feel overwhelmed? Would Superwoman sometimes feel like she’s hanging by a thread? Because I do and I assumed these were signs of weakness.
For this Superwoman, some days are good days. Some days are not. Some are BAD, in fact. The days when I feel overwhelmed or anxious or low are the days I hate because I take my frustrations out on the kids, regardless of their behavior (good or bad). I have less patience, more rage, and just act like someone I don’t recognize. And then I am consumed with guilt and remind myself that it’s not my kids fault that this is so hard. Even though they don’t always make it easy, the truth is it’s hard on them too. They don’t want to see me 24/7 either. It’s normal to need and want a break from those around you.
School offers a break. So does summer day camps. I made the mistake of not signing my kids up for summer camp. Silly woman. I must have been day drunk or very sleep deprived when I thought I’d save money and leave the kids home with me while I worked. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was a horrible idea. By day 1, I regret my decision. Fast forward 5 weeks, and tensions are high. I’m stress eating peanut butter like there’s no tomorrow and begging for even 5 minutes to myself. I love my kids…. I just don’t always love being near them.
Would Superwoman really openly wish for school to start? Imagine, a mother calling around to different day camps and begging them to let her sign her kids up! I mean, on one hand I was openly admitting that I’m struggling and need a break from my kids. But on the other, it took strength for me to speak the truth and reach out for help.
While busy trying to get rid of my kids, to get them out from underneath my eyelids, I scroll facebook and see the smiling faces of families camping, having beach days and other adventures, obviously spending quality time together, enjoying one another’s company, and I feel bad. What is wrong with me?
While our most recent adventure was a trip to the corner store for ice cream, we also enjoy backyard campfires, walks, playground trips, basketball, pool parties, trampoline parks, swimming, and games of gellyball. They may not be extravagant adventures but they brought smiles to the kids faces so I claim that as a win. For every good adventure, there are ones that are less exciting but equally as powerful. One day in particular, my boys saw me crying. When they asked what was wrong, I admitted that I was having a hard time and didn’t feel very ‘super’ at all. They wrapped their little arms around my neck and reassured me that I’m the best mom ever, and they love me. In this situation, Superwoman showed her kids the very human side of herself and apologized for her shortcomings. And they hugged her tighter.
And that, ladies and gentleman, is how I do it. The mini versions of myself who make me question my ability to parent and make me feel defeated, are the same ones who pick me up and keep me going. We may tire of one another, but we are in this together, doing our thing…….I’m thinking we all need matching capes.
It turns out, according to the dictionary, Superwoman is defined as a woman who successfully manages a home, motherhood and a career. So when my sister calls me Superwoman, I’ll own it. Hell, maybe I’ll change my name.