Recently I have had several friends in hard places in their marriages confide in me. I always think this is odd, because I am obviously not a marriage expert. But I do feel honored to be trusted with secrets, and I love bouncing ideas and brainstorming about life. Mostly I love helping people.
I am in a semi-unique (though increasing in popularity) situation where I have walked away from a failing marriage, and thrived after. Because of this, friends tell me things like, “you only have to take care of yourself and your kids. I have a husband to also look after” or “look how happy you are!” Or my favorite “you make being a single mom look so easy!”
I always have replies lined up. So I will remind them that 1. Your husband is a grown ass man. Unless he is a quadriplegic or something similar, he can take care of himself. Sure, he’s not going to do things exactly like you’d want him to, but guess what-nobody will. If you want something done right, do it yourself-isn’t that the most accurately annoying quote ever. Tell your husband what is bothering you, and how you’d like more help, less laundry, equal responsibilities, whatever it is-and I bet he will meet you in the middle.
2. As far as happiness, I have to admit, I am very happy. I have a job that I really enjoy, I have met people since my marriage that I couldn’t imagine not being friends with, and I genuinely believe this life is meant to be enjoyed. I also am a genuinely happy person, pretty much all the time and I enjoy laughing. Sometimes in very inappropriate situations, but it’s always on my New Years resolution list to work on that. I digress. I had my dark days. I had days where it was physically exhausting to even open my eyes and think about presenting myself to the public. When I was in phase 1 of my divorce (living apart, but not actually able to get a divorce yet because L2 was cooking) I was so depressed. I’d cry at work (thank god for cubicles). I’d cry at home. I’d cry driving between work and home. I mean, I’m not a little bitch, so I wasn’t just always crying, but I for sure had my melt downs. It was just easy to hide because if I would cry, I could say “these mother effing hormones” and people would accept that. In reality, I think it was everything I was going through, on top of being pregnant and alone. People don’t realize how hard that time was. It almost broke me, but I had to get through it for my kids, and to get to where I am today.
3. Finally, I make single momming look easy. (Insert biggest eye roll ever here!) there is NOTHING easy about this. When my kids did swim lessons, I had to get them there, only one could swim at a time, while the other cried about not being able to swim. And then had to get them both in the changing room and change them into dry clothes while they were crying and giving me the limp noodle body moves. That shit was NOT easy. Changing wet kids into dry clothes is my idea of hell. Or when we are traveling, maybe far, or maybe just across town. My kids can never get their bladders or bowels on the same schedule, so we stop A LOT. Guess what, no adult to sit in the car with the other, so we all roll into the gas station together. One big happy family. Of course the bathrooms are always within eye shot of the candy section, so we leave in tears because I do NOT negotiate with terrorists. Who would sign up for this?! And when we’re out in public, I am a nervous wreck because when they decide to run in opposite directions I have to quickly assess who is in the most immediate danger and run for them while yelling at the other to please listen and I’ll buy you something special! (Bribery is my favorite.) I can’t physically be with them both all the time. But guess what, if I had a partner I could…. you see what I am doing here. I don’t NEED anyone, but it sure would be convenient sometimes.
So no, I don’t make it look easy, you just see the easy parts. Think about how much you rely on your partner. Even when you feel like you are completely single parenting. Does your partner help with bath or bed? Do they drop the kids off at school some days? Leave work sometimes when a kid is sick, or has an event that a parent should go to? Yeah- I don’t have that. And not that I want to complain about it, but I do believe that has value that can’t be measured.
I can’t let this all seem negative. My life as a single mom isn’t a total shit show. We have a lot of fun. We do whatever we want, whenever we want. It’s easy to convince kids that whatever you want to do is fun. I have a ton of ugh-mazing family members who often times help out with one or both. So yes, it’s doable and I am happy doing it. But would I have picked this? No. I would prefer to do life with a partner who was 100% in it. And if I had that, I wouldn’t walk away from that. The grass is not greener on the other side. It is greener where you water it. So put in the work, and see what happens. Only after you have tried EVERYTHING should you then think about permanent life changes that will forever impact your kids.
❤ MS Andrea Jackson