I am just different. Yes. Different.
Like I don’t measure up in the world’s hierarchy of love, success, and awesomeness in life. After all, most happily ever after love stories don’t end up the way my life ended up. But, I’ve come to realize that just because life doesn’t have all the glitter and perfectness that it doesn’t negate the beauty, purpose, joy, or wonderfulness that can saturate a life.
Being a mom is hard. It sometimes feels like a bizarre circus act where you have to both take care of your kids and work full-time, and seem to fail at both simultaneously and often. You “do it all,” while suspended above some serious doubts and fears, and feeling the weight of people perpetually judging you simply for existing. It seriously sucks. There are so many times that you feel like you have to apologize for working, even though you don’t owe anyone a damn “I’m sorry,” at all.
Like the fact that I always attend functions alone. I never really thought about it until this year when I was faced with rude comments, raised eyebrows and some snide remarks. Of course, if I wasn’t able to attend events, because I had to work, people looked down on that, too, which made me feel guilty and like a terrible mother. (I am not- promise!)
I also get a lot of flack for doing the things I need to do in order to stay sane and feel like a human being. I remember telling someone that I started studying again, and they asked, “How can you spend so much time away from your kids? Don’t you feel guilty?” Well, I didn’t until you suggested it. Or the question “How do you do it all?” Well darling, I function on 5 hours sleep a night so I have a lot of time.
It seems like single moms or working moms in general can’t win or that society thinks they should apologize for even existing, which is pretty crappy considering how hard they have to work to juggle parenting, home, and work responsibilities. I think society owes us an apology in all honesty.
1.The Start: Whether you leave your partner or have a baby “out of wedlock,” (That is me!) our society seems to want you to apologize for simply being THAT mom and it is rarely accurate and are often completely unfair.
2.The working mom: As a mom, I have to work to support my kids. It seems like I was damned if I did (“Do you ever see your kids?”), and also damned if I didn’t and imagine I had to rely on my family / the government to support my kids? I remember once a friends’ landlord telling her that he didn’t like to rent to single moms because they had to rely on child support to pay their rent. What the actual f@ck…
3.Missing events: This year I had to miss a ton of events, because I couldn’t bring Zoe along or could not take time off during the work day, or on a Saturday when I had class. I felt like the worst mom, ever.
4.When you attend school events- always by yourself: Attending parent-teacher meetings makes me want to sink into the floor- literally. So many questions on “Where is he?” and I always have to pickle the girls with- bribing them to play nicely when I have a chat with the teacher.
5.When you just can’t do everything. I am constantly told that my career will suffer because I can’t attend every darn event (at night) that I get invited to. But so far so good. I have learned to pick my events very carefully.
6. When you take care of yourself. I feel so guilty sometimes when I take an afternoon/ Saturday off and go do something fun. But I need those things to keep me sane and be the mom I need to be. This year I decided having a social life and friends won’t be a bad idea at all.
So now, this cannot be a downer post. And it’s not going to be. Trust me. This is about being real and finding joy and living a life with intention and not sitting in muck and despair and self-pity. That doesn’t get us anywhere. That keeps us stuck.
So we move bravely onward and forward making hard choices and being determined to see beauty in ordinary.
In fact one of the biggest thing I’ve learned in my journey is the power of friendship. I’ve learned how people stand up and how people who I thought were friends hide and disappear. I’ve learned that there are those in my life who are available at all hours. Be one of those friends. Don’t be a friend who doesn’t want to get in the dirt with that other person.
In the last year I’ve discovered a strength that I didn’t know I had. I realized that I can stay caught up on cooking, giving astma medication and writing endless articles, be 12 hours a week in the car and that I can do this. It’s really really really hard but I’m a fighter.
That’s what I tell myself every morning when my alarm goes off at 5:30am and I had gone to bed at 1am because I was working so that I can pay for all the things that need to be payed for and so that I can spend R500 on books for the kids or buy a new MacBook.
I love my kids.
I love my kids fiercely.
We all love our kids.
So, these are my words. Am I an unhappy person? No. Not at all. I was just told that I seemed unhappy – but you see- it was a judgment made on the surface not a real get to know you in the dirt there for you statement. Do you know that I’m happy? And I’ve learned about life and real deep joy. I’ve been made to come face to face with myself and wrestle my own fears. And I’ve learned the power in the words I matter and I am enough and bravery.
That’s what I want you to always remember.
Not pity. Not shame.
After all we all want to raise our children to be amazing.
We’re stronger united.