Being a single parent wasn’t how I thought my adult life would look if you asked me even a few years ago. I thought I would either partner up and have a biological or adopted family or live a wandering and adventurous life as a single person. Many of my friends felt the same way about motherhood – and when I chose to go it alone some of them told me flat out that it was a mistake and to other I simply became an invisible non-person. So weird what happens between friends who do and don’t have children. I hate it and I think about it a lot, but I mostly feel at a loss to fully bridge that gap.
Holding on to some special friends and finding new friends – building a community for my family – has been some of my hardest but most important work over the last few years. Where I was NEVER one to ask for help before – as soon as I had my son I found myself asking for help daily. It was an extreme crash course considering I was seriously ill for the first three months of his life – but I guess a crash course was needed! As someone who struck out on her own at the age of 15, it has been a major point of pride that I take care of business. By myself. But I stand convinced that a child cannot be raised 100% alone. Whether you have a partner a preschool teacher or an auntie or two…you are going to need some help. Asking for my friends to show up for me sometimes backfired but has more often deepened my relationships. (Now that I my “baby” is 2.5 years old I’m feeling space to turn around and help those who helped me as well as new friends who have come along. It’s a good feeling).
Along with making sure all the basic needs are covered there is a little thing called identity I found myself contending with. When I became a single parent I lost my identity as a freewheeling, carefree single person who was down for an adventure on a moments notice. I lost my identity as a workaholic, list finishing, go-getter. I lost my identity as romantically available and pursuable. And I lost the ability to keep up with all those perfect Joneses. Instead I had to find myself again. And continue to see myself as a whole person with a really lucky life – though many would have told me differently. Not everyone goes through this, but I have found motherhood to be peppered with such isolating and alienating moments and I haven’t loved that part of it. I think the rule is I’m supposed to follow sentences like that with “but it’s totally worth it” and “I love my child and he gives my life so much meaning” or something like that. And those things are totally true – but they also not the point and they shut down the conversation which just furthers the isolation.
What I will end with instead is the thought that I have actually enjoyed this soul searching, finding myself all over again opportunity. I’ve reinvented myself before and now I’ve done it again and that is dang lucky. I’ve enjoyed the “closet cleaning” – literally and figuratively. I thought I was an adventurer before… but I had nothing on this new life.