I used to think being a single parent was probably a lot like being in a cage filled with wild monkeys. And the monkeys are on cocaine. And the cage is on fire. And then Jesse died and to my dismay, I in an instant, became a single mom. It was a title I didn’t want. I was beyond terrified, and I told myself over and over there’s no way you can do this.
I learned quickly though that I really didn’t have a choice. Those little people that lived with me were completely dependent on me for their survival, and no amount of kicking and screaming and pouting on my part was going to change that. I was a hot mess express, and sometimes I do look back and wonder how we all survived.
I can remember the first time we ever took a road trip, just the three of us, to visit Jesse’s mom. My entire body shook so bad for the whole 3 hour car ride that my back actually hurt when we finally arrived. Now of course, these road trips are a regular occurrence, and I kind of want to smack my two year ago self for being such a sally, but these little victories really are what helped me build a sense of independence I never in a million years thought I could have.
I’ve proven to myself over and over that I am capable of more than I give myself credit for, and I’ve also failed miserably and have had to learn to give myself grace and learn from my mistakes.
We eat cereal for supper way more than I care to admit, but we still sit together and chat about our days and to me, that’s what’s important.
I’ve put more money into Jesse’s rusty *on the verge of a complete breakdown* pickup truck than I should have, but after moving away from the only home they’d ever known, it’s brought the kids (and YES OK myself) a sense of comfort being able to still have this piece of him. It might not make sense to anyone else, but it makes sense to us.
My kids do weird, off the wall things, like spin a pencil on the table for HOURS while making explosion noises or asking me to smell their fingers because they just scratched their butt (I see you J); but at the end of the day, I have been assured by other moms that they are good humans and this is all normal and I am not totally fucking them up.
(These moms also bring me wine and taco dip on the regular, because I have the coolest, most supportive mom circle)
Parent teacher conferences were this week, but thankfully I only have to attend these right now for my easier child. Call me terrible for saying that all you want, but I spent 30 minutes this morning arguing with my 4 year old about why she can’t have candy corn for breakfast, so your ignorance is not welcome here.
My conference was pretty smooth sailing. My son does well academically, follows directions most of the time and typically gets along good with others, all things I already knew before being reassured by his teacher. But the one thing she said that stuck with me, was how much he talks about his sister. She said it’s very apparent how much he cares about her, and when they are given treats or rewards he’ll even ask if he can have one more for his little sister.
If I had a sensitive bone in my body, I’d probably have been a blubbering mess, but the wells in these eyes were dry per usual, so instead I left there simply reflecting on how far we’ve come in our little family and how close my kids really have become in the last 2 years. I also thought about how each of us was designed to be exactly what our little trio was going to need in this season of our life.
Living with my boy is like living with a middle aged man. He’s a kind, helpful little soul, who hates running late because of the women in the house but will still open doors for his mother and help his little sister pour her cereal. He grumbles when we have to make one extra stop on our way home, but never forgets to ask us how our days were. We’re in constant competition with who can be more witty, and his introverted/homebody personality balances out mine and his sister’s obnoxious need to socialize every minute of every day. (Apparently you can not actually die from spending an entire weekend home and not “on the go”…new information to both of us)
My daughter, the youngest and sassiest and smelliest of our trio, simultaneously keeps us laughing and on our toes. Homegirl will giggle at her own farts, tell you you’re pretty, hide her brother’s favorite toy and stomp her foot in rage at you when you call her out…all within a 7 minute time span. She once gave me the silent treatment because I threatened to take her out of gymnastics if she didn’t stop meowing at the other kids and pretending she was a cat during practice. It’s wild, but she is truly one of a kind, and I’m confident her strong will and sense of humor will be what gets her through the hard seasons in her life.
These two little humans were dealt a hand they didn’t deserve or ask for, but they continue to live with love and strength and grit despite all of it. They remind me daily that even though life is so much harder than we ever imagined it would be, we do have a choice in how we move forward. The three of us are still here for a reason, and we still have a lot to be grateful for.
Sometimes I don’t feel like I’ve actually earned the “single mom street cred.” My support system is BIG and STRONG, and I have more help than I could have ever asked for from my parents, my sister, my in-laws, nephews, nieces, extended family and close friends. Not only have they made it possible for me to work and maintain my sanity, but they’ve shown my kids the nurturing emotions that kids need when I didn’t have an ounce of any kind of emotion left in me. For that, I will forever be indebted to all of them.
Still though, I’ve come a long ways from that girl with the trembling hands, driving alone with two kids down the interstate, and my only hope now is that Jesse is proud of how I’m raising them, proud of how far we’ve all come, and proud of the amazing humans our kids are growing to be.
I know I am.