If anyone thinks that parenting is a walk in the park, then perhaps you should go and pour me a glass of whatever you’re drinking.
Make it a double, please.
I think most of us can agree that parenting is hard. It’s an endurance event that never ends, where the participants willfully ignore the rules, and where it’s kind of expected that you’ll come in contact with bodily fluids on a daily basis. The boss can be extremely temperamental, the hours suck, and there’s no paid leave. Now imagine if you were the only employee.
That’s what it’s like for me, a full time single mom.
But the love. And the smiles. I try to savor every moment, even the disgusting ones. Suddenly, it seems, my daughter is almost five years old. The sleepless nights of her infancy felt like decades; while the passing of time from her first full night’s sleep until now has been measured in heartbeats and new experiences. Suddenly the “Music Truck” is the Ice Cream Man, and my kid can’t be fooled anymore. She is smarter, more cunning, and infinitely more persistent than I have ever been.
Sometimes I need a pick me up. All parents do, don’t we? Single moms don’t typically get a lot of breaks or pick me ups. If we’re lucky though, we have a community that loves and supports us. I know I do. Like the song says, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” That is the truth. My kind, generous, loving, and thoughtful friends do more than keep me sane. They constantly restore my faith in humanity, and they ward off the darkness that has followed me throughout my adult life. They are beacons of light for me, and they love and support me in the following ways:
1} Home Repair:
The other day my dear friend came over and said, “I figured out how to fix your couch. I YouTubed it.” Then she fixed it. Honestly, in a million years, I never would have gotten to a low enough point on my to-do list to figure out how to keep my sectional from sliding apart when you sit on it. My friend identified the problem, did the research, and then fixed it. Home repair is a big worry of mine, because I am not particularly skilled at it. If you want to support me, figure out why my grill isn’t working. If you want to woo me, help me put up a shelf. If you want to love me, fix my daughter’s broken bike.
2} Invite my Family Over:
Weekends can be lonely and quiet. With my brother and his family a state away, my little family spends a lot of time alone on weekends and lesser holidays, not wanting to intrude on my friends’ valuable family time. While this time is sometimes peaceful after a busy week, it mostly causes me to reflect on the choices I’ve made that have landed me, an extrovert, alone with my child every weekend and holiday. I dreamed of a big family, and massive potluck barbeques, and have ended up with a micro-family, where a pack of hot dogs would not even be finished. When my friends invite my daughter and I to be a part of their family time, it truly warms my heart. I know family time is a precious commodity, and I am so grateful when we’re included.
3} Offer to Babysit:
This is a no-brainer. We can swap child care!
4} Drive me Places:
As a single mom, I drive everywhere, all the time. When I am driving my daughter, I am both chauffeur, and personal assistant. When I go out, I am my own designated driver. I’m pretty sure Carrie Underwood wasn’t thinking of this exact situation when she sang “Jesus Take the Wheel,” but I can’t even begin to say what a treat it is to be driven. I can play DJ! I get to sight-see in my own town! I can put on lip gloss! I confess that every single time someone else drives, I feel like a princess for just a moment. I don’t feel like a princess very often these days. Unless we’re talking about Cinderella, and I’m still waiting for the woodland creatures to lend a hand with my housework. Being driven is pure bliss!
5} Bring me Take-out:
Fellow Vermonters, lets talk about restaurant food delivery. Short conversation, right? Does any restaurant deliver to my house? I think not. There are many nights when I’ve made a healthy meal for my daughter, and eaten her picked over leftovers for my dinner, planning on gorging on cheese and crackers later. When friends bring me take-out, I feel the love. It may look like an egg roll to you, but I see so much thoughtfulness.
6} Play with my Kid:
Some days, I am played out. I can’t read another book, draw another animal, act out another silly character, swim, wrestle, or pay attention. When you talk to my daughter, and play with her, you lift a huge burden of guilt off of me, and I am more grateful than you might expect. This is especially true for the male friends in my life. My daughter’s dad chose to not participate in her life, and it is obvious to me that she is curious about her friends’ dads. When they take the time to talk to her and ask her questions, I am humbled because they offer something I can not, and their moments are more than her own father has ever provided.
7} Make My Life More Self-Sufficient:
Teach me how to do something on my own, and I will never feel the panic and shame of not knowing, for example, how to realign the sensors that make the automatic garage door open. Or how to replace my broken toilet seat. I can do a lot, and I can teach you things in return, but I am one person with one person’s life experiences.
8} Give me Feedback:
Single parenting is, as the title implies, a solitary undertaking. The other night, a friend said, “you’re a good mom.” It might have been a casual observation, or a way to butter me up (seriously doubt that) but it meant a lot to me. I will hold those words in my heart for a while. Whether I’m doing a good job or a bad job parenting, I am doing it alone, and the only feedback I get is from my nearly 5 year old. I pay the most attention to her verbal and nonverbal cues about my parenting, but it means so much to me when my friends voice their support of my efforts- because like most parents, I’m trying my best. Unlike most parents, I have no partner who notices my exhaustion or how hard I try.
9} Ask me for help too:
Love and support should never be a one way street. I would never want this. I do my best to make sure my friends know how much I love and appreciate them, and I am always willing to do whatever I can to support to my dear friends. I hope they all know that as much as I count on them, and rely on them, they can also count on me.