My closest family is made up of my two little boys. They both bring a level of contentment to my life that is unmatched. Kissing their little cheeks before I leave for work at 6:15 am is the single most favorite thing in my life. The warmth of their skin and the sweet smell of their breadth as they exhale upon being slightly jarred by my kiss is joy. My little one whispering, “I love you, momma,” before he rolls over to snuggle deeper into his blankets makes me smile. I think it is the way he says “momma.” He gives it a long, two syllable draw which causes him to sound younger than he is. After I get my fill of him, I going over to the older one. His blonde hair is all I see and I push it away to kiss him goodbye. He is less likely to talk, but sometimes he shoots a sudden arm into the air to give me a hug around my neck before I go. He draws me in and pulls me so close that I fear I am going to fall over, but I let him do it anyway because I fear the day it ends.
This is my morning. I go off to work to make the only paycheck our family will see. I am the breadwinner, the bill payer, the laundry doer, the food shopper, the ear cleaner, the band aid giver. I feel blessed to be part of the thirty percent of single moms above the poverty level. I feel defeated in the fact that my ex-husband gives me no financial support because one cannot get blood from a stone.
Being a single mom is the hardest thing I have ever done, and I dread the consequence of each painful mistake I make. I secretly pat myself on the back when I have a parental win. I know many people look down on single moms. The way I see it there seems to be two concrete stereotypes that exist in our culture. First is the single mom superhero stereotype. She is capable of doing everything and anything for everyone. She takes care of her children and does the job of two parents with ease. She may even be working two jobs and going back to school. I have heard of these moms from adults who were raised by them. I have not actually seen or met one in real life. Of my friends, I am the only single mom. I hope to be viewed as this type of single mom, but I feel I fall short on many occasions.
The second stereotype is the single mom mess. This is the woman who is more preoccupied with dating than her children. She clings to her ex for money and support, but she ends up using that money on herself. She misses school conferences and doesn’t drive her kids to soccer practice. She would rather troll dating websites for her next man than make dinner for her kids. She smokes, has tattoos, drinks too much and talks loudly and disparagingly about her useless ex-husband.
I know I am somewhere in between these two worlds. I would be lying if I said that there haven’t been moments where I was more concerned over my boyfriend’s text message than helping my son put on his cleats before soccer practice. Sometimes I just want there to be other things in my life than caring for the boys. I also know that if effort in anyway accounts for anything, I put in a valiant effort every day. I care more about raising my boys to be kind, respectful young men than I do anything else. The days that I peel myself up and get them to bed and make sure that they brush their teeth and are all snuggled in are taxing. They exhaust me beyond words. But I know the importance of building memories and of being a stable force.
So despite my worries and my fears, I know I must always go back to my mat and trust, trust, trust.