When I was married, I often felt like a single mom and because of that I didn’t expect the transition into coparenting to kick me in the ass as hard as it has. The early euphoria of finally being divorced has turned into a steady stream of stressors that has elevated my cortisol levels to a new high. But I’m managing because I know it will get easier and overall my children and I are happy and healthy. I can’t speak for all the single moms but this is what I need on my journey to improve the quality of my life:
- Fun. I’m desperate for a good time. After months of negotiating the divorce, I’m faced with the prospect of moving and finding a job. Not to mention I have two children to take care of. Everything is under control but it’s still a challenge. I’m operating at a higher level of stress than what I assume is normal and I’m afraid I’ll forget how to play and have fun again. Make me laugh.
- Cash. I don’t have any any money left. I spent every penny on my divorce and the ensuing transition. I’m near the bottom of the hierarchy of needs. Luxuries like going out to dinner, clothes shopping and paying for repairs are out of the question. As I say to my boys, “It’s not in the budget.” Candles and soaps are great gifts but dinner invites and book swaps are where I’m at. My latest mantra: “Money is just energy. Let it flow.” I could use some of that energy to help me up Maslow’s pyramid.
- Time. Oh how I envy the women who were smart enough to get a full time job that placed them over the mom-threshold income bracket. That’s where your pay starts at $60k with benefits and a retirement plan and you can go to your children’s after-school games and afford the other activities. I had that once. Then I moved for my husband’s job, left the corporate world and worked for myself. It was great while it lasted but in the divorce I wiped out my savings and 401k. I have to go back to work full time now. I don’t know how I’m going to get that work life balance back but somehow I’ll manage.
- Support. Not a week goes by that I don’t wonder if I just totally screwed everything up. That I’m not going to get ahead. That I won’t find the new life I hoped for. It’s the biggest leap of faith I’ve ever taken. It’s not just my life that’s affected but my two children are part of this as well and that scares the sh*t out of me. What I need most is to be truly understood and accepted as I am without unsolicited advice or insincere complements. To my family and friends, thank you for not judging me. And to everyone who asks how my day is going, I really appreciate it.
- Help. A few years ago my sister gave me a tabletop book called “Porn for Women” about hot guys doing housework. I have long given up on anyone, let alone a smokin’ hot guy, helping around the house. (With the exception of my boys who are in training.) But I could use some assistance in other areas. There are things I just can’t do like go up on the roof to check where the leak is. Never mind fix it. Or move the giant pieces of wood from the unfinished house remodel out of the basement and to the transfer station.
- Network. I’m referring to the covert parent co-op that assists the working parents in watching their children on the random days when school is closed, transporting them to and from after-school programs and hosting them in between school and summer camp. Some parents are masterful at setting this up. I am not. I’m used to doing it myself and have a hard time asking for help. I’m getting ready to move to a new town and am riddled with anxiety about how I’m going to manage the boys’ schedules.
- Boyfriends. Actually a boyfriend is about the last thing I need because dating is inherently stressful, but life happens. Here’s how I know he’s not the one for me: When I start yelling at my kids. If I find myself losing patience with my children without explanation, I know it’s my issue. And nine times out of ten it’s stemming from something I’m not getting from the man in my life. In addition to wanting a connection that is physical, emotional and intellectual, I also need someone who respects my time. Lateness, last minute changes, and more text than talk don’t work for me.
- Friends. The good ones. I’ve had to weed out the crazy makers. If they’re not feeding my soul I can’t be bothered. Friends reciprocate favors. They make time for you. They don’t create drama. I value open and honest conversation. It can get messy but that’s part of friendship. And so is unconditional acceptance and support.
- Tools. I don’t mean the household kind. There are five things in my tool kit to keep me centered: my laptop, sneakers, a book, a cushion and my phone. I write when I need to process something; I run when I need to feel better about myself; I read when I need a break from the noise; I meditate when I need to find clarity; I call a friend when I need to vent.
- Escape. One more reason for the lock on the bathroom door.
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