I received inspiration from The Lone Mothers blog about single parenting being “hard.” In short, she was asked by a well-intentioned women if single parenting is difficult. Her assessment was no; she enjoyed all the rewards of parenting plus the ability to make decisions for her child she deemed in the best interest without objection. I completely agree with her. I aim to expand with a more existential view.
A recent comment from my best friend echoed the curiosity of the nice lady in The Lone Mothers blog. She stated, “I don’t know how you’re doing it!” It was a compliment, but the unsaid question was “How are you doing it?”
I answered her with a scientific explanation, as I believe science teaches us more about the human condition than we realize. Like me, she appreciates science and studies, with a dose of emotional intelligence. Note, I am NOT a scientist, just a reading enthusiast. I explained to my friend that atoms are moving and interacting particles floating throughout the universe. When they are fused and organized at the right time, with the right conditions, either by nature or by intelligent design, they become a glass of water, a lightening bolt, a chair, a laptop or a strand of hair. This is the basic premise how life began. A cosmic — and sometimes cataclysmic — rendering of scientific principles colliding and creating. Single parenting is part art and part science.
Yes, I know I’m likening unfeeling atoms to emotive mothering, but bare with me. Single parenting is all about organizing time, resources and priorities in ways that enhance your life and enrich your child’s life. It’s about doing more with less. You compensate for what you don’t have through effective organization. Not enough money to take Johnny to Disneyland? You create your own Disneyland through time, attention and creativity. Little Johnny is disappointed that Dad had to reschedule for the fifth time? You pool resources to go to Disneyland over the summer. A single mother’s attention to detail is as vast as the universe. We watch every twitch of disappointment, every giggle of delight, and we can predict with 90% certainty that a tantrum is around the corner. By organizing our lives with the methodical detail of atoms fused into car frames, we can accomplish our goals, create our children’s dreams, and have plenty of other time to wash the dishes.
Implying a question of “How are you doing it?” evolved from a conversation about grad school. I go once a week, all day, on Saturday. I work full time, drop off Andrew at daycare every morning and afternoon, clean, walk the dog with Andrew, cook, play softball on Thursdays, and date fitfully on the weekends he’s with Dad. I do my homework at lunch. I work from home once in awhile. I pool my paid time off for doctor’s visits or “me” time or “Andrew” time or “us” time. I rely on my parents for emergency help. I pay for emergency help. I get a bit of child support. I participate in “Mommyandme” groups. I grocery shop while Andrew tries to lick a cereal box. I shut down all TV, laptops, and electronic devices every day to spend time with him before bed. I research “life hacks” from mommy blogs. I contribute to the dialogue when the day is slow, if I feel inspired during “me” time, or when Andrew is taking a nap.
The above looks like a garbled list of tasks. But they are choreographed like a dance. Andrew and I are dancing through life. We learn together. We cry together. We laugh together. I work in organized chaos and if I’m lucky, the plans fit into place. Sometimes the factory’s car frame has a crack or two. It’s not always perfect. But you mend the cracks or redesign the frame.
Before I was a single mother, I lived a life without a meaning I could call home. After becoming a single mother, my life not only has a new, inspirational meaning, but I am more creative as a writer and artist. I see feminism in a new light. I am learning to “own” what society calls undesirable.
And I’m doing it all with a fucking awesome day planner.