The single mom balancing act? You know. Up on that high wire, holding your breath along with the future of your children, your own future, and maybe a nice pair of pumps while you’re at it.
Hey. You never know when you might meet a nice guy, right?
For some women, the view from the high wire isn’t too bad. Sure, you wobble around a bit, but you have a secure job, a support system in place that continues after divorce, and while your emotions may be raw and your kids seem needy – you’re all finding your way.
But for some of us?
The balancing act sucks.
The high wire is so much shakier than we ever imagined. We fall off constantly. We climb back up of course, dusting ourselves off and hoping to hang on longer and maybe make it a few more inches this time.
And maybe we do!
Until we topple off again. And again. And again.
No sooner do we solve one gnarly problem at work then three pop up when we’re dealing with… drumroll please… one kiddo’s wisdom teeth that need to come out, and the other one’s just gotten his heart broken.
The money to extract those teeth? Where in the hell is that coming from?
How does a solo or single mom know what it’s like for a young boy going through his first experience of heartbreak?
One minute I was Doctor Mom, MD., the next – Doctor Mom, PhD, and after that, Crazed Mom who wished she was a CFP – a Certified Financial Planner, preferably with a printing press cranking out green in the basement.
Oh, how I envied those Stay At Home Moms who didn’t have to worry about keeping a roof over their heads, or if they did, they were in it with someone, working as a team to keep going.
Oh, how I envied the Work For Pay Moms – those who still had “regular” jobs and could afford a sitter or decent afterschool care.
Me? I was the single parent somehow mommy-tracked despite continuing to work, and no longer a spring chicken, opportunities – much less balance – were harder to come by.
For a few years I envied every sort of mom except my sort of mom – pretending that I didn’t feel as though the sky was falling every other day, as though the juggling act wasn’t thoroughly destabilizing, that I wasn’t about to fall off that high wire again, that whatever I did or tried, it would never be enough.
Not enough to feel like I was doing right by my kids.
Not enough to keep us going.
Not enough to find my balance again – a routine I could count on – a self I could count on.
We don’t all have friends and family to help. We don’t all have an ex who fulfills his part of the bargain. We don’t all have children who are healthy. We aren’t all healthy. And we’re just hanging on, hanging on, hanging on, doing a twirl with a sweet little smile, then dropping off the wire… and finding our way back up again…
Naturally, with that good pair of pumps still in hand.
Just in case.
Listen. My boys are raised now, more or less. That doesn’t mean there aren’t requests coming in, parenting issues to deal with, moments I feel overwhelmed and inadequate. In fact, some of the time I still feel like I’m on that highwire.
When my boys call and need something – and I can’t make money magically appear – and yes, it’s usually a matter of money – then I’m right back in that angry, helpless place, knowing that whatever I do it isn’t enough.
There are other trailing repercussions. For my kids, I’m certain. And for myself, more than I let on.
But I no longer feel I’m going to topple at any moment, though I’m still scrambling. So much scrambling. Is anyone else out there feeling the same way? Dizzy from trying to walk that wire, falling down, climbing back up, and having a hell of a time as a circus performer?