Will it ever be my turn? I often ask myself this. Being a single parent as I have been for the past 20+ years, I must have said this in exasperation a thousand times.
Just about everything I do has the ultimate end game of stabilizing, supporting, and inspiring my family in all ways possible. Even after twenty years. My kids are now 21 and 25 years old. My son has graduated from college and is on his path now. My daughter has a couple more years of college before she will graduate. The pandemic most certainly delayed what I thought would be, “my turn.”
But as all single moms do, I just keep moving forward.
Her Turn Now
I’m in San Francisco today, I flew up from LA for a board meeting and I brought my daughter and her boyfriend with me. She turned 21 in 2020 and well, let’s just say that rite of passage birthday was less than thrilling for her since there were no bars and restaurants open where she could order her first cocktail legally. She will be 22 next week, so her birthday gift from me was to give her a day in SFO and go to the Top of the Mark at the Intercontinental Hotel and order her first cocktail.
My trip could have been just an easy day trip since San Francisco is just an hour flight. But I thought I would treat her to a little day of adventure. A day that she and her boyfriend can explore San Francisco together. As I sit in my hotel room preparing for my meeting and finding time to reflect on my thoughts in this article, I realized just how much my very existence and example are shaping her.
After a year of an extensive pay cut, I wanted to show her that things are still possible. Adventure and joy are still attainable. But then I also realized that I have been doing this all along. For the past 20 years, I have been showing my kids resilience and hope in the face of many phases that we endured as a result of being a single mom family. I have always done more with less. And it took many sacrifices on my part.
Sacrifices that are just now seeing the light of day for me.
Being a single mom means sacrifice: time, money, sleep, privacy. And we give them all willingly. Just to keep them safe and warm; to let them know they are loved. It is the most rewarding sacrifice I have ever made.
It is indeed rewarding to know that you are the one who has provided for your children on every level for so many years. And the good people they are today make it all worthwhile.
But….man, I’m tired of sacrificing!
I have waited a long time for it to be my turn.
For the past twenty years, I have provided a house and all the things inside of it for my family. My sisters are all retired and have beautiful homes with their husbands. They have all remodeled, rebuilt, spruced up, and enhanced their homes with the finest of furnishings. My inexpensive IKEA couch needs a new cover thanks to our dog Charlie. I toggle back and forth and wonder if it’s cheaper to just get a new couch or get a new cover?
But of course, as I think that through, I think about all of the other costs that take precedence, so I triage my urgencies and the couch falls to the bottom of the list again. I do want to improve my home. A home I have killed myself to pay for with each monthly mortgage. Especially after the pandemic and the pay cuts.
My inspiration starts by looking on Pinterest for visions of my dream furnishings for my beach house style. So many ideas. Every idea calling my name and telling me that I too can have it! Then I get a text from my daughter that her housing and meal plan deposits for school will be due soon. My imagination has now been forced to wake up to my reality and it all goes away as I click off the app. My son’s birthday follows hers the next week, so I need to get ready for that as well.
I had a plumbing issue and I need the hole in the ceiling in the family room to be patched where the pipe was fixed. So many more urgent things on my list need to be checked off before I can go back to my Pinterest world of furnishings fantasy. But one day I will find my way back to it.
I’m going to start cleaning my house. And by cleaning, I mean drinking wine and spraying everything with Febreze.
I’m a busy woman. Period.
What single working mother isn’t?
And after a year of a pandemic with three adults living and working together, I look at my house and see the absence of cleanliness. It is making me crazy too. There is nothing that trumps a trip to Ulta for makeup to give a youthful glow to my ever-so-tired eyes, or a Mani/Pedi or a new pair of shoes more than a fabulous house cleaner. The sound of my voice as I remind my adult children to pick up after themselves, clean their bathroom, dust the furniture, and vacuum the floor is getting tiresome.
So, hiring a cleaner to do a deep clean is the next and most urgent item on my list. A good old post-pandemic clean is just what the Psychiatrist ordered! It just makes sense. I kill myself each month to pay for a home that is less than clean. I want this behemoth to at least be tidy as I cut the check each month! I don’t have the time or desire to play the cranky parent shouting in exasperation at her kids. I’m willing to reset with a clean house and build from there.
And yes, it will probably cost a fortune, because that’s how dirty my house is after a year. I feel like I should clean the house before the cleaners see the state it’s in, so they don’t think we are complete slobs! We have, of course, been living like slobs but I don’t want them thinking that! The sacrifices will be well worth it to see this through. But again, another sacrifice is necessary to steady the home.
So, what really do all of these sacrifices I am going on about mean?
I guess the only answer I have is that I just love my family so much that I am willing to dial down my own desires for a bit longer. If that still translates to me feeling like I am sacrificing my own wants for some new furniture, a coat of fresh paint, or just a great trip to Home Goods well I guess I am okay with that. But let’s face it, Home Goods does have amazing deals and even if I buy a new candle that makes my home smell like fresh laundry then I have gotten a little something that makes me smile.
It won’t be like this forever. We are moving out of the pandemic and we take with that year-long experience many blessings too. What I think we did find is that we really do love each other even if we can’t see each other through all of the dust. One of the definitions of the word sacrifice is: “surrender of something for the sake of something else.” That sake of something else is my children and always has been. When you have invested in your children as long as I have by myself, it yields dividends that are utterly priceless. And, I wouldn’t change a thing. And you know what? One day it will indeed be my turn. I know it!