Single Mom in The City ❤ : Finding the balance between Courtship and Co-Parenting
Last week, my son candidly told me that if I ever got a boyfriend, he would move in with his dad. Yes, his dad, who's now married. Let me repeat, if I even did the bare minimum of landing a boyfriend, he's packing his shit and leaving, but its totally ok for his dad to have a wife. An.. entire.. wife. Lol. As we talked, I was trying to hide my pride because of how protective he was of his mom, and the other part of me was trying desperately to keep a straight face without laughing (it was adorable), because I really wanted him to know that I take his 9 year old concerns seriously. Because, after all, I do. But, along this journey ive learned many times that acknowledging his needs, doesn't mean I have to ignore my own. Being a single parent isn't about choosing, its about prioritizing. And it can be a bumpy road trying to figure that out while people on the sidelines call you selfish. Have you guys ever seen the "Mom Jeans" skit from SNL?? Well, you should. Not only is it funny as hell, but its the truth. The ugly, ill-fitted, truth. Lol. They filmed a fake commercial for "Mom Jeans" and coined the phrase, "Because you're not a woman, you're a mom." And that's exactly what it can be like sometimes. As soon as you push out a baby, people want to throw you in a minivan and a nice pair of pleated denim, and expect you to feel at home, because you're not a woman, you're a mom. LOL. Therefore all the former characteristics of womanhood you once had, disappear as soon as you give birth. Once you become a mom, (an unwed mom, for the most part), you're almost expected to neglect the fact that you also might be a daughter, a sister, a best friend, an entrepreneur.....or maybe even a writer, a painter, a dancer, or anything that might take your attention away from motherhood. But the gag is, multitasking IS motherhood. I am a mother first and foremost, above everything that I am, but the buck doesn't stop there. And carving out the path to bring all those different layers of myself together can sometimes be difficult to blend. The double standards that exist amongst single parents certainly doesnt help the matter. For example, A man, who has custody of his children and is actively participating in their lives is considered a catch, a gem, and somebody worth holding on to. Whereas, a single mom, in the same scenario, and the same dating pool, is most times considered an obligation, an extra commitment, and someone probably still carrying around emotional baggage from previous relationships. The placement of these unbalanced expectations on gender roles in parenting can make for a very bleak, and sometimes non-existent social life. You're a package deal now, and sometimes just the simple idea of getting out there and finding someone who's interested in helping you unpack can be overwhelming. But, it doesn't have to be....
First and foremost, you should create a comfortable space for dialogue between you and your children that is open, and honest, without having to tell them all your business. Allow them to get used to the idea of you going out with "friends", but they dont have to know his/her name, number, and snapchat. Thats what YOUR parents are for, lol. If i were to go on a date my mom would always write down his license plate number in case i came up missing, LOL. And i never did :) You dont have to involve your kids in every single step of your social and personal life. No one can give you a time line on when you should allow someone to meet your kid, because after all, You know them better than anyone. But, use your common sense, good judgement, and classic old mothers (or fathers, lol) intuition, before you go introducing them at every first date you have. Speaking of first dates, dont be afraid to let the conversation flow naturally. Let them earn the right to get to know about your kids. Dont come straight outta the gate with baby pics and bedtime stories, sis. Give him the basics. "I have two kids, a boy and a girl, and they're amazing. Their dad and I split a few years ago. How about you?" And THAS IT. Lol. For now at least. The rest of the conversation that evening should be about you. And him. Let him get to know who you are first, before you start running down all the adorable statistics about the little ones. Who knows, he (or she, lol) might turn out to be a psychopath and then you'll have to start this process all over again. And between Soccer practice and meal planning, nobody has time for that, lol. So dont give so much information up so soon, you deserve to be stingy, and you'll thank yourself for it in the end. Basically, yo should aim to set clear and intentional boundaries between your family life and your personal life, until of course you see things becoming more serious. And most importantly, make sure your children are always reminded that they comes first. My mom was a social butterfly, she had friends, she went out, and the older i grew in age, the older i grew in understanding, and recognizing how happier she was after just a few minutes of fresh air or a grown up conversation with some friends of hers. My mom made time for herself, but she always made time for me. I thought she was the coolest, most beautifullest, most popular mom in town......and she still made all the time in the world for me, especially for our Saturday date nights at the dollar movie theatre. Those were my favorite:) My mom was just like me, a single mom, and a single woman, just trying to navigate her way through this thing called life, without losing who she is along the way. One of the most beautiful things about being raised by a single mom is that after my parents divorce was when i really began to see my mom blossom as a person. I was better able to appreciate her for the multidimensional woman she is, so how could i just limit her to being my mom?? And she always reciprocated that energy right back to my sister and i because my mom was always a huge advocate for privacy. She never went through our purses, she never snooped around our room, and she never, ever, read our diaries. And through her parenting, she encouraged my sister and i to be self confident in the standards we set for ourselves as well as the boundaries we set for others. We are the independent thinkers we are today because she cultivated a sense of valuing ourselves, as women, as mothers, and as responsible and well informed citizens. I might not be able to show my son how to be a man, but my goal as a parent is that his manhhod can mature under my example of how to treat a woman. Just as my mom did with me, i encourage (but monitor, lol) him to have healthy friendships, to think outside the box, and to be comfortable with his own company, in his own space. I want to reassure him that even though he is a child, i still respect him as an individual, I always knock before i enter his room, and I support him in his decision making, and designate responsibilities for him around the house to hopefully develop a better sense of leadership as he grows up. I have my time, he has his time, but when we have WE time, its OUR time. And its amazing. I love the process of my son and i getting to know each other as individuals, because it strengthens our bond as mother and son. So, to all my baby mamas out there, dont be selfish with yourself. You deserve to take up space in this world, so dont allow outside influences to crunch you into boxes where you dont belong. Out of all the titles i hold, being a mom is the most incredible one, and being a single parent has taught me more about being a single woman than i could have ever imagined. My mom jeans are fitted because im not ashamed of my curves, Ive learned to carry my baggage with pride, and im never afraid when its time to sit down and unpack :)
Because after all, you're not just a woman, you're a mom........ ❤