After my divorce, I briefly dated a friend of mine. It did not last long, barely 4 months, 3 of them filled with stress. 6 months after the break-up, we had tea together to see if we could be friends. He said many things that angered me, but one of them unleashed the mother of all fury.
He said that while he had worked on bettering himself for the past 6 months, I had not, and proof of it was the fact that I was not working on having a full income, and that I was fine with the idea of not having a serious, live in relationship with a man until my children finished high school.
Aside from the fact that he was wrong about my work ventures which are none of his business, it enraged me to hear yet another man belittle the work of women who choose, or are lucky enough, to raise their children full time.
I am a single mom of 2 boys, who are with me every day of the month except every other weekend. One of them is on the autism spectrum, while the other is still in preschool, only until noon.
No, I do not have a full time, 9-5 not including transportation, job. Unless you count caring for my children.
I put my children to bed alone. I stay with them until they are both fully asleep, and then I collapse into my own bed, exhausted and done with the day. I wake up at 6 am at the latest, and get dressed. Sometimes, I dare try to shower if I haven’t had time to wash my hair and I don’t want to show up at school looking disheveled. I get my kids ready for school by myself, and still get them to school on time, well dressed, well fed, and with proper goodbyes filled with kisses (I also read my preschooler a few books in the classroom before I leave.)
During the few hours that I’m alone, I prepare lunchboxes that are always nutritious and that I know my children will enjoy. I vacuum and mop. I do dishes. I fold laundry. I do it all as efficiently as I can, because I also need to work. That’s when I write my articles, publish guest blog posts, interview experts for my podcast, and work on myself (despite what my ex thinks) – I’m currently taking an expensive but worth it parenting course online.
On the weekends when I don’t have my kids, I wake up early to take part in the biweekly calls with the parenting expert. I also buy groceries, help my mom out if she needs me, and do various unexpected tasks like taking care of my car’s unexpected low tire pressure, helping out a friend in need, etc. That’s also when I get library books for my kids, because if they come with me they’ll want to be on the tablets and computers, and have I mentioned I raise my children screen-free as much as I can?
As soon as I pick up my preschooler, I’m full on with him. We go to swim class, we read, we play. When his brother is home, I make and serve dinner alone. I’m always the one who helps with homework. I’m the one who takes care of giving baths, making sure they are up to date on the medical and dental checkups, and I supervise my oldest’s therapy sessions. I get 2 weekends a month to rest, and that’s when I prepare large batches of food, sort through their clothes, catch up on any work I could not do, unpack boxes still left untouched after the divorce, and clean some more.
How dare childless men accuse us of immaturity when day in and day out, we take care of children and their endless needs? When we give up our social time for their own social time? When we give up on restful sleep so they can sleep? When we can’t remember the last time we sat with a book and a cup of tea for a couple hours, without feeling like we’re letting someone down?
If anyone needs to grow up, it’s those people who think that raising children is easy. I would not dream of doing anything else with my life, but let me tell you something. Before I had kids, I used to run an online raw food store (including stocking shelves, packing orders, mailing them, writing newsletters, advertising, and customer service), I went to school full time to complete my Masters in Psychology, I ran a food buying group where I would buy organic produce wholesale and then redistribute it at no extra cost (yes, I worked for free) to provide my community with affordable organic food, I also exercised daily, and did all the cooking and cleaning for my then husband and myself, and published a book every year. All this was a walk in the park compared to raising children, where the work never ends, and you don’t get paid for it.
Mothers everywhere, do not ever let anyone tell you you’re not enough. That you’re not doing enough. That your lack of income means anything other than the fact that you are spending all your time raising the next generation in the best way you can.You are badass. A superhero. A selfless warrior who has grown since first having her baby in more ways than single men could ever dream of growing.
As for his comment that not planning on moving in with a man was another sign of immaturity? I can’t tell you how much strength and maturity it takes to consciously give up on falling asleep in your loved one’s arms at night, to let go of receiving affection daily, if that’s what best for your children. Yes, I would love to put my kids to bed and then join my partner who would hold and kiss me, and tell me everything will be OK. But I don’t, because I don’t want my children to get attached to someone who might not stick around. Because I do not want to compromise on how I am raising them. Because I want every fiber of my being to be with them, for them, for as long as they need me.
Anyone who does not understand that is the one who needs to grow up.