Posted on | March 18, 2013 | 5 Comments
One of the hardest parts of becoming a single mother, for me, is the desire to be everything for my child. I desperately want him to have the childhood I had… the baking cookies, the team sports, the music lessons. I don’t want him to have moments when he thinks “Man, I could do that if I only had my dad in town.” I want him to grow up happy and well-adjusted and to me, that seems to mean working over time to ensure that he misses out on positively ZERO experiences.
Case in point… about a month ago, I signed him up for both soccer and t-ball because, well, everyone else seemed to be doing it and I didn’t want him to miss out. I bought the tiny baseball pants and cleats and shin guards and balls and everything else on the “must-have list” even though it cost a small fortune just to clothe the three year old for six weeks of “fun.” When the email came out requesting help for coaching, I signed up. Because in my head, that’s what a dad would do… he’d volunteer to coach the 3 and 4 year olds. right? So I should, too.
I am trying too hard to be too many things.
It’s the curse of the single mother… the need to prove to the world that we’re good enough and strong enough to be everything that a normal two-parent household is. We volunteer, maybe more than partnered mothers, because we feel like we have something to prove. Or maybe it’s just me.
I don’t want J to miss out on anything… not scouts, not soccer, not field trips…. not anything. As a result, I maybe stretch the purse a little too far, maybe stretch myself a little too far. At the end of the weekends, I’m exhausted from trips to the park, trips to the museum, t-ball games and soccer practices. I’m worn out and frazzled by my inability to do everything outside the home and anything inside the home. I am tired of trying to convince people that I can manage everything that a two parent home can manage and still have a smile on my face at the end of the day. The truth is… I can’t. None of us can. Juggling children is always easier with four hands.
People joke that single parents are superheros and maybe we are… but if we are (and that’s a big if), it’s because we don our own capes and make our own messes. We try too hard, love too big, spend too much to make up for the absence of the other… the second who isn’t around, isn’t present, isn’t able. We take on the weight of being too much to too many people and the fear of being not enough to our own child. Maybe by pushing so much and working so hard to make sure that he misses nothing by being a son without an in-town father, I’m robbing him of the chance to have the mother he needs.
J hated t-ball. He didn’t want to be the son of the coach… he wanted to be a son with his mom there beside him, like all the other kids had their parents beside them. He didn’t care that I’d signed up to show him or myself or maybe the world that I could do even more… he just wanted me to be there.
I forget that a lot, in my rush to accomplish bigger and better things in the name of my son. I forget that all he really needs is for me to be there, happy and strong, present and available. So the next time the volunteer sheet comes around or the email goes out asking for someone to step up and be the leader or the coach or the room mom… I’m going to put down this heavy superhero cape and pen and just let it pass me by. Because for J, I can be enough just by being me.
So that should be plenty for me, too.