“You do so much already.”
“But you have your hands full.”
“I don’t know how you do it.”
“But to do school in your situation, I’m amazed.”
Now certain articles will tell you that to say those words to any mother, she will be immediately offended because you must be implying that she is overworked and doesn’t know it. Those articles are written by some seriously insecure people. Because my first reaction is a shrug. As I see it, any parent has his/her own stresses and problems and craziness. You do what you do to survive and perhaps thrive.
Then a few minutes later after I’ve walked away insisting that it’s-no-big-deal and please-let-me-volunteer-and-help-you-out, it hit me. The comments weren’t about being a mother of three active children. “They’re all boy, aren’t they?” The comments weren’t about me going back to school. “You’re mother is a better woman than I.” (says the kindergarten teacher. Right.) The comments weren’t about having three young children. “They must keep you moving.” They were about all those things AND that I’m single.
Oh. Right. I forgot.
I know. Right. How could I forget that every night I’m alone when they sleep? How could I forget that I sleep alone every night? How could I forget every morning I’m getting the boys ready alone? How could I forget that most of the time there is no back up?
I wondered that too.
After reading old journals and sitting pondering the past, I realized I’ve been doing this alone pretty much since the beginning. As the custody stands right now, their father actually spends more time with them than he did when we lived in Orange. Which is to say a couple hours four days a week and the majority of Saturday. While I’m with them and doing all the stuff moms do, all the stuff I always did.
I don’t feel like a single mom. I’ve always had this little help. I don’t feel like a single mom. I’m not out there working my butt off 40 hours or more to pay the bills. I know I’m very lucky their father still honors the agreement we made years ago. I don’t feel like a single mom. Those other moms who work 40 hours and still raise kids without partners, some with better ex-partners than others, deserve medals. Or better yet, monetary rewards.
Maybe I don’t feel single because we haven’t finished the divorce. This could all get a lot worse. There are so many battles to be had over custody and finances. Or it could get better. It would be nice to not have the ex in my house every time he sees the boys, slightly undermining my authority with his need to be the fun parent.
I guess this is my long-winded way of saying, “Hey, teachers, I offered to volunteer because I want to and I can.” If my life was too crazy because I have three little boys and I’m going to school again and I’m single, I wouldn’t have asked to volunteer. But the good news is, at this moment, I don’t have a job and I have an awesome mom who could watch my youngest while I help out at the school.