Two AM… and the Joys of Single Parenting
It’s been an all uphill stretch the past few weeks.
Junior High called. Apparently a kid twice the size of my son decided to jump him in the cafeteria. The kid didn’t know my son’s name, had no actual reason to inflict harm, and targeted him from three lunch tables away. Just for kicks.
The good news: my son stood up for himself and didn’t really get hurt. Thug got three days in in-school suspension.
The bad news: I had to act like TERRIFIED was not a neon sign in my chest.
The other news: my son asked if he could start parquor lessons, I assume in order to evade bad guys in the fashion of Spider Man.
Today my daughter came home in tears. “I had a bad day” turned out to be group retaliation from most of the starting lineup of a sports team at school because one of their players tried to grab a part of her body and that of another girl at school for comparison purposes. In February. She reported it, as she should have. School investigated and handled it, as they should have. The boy decided to blame the girls for his bad behavior, and she is getting called names I’ve never heard before. Because how is she at fault for reporting this incredibly bad behavior? She’s barely 15.
I liked high school better the first time.
This is the world we live in. In my effort to raise respectful and responsible adults, some days I wonder how I’m doing. As a single mom, I ponder how I’m doing a lot. I should be asleep, and I’m pondering how I’m doing because that’s helpful, right?
This post isn’t about my momma bear feelings toward a world that doesn’t feel conducive to raising respectful, responsible young adults. It’s about doing it alone.
I don’t feel like I need someone to fix me. I don’t feel less than other moms. And I wonder how I’m doing as a single mom exactly the same amount I would if I wasn’t a single mom. The challenges and opportunities I find in my parenting “In” box are no different than they would’ve been if I was not divorced. But I wouldn’t be doing it alone.
I sent the co-parenting 911 text and received the Commissioner Gordon call. Dads don’t do well with teenage boys who are less than respectful of their daughters, but, with my phone on speaker, we talked with our daughter about how she handled herself. We supported her bravery and told her not to let things like this go on without asking for help. We told her we are on her team and are here to help her figure out things that are difficult. She was smiles and confidence when she said good night and went to bed.
All things considered, I couldn’t have hoped for better outcomes. If these experiences are our lot in life for a few weeks, I’m grateful for the results. I never would’ve known about Cafeteria Street Fight if school hadn’t called. My son felt it was handled and didn’t see a need to tell me. “It’s handled and we are moving on, Mom. End of story.” My daughter is safe and completely understands why I started telling her at age 3 that she couldn’t date until she was 30. And the parenting fist bump between two people who have nothing else in common makes me proud.
But now the house is quiet. Everyone is asleep in their rooms. Except me. That part of singleness that feels isolating grows a little larger, like the cafeteria bully twice my size. The silence sounds so loud that I play noise to drown it out, like ignoring the starting lineup who say nothing out loud but send hatefulness in unmistakable laser beams.
I’m OK, but I’m keenly aware that I’m in this alone. I’m a great cheerleader and coach for my kids, but I don’t have anyone on my bench saying “Atta girl,” or “Good game,” at the end of the day. I’m not broken or missing some elusive part of myself. The sun will come up in the morning, I’ll walk my dog and enjoy my coffee while checking out how my tomatoes and peppers are coming along. But in the right now, I can only accept today’s circumstances, be grateful for the best outcome, and for a long list of things that are right. As we say around here, forward. So I’ll close my eyes, thank God for this day, and look forward to the next. Because I can do this.
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Not long ago, I had occasion to enjoy a wonderful Italian dinner in Tuscany. My sons and I dined at the invitation of an older Italian gentleman. He was full of advice for my teenage sons about life, love and his personal experience with the female race.