August 10, 2011

Getting Along as a Single Mom

Most of the time, I think being a single mom is easier than being a married one (or a coupled one). First of all, I get to sleep on whatever side of the bed I want, I’m in charge of all vacation planning (no golf trips for us!), and I never have to worry about taking turns in the master bath. The down side of being a single mom is that I’m always on. There is literally not a single, solitary second of the day that I’m not engaged or “on call,” and there’s no way around that. I have parented through food poisoning, headaches, flus, sprained limbs, and one very memorable broken toe. There are always lunches to be packed, homework to be done, and nightmares to be talked through. Being a mom is more than a full-time job. I have one of those, and it’s never woken me up in the middle of the night or thrown up in my car. A full-time job comes with physical and mental boundaries around it…but being a mom? That’s a whole different ball game.

It’s not that I resent the choices I’ve made or the life events that led me here…it’s more that I realize now that I can never turn off my “mommy brain.”  My non-single mom friends tell me that they, too, are always “mom,” but I think there’s a subtle different. Moms with partners always have a backup, a last resort, a bottom line. In my house, it’s me, and all me, all the time. There’s a kind of high-intensity brain exhaustion that goes along with that realization…probably like a pilot or a ship’s captain, “The buck stops here. Literally.” But on the other hand, I know that even though I’m making all the decisions, I’m making the right ones. And I have to be proud of that.

What do other single moms do deal with 24/7 “mommy brain”? Do other single moms feel the same way?

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