How do you do it?

I am asked this question on a fairly regular basis. I usually respond with something a bit snarky but intently comical. “Well, the lawn isn’t going to mow itself!” Although I really wish it would. My point? If I don’t, who will? What choice do I have? I do it because I have to, this is my life, this has been my life and I know no other way than this.

I have not been “single” since J was two and a half, but my relationships never seemed to decrease my workload or make my life feel easier.  In most cases, at one point or another, I’ve felt I’d only given myself another person to take care of. That says a lot about what kind of men I choose. It also says a lot about me, even if I have 50 of my own errands to run, I would still say yes to a boyfriend if they asked me to run a couple for them. What color is my crazy? Honestly! Do I want to be in a giving relationship? Of course, but not at the cost of my own sanity or letting “my stuff” slip.

Also, when I am dating or in a relationship and I am still doing EVERYTHING on my own and usually some of their crap, too. Let’s just welcome resentment to the party. It is honestly easier to do everything alone, to be alone, than it is to see a person who could be helping but isn’t. I don’t have anyone to get mad at when things don’t get done when I’m single. That’s an argument I don’t have to have. I’m not making generalizations about anyone’s relationship, if you’re married to a man who helps you do everything, awesome! This just hasn’t been my experience so for me, alone is easier. I know I can count on myself. I almost feel safer alone.

I don’t expect a man to come in and do everything for me, I wouldn’t allow it, but my life should get easier, not more difficult when I have a partner. Looking back, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a true partner. I have sure thought that was the case but I was naive. I had been in so many crappy relationships even the smallest gesture seemed grand and I gave way too much credit for things a person SHOULD do. No, men do not deserve stickers for treating you well, they deserve to be appreciated and treated well in return. End. of. story. Yes, it took me 32 years to learn that. Stop giving men sticker stars for treating you well. It is what you deserve! Yes, I’m newly single and slighty jaded but that doesn’t make what I’m saying any less true.

I only recently said “no” to a boyfriend but then I felt bad afterwards. I thought of ways to restructure my day to make it work, to squeeze in their errands even though I had 50 to run for myself. I FELT BAD for saying no! What? No! We have to stop being sorry for saying no. I have just as much on my plate, if not more, in some instances, why am I taking care of anyone other than J and myself? J always comes first, always! I’ve learned I’m a better Mom when my cup is full so some days, even if it’s just for an hour, I put myself first and that is okay. Maybe it’s as simple as giving him more screen time than usual so I can get a pedicure (yes, I make him wait at the nail salon) or letting my sister watch him so I can have some adult time. Maybe she and I will go to a movie tonight, but we are not seeing Beauty & the Beast. I will punch you.

I know the statement/question variations of “how do you do it” are meant to be complimentary and depending on the day I take it as a pat on the back and move along but on others I take it as a “oh, you poor thing” kind of statement. I am an empowered single mom. My life isn’t perfect but I still love it and I am pretty freaking proud of where we’re at. I have earned everything I have. It is mine and THAT is a great feeling. Also, I’m bragging a bit here but I don’t have a single penny of credit card debit. I’m bowing, I’m sorry you can’t see that. How’s that for the woe is me single mom pity party? To all of the “it” girls drowning in debt so they can have eyelash extensions, Sephora products and name brand everything, I wouldn’t trade places with you. I’d honestly kind of like to ask you, “how do you do it”?

How do I do it? I get up, even on the days I don’t want to. I have this person watching me and I take that seriously but I’m not perfect and I am learning to be okay with that. He said “what the hell” last night only to quickly correct himself, I meant heck, I meant heck. I let it slide, I know this is a direct reflection of me (sorry, Mom) but I told him to always blame his Dad if he ever got caught using a curse word at school. I’m not perfect but I am smart. 😉 That’s how I do it.

Do I have help? Yes! I have the most amazing parents, the kind of Dad who reminds me always “The Bank of Dad is always open”. I would rather eat Ramen noodles for a week than ask for help but I know it’s there and that’s a comfort in and of itself. I’m stubborn, maybe even a little proud, I have hard time accepting help or gifts but they’ll never know how much they’re appreciated when they sneak some in. Example: My Mom recently got a great deal on a desk and a shelf for J’s room so she bought it. I offered and offered to pay her for it but she wouldn’t let me. Not everyone has folks like mine. That’s how I do it.

My sister, she’s not always great with words, she’s a dust yourself off, buy an ice cream cone and move along kind of person but her heart is always in the right place. She simply wants me to be happy. Hearing me be upset, upsets her because she loves me so much. When push comes to shove, she never fails to swing by with flowers, a surprise takeout meal, an offer to watch J, a silly little something she knows will make me smile. Not everyone has a Mel Mel. That’s how I do it.

I am not alone, ever. Even with my eyes closed, I know they are there. Supporting my dreams, celebrating my successes, picking me up when I fall…they are always there. That’s how I do it.

J, I’m biased but I’ve got the best kid in the world. He’s why I do it.

Image by Grace Sullivan Photography

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