I come across a lot of articles or blog posts about single moms that highlight so many things about our lives. Stress, possible loneliness, money worries, parenting struggles. However, one thing I never see (or have yet to) is any of them mentioning things we may miss out on, and why.
Wrangling kids – for any mom – can become overwhelming and stressful, especially in a place away from home. For a single mom, clearly, the element of another partner is missing in the equation. That usually turns something fun – like a weekend getaway – into something stressful.
My girls and I have the opportunity this weekend to spend a couple days at a hotel with our extended family. I ended up declining, and I’ll tell you why.
One issue – budget. For most single moms, budget is one of our top stressors. I personally budget weekly, about a month ahead of time. This usually means that any extra money we have gets allotted into other needs for the month. Spontaneity basically goes out the window at this point, and there just wasn’t money left over for gas, a hotel, food, etc.
But the real main issue – that kind of breaks my heart if I dwell on it – is the fact that I would be going alone. The hotel has a pool, as well as a casino attached to it. The casino is obviously out for the kids, but it is an entertaining attraction for the adults. Without a partner to tag team the kids for out of the room adult activities, I wouldn’t see the inside of the casino once. My kids would most likely want to spend the majority of the weekend in the pool, which would be fine – but again, no extra person to help out when 11 wants to stay swimming, but 3 is completely done & about to melt down if we don’t leave right. this. instant. Which becomes stressful, but also unfair for my oldest. After the kids are in bed for the night, the adults hang out in others rooms, or the casino, restaurant, etc – again, no one else to trade places with to be able to get some adult time with others periodically. Even trying to get lunch or dinner at a huge buffet restaurant…11 is old enough to go get her own food, but if she needs help, who knows if I’ll see or hear her & be able to get to her (this is maybe a strange one, but the restaurant is huge at this place). I can get 3 her food, but then I need to get mine – have you ever tried to hold two plates and dish up food at the same time? While simultaneously wrangling a 3 year old who just wants to run off & explore, or is having a hangry melt down? Not for the faint of heart.
Not only would we have the actual time away to think about, even getting there is a lot of work to do alone. I alone am responsible to make sure laundry is done so I would have clothes to pack – for all three of us. I would have to make sure to pack things for the kids to do in the car, along with snacks and drinks. I would have to haul everything outside and pack up the car. I’m the one that has to check the oil and gas up the car before we leave. And then when we come home, I am the one who has to get the kids inside, unload the car, unpack the suitcase, do laundry again.
Having said all that, I do need to add that I am very lucky to have an extremely helpful & loving family, who would no doubt help out if I needed (and they have). But at the same time – and another thing I struggle with – is the fact that they are MY children. They are MY responsibility. I would never expect someone else to delay their meal to help my child (or myself) get settled first. I would never expect someone to change their plans to be able to watch one of my kids in the pool, or take the other one off somewhere because swimming isn’t what she wants to do at the moment. I would never expect someone to give up their night out to watch my kids so I could go do what they were going to.
However, if I had a partner, we would share that responsibility. It would be a given that would take turns getting our own food & getting the kids settled. If both kids didn’t want to do the same thing at the same time, we could separate and keep them both happy. After the kids were in bed, we could take turns going down to the casino, hanging out with friends/family, etc. I wouldn’t give a second thought to asking – or even expecting – help from their father. It would just be a given.
This is also the perfect example of “do as I say, not as I do” in my case. I’m always encouraging my mom friends – single or not – to reach out and ask for help. I would never want any of my friends (or family) to feel like they couldn’t ask for help if needed, or like they had to miss out on something because it would just be too much.
In the end, for most things that come up like this, I just try to power through, maybe suffer a little if it would be fun for my kids, & move on. I obviously don’t know how it is for every single mom, but in my case, I’m so used to life being this way that I don’t even think about the fact that I’m doing it all alone very often – I just do it. In this case specifically, I know that if I needed or wanted to, I could ask my family for help to make the weekend easier on myself, and they would not hesitate to jump in wherever I needed them. I very much appreciate them, and am grateful for that – especially because I know that is not the case for many other moms.
I don’t always feel great about making this decision, but it’s been done. We’ll be at home this weekend, making our own fun memories.