Single Parenting Is Really, Really Hard

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

I’ve never actually been a single parent, but I know that single parenting must be incredibly difficult. For two weeks, my husband was laid up while recovering from surgery. My husband, who, as an experienced single father, does most of the cooking and laundry in our household, was unable to move from the sofa. I suddenly had to fix meals, take the kids to and from school, do the laundry, and still keep my business going. Two weeks was enough for me to know that I never want to be a single mom even though some moms are happy to be single moms…and I have a ton of respect for the moms and dads out there who, by choice or by necessity, are raising their kids on their own.

Single Parenting Is Harder Because

single parenting..when you’re a single parent, there is no built-in respite. You’re responsible for every need your child has, emotionally and economically. Certainly, you may share parenting duties with the other biological parent, but it is much different than when there are two parents available to break up squabbles, give hugs, and yes, make money!

…when you’re a single parent, there is no running errands while the other parent stays home with the children. Every outing (until the kids are old enough to be on their own) requires you to bundle up the kids and haul them along with you.

…when you’re a single parent, there is no taking turns when the kids are sick. Every middle-of-the-night vomiting, fever, nightmare, and feeding are all yours.

How to Help a Single Parent in Your Life

Do you know someone who is a single mom or dad? With the understanding that single parenting is tough even when it is by choice, there are things you can do as a friend or family member to make it easier and give them a chance to recharge their batteries.

  • Offer to babysit! We all love our kids, but we love them a lot more when we get a chance to recharge. This is often difficult for a single parent to do, and having a trusted friend or family member take a turn with the kids every once in a while can offer a much-needed break.
  • Run errands. When going to the store for a gallon of milk means packing up three kids and loading and unloading them from the car, the willingness of a friend to drop off a few groceries can be a wonderful gesture.
  • Spend time! When your only conversation is with children, it can get lonely. Stop over and have coffee with your single-parent friend or family member and give them some adult time.

Single parenting requires the ability to find energy where none exists and to keep smiling when you feel like crying. My hat goes off to all the single moms and dads out there who wake up each day and give everything they have to their kids. It’s quite a job!

Source: Stock.xchng

 

Why I Love Being a Single Mom

Getting Real With Sara Haley

I was married once.  It didn’t work out.  It just doesn’t always work out if both people aren’t committed to fixing what’s broken.  I decided to cut my losses and leave.

And I couldn’t be happier.

When people think of single moms, they often have this sense of pity for us.  I can’t fathom how many times people have told me, “Wow, I just don’t know how you do it!”  My answer?

I do it because I have to.

I have no choice.

But over the last few years as I watch my daughter blossom into a beautiful young little girl (she just turned five, going on 16…), I look back at how different my life has become.  But not different in a bad way.  Different in a GREAT way.

sara single momI did not “sign up” to be a single mom.  Believe me, being a single mom is not what I envisioned when I pictured my future life about five years ago.  It just happened.  I realized that my marriage was dragging me down, keeping me from becoming the person I knew I could be, and was suppressing the person I once was.  Catering to another adult’s desires–one who did not appreciate my efforts even as a stay-at-home mom to our own child as well as his–was emotionally exhausting.  Trying to make him happy was impossible, though my life was directed towards his wants and desires.  I found that as the marriage fell apart and he took less and less interest in repairing it that it was time to stand up for myself and for my daughter.  I knew there was something much better on the other side.  In this particular situation, the grass was indeed greener on the other side—and stayed that way.

I have been a single mom for over two years.  I love it.  I don’t feel as though I am overwhelmed or that I am “missing out” on being married.  I do think that part of it may have been the fact that during my marriage, I felt like a single mother anyway, as I was the primary decision-maker when it came to the children and never received the support one would expect from a spouse.  Maybe that happened on purpose, to prepare me for what was to come.  But over these last few years, I have found out the wonderful benefits of being a single mom, and why I feel that this lifestyle is much better for my daughter and for myself.

My home, my rules, my decisions.  I make the rules in this house.  There is no back and forth between parents (“Go ask your dad!”), there is no one around to undermine my authority and cave in to her gorgeous baby blues, and there is no one to argue or make fun of the choices I have made for my daughter and myself.  If I want to bend the rules and let my daughter stay up a little later to curl in my bed and watch a movie, I can.  I can keep my apartment as cold or as warm as I want.  I can make dinner on my own time, and can even decorate my apartment exactly how I want without anyone passing judgment.  I don’t have to defend my decisions or compromise if someone else doesn’t like them.

I benefit from more mother/daughter time.  Practically every morning I get to see my daughter’s smiling face.  Almost every night I get to tuck her into her bed and kiss her goodnight.  And everything in-between is just as rewarding.  I get to spend entire days doing nothing but playing house, enjoying tea parties, building obnoxiously tall Lego houses, and coloring the day away with my daughter.  We can head to the zoo, enjoy the children’s museum, and spend a day shopping if we so desire.  I benefit from the joy of spending almost every waking moment with my daughter.  As time passes, I will become even more grateful to have had this time with her.

Less stress, less mess.  While some single parents find that life can be difficult, overwhelming, and completely demanding–both emotionally and financially–I have found the underlying benefits of not having a spouse.  I no longer have to do unnecessary laundry, make “special request” meals, or deal with cleaning up after another “child.”  I no longer feel resentment, which was a constant in my life as a married parent. I don’t have to check in with anyone, or get approval for anything that I want to do.  If I want to do something, I just do it.  I don’t have all the stress and hassle and nonsense that comes along with cohabitating with a male counterpart.

I am able to lead a less materialistic lifestyle.  My daughter cannot be “bought.”  She will take a day at the zoo with Mom over a toy.  She will choose building a fort in the living room over a new Xbox game.  She will pick an afternoon at the park over any electronic device.  I have been able to teach my daughter that time equals love, and I hope that this philosophy carries into her life when she becomes a mother.  I can only hope that I am leaving a positive, long-lasting impression on her that memories are more important than money.

I can enjoy and choose my own lifestyle.  I am able to balance my checkbook now without having to figure in negative balances, and I am able to purchase (or not purchase) items at the store without having to defend myself or justify my shopping.  I am able to lounge with my daughter on a Sunday and make it a pajama day if I want.  I am able to enjoy peace and respect in our home.  We are able to live our lives without having to worry about what someone else thinks or requiring us to live a certain way to make someone else happy or impress their family.  We can, finally, be fulfilled.

I am enjoying the experience of independence and self-confidence.  I struggled, yes.  I barely had money to pay the bills, and racked up an enormous amount of debt.  But I stepped up to the plate and took control of my life, and had the strength and resourcefulness to begin to bury out.  I have enjoyed the benefits of self-reliance.  I have never felt more independent and confident as I do now, knowing that I was able to rise above a difficult point in my life and come out on the other side stronger and more resilient.  As a stay-at-home wife, I had lost myself and my self-confidence and esteem.  As a single mom, I have regained that, and earned so much more in return.

While this may come across as some man-hating essay, believe me when I say that I do not have an aversion to men at all!  I just have an aversion to someone else who crushes my spirits, holds me back, and doesn’t provide positivity and encouragement in my life, or that of my daughter.  Nowadays, I laugh more, I love more, and I embrace my life for the blessing that it is.  And now that I have experienced what it is like to be a single mom, I’m really in no hurry to have it any other way.

Don’t Mess With A Woman – or Her Daughter!

Getting Real with Amy Larson

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat proud of myself for producing two sons right off the bat.

Sons for a husband’s family that had mostly daughters. The ExMan was the youngest of five, and the only son, and yes, he got spoiled. ExMan was the only son of an only son, who was the son of an only son. A huge deal was made over him being the last of his line.

My father’s first marriage had produced two daughters; his second marriage had produced five. No sons in sight. True to both Murphy’s law and life, his younger brother got himself three sons right off the bat.

Living for years with a multitude of sisters wasn’t always a great time; they stole clothes, hogged the mirror, and were overly dramatic. By the time I moved out of the house, I was ready for the break.

I liked having sons; they made nifty mouth noises and weren’t high maintenance. If they were mad, instead of holding a grudge, they’d just bash each other over the head with something and be done with it. Quite frankly, I admired that. Let ’em know how you feel about ’em and move on.

But the time came when I began to wish for a little more estrogen in the household; my overdose from living back at the original family home had worn off. It was time; and I wished for a daughter in the worst way.

One day while I was standing at the sink doing dishes, I felt the strongest impression that I would have a daughter.

Nine months later almost to that day, I was giving birth to a child that had no use for ‘waiting’. She shot into this world so fast, it took two doctors to deliver her (the one didn’t get out of bed when he should have, and came running around the corner at top speed at the last moment, hair flying out from under the surgery cap and bug-eyed; I would have laughed out loud, if only I’d not been giving birth.)

—She even cried like a girl! Everything about this child was so feminine, so girly. I was back in my element again. Right ON.

Her father insisted that she was ‘just like me.’ Other than the fact that she was a female, I didn’t see a resemblance. All features belonged to his side of the family. As I curled her hair and accessorized her to no end, he claimed that she was becoming more and more like me, and did so with a growing tone of disdain, insisting that she was developing my attitude. I thought, Hmmm.

I credited his comments to his history and left it at that.

ExMan began to point out what he thought were Sneaky Things about our daughter. It was true that when I told the kids to clean their rooms, the boys would moan and groan and eventually get the job done, while Sis would smile sweetly up at me with her round face and blue eyes, framed by her blonde locks and say, “Okay, Mommy! Anything to make you happy, Mommy!” Then she’d promptly go and stuff everything into her closets and under her bed.

As the ExMan pointed more and more things out, I became more and more defensive over this one and only daughter of mine. We sometimes argued about who knew her better; I felt that as her mother, that person was me.

One evening, as we were getting ready to lie down in our bed, the ExMan got a tiny shock. Lying on his pillow, practically smiling up at him, was a soaking wet washcloth. My words were feigning sympathy as I turned my head to laugh. What fresh evil was this?

I was sure there was a good explanation.

ExMan blamed Sis. I bawked at him. What looked like paranoia was now getting out of hand. To blame a little five year old for something so—well, weird—was strange in itself. When questioned, Sis very sweetly said that she loved her daddy, and asked why she would ever do such a thing. Exactly what I thought, too. Innocent.

For years afterwards ExMan would not let the ‘Washcloth Incident’ die. The story was brought up repeatedly through clenched jaws and pointed finger with the phrase, “You KNOW she’s got it in her. She’s your little apprentice, after all.” I thought that was unkind. I knew my daughter, and from the bottom of my heart, I knew that she was capable of no such deed.

Time went by and many things changed. Eventually I took our children and moved out of the house. A divorce ensued.

We felt snug in our new little haven; no yelling, no discord; no more waiting for the other shoe to drop. We began to relax. Since all of the children had the need to debrief, we had some long talks about what had transpired over the period that we’d lived at the other house.

One day while talking to Sis,I said, “Remember that time you got accused of leaving a sopping wet washcloth on a pillow? That was the craziest thing I’d ever heard of!”

Sis was regarding me differently all of a sudden, wearing a curiously twisted-up face.

“I did it,” she said. “It was me.”

My mouth must have formed a perfect “O”.

“…I remember I was five and he told me ‘no’ to something I thought he should have said ‘yes’ to, and he made me mad and so I put that soaking wet washcloth right there on his pillow.”

I was stunned into silence. “W-What?” I croaked out. “I DEFENDED you all of this time, and you’d actually DONE that?”

“Yeah,” Sis said quietly, putting her head down in what looked like shame.

“What on EARTH would possess you to DO something like that? How evil does a kid even have to BE to come up with something so—well, WEIRD—!?”

She kept her head down and we had a moment of silence as I allowed her some time to think about what she had done.
Then I started to laugh.
Like a madwoman.

“….GOOD JOB!”
Sis’s head snapped up, and she appeared to be stunned.
Then we high-fived.

I was back with my kind, all right.
Bring on the estrogen, baby.

I just love having a daughter.

The Generosity of Others

Getting Real With Sara Haley
It’s true what they say–it’s not about the money in your bank account or the belongings that you possess.  It’s about the friends and family that you have around you, that love and care about you.

It’s coming up on a year since I left my husband.  My divorce has been long-winded and dramatic.  I went from being a stay-at-home mom to a work-from-home mom struggling from paycheck to paycheck.  I’m not going to lie, it has been hard for me.  Going from a single income married family with two children (my daughter and step-son) to a single mom of one trying to make it on her own was quite the transition.  But through it all, I have kept my head held high and have had a positive outlook on everything that has been thrown my direction.  Although things have been hard, I have been amazed at the generosity of others.
Getting things together for my own place was difficult.  I had taken the bare minimum with me, and I suddenly felt like a college kid headed out on her own with not a single thing to her name.  I had even left some essential basics, figuring they would be divied up sooner or later in the courts.  I ended up without a kitchen table, a bed, and a few other “niceities” that I would have enjoyed having, like a couch and a coffee table.  But it wasn’t long before offers started coming in.  I ended up borrowing a twin bed in order to have a place to sleep.  A friend of a friend had a kitchen table to spare, and I was able to have a place to sit with my daughter and eat our meals.  Over time, I was slowly able to replace everything.  I was able to get a hold of an inexpensive mattress and return the one that I was borrowing come spring.  I was able to find the most adorable dining room table at a garage sale for $20, and was able to “re-gift” the other kitchen table to a couple that needed it.
In addition to help with furniture, I have had a lot of friends and family that have been offering things to help out.  I am able to swap with friends for “babysitting nights” so I can go out and enjoy an adult evening out without the munchkin and avoiding having to pay a babysitter.  I have a number of friends with little girls that provide me with hand-me-down clothes for my daughter.  I have family that doesn’t think twice about coming over and sharing a bottle of wine and help me catch up on spring cleaning my apartment.  And this last spring, I was able to enjoy a nice two week getaway to Arizona because a friend was nice enough to let me stay at her house the entire time.  My daughter and I were able to enjoy a nice little vacation and enjoy a little time away from all the drama of home without having to shell out for food or a place to stay.
I cannot say enough about the generosity and caring nature of my friends and family over this last year.  All I have the words to say is “thank you.”  Thank you to everyone who has helped me get on my feet and has continued to be there for me when I need them most.  I will always look back on these times and remember how amazingly appreciative I was for everyone’s help, and I know that when my friends and family are in their own time of need, I will be one of the first to step up to the plate and give from the heart.

Divorce is Like a War – and There Are Casualties

MomsGetReal™ Poet Extraordinaire Tammy Bartholomew

Casualty of War

Casualty of war

Words you would say

When you called me

That cold winter day

Tears started to roll

Asking what did I do

Making you so mad

The end to lose you

I’m angry

Even at myself

Not worthy

Of you or anyone else

Divorce not in my vocab

Not ever to me

What was the lesson

You wanted me to see

I racked my brain

Trying to look back

Where did I miss the bullets

This viscous attack

You weren’t even home

How would I begin

To learn to live

Over again

Then it hit me

Not to be left behind

What you where saying

The future was mine

You’re mean and cruel

Things your head

Get over you

Isn’t that what you said

Didn’t like what I saw

Or know you anymore

I will go on but

Not being a casualty of your war

True Fears

MomsGetReal™ Poet Extraordinaire Tammy Bartholomew

True fears

Locked deep inside

Some days

Run and hide

Stand for what we believe

Afraid to be put in our place

A deep scar

Left upon our face

Fear of being alone

Not knowing what to do

Someone not there to hold you

Your whole life through

Jealousy

You might have been replaced

Not knowing where you stand

In a moment you’re erased

Trust you have built

In the face of another

Knowing it to be broken

Crushed and uncovered

Your soul

Torn apart

When he said I have

No more love in my heart

Death

From the day were born

Knowing when we leave

Our loved ones left to morn

Sit in silence

Waiting the next move

Who’s will it be

Don’t know what to do

Overwhelmed

How this will end

This chapter over

How to live again

Spell From Hell

MomsGetReal™ Poet Extraordinaire Tammy Bartholomew

My makeup goes on
Over my swollen eyes
Can’t you see
It’s just a disguise
Hide the pain
This evil spell
Trying to get out of
This living hell
Smiling friends
They think I’m alright
Know something is wrong
From the pain I fight
Makeup comes off
To discover
I have just lost
My best friend and my lover
Sharing is too painful
Start to pretend
Get up in the morning
Do it again
Days go by
Just pretend
Hopefully soon
This spell from hell will end

Things That are Hard to Do as a Single Parent

Getting Real With Sara Haley

As a single parent, there are a lot of things that can be extremely difficult to do on your own.  Not that they’re impossible, because parents have found ways to get around these situations in the past, but they can definitely make everyday, mundane tasks take twice as long with twice as much effort.  What used to take you a quick second to do now requires herding children and finding creative ways to accomplish them without a second adult around to carry the weight and chip in.  Here are just a few things that I have found can be harder to do as a single parent–but not necessarily impossible.

Running Errands

When you’ve got a list a mile long of things you need to do today, toting around a child or two can make the easiest trip to the store a daylong event.   The term “running in and out of the store” is no longer a phrase in your vocabulary.  Depending on the age of your children, a quick drop-in into Walmart can end up being an hour or so of hauling a car seat with the cart, repeatedly telling your child that ice cream is NOT an option for dinner, and wrestling wandering children that refuse to sit in the cart and let you sift through your coupons uninterrupted.  You may find yourself telling your child, “put that down,” “stay by Mommy,” and “no” repeatedly until even All of the great advice and content you count on from Shadra Bruce can now be found at of the great advice and content you count on from Shadra Bruce can now be found at http://momsgetreal.com are annoyed at hearing it.  Winding through the aisles to get to the back of the store for milk is not as easy to do as it was sans children–or with the help of your ex.

Attending “Adult” Appointments

The last thing you need to do is bring your six year old son in with you to your gynecologist appointment.  At a certain age, this is just not appropriate, and fortunately, many nurses are okay with stepping out with your child and distracting them with some books from the waiting area or a lollipop from the candy basket.  If you’re a single mom needing to attend an “adult” appointment such as this, ask a nurse if they can take your child outside for a moment, or even see if you can line up a friend or relative to watch your child while you make your appointment.  Return the favor when they need the same done with their child.

Strollers vs. Manual Open Doors

Have you ever gone somewhere with your child in a baby stroller and been faced with a manual open door with no one around to open it for you?  Yeah, ‘nuf said.

Dating / Sex

At some point in time, no matter when your last relationship ended, there comes a point where you realize you miss the companionship of a boyfriend or spouse.  And let’s face it–as women, we have needs, too, just like our children do.  But we spend so much time putting their needs and desires first that we sometimes forget that we deserve a little down time and enjoyment, too.  Finding time (and energy!) to date can seem nearly impossible, but this is when it pays to get creative.  If your ex spends time with the kids, make this “you” time.  On the weekends he has your children, schedule a date night and take advantage of an overnight without the children.  If your ex does not share custody of the children and you are unable to enjoy these benefits, pair up with another single mother friend of yours and alternate babysitting nights.  Some churches also offer “Mom’s Night Out” which includes babysitting and entertainment for your children.  And if worse comes to worse, there is always the option to allow “late night” dates, in which you enjoy a nice movie at home after the kids go to bed.

Going to the Bathroom

Most every single parent’s most mentioned complaint about dealing with a child in public includes the dreaded restroom break.  If you’re sitting at a restaurant and one child needs to use the restroom, you have to grab everything from your table and run the whole herd back to the bathrooms.  If you’re dealing with an infant, this includes scoping out a changing table, changing a diaper, and hauling the “entire house” with you in an oversized diaper bag, aka Mommy’s Duffel Bag.  Depending on the age of your children, a bathroom break can be quick or extensive, and if you have numerous kids needing to go to the bathroom, you’re trying to take care of all of them while leaving the stall doors open so that none of them lock themselves in and require an under-door rescue from mom.  All the while, your food has been delivered to the table and is getting cold, and you’re contemplating a cold beer once you’ve made it back to the table thirty minutes later with the kids in tow.  Taking children to the bathroom as a single parent can be exhausting, but once you’ve done it a couple of times, you get used to it…kinda…

Emergency Room Visits

Your daughter wakes up in the middle of the night vomiting and with an extremely high fever.  Instead of being able to run your daughter to the doctors while your hubby stays home with the rest of the kids while they sleep, you need to wake up the others, pack up some stuff, and head to the ER at two in the morning with all kids (sick and healthy).  The night of numerous children ends up being disrupted, resulting in an over-tired mother the next day, along with all the others just as crabby and sleep deprived.  A simple ER trip becomes a hassle, a mess, and a disruption to everyone in the house.

Traveling

I have recently discovered how difficult this is with a child.  My mother used to travel with five kids on her own when my dad was in the military, and I wonder some days exactly how she did it.  During a recent trip that involved taking my child on an airplane, I realized exactly how hard it can be to travel with a child.  Though my daughter is three and doesn’t require near the “accessories” as one traveling with an infant, I had to be sure to bring her own backpack full of things to entertain her on the plane trip.  Crayons, coloring books, snacks, etc., just for a little two hour flight.  But on top of that, we had to bring her stuffed doggie.  And don’t even get me started on flight delays!  Ironically, when it came to holding anything, she conveniently made Mommy carry everything on her own, while she ran free without a care in the world.  Carry-on bags for both me and her, as well as luggage, makes for one stressed parent!  I felt bad waiting in line to get on a flight where a woman had a large stroller, child’s car seat, and two kids (one infant and another probably three years of age) all while lugging a large purse, child’s backpack, a soda, and a huge diaper bag packed to the brim.

Christmas Shopping

When your child is under the age of about three, you can get away with Christmas shopping while they’re with you.  Infants don’t even understand why you’re buying what you are and young toddler has the short-term memory of a fruit fly, so you can easily get away with Christmas shopping while they’re with you.  However, once they’re about three or four, this is no longer possible.  You can put that toy in the cart hoping that they’ll forget about it later, or you might find yourself prying it from their hands as you leave the store, wishing they never got a glance at it.

Since becoming a single parent, these are just a few things I have dealt with on my own.  No longer can I enlist the help of my husband, but I do have a network of some pretty amazing friends and family that have helped make the transition a little easier on me and my daughter!  What do you find to be a difficult task to complete when juggling parenthood alone?

Marathon Mama – Mom Power in Action

Getting Real With Sara Haley

This last weekend, I did something amazing.

I ran a marathon.

26.2 miles of running. 26.2 miles of quiet time. 26.2 miles to figure out exactly why I was actually running this marathon.

Running a marathon was something I never would have imagined doing years ago. No way. Not in a million years would I ever do that–even the thought of running around the block sounded completely and utterly exhausting. But on New Year’s of 2009, I made a resolution I would never forget: to run a 10K in 2009, a half-marathon in 2010, and a full marathon in 2011.

I did it. All three races, and then some.

Sunday I ran the Lincoln Marathon in Lincoln, Nebraska. During my divorce, it has been hard to find the time to properly train. Training for a marathon is like a part-time job. No joke. Getting the mileage in, avoiding injury, keeping the endurance going to be able to run for hours on end. It’s not easy. But that wasn’t why I was doing it.

You see, my divorce has been very difficult, very messy and very stressful. Running has been my saving grace in getting through the days. I was able to get a membership to a local gym, which provided me with daycare for my daughter while I busted out the miles on the treadmill during the winter to keep my endurance. I also threw in some strength training, some stair climbing, spinning classes and religiously attended two yoga classes a week with the “boot camp yoga” instructor. My local gym knows me by name. Yeah, they kinda have to when you’re there every day! (And the bonus is I am down to my goal weight and then some, having shed some stubborn pounds I had been fighting since childbirth!)

The persistence paid off. Although I wasn’t considered “properly” trained and ready because of my time limitations and child-restrictions, I was still determined to run it. Standing at the starting line at 7 in the morning with ten thousand other participants on a windy, cloudy day, I started to second guess myself, wondering what the heck I got myself into. But the starting gun went off, the group started migrating towards the start line, and I realized there was no turning back.

I did well. I did some splits with my music, running to one song, walking to the next, and kept up with the 4:55 pacer for quite some time. Stayed on top of fluids and food, chomping on a Power Bar around mile 8 and saving my next one for mile 16. The crowd was amazing, and cheered everyone on.  What a rush! Come mile 13, I was still doing great. The turn-off for the half-marathoners was coming up, and I knew it was now or never. Sure, I could have turned off at 13.1 and finished with the halfers, and would have actually had a PR (Perfect Race) beating my previous half-marathon time. But I ran forward, knowing I had to do exactly what I did the last 13 miles all over again to the finish line.

About mile 14, I began to think about exactly how crazy I was to do this. At mile 16, I slowed down to enjoy my second Power Bar. Somewhere between mile 18 and 19, my left knee started to give out. It hurt. Not too bad, but enough to make me stop running. I started to power walk it, as I knew knee injuries are never a good thing and didn’t want to push it too hard. Around mile 22, I wanted to cry. I wasn’t sure why–from the pain, the exhaustion, from the amazing realization of exactly what I was doing that day. My power walk slowly became a fast limp come mile 24. The Sag Wagon (the car that drives near the end of the race to pick up injured individuals or those who want out) was following closely behind me. The pacers for 5:30 passed me. But I was okay with that. I refused to let the Sag Wagon pick me up–I didn’t come all this way, prepare all these years and train all those months to drop out and take a ride on the Sag Wagon two miles before the finish line. I limped my way to the finish line. 26.2 miles behind me.

I got my medal, a rose, and a wave of amazing accomplishment. I did it. 5:47:10. That’s no amazing time goal by any means, but I wasn’t going for time: I just wanted to finish.

Before my run, I wanted to try and make it to the prayer service beforehand, but ended up missing it because I stood in line for a good 20 minutes waiting to use the bathroom. But even then, I stood in silence with all the nervous, anxious people around me and thought about exactly why I was doing this. What was my reason for running a marathon? What was my reason for investing the time and energy into running 26.2 miles? Was it insanity?!

I knew exactly why I was doing it. I was doing it for my daughter.

In reality, I’m just a boring, stay-at-home, work-at-home single mommy. My days are filled with tantrums, tears, meals, laundry, bills and coloring books. I spend my evenings cuddling with my daughter, reading to her, and playing Barbies with her. I keep thinking to myself that I’m nothing extraordinary. But then I realize, no, I am. I’m a mom. I’m my daughter’s superhero, no matter how much I screw up, no matter what sacrifices I make for her, no matter what I do right or wrong. I will always be her hero.  I’m a single mom. I’m making it paycheck to paycheck. I don’t have any luxuries in my life, but I am blessed to have a roof over my head, my daughter in my arms every day, and my health.  She’s three, so at this point in time, she doesn’t quite understand the magnitude of what I did the other day. But as she gets older, hopefully this will be an inspiration to her. That no matter who you are or what your personal situation is, you can do absolutely anything you put your mind to.

This Mother’s Day, remember no matter how old your children, you will always be their number one hero. Whether you’re single or married, have one kid or two, you are–and always will be–a true superhero in their eyes!

“Me Time” for the Single Mom

Getting Real With Sara Haley

You hear it a lot, and you think it on a daily basis:

There are never enough hours in a day.

As much as everyone believes this, the same is true especially for us single moms. And what happens to us over time as we try and balance work, kids, and housekeeping? Burnout. Pure exhaustion, along with mental and physical burnout.

Unlike our married counterparts, single moms can never catch a break. We try to do it all–because we have to–and overwork ourselves to the bone because our kids come first. But remember the saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?” This couldn’t illustrate more the importance of putting our sanity, health, and well-being above all else every now and then.

It is essential to carve out “me time.” But we don’t have husbands to hire for nanny duty while we lounge in the tub all evening, and some of us don’t live close enough to family to ask them for a baby-sitting night. We never get a chance to “clock out” from being a mom and “clock in” to our emotional and physical needs. But I cannot stress how important it is to unwind and destress every now and then.

So how can you do it? If you’re a single mom like me, making it on her own and trying to raise some youngin’s, here are a few options to help you focus on YOU and learn to schedule in some time for yourself every now and then!

Enforce a bedtime. No matter what the age of your children, you need to set up a designated time for them to be in bed. If you can get your kids to bed at eight, and you don’t go to sleep until after the ten o’clock news, then you just bought yourself two and a half hours every day to do as you please (within reason, of course!) until your bedtime. Once the kids have drifted off, slip into the tub and enjoy a soak, or indulge in a glass of wine as you watch the evening news. Setting aside this time not only allows you some scheduled “me time” every day, but it ensures that your children are on a set schedule for bed and are getting a good night’s sleep.

Invest in sweat equity. As exhausting as a trip to the gym might sound, reconsider. Exercising on a regular basis is essentially your body’s natural anti-depressant, and putting in some miles on the treadmill can actually help you feel MORE energized. Not only will your body thank you, but so will your mind! Consider checking with your local gym to find out if they offer free drop-in child care (most YMCA’s do during certain times). You can head to the gym, drop off the kids at the daycare, and bust out some mileage on the treadmill, enjoy a yoga class, or swim a few laps in the pool. I myself cannot say enough about the mental and physical benefits of yoga–I regularly attend my local YMCA’s yoga class twice a week, and don’t know what I would do without it!

Set up a babysitting swap. If you have a number of friends with kids, consider doing a babysitting swap. Grab a few parenting friends, set up a rotation where one parent has the kids together one evening, and the other parents then get to enjoy a night off. If you have three friends and rotate through a month, you will have three kid-free days and one evening where you watch the munchkins. This is a great way to pencil in “me time,” and can get you on a schedule and looking forward to a night at the movies or a date night with a new love interest!

Set the alarm clock earlier. This might seem dreadful, but set your alarm clock for fifteen minutes before you get up and get your kids out of bed. This fifteen minutes of quiet time before the morning chaos starts can be enough for you to quietly sit at the table with a cup of coffee and your laptop and catch up with some Facebook friends before the hectic day begins. This is a great way to start every morning, and can help you feel awake and ready to tackle the day once the first child gets up and starts preparing for school.

Utilize visitation time. If your child’s father is still in the picture and has visitation scheduled every other weekend (or whatever you and your ex have worked out), then take full advantage of this time away from the kids. Instead of using these weekends to catch up on housework and run errands, be selfish and spend it all on yourself! Hit the spa, catch a (non-animated!) movie at the cinema, plan a lunchtime cocktail with a friend, or finally indulge in that book you’ve been meaning to read.

Cherish nap time. Does your child still take naps? If so, don’t use this time to clean house–use it to make a cup of coffee and enjoy a good book in the peace and quiet you rarely get to enjoy! Even if your children are a little older and no longer take naps, you can still use this as “quiet time.” Let your children know that they need to stay in bed for a set amount of time, and have a set activity that they can do quietly during this period. Quiet time can be a time where you can pop in a DVD movie in their room to watch, or where they can sit and read some books in their bed. Who knows, they may even get some shut eye while watching that movie!