This evening was one of those times that made me realize the hardships of being a single mom. Especially of a 7 year old boy. When I picked up my son from school, he excitedly got in the car, eyes lit up, and told me how he was ready to play some baseball. He had his first baseball practice last Saturday for the upcoming season, and he could hardly contain himself because it was so nice out today. He was ready to play.
On the ride to my mom’s house (to pick up my daughter because she babysits her), it took everything in me not to cry. Not because I miss his dad, but because his dad was not there to play baseball with him after school. When we got to my mom’s, my son wouldn’t even come in the house. He ran back to the car to get his glove, ball, and bat and waited patiently for me to come back outside.
How could I say no to those little shining eyes and that beautiful, toothless, smile? So, trying to muster up as much energy as I could, I started playing catch with him. Work clothes and all. Then it was time for him to bat. I pitched the ball while he batted for about 30 minutes. Then chased the ball when he hit it, and pitched again. He is actually very athletic and getting very good, which almost makes this harder. All I could think was the poor kid had to settle for playing baseball with his mom. And I wanted to tell him that I’m sorry.
There are other little things that are hard being a single mom, or as I like to say “flying solo”. It’s hard when it’s homework time and my 3 year old daughter won’t leave me alone long enough to help him because she’s begging me to play or she has to go potty, or needs a drink. I have no one else there to occupy her. Then it’s bath time, supper time, and clean up time, then bed time. There is not enough time in the day for me to actually play with my kids. And if I don’t clean up every night, it seems like it makes things twice as hard the next night. I am also a mother who likes to stay on schedule, which is something I am trying to be better at so that I spend more quality time with my kids. Time is flying by and I feel I am missing so much more by taking on the full responsibility of 2 children, a house, work, and school, all by myself.
It’s hard when I need someone to watch one of the kids when I have to take the other one to the emergency room in the middle of the night. It’s hard when I have to work late evenings and ask my family to watch the kids, after they already babysat during the day while I work my normal hours. It’s hard when I need someone to just take out the trash, or pull my hair out of the shower drain after it gets clogged. But I am learning things as I go. I am learning how independent I really can be.
Many nights I am exhausted. Only then I have to stay up late to finish my homework in my masters’ courses, then up early the next day to get the kids ready and head off to work and do it all over again. But after the kids are in bed and everything is done, I feel complete. Those 30 minutes of time that I spent playing baseball with my son, I can only hope will be a cherished memory of his like it will be for me. He doesn’t care that I am a woman and not good at baseball. He was happy to spend some quality time with his mother outside doing something that he loves. A time when I could put my phone down, the computer away, and actually play with him. Those moments seem few and far between these days.
I am trying to be more flexible so that I can make more memories like these with my kids. I am trying to stop being so hard on myself and find balance between everything that needs to get done. I have this notion that I am supposed to be some kind of supermom and be some fantastic, scheduled, leave-it-to-beaver mother, when all my children need is love, stability, and time with me. I hope that my kids will remember how hard I tried and how much I love them.
Even though things seem extremely tough right now, I am also very blessed. I am blessed to have such a great family as a support system who will come over in the middle of the night if I call. I am blessed to have my own dad who is willing to play baseball with my son on the weekends. I am blessed to have a good job where I can support my family even if money seems super tight right now. God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, and at the end of the day, I can go to sleep knowing that I am doing the best I can with the blessings I have been given. And ya know what else I’ve learned? Flying solo does not mean I have to fly alone.