I was talking to these hooligans, a.k.a, my parents on the phone a couple of nights ago.
My dad said, “I wish you would just call us more and respond quicker to our emails.”
This may seem like a guilt-trip statement, but it’s not. You see, my dad’s not really a guilt trippy type of person. He’s just honest and speaks from the heart.
I felt a twinge of something–maybe guilt, sadness, inadequacy–when my dad said this. Because he’s right. I don’t respond efficiently enough. And these are people who deserve to hear from me. These are people who REALLY love me.
So it got me thinking about a couple of different things. The first thing it got me thinking about is the fact that I still feel kinda overwhelmed by this single parenting thing at times. It’s consuming. And the second thing it got me thinking about is that I am so overwhelmed by my “to do list” that I have unfortunately neglected those who are most important to me.
When you know someone will always be there, you sometimes forget how important that relationship is to you. And I do NOT want to be like that. Because at the end of the day, there are a handful of individuals in my life who know me deeply and are committed to loving me. And while I have A LOT of responsibilities on my plate, I want to make it a practice to invest in those relationships.
So that ⬆️ was the second thing I thought about. Now back to the first:
Being a single parent is consuming.
I DON’T HAVE A MODEL for this single parenting thing. My whole family consists of married couples. I have tried to not think about this too much, because it’s, quite frankly, an overwhelming thought, which can lead to negative self talk like, “What the heck are you doing? I mean, seriously, no wonder you have motherhood-induced ADHD- BECAUSE YOU are just on freaking auto pilot.”
And then this thought can turn into a meaner voice. It says, “Just who in the HECK do you think you are? People think you have your crap together and YOU DO NOT. You can’t even get your parents called back.”
What a mean thought.
So I put the thought on the shelf. And I did what I do when I feel overwhelmed–I put my phone down, stopped doing chores or thinking about chores, and snuggled up to Aliana, to remind myself of why I do what I do.
And after that, I just did the next thing, and reminded myself to practice self-compassion sometimes for when I fall short. Which is like, all the freaking time.
And even though I didn’t grow up in a single parent household, I paused that night to think about the millions of single mamas and single daddies in this world who just somehow miraculously parent their children BY THEMSELVES. They may have their moments where they feel truly overwhelmed. Where they pause and think, “Geesh, it would be nice to have a partner to help me do the dishes. It would be nice to have someone stay at home with the little ones while I go for a quick walk and get some fresh air. It would be nice to have a partner around so that I didn’t have to experience my child’s emotional meltdown or temper tantrum ALONE.”
There are MILLIONS of single parents going through that. Right now. Every second. And they just put on the game face and are brave and keep going.
So I’m not alone in the struggle. My struggle is universal in some ways–by single parents and those who are not single parents. My struggle is simply this: I’ve got a lot of crap on my plate, and I’m doing the best I can. While I do the best I can, I’m going to work on being still so that I can love those who need my love. Being still means to cut out the “I’m so busy” crap, and making time to just BE.
You can do it. I can do it. We can do it. We can do hard things.