The Juggling Act: Dealing with a Toddler, Your Dating Life, Your Social Life, AND a Glass of Wine
If you’ve stayed with me so far you’ve discovered that humor and a prayer is pretty much how I make it through my life on a daily basis. If I can remember my coffee cup that I have slowly been sipping on throughout the morning since 6:30am, (and is no longer hot, or even warm but ice cold) and get my kid dressed and out the door by 9am for a playdate, I can pretty much count that as a win. And that’s just an average day.
There are days where I’ll be having a 10 minute argument with my toddler about why he needs pants to go bye-bye, or that he needs to drink his milk before he gets any juice at 7am. Or figure out how to make changing his diaper/sitting on the potty a fun thing so he doesn’t run away from you, streaking down the hallway, laughing and artfully dodging your attempts at diapering his little tan bum.
And what about you’re life outside of being a mom. Is there one? As a VERY single mom, finding time to date, or even glance at a member of the opposite sex in a slightly flirtatious way can not only be overwhelming, but also a daughting task. What do you even talk about on a date? Your whole life is potty training schedules and playing “poop or chocolate” russian-roulette with that mysterious stain. But maybe you shouldn’t bring that up on a date, don’t wanna reveal how much of a hot mess your life is right? maybe not….
Add that to the social calendar. Playdates, pre-kinder, teacher parent meetings… is it my turn to provide snack? Do I even have friends that don’t have kids?
Wine. Now that’s something I can do. Maybe a sip or two before the kid tries to do a backflip off the couch….
After reading that do you feel overwhelmed? Yeah, me too. Finding balance is absolutely key to surviving single parent-dom. I would never say I have mastered any one part of parenting, but what I have found is a few key things that help to lessen the load and help balance out the whirlwind. Let’s tackle this one thing at a time shall we?
My toddler never ceases to completely blow me away on a daily basis. My best advice as a single parent is to stop trying to control everything and take time to enjoy the time you have with your toddler before they grow up. Sometimes I think we get so wrapped up in “dealing” with our toddler, be it their attitude, their habits, or they’re (lack of) milestones that we miss just enjoying them as the bright eyed wonders that they are. Enjoy the good with the bad. Sometimes you just need to laugh. I’ll give you an example:
Some how or another my son has picked up the phrase “oh shit” and uses it frequently and within perfect context. If I’m completely honest with you, I don’t know where he picked it up, as I myself don’t really use the phrase, but I digress. The point is, he uses it frequently and his timing in the usage is nothing if not impeccable. We could be in a bathroom, or a parking garage, or anything that is public and echo-y and my son, the precious little angel he is, will drop something like a square of toilet paper or his cup and will proceed to say, with a perfectly straight face, “Oh SH#$T!”. We could be at the park and he is trying to climb up something, will loose his footing, and will say, clear as day, “ oh Sh#$t.” and proceed to try again.
And as any sane parent, I was shocked and embarrassed as other parents would look from him to me and back to him shaking their heads and ushering their kids to another area. And I would be mortified and tell Grayson, in a stern voice, not to say that. And he would look up at me in confusion or cry because I yelled at him and he doesn’t understand what he did wrong, because to him, he’s just saying and reacting.
I found myself trying everything I could to correct the situation before I realized, he’s two. He’s not saying it because he knows its bad and is trying to act up. There’s not anything wrong with him, and knowing me, he probably did hear it from me. Now I'm not saying that you should let your kid run around and shout curse words, but at two, and knowing me, I know he could be saying a lot worse. Parenting isn’t a perfect art. My kid says shit, your kid sneezes directly into other kid’s faces, and another kid is probably peeing in public under the slide. Pick and choose your battles. My kid might let the word “shit” slip, but he’ll be the first to run over to another kid who fell and skinned his knee and is crying and ask if he’s ok and give him a hug. And that, to me, is a parenting win.
2. Single Parent Dating
While I may not be the best person to talk about this, as I am currently single, I will say nothing is scarier than getting back into dating after 2+ years of not being in the game. I left dating in the meet, date, see where it goes, to walking back into a dating culture that was essentially just hooking up and then maybe seeing where it goes after. And as a single mom, I’ll say, that was tough seeing as I had no interest in just hooking up as, hello, I’m a single parent. One thing becoming a parent did, for me anyways, was put exactly what I want and don’t want into very sharp focus. This is extremely important as I have zero time and patience to waste on someone who, say, doesn’t want kids, or to ever settle down, or doesn’t understand that you don’t always have time to text every second of everyday because, well, you have a kid who rips your phone out of your hand so he can take a million pictures of his elbow and foot on your camera.
Also, have understanding that whoever you do eventually date is walking into a situation that could prove difficult for both parties involved. Communication is absolutely 100% important. Talk with each other. Find out what your comfort levels are and what each of you are willing to be accommodating on. Having a flexible outline as to what I want has helped me to understand what I am willing to be open to and what I have drawn the lines as a hard no on. Know yourself and know that, while it may not be easy, getting back out there can be fun and worth it. Nobody wants to “Netflix and chill” by themselves forever.
I lost a lot of friends when I became a mom. Some just flat out told me they didn't like kids and peaced out, some faked like they wanted to stay friends and fizzled into darkness. But I found out quickly what friends could withstand this life change and I’ll say I was surprised at how few were left standing. A few that I thought were “ride or die” friends ran for the hills, and friends who I counted as mere acquaintances became people I would regularly reach out to for playdates and just friendly conversation.
Now that’s not to say that I don’t have non-parent friends, because I do, but I found that my bonds with them became so much stronger because I realized which were true friends, and those are people you want around you. People who are in it to win it. Make time for them, even if it’s a text, a phone call, or a coffee date between naps. Sometimes remembering there is life outside nap schedules helps you to cope. And trust me, you’ll get a social life again, even if that means it’s a 9:30pm bedtime, you’ll go hard til then.
For me, this time is allotted when Grayson is with his dad. I’ll grab brunch with friends who I haven’t seen for a while and pretend, even if it’s just for a weekend, that I am more than a mom. I’ve made some pretty amazing friends on these weekends because I broke outta my mom bubble.
In conclusion, life as a single parent can be overwhelming and tiring and at times, it may seem like you’re doing an “oh shit” job at it. But that’s life. If you didn’t have a kid you’d still be doing the same juggling act, just with other things. For me, even in the most stressful moments, having Grayson snuggle up close to me and tell me he loves me makes everything, even the most difficult days, so worth it. Hang in there.
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