A good friend remarked to me today that she thought my challenge was not single parenting, but relationships.
I do believe she’s right.
Not that single parenting is not without its challenges. I’ve wrestled with how much to write about my child, when he is too young to event understand the concept of consent?
For this reason I have held back in writing about him, focusing instead on myself, and this twisted tangle of relationships I have been in since splitting up from my ex almost 18 months ago. So much has happened in the space of time. My ex has married another and they are expecting a baby girl in August. They’ve selected a name, my ex tells me.
“Don’t you think it might be a good idea for me to meet your wife?” I blurt out. My ex stands at my doorstep, Sami is napping in his room, and it feels like an opportunity to actually have a conversation, which we never, ever do.”
“Why?” he asks. “For what purpose?”
And I do not have a good answer. “Because we are in each other’s lives, somehow - she is Sami’s step-mother. Soon to be the mother of Sami’s half-sister.” is what I thinking, but I stammer some incoherent responses that don’t seem to convince him.
This is the first time I have ever referred to her as Sami’s step-mother. In my mind, and all conversations, she was “the girlfriend” and now “the wife.” I don’t know if it is strange that I have never met her; from what I hear from other single moms, they do tend to meet the new spouse sooner or later. I try not to think too much about what Sami’s relationship is with her. He never talks about her, unless prompted. They clearly have not spoken to him about the baby. I wonder when they are planning to have this conversation? Do we need to have a conversation about having the conversation? I do not know.
“Is (I’ll call her Muna) Muna’s tummy big?” I ask Sami once.
“Yes,” he responds.
“Why is it big? Do you know?”
“Just because it is,” he says, nonchalantly.
“Since I’ve been single, I have learned that no one is going to take care of me but myself,” says a friend on the phone to me today.
It seems everyone is moving on with their lives - my ex, past lovers, and I cannot seem to find someone to love me. How unspiritual to say, but fuck loving yourself. I love myself as well as I can. I don’t want to love myself solo.
It seems life is pushing me to my “edge” as they say in yoga. I am being stretched way beyond my comfort zone here. I don’t like hanging out in this place, but yet, I know it is good for me. If I took the chance, I could really face some demons, produce some significant work, without the time and energy that goes into sustaining a romantic relationship. This I tell myself in an attempt to self-soothe. I’ve never been a very good self-soother.
I don’t know what is going on for Father’s Day tomorrow. There is a Father’s Day picnic being run by a single parents’ group I belong to - a single dad friend will be there and perhaps it might be good to go. But I also feel like it might be triggering - Sami will be without a dad, and all those dads might be too much to take in my fragile state. Or, it could be kind of healing to hang out and celebrate with some cool dads. This Father’s Day is hitting me particularly hard. All this man trouble. If I am not mistaken I was in a similar funk last year. Dead dads, a series of men who leave, generally for other women. I guess I have some abandonment issues.
I sit alone on a Saturday night, with a sick child asleep in my bed across the room, and I love him more than I can comprehend.
But my heart is deeply wounded. My heart has been broken so many times this year. This fragile heart of mine gets back up from every fall and steps back in the ring, slogging through this world in search of love. There is something that feels ever-so-slightly defective about being single in a world full of couples. The ghosts of past relationships haunt me. I thought I had gotten so much distance from the wounds with my ex. Then the revelation that Sami is having a sister opens it all back up. Everything festers at the moment, and I try to breathe and be present, and I can’t follow one breath, so loudly do my head and heart blare this pain.
Yet I know I will bounce back from all this. I’m a bouncer - look at me, standing in front of the club in my black leather jacket and shitkickers. I click from wounded to just this tough in a fraction of second. It’s how I protect myself from feeling too much at once. But it seems there is always more underlying pain to work through. Always. Life is not scarce in opportunities to learn from the suffering.
The joys are there too, but right now, it is very hard to focus on the positive.
I’ve retreated from the world a bit today as my child vomited throughout the afternoon. It feels good to be as unplugged as I allow myself to be, to finish reading The Soloist, thought to write a book or film review. I’m ready to move on to something to new - productive work is a healing balm to me as well. I cannot wallow in this. I feel, and then I move on, and when I am ready, I feel a little more.
Welcome to this blog - my chronicle of the illuminating, character-building path of single parenthood. I'm making this up as I go along. My life is my practice, and my five year-old son is my greatest teacher.