Prior to my marriage I was a single mother. I had my first son while attending college to obtain my masters degree. I was working full time, going to school part time and was in a very peculiar relationship. At this point in my life, I wasn't exactly at the top-echelon level to welcome a child. Nonetheless, I prepared myself for this life growing inside of me.
I kept attending school and working full time until two months prior to my delivery. I would come home to questions like, "What am I supposed to do for dinner?" Which would infuriate me after having such a long day. Long story short, my relationship ended when my son was three years old. I was giving 110% into a relationship that was leading nowhere. I was dropping off my son in daycare, driving 1 hour and 20 minutes to and from work everyday; dealing with traffic, rushing home to cook, clean, prepare the lunches for the next day, and going to sleep late every night. I felt like a zombie that was just passing through life. Meanwhile, the man who my son called daddy, would hop on a train to work every morning to work, arrived within 15 minutes and began his uneventful workday. He would also arrive home from work every day at 4:45pm. He didn't pack lunches, he didn't do laundry, he never cooked dinner (unless I left something seasoned with instructions "Put me in the oven"), washed dishes, deal with traffic, buy groceries, go to doctor's appointments, and at least one day out the week I had to do both daycare pick up and drop offs. Talk about a tip of the scale.
In my mind, I was doing what a woman of the house, a mother was supposed to do. I was ignoring my feelings as a woman, my need to rest, this empty hole in need of a real partnership, and ignoring the demanding pressures. Suppressing the thoughts of feeling completely overwhelmed and drowning in piles of tasks. The pressures of doing it all was taking a major toll on me and I was becoming a miserable mess. I began hating what I saw in the mirror. Somewhere on this highway of love, I took a left turn and got lost.
So the inevitable happened, the brake up. You would think that would be the hardest part, right? Well, news flash, it was probably the most liberating thing I ever did in my life. I didn't miss being in a relationship with that sort of pressure and demand. Even as a single mom with my son all the time, I didn't have to cook if I didn't want to, I didn't have to clean if I didn't want to, and I didn't have anyone checking the clock to see how long before dinner was ready.
What became hard for me was dating as a single mother. Even though we try really hard to let every person begin with a clean slate, the truth is -- these old sour and bitter experiences linger in our thoughts for a very long time. I had to reflect on my past and see where I had gone wrong. Sure, I can say he was wrong and he was a total -- well let's not do any name-calling; but the reality is, I failed me. This need of doing everything and demanding nothing from my partner was like me carving the stone of my own tomb.
Having a child in a house where both parents work, involves teamwork. Even in relationships without children, there should be teamwork. That is what a relationship is, teamwork (team building). It is impossible, and simply selfish to require one person to do everything while the other person continues their lives without change.
Let's be honest ladies, by doing everything for a man or partner you enable them to continue doing nothing (read this sentence again). It is not begging or not being strong enough to handle it all. It's simply the fact that you shouldn't have to. If you have to do everything yourself, you might as well be by yourself. We must as women demand more of our partners or we fail ourselves and our relationship.
Some tips that you can you can follow to hep alleviate some of the burdensome task are the following:
- Have chores divided. Maybe on Fridays (or any other day of the week) he vacuums and does the dishes. While you cook.
- Pick a day of the week when he has to cook so you don't have to worry about cooking.
- Some men will ensure you have gas in your car every night, or take care of car maintenance or something to that extent to ensure your safety. Allow him to do this. Don't call the dealership and set up an appointment, if he's good with his hands and enjoys resolving this problem, let him handle it.
- Bills, discuss who will be paying what. Yes, it is a needed discussion. Come up with an agreement. Don't you pull down those panties for pennies. Unless he is handicapped and physically unable to work, he should be contributing. DO NOT make him comfortable.
- Set up dates. Yes, schedule them if you have to. If he enjoys setting them up, let him. Unless it is some special occasion or you really want to surprise him with something, let him surprise you.
- Share the task of the kids. Maybe while one cleans or cooks the other bathes the baby. Take turns doing homework, reading bed time stories, tucking them into bed, packing lunches, drop off's, pick up's, extra curricular activities, play dates etc.
- Most important rule of all, make time to love each other without interruptions. Yes, this includes having sex regularly. Make sure you are both happy in the relationship and if you want marriage you should both be in agreement.
If you cannot follow those simple rules, you're not in relationship or a partnership, you're in a situationship. You are basically roommates and if you have children together, you're babysitting. You must share responsibilities and grow together as a couple. You must do things together, you must learn things, you must share the weight of the necessities of the family and household. But if you can't make this work and end up a single mom in the dating scene, don't worry I got you too! Keep reading.
I mean, let's face it, dating is not fun anymore. In this modern world you need a minor in forensic science, political science, law, behavioral health and a dotted line to a PHD in human behavior, YIKES! There are so many good people in this world but finding a good match to your wants and needs has become incommodious, for single people. Imagine if that is such a task for single people, let's just remotely think about the possibilities of dating as a single mom. A child will make you reevaluate the whole dating roster.
I mean you have to plan around sitters (if you can find one), set time aside from all the mom duties (homework, reading, laundry, cooking, cleaning, it never ends), and actually find something not mom like to wear and possibly throw on some heels? Let's not even discuss when you really like someone, sex is a possibility you know?
Starting over with someone who is not your child's father brings challenges. You will feel like you need to settle because you are bringing baggage into a relationship. Well, let's begin by erasing that disturbing thought of your children as "baggage." They are precious gifts and any person who doesn't view it this way doesn't deserve you. You should step out into the dating scene with your crown held high. You don't need anyone, you want a companion. There is a difference. You are not a mistake because your prior relationship failed.
Unfortunately, there are some brutes that will try to convince you otherwise. So let's get that out of our heads. However, you will need to do a few things:
- Ask tons of questions. I mean have a notepad full of questions.
- Take your time. Your biological clock can wait. You are looking for the one.
- Let things progress on their own. Let him show you he is serious about you.
- Yes, give him a financial obligation (groceries, bills, vacations etc.)
- Introduce him to your child after you see he is serious about you. Meaning you are getting to know him and not the representative.
- Get to know his family. Yes, observe how he behaves around his family and if they have a tight union.
- Watch very carefully what his relationship with his mother is. This is a major sign as to how he will treat you.
- Do not be afraid to bring up relationship and marriage. If these discussions scare him, cut him loose.
- If you do not know where your relationship is headed, you guys are just sleeping with each other, sorry.
- Let go. Explore your sexuality (safely of course), build chemistry physically and emotionally.
- Still make time for yourself.
I mean let's face it we have a hard time letting go sometimes as women. I mean we are superwomen. We know we can do it all. But say it with me, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should." I hope this article helps many women out here. Especially, moms out here trying really hard to conquer the world, raise children, and build empires. I am rooting for us all. Leave your comments and thoughts below. Until next time, thank you for stopping by.
Facebook: Astrid Ferguson - Afergtale