I often say that it’s bittersweet sharing time with my son. At the bottom of my heart, I wish that I could spend every single day with him. But, I know that it’s not an option, so I choose to make the most of my time with him and without him. The first year of his life, I did not spend more than a couple of hours away from him. His dad lived more than an hour away and I was nursing him. Oh, and did I mention I had a really hard time pumping? I gave up on my pumping dreams when he was about 4 months old. Nursing was a really big priority for me, so we were attached (literally) for 13 solid months.
During the first few months of B’s life I was apart of the most wonderful mommy and me group called: The New Mom School. I met some of the most amazing women there; all journeying with me in our new role as “MOM”. I remember at the time a lot was said about taking care of ourselves, making sure we carved out time in the day to clear our heads so that we could continue to be the best mom that we could be. They called it “Self Care”. Self care? What was that? I was a single mom and didn’t have the luxury of self care. I remember wanting so badly to go to a friends birthday dinner without my son. I tried all day to pump and I just couldn’t. I had two choices: to stay home or bring him with me. I brought him with me. It was hectic and scary but we both survived. And it was from that moment on I made the choice to always bring him with me where ever I went (within reason of course). I didn’t want to be a slave to my home because I am the furthest thing from a homebody. And I also didn’t want to be a typical single mom who couldn’t enjoy her life.
When the time came for Braden to spend time at his dads house, I slowly started to feel like I got my groove back. I started to make plans with friends, day trips to LA and DIY projects at home. But, it wasn’t until Braden was about 3 years old where I finally started to feel like myself again. For a long time I really struggled with watching my friends with kids who were married going on these great family vacations, buying homes and new cars. I felt so behind. I wanted to stay home with my son, but I also wanted to start building a life for the two of us.
After I started working full time it felt like I was coming into my own. It was and still is a very tough inner struggle and a huge balancing act being a working single mom. I never want B to feel that he is missing out on anything because I work. I wish I could put into words how much of a juggle it is – but it is really important to me to be there every single second I have available. I have some friends that say I can’t do it all, or I can’t be there for it all, but so far I haven’t missed anything. And I will be damn sure to be there for everything. I know that in the end I am doing what’s best for me and my son. Even though I may not be where I wish I was but I know that every day I am working towards that goal.
With that said, when B is with his dad, that is my time for self care. I didn’t get much of it in the first few years of his life, but I think I’m making up for lost time! It’s not often I get to have a full weekend “off duty”, or really ever? But you better believe I will soak up the 36 hours every week, that I get to myself. It isn’t much, but I’ll take it!
And honestly, I am pretty damn lucky in the coparenting department. Our coparenting relationship has not always been this way, but I am so grateful that we have made it to the place that we are. I know a lot of people tell me “I’m so lucky”, but this is not luck. We have both worked equally as hard to get to this place for the sake of our son (and our sanity). Without him and his wonderful girlfriend I wouldn’t be able to do some of the things I enjoy doing. Especially my fabulous weekend with NYSNC (more on that later!).It truly does take a village to raise kids – especially if you are doing it solo. And if you are, please take those moments you have to yourself to remember who you are because we were somebody before we became a mom. Self care is not selfish!
Before I end this I just want to say, if you are struggling in your coparenting relationship, please know that if you truly want it to work, it can! I wasn’t sure we would ever be in such a good place, but we are, and I am so grateful. So please, stay hopeful and continue to do the work – you’ll get there!