Several years ago, when I was much younger, I went to the doctor for an eye exam and they told me that they had to dilate my eyes. I asked, “Will I be able to drive home?” They told me, “Sure, you will be fine in a half hour or so.”
Well, it turns out they were wrong, very wrong.
I could not drive home. So, I thought to myself, well, I will just go down to the bus station and get on a bus, no problem. Well, it turns out I could not read very well either because I also got on the wrong bus. So there I was in a cold Minnesota winter with my eyes dilated, in a dress and clearly on the wrong bus. Keep in mind, this was long before the cell phone was even a thought. So instead of going all the way back down town to get on the right bus, I got off the bus and walked home, laughing all the way to myself about how crazy this whole adventure was.
The afternoon was not what I planned it to be or what I wanted. It was different… and in the end I got home, had a good little walk and a good story to tell.
So for me, this is what my life is today, only in a much bigger way. I’m a single parent of an amazing little boy. This is not a state of being that I planned or even wanted to be in. Like most people, I got married to a man to whom, at the time, I was committed and with whom I planned to have a life and family. But things happen, and now I’m here in this place… for me it does not really matter how I got here, but the fact is that I am here, and so, “What do I do now?” When I first became a single parent I asked myself that a lot.
Several years later I’m still asking that question. And I think that I will be asking myself that question for many years to come, but I don’t think for me it is such a scary question anymore. It is just a question that I look forward to finding the answers to on a daily basis.
Yes, single parenting is not a place many people would choose from the get go, but many many people are experiencing this situation. From my experience, getting to this point involves the loss of a partner in some form. So, even if there is a second parent involved in your child’s life, they are less and less involved in your life and sometimes in the way you parent. I will be the first to tell you that it is hard, I mean, really hard on a daily basis. You become someone you never thought you would be…. but that is not always a bad thing.
For me, yes, I’m a single parent, but the things I have learned about myself I don’t think I would have learned had I not been in this situation. I’m all those things that I used to worry about becoming, when I was married … and, the idea of becoming a single parent crossed my mind. I’m poor, I’m not sure I can remember the last time I had a intimate conversation with a man, or for that matter, what we would even have talked about. My child spends too much time in the care of others, and I’m not sure when the last time my evening meal did not have either “Mac & Cheese” or chicken nuggets as a main component.
But for me, I can say that I’m stronger, wiser and more real than at any other time in my life. Do I have regrets, or feel the loss of something that was once there but is no more. Yes, my life today is not what I planned, but it is in the process of becoming something that is not “a plan” but an amazing “reality”. Something that I love…I get to share that reality with an amazing person, my son. At the end of the day, through all the pain and struggle, I’m a mother and that is by far the best thing in my life, and right where I what to be.
So, several years later I was on another bus, this time in England and I was crying … a man came up to me and said to me four words that have changed my life, and I have never forgotten.