Yeah, I guess that's a pretty inflammatory statement huh? Bear with me....
I've never posted anything remotely political or controversial on my blog here but I've recently read several articles that have been so utterly and completely repulsive to me that I feel compelled to respond to them.
The first article (which you can read HERE) laid out how a Republican Senator in Wisconsin is proposing a bill that would label single parenthood as CHILD ABUSE. Yes, you read that right. Go read the article. I swear I'm not making this up.
The second article (which you can read HERE) was a well thought out response to best selling author Penelope Trunk's assertion that divorce is "selfish & immature", and something "dumb people do" and it is "likely a sign of mental illness" for those who choose it.
Where do I even begin????? Seems there is continued (growing) momentum for a recent (frightening) political "trend" in which attacking single parenthood, and specifically single working moms, has become standard protocol. As one of those hard working, fully functional members of society who happens to fall into that category I am appalled and disgusted by this trend. I also need to call a spade a spade with regard to the true intentions behind these asinine remarks. Let's be perfectly clear, this isn't just an attack on single moms, this is an attack on ALL independent, courageous, hard working, self sufficient, intelligent women. Which probably includes YOU. It's just an offshoot of the latest stream of political attacks designed and orchestrated to belittle women's rights, their private/personal choices and seize control over their lives and bodies.
I, for one, am not just going to sit here and take it without making myself heard, LOUD AND CLEAR. As far as I'm concerned saying nothing at all in response to this utter nonsense is just as bad as agreeing with it. Ergo, this blog post.
I was married for ten years, a marriage which produced two amazing, wonderful, incredible kids whom I love more than life itself. I'm not going to delve into the details of why the marriage failed seeing as that information is completely irrelevent to the point I am making here. I will say that the environment was far from healthy or happy and that the little cottage the kids and I currently live in is a happy, peaceful, conflict-free, fun, wonderfully warm and loving home. Did I mention HAPPY?
Listen, I'm not advocating divorce. I'm not saying single parenting is better than a traditional home. What I am saying is that happy, well adjusted, fulfilled, secure parent(s) have happy, well adjusted, fulfilled, secure kid(s). And whatever family arrangement creates that specific dynamic is the one that is the most beneficial to all those affected by it.
I've also discovered some unexpected benefits to being a single mom which I am going to lay out here:
1) Because I don't have my kids with me 24/7, I am able to truly appreciate the time I DO have with them. I was so deeply shaken the first time they spent a few days away from me and with their dad that I told myself to NEVER EVER forget that feeling. And now, I absolutely value our time together. I no longer let the nitty gritty of daily life swallow me whole and grind me down because I know that in less than a week they won't be with me for a few days and I want to maximize the happiness and joy in the time we do have together. I'm still completely consistent with my parenting style, consequences, rules and standards of behavior but I've adjusted my outlook insomuch that I am way more chilled out about setbacks and issues when they do (inevitably) arise. My sense of perspective has been further sharpened by our circumstances.
2) I now have a much more reasonable and REALISTIC set of expectations. The house not being "perfect" doesn't even so much as phase me anymore. I've got way too much on my plate to sweat the small stuff. For an OCD + type A personality like me, this is HUGE. I now function day to day in what I like to call "triage mode". If it ain't bleeding profusely, then it can wait. I attend to the priorities and I'm much better at assessing what truly consistutes a priority. Whereas in the past, dirty dishes sitting in the sink would have totally stressed me out, I can now let them sit there...oh, I dunno, AT LEAST three hours... :) All joking aside, I immediately stopped taking on too much because I now realize that if I don't regulate my time as efficiently as possible, there is just no way I can attend to everyone's needs as well as my never ending to-do list. So, I was quickly schooled in the art of saying NO and it feels really good. Empowering, actually. I have reclaimed MY TIME and MY LIFE.
3) Speaking of meeting everyone's needs... I've finally learned how to attend to my own needs and make them just as much as a priority as everyone else's. For ten years I was so focused on being the devoted wife, commited and attentive mother, full time career woman etc.... I completely neglected to take care of myself and make time for ME. I felt guilty (and was made to FEEL guilty) anytime I went out with a friend and always rushed home worrying about the disaster and chaos awaiting me upon my return. I now fully recognize how detrimental that was and I'm in such a better space for allowing plenty of me time SANS guilt because I know all too well that if I don't take care of myself then I will collapse from the amount of responsibility on my shoulders. So, I schedule in my daily workouts (I start off every day with a quick trip to the gym followed by a run on the beach with my dog and it's been absolutely fantastic for my mental health, not to mention my legs look fabulous), my outings with my friends, occasional weekend getaways and small chunks of time devoted to just RELAXING and doing what I enjoy doing with people whose company I enjoy. It's not always easy coordinating and scheduling this me time but it's kept me calm, sane and balanced during what has been a really tumultuous year. I attribute my healthy, happy mental and physical space to the fact that I started finally making myself a priority instead of being a martyr taking care of everyone else - except myself.
4) The result of all this self care has been a WAY more relaxed, chilled out, fun and pleasant mom for my kids. They can easily see how happy I am and they feed off of it themselves. We have a much more positive outlook on life because the three of us are cohabitating in a loving, peaceful, happy home. It's amazing how the whole family dynamic can shift when one negative element is removed from the equation. We laugh, have dance parties, do art, and still attend to all the "not so fun" elements of life (ie: homework and chores) but without the stress and anxiety of the past situation weighing us down. There is a "lightness" to our little threesome that is new, refreshing and incredibly healthy.
5) As a single mom I am more committed than ever to providing a stable, nurturing home for my kids and I am BETTER able to do that without negative interference. I am comfortable being both the good cop and the bad cop. I am at ease in my role as Queen Bee. There's no one there to undermine my authority and wreck havoc on the really great parenting system that I had long established. Is that selfish? Maybe. But it's also all kinds of awesome-sauce. Because, frankly, IT WORKS. My kids don't bother trying to go get a "better" deal from someone else because there is no someone else. Just me baby. So, they go with the flow, acquiesce to the inevitable and we can just get it done already without the battles because, ultimately, what I say goes. The end.
6) I'd much rather be completely self sufficient and do everything around the house and be solely responsible for all the adult tasks/chores and take it all on by myself rather than doing it all in the context of an alleged "partnership" and stewing in resentment for the total lack of help I'm getting. Since I KNOW I'm responsible for everything, I'm totally ok with just doing it. So much better than expecting/hoping/asking for some help and not getting it. Fortunately, I'm able to fill those shoes and am just as capable of cleaning a toilet as I am getting up on a roof to clear out gutters or stacking wood for hours on end. As a self sufficient and independent woman attending to all these tasks on my own, I am also providing my kids with some really solid role modeling on what women can do/accomplish and showing them the extreme fallacy of gender stereotyping. There is a great lesson there for my kids, which can only truly be taught through experience and seeing it with their own two eyes rather than just a mere discussion about it. My kids think I'm Superwoman and you know what? I kinda am.
7) Good, solid parenting has far less to do with the number of parents in the household but much more to do with the QUALITY of the parenting. To have the audacity to state that single parenting is akin to "child abuse" or that anyone who CHOOSES to be a single parent is mentall ill is incredibly offensive, short sighted and ignorant. Mathematically speaking, two messed up parents are more likely to cause exponentially the amount of damage to a child's psyche than one single GOOD parent, n'est-ce pas? Speak to any child psychologist and they will clearly assert that :"The worst situation for kids is when unhappily married parents, particularly those in high-conflict marriages, stay together."
8) I'm not claiming to be a perfect parent. I have moments of total and complete failure as a mom. But I can unequivocally claim to have transformed into an even BETTER mom thanks to having removed myself and my kids from an unhealthy situation where everyone was miserable.
I really hope that the politicians take their heads out from where the sun don't shine and realize that by insulting a large segment of the population, especially the educated, intelligent, employed single working moms WHO VOTE (helllooooooo???) that they are just shooting themselves in the foot. And it's our imperative, collectively, as MOTHERS and WOMEN, to not let this unfathomable trend gain any more steam.