I know I keep promising Roxanne the story of my ex-husband’s slutty girlfriend, but I keep having other things to say. And I’m not really in the mood to relive the story just yet.
In the meantime, I read a great post called “Being a Single Parent Isn’t Hipster,” and it brought up a lot of feelings about my struggle with calling myself a single mom. And it brought me back to my conflicted feelings on my situation.
I once heard that “talent is not a zero-sum game,” meaning that just because someone else has talent doesn’t mean that you aren’t also talented. I’ve applied that to so many things in my life, but lately I’ve been thinking about it in terms of tragedy and hardship.
It is difficult to parent on my own, to be the only one responsible for my son, and to be “on” all the time when Smiley is with me. Also, I only have my son 50 percent of the time, and that sucks, I miss him so much it physically hurts. But I try to look at the bright side: I get time off. I have time to myself, time to go on dates, time for uninterrupted sleep. And my son is being cared for by his other parent when he’s not with me. I have a decent co-parent, but he seems to be able to turn off and tune out when he doesn’t have Smiley, so when I’m on my own, I really am on my own.
But when I find myself complaining about my life, I sometimes think of some friends and how they have more difficult situations. I have friends who are single moms 100 percent of the time. But just because they have it tough, doesn’t mean my life is a breeze.
I have several friends whose exes have practically abandoned their children. But every one of those friends is in a different situation. Every situation is difficult.
One friend lives with her parents, who provide free daycare, which is a great savings, since the dad doesn’t pay child support. And her daughter gets to have a great relationship with her grandparents. But my friend doesn’t go out in the evenings or on weekends on her own because she doesn’t want to take advantage of her parents since they already watch her daughter so much of the time. Plus she is thirtysomething and lives with her parents.
One friend lives very close to her parents and has two sisters who are able to help with her son when she needs it. But she doesn’t get a dime of child support, and her ex-husband calls in the middle of the night to berate her, not to talk to his son. He lives out of town and has dropped off forms in the mailbox while his son is at school, never making arrangements to see him. And this friend is very strong and independent and doesn’t like to ask for help. (I know she’s reading, and I would like to say “Hi, I love you, and asking for help doesn’t make you weak. And please remind me of this when I am down on myself for needing help.”)
I try not to focus on the deficiencies in my life, but sometimes it’s difficult not to.
I miss my son–so very much–when he’s with his dad. Sure, both of those friends have their kids 100 percent of the time and they don’t have to run any decisions by their exes, but they don’t get any regular time off. Sure, both of those friends have parents and family members around who can help them and I don’t, but I get breaks every few days and my ex is finally paying child support. The numbers don’t add up. There’s no winner in this situation.
Hardship is not a zero-sum game. Just because it’s hard for you doesn’t mean it isn’t hard for me. It’s just hard in a different way.
This isn’t actually a response to Lil’ Devil Mama’s post. I completely understand where she’s coming from. I had already been drafting a post about this topic and her post just inspired me to finish it. I know there are some ways I have it easier than others, but that doesn’t mean it is easy.
Also, please read Chopper Papa’s take on deadbeat dads. It is powerful.