(particularly those dealing with deadbeat and/or loser exes)
You'll have to forgive me if I get behind on reading blogs again, but I had to stop because I realized, after reading some of my single mom friends that are struggling right now with handling the kids, that most of you don't know much about my own trials and tribs with the girls since I left my ex 5 years ago. I know I've said more than once, "it will get better." That's because I've lived it. (This will be a multiple-part series.)
I previously wrote this post - but that was before I had very many readers! Not to mention, it doesn't deal with many of the matters of the heart.
We first moved here from Rochester with pretty much nothing. I had no job, no car, and the last check my ex gave me bounced and closed out my checking account. We lived with my parents at first so I could get a semblance of a life together.
My parents helped me find day cares for the girls (as it was summer - I'd waited to leave until after Sylvia completed kindergarten). They would turn 3 and 6 in the fall. I applied for food stamps, but stopped short before I would accept cash, knowing that I would have to accept any job offer that came along, instead of the one that would give me the salary I needed to do this on my own. I felt like a complete and utter, miserable failure. And very, very scared.
Sylvia was a mess. Just a total mess. She missed her father terribly (she knew and loved him as the fun one; not around a lot, but when he was, always willing to play games - not much into discipline), and blamed me for moving away from him. Riley was more watchful, uncertain of what was going on, and for the most part, she clung to me.
My parents knew I was miserable, but I couldn't really talk to them about it. I had this idea that I needed to do as much as possible by myself, that I was already depending on them for too much. My sister helped me more with the emotional aspect, as well as K.
Still, there were many nights where I just cried myself to sleep - after staying awake for too long, trying to make sense of it all. Or trying to block it out. Or surfing online for a job.
As with most other times when I had been out of work and looking, I signed up for a temp agency. After two other assignments at the company, my last was an open-ended one that led to a permanent position in my current department.
Thankfully, there was another single mother there. As we got closer, we learned how much of the "ex" story we both shared. Another colleague thrives on being a maternal figure, and nurtured me. Together, they helped me find our first apartment. The entire department, along with other friends in the wing, helped me furnish the place by giving me cast-offs, buying me grocery cards, and making our family the one they acted as Secret Santa for that year.
The job and that first apartment were the beginning for me. That sense of accomplishment and independence were vital to me feeling like I could do this.
But I'd also learned something that is still hard for me, yet makes all the difference. I'd learned to ask for and accept help.
I'd learned that we single moms do it alone enough; when someone else can help, we should gracefully accept it. They're happy to do it, and we (mothers and children) are better off for it.
In reading this, it's not much about the girls, but to tell you the truth, those first few months are a blur - and they were then, too. I was just a bundle of nerves, of fear and anger and sadness. It was all about just getting from one minute to the next without losing it completely. I'd say I succeeded 3 out of 4 times.