simplyjan

A Simple Look at a Not-So-Simple Life

Archive for the category “Single Parenting”

Things That Go Bump In The Night

I made it through today with all the clarity of a sleepwalker. I’m a girl who loves her sleep. Most of the time I sleep well. Sometimes though, not so much. Like last night, for instance.

I crawled into bed on my regular summertime schedule – later than during the school year, but not too late. I dropped right off to sleep. Then sometime around 2:30 a.m., I began waking up. I was in that “not quite asleep but not really awake either” stage when the air conditioner cycled off. It made a loud click. As I rolled over to settle back into sleep, the thought crossed my mind: “That sounded a lot like it does when the kids go in or out the door downstairs.” That’s all it was. Just a thought. I mean, I knew the air had gone off. I felt it. But . . . what if?

bumpinthenight

The likelihood of someone merely walking in one of our doors at night without waking the neighborhood from breaking it down is about nil. I’m pretty OCD about some things. I always unplug the flat iron or the curling iron before I set it down on the counter. I watch the garage door go all the way down before I drive away. I always make sure all appliances – stove, dishwasher, washer, and dryer are off before I go to bed. I check the locks on every door – sometimes twice – before I go upstairs for the night. Not only am I compulsive about checking locks before I turn in at night, my youngest always reminds me as I tuck her in and as we exchange kissing hands: “Don’t forget to lock the doors and to make sure everything is off.” Every. single. night.

Still, the responsibility for my family’s safety rests on my shoulders. It probably was just the air conditioner. I was 99.5% certain. That .5% kept setting of my internal alarm. Sigh. I rolled out of bed and stretched. Rookie grunted and rolled back over, unconcerned. I stepped out into the hall and checked on the kids. All were sound asleep. First one, then two sleepy cats abandoned their perches to join me as I made my way downstairs. By this time, I knew all was well. A snoring dog and nonchalant cats are always pretty good signs.

Determined to finish what I started, I circled the ground floor. The light over the stove (always left on so that nights like tonight would be less scary), illuminated my way as I checked: front door, back door, garage door – all locked. The house was quiet. The neighborhood was quiet. The kids were quiet. The cats were settling into new sleep spots. Rookie was still snoring.

Me? Wide awake. Daytime awake. Maybe I should just stay up and accomplish something since I can’t go back to sleep awake. But I didn’t get up. I rolled from left side to right, from back to stomach. I made lists in my head. I thought about how tired I would be after being awake so long. I prayed. I sighed a lot. I was annoyed, but not anxious. There was that much to be thankful for, at least. The last time I looked at the clock, it was 4:23 a.m.

Sometimes it’s tough being the grown up, the mama, the responsible one, the one who checks the house when things go bump in the night. The funny thing is, I don’t even know what I would do if I found the bumping thing. I guess my goal is to find it before it finds my kids. The rest I would make up as I went along. Let’s just say that I hope that the bumping things are always as harmless as they have been to date.

In the meantime, maybe I’ll move my son’s extra baseball bat up to my bedroom. You know, just in case.

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Single Mothers

I am a single mother. I first became a single mother through circumstance – a failed marriage. Divorce was not something I decided upon easily or lightly. My husband left me twice and I let him come back home both times. Finally I accepted the fact that my marriage was broken and that it was more detrimental to me and my daughter if I stayed and tried to make it work. So I left and started life as a single mom.

A number of years later I doubled my family through adoption. I became a single mother again through choice. That choice probably sealed my fate to never have a lot of money ever again, but my home is full of activity, love, and laughter. I wouldn’t reverse my decision even if I could.

I guess there has always been a certain stigma to being a single mother. People feel sorry for you because you have a “broken home.” I expressed my feelings about that sentiment in a previous blog post. More recently, all women have taken some hard hits from politicians with extreme conservative views, but especially single women who exercise choice and control in their own lives by (a) taking birth control so that they won’t have children, or (b) having children and choosing to raise them alone. One politician in Wisconsin has gone so far as to write legislation with language that directly ties child abuse/neglect to single parents. It’s just crazy.

Maybe there really are tons of women out there who are popping out babies for the sole purpose of taking money and benefits from the government, but I don’t know them. The single moms I know are women who are strong and responsible. Some of us are making the best out of our circumstances when the father of our child(ren) is absent, abusive, or simply not interested in carrying out his responsibility as a parent. Some of us are called to motherhood and meet that calling through foster care or adoption. Some may be raising nieces, nephews, or even grandchildren whose own parents are unable to raise them for whatever reason.

Single mothers are not substandard or criminal. We are mothers. We love our children. We are working twice as hard around the clock to provide the best we can for our children. We work long hours at our job and come home to work long hours for our family. Those of us who are able grow a small village around us – family members, friends, church members, neighbors – who help teach and mentor our children.

Children of single parents learn to adapt. They learn perseverance, hard work, and patience. They learn that life doesn’t come served up on a silver platter. They learn that love beats stuff every time. They learn early on the life skills that will take them a long way. In fact, you just never know where the children of single mothers might turn up.

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