Lately my foster home consultant has been asking some very interesting questions and ones that are difficult to hear. She is expecting to have to write a report in the near future about how well M is fitting into my home and if this placement is a good placement. It raises both anxieties and excitement to know that big milestones are coming. None of which I can talk about hear until the process is completed.
One of the questions she has asked a couple times is how I am handling being a single mom. I guess this is difficult to answer for a variety of reasons.
1) I have never been a mom with a partner so this is the only parenting I know. I really don't know if it is any more difficult than with a partner. I am sure it is nice to have a partner who is active in raising the children and can give the mom a break occassionally. At the same time, it is easier than living with a non-supportive partner who may or may not be there physically but isn't there emotionally or is abusive. It is also easier than having a partner who disagrees strongly with your beliefs in parenting.
2) I get to make all of the decisions. Yes, I second guess just about all of them. After all, I am raising future adults not just children.
3) Yes there are days that are difficult. There are also days that are absolutely wonderful where we all go to bed late because I just don't want to see them end. The good days definitelly outnumber the bad days. I really think all families have these good and bad days.
4) I do get breaks. There are a lot of people out there who think single parents must never get time away. Not true. I just need to be more diligent to actually schedule alone time. Right now it is one evening a week (softball). This fall it will be on Tuesday evenings while I drive to school. I don't have time to pick the kids up from daycare and drive them to a babysitter on those days so I will be leaving straight from work. I will have 4 hours of driving time and a quick dinner to reflect on life and just be me.
5) I have two great kids. Yes they challenge me but I know how lucky I am. We don't have major attachment issues or developmental issues. M had a number of challenging behavioral issues earlier this year. Over the past couple of months, they have improved greatly. I no longer think he will be struggling for years to come. I now know it is a phase and that he will get better. I also am not looking forward to the impossible 3's with him but we will get through it together.
6) Jacob is outgrowing the impossible 3s! He is looking and acting more and more like the 4 year old he will be in just a few months. I sometimes wonder if he isn't 2-3 months older than his estimated birthdate. Not enough to do anything about but I still wonder. Just based on his development.
7) I have a very strong support system and have never felt like I am raising these kids on my own. Because I'm not. When they just won't listen to me, I call someone they will listen to. That is usually my parents. I find it is really helpful to have another adult tell the kids they have to listen and that Mom is (and will always be) right.
So basically, I don't see single parenting as the huge challenge the media and popular culture want to make it out to be. Of course, I don't have ex husbands or boyfriends to struggle with, be hurt by or try to share parenting with. I do have a very strong support system of friends and family who are always available when I need help or a break. I also really love my kids and enjoy spending time with them. Even on the bad days.