Ok, let’s get right to the point here.
Single parenting is freaking hard. No, strike that. It’s over the top, physically taxing, mentally exhausting, gut wrenching hard.
It’s the kind of difficult that leaves you questioning your ability to sustain it for one more day.
For the last seven months I’ve been walking around in my supermom cape, you know - the one us Gemini’s wear that hide all our feelings & emotions. Yeah, that’s me – wearing my cape proudly and acting like I’ve got my shit together.
And oh my god I so do not have my shit together.
My shit is the furthest from “together” it’s ever been in my life. True story.
I'm a hot mess. Frazzled beyond measure. Ask my friends. They'll tell you. I suck at returning phone calls, forget to respond to text messages and I'm lucky to get out the door fully dressed.
But, it is my reality. And just like I made the choices that landed me here, I have to make choices on how to move forward.
I never thought I’d be here. No one ever thinks they’ll be here.
But, here I am.
The days are exhausting, the nights restless.
The tears are frequent and sometimes uncontrollable.
It feels like I never do enough, and sometimes it feels like I can’t give anymore.
Ironically, I am the happiest and most self-aware I have ever been - which I suppose is a good thing considering the shit storm that is my life. Yet I spend more nights lying on the floor in tears than I care to admit. And yes, I’m aware of the irony in that.
Truthfully, the day-to-day is quite comical (worthy of a book) when I pull back the layers of chaos. The complicated relationships intertwined with the messy experiences that create our perceptions of love and pain. And let’s not forget the insecurities (the reason for the damn cape).
This entire journey has taught me about my own resilience, but more importantly it’s taught me about my own shortcomings.
In the last couple of months, I’ve learned that trying to be strong 100% of the time doesn’t always serve me. That sometimes I need to admit this shit is hard and ask for help. Get vulnerable. My boys need me to not only take care of myself so I can be my best for them, but also so they can learn that a mom that “does it all” isn’t necessarily a hero. Mothers who are powerful and strong are the same mothers who shed tears and aren’t perfect.
When I started to get heart palpitations a couple of months ago, a few people in my life immediately questioned how I was handling stress. I very quickly defended my stress coping abilities (see: supermom with aforementioned cape) and brushed it off, assuming the cause was something else. However, weeks later it became apparent that I may not be handling life as swimmingly as I’d like to believe.
I’ve been through a lot in my lifetime, a LOT, but this particular phase in my life is by far the greatest challenge I have endured. Yes, physically it has taken a toll on my body - but those physical issues are the symptoms of something much greater.
Life isn’t perfect. I’m not perfect. (But dammit, I want to be!)
I lose my patience, lose my temper and sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind. (I have two toddlers, after all.)
There’s a lot of shame & guilt.
It's effing hard.
In the midst of the chaos – all the to-do lists and cape wearing - something happened. I stopped taking care of myself. As someone who makes a living helping others make their health a priority, that realization didn’t feel so good. In fact, it felt like a punch to the gut. But as I tell my clients, I’m not perfect and I’m always learning.
I’m learning that I can’t walk around with my 'super single mom' cape all the time. I can’t pretend that I have it all together and that I’m unaffected by this new life. I’m learning that it’s okay for me to admit that it’s freaking hard. It’s okay that I’m not doing life perfectly, and that every other night when I close the door to my boys' bedroom I start to cry.
What’s not okay is ignoring my health.
It’s so easy for us to let a major life event derail our progress; to get caught up in the motions, distracted by busyness and bogged down by outside pressures. It’s easy to let it all hinder our self-awareness and push our health to the bottom of the priority list.
So easy that we don’t even realize it’s happening.
Yes, the divorce I went through back in August and the lifestyle change it resulted in have certainly put some additional stress on my life. And, while most of that stress is what I bring on myself, some of it can’t be avoided. However, how I choose to handle that stress is what I have control over.
You know what I mean. If you are anything like me, you might ignore the warning signs and continue to press on (proudly sporting the cape) telling yourself that you'll make changes "as soon as"... But we all know it's never the "right time", so they get pushed down to the bottom of the list.
Am I right?
We are living in hectic times and because of that we tend to be more reactionary than preventative - with everything. We make choices and develop habits that don't serve us, rather than prioritizing our health so we can be more productive, fulfilled, and successful in all areas of of our lives.
Life is the excuse most of us make for not taking care of ourselves, yet "life" should be the very reason we choose to put our health first.
I continue to be reminded that admitting things are hard is not a sign of weakness; it's the moment you begin to marry self-compassion and self-discipline.
So, that’s where I’m starting. I’m giving myself permission to admit that the cape is bullshit. I feel uncomfortable a lot. I want to quit about 100 times a day. But I know, deep down, this tough stuff is making me stronger, wiser, and more aware.
In the meantime, I look forward to when the boys are older and I’ve gotten through this tough stage. When I’ll be able to look back and say – I maneuvered through life's obstacles because I made my health a priority.