After my son’s birth, my life changed quickly and dramatically. It took me quite some time (and still counting) to adjust to all of the responsibilities and demands of new motherhood. The following are rules that I have come to live by. I am sure that they will change as my boy grows, but, for now, these are the 10 Commandments of this single-mom.
1) Thou shalt text, text, and text some more. For any mother, time is at a premium. On many days, just to be able to take a shower for longer than 10 minutes is a remarkable feat. That is why I text, text, and text some more. Marathon gabfests are impossible when there is a little someone who needs to be fed, changed, played with, or saved from yet another self-created catastrophe. Plus, it must be more than annoying for the person on the other end of the phone to have a barrage of commands like, “stop,” “no,” “one minute,” or “don’t do that” blared into their ear every few seconds. And although the best time for chats is when my son is napping or down for the night, by then, there are at least 10 other things that I need to tend to before he is back up and in full effect. My circle of family and friends is small so, for them, I make every effort to have a quick weekly to bi-weekly chat whether it be driving to or from work, or walking Bink, or running errands. But for me, texting “xoxo” holds the same heartfelt sentiment as if I called–that they are thought of and loved.
2) Thou shalt curb the spontaneity. Farewell to the days of being footloose and fancy-free. Hello to the world of scheduling. And for this mom, everything must be planned. Extending an invitation to me a day or two before an event is the same as extending no invitation at all. An escape plan must be perfectly hatched and executed. Opportunities to hang without baby boy come only once in a blue moon, so give a girl some prep time.
3) Thou shalt not covet the word “busy.” Hey, we’re all busy living multi-layered lives. We try our best to balance family, friends, and work. But today, it seems like people wear their busyness like a badge of honor to showcase just how meaningful and important their lives are. The word “busy” took on a whole new meaning for me when I became a mother. I have never known “busy” as well as I do now. With no co-pilot helping to steer my family through the day to day, a mom who lives several states away, and working full-time, down- time is something I very rarely have–not complaining, but just saying. So anyone trying to impress upon me just how “busy” they are, is like telling me it’s snowing in January in Vermont. You don’t say?
4) Thou shalt honor the days of dining out, and keep them holy. How I love restaurant dining. I can’t think of too many things that I enjoy more than the company of a loved one over a great meal. But having Jaxon as my Plus One, does not always a great dining experience make. Some time after beverages are served and before appetizers are done, he whines and writhes while trying to free himself from his high chair. He then becomes manic as he reaches and grabs for anything on the table that he can transform into a projectile missile. Without fail, I leave the restaurant with Jaxon holding on to one of my hands, and my nibbled-on dinner in the other. The bright side: no need to prepare lunch or dinner for the next day. We have left overs.
5) Honor thy new bedtime of 11:00 p.m. During my pre-baby days, I was the quintessential night owl. Even week nights were spent watching my DVR line-up, leisurely reading pages from a book or celebrity magazine, and looking at my favorite interior design websites while texting with whomever. Then some time around 11:00 p.m., I would prep for my next day’s classes before buckling down to do some writing. My eyelids would become heavy close to 1:30 a.m., when I would finally call it quits for the night. But since my scooter, my phone shuts down no later than 9:00 p.m.–sharp. Once I get my son to bed by 7:00 p.m., I’m off to the races tidying up the house, preparing his food and snacks for the next day, paying bills, preparing for my next day’s classes, and doing what writing I can before drifting into a near comatose state some time around 11:00 p.m. At 5:00 a.m., Jaxon wakes up raring to go, and we do it all over again, day after day. An 11:00 p.m. bedtime never looked so good.
6) Thou shalt do your best, although every day won’t be the best. I think a quiet voice of judgment lives within all mothers. And for the single-mom, the voice may echo a bit more loudly. Am I doing a good job of raising my child? Am I providing enough? Am I present enough? Am I doing enough? The self-imposed judgment can feel endless especially during times of challenge. On days like these, I reassure myself that I am doing my best even if the day is not the best. Better days will come. And they always do.
7) Pamper thy self as often as possible. Amidst all in my crazy life, no matter what, I schedule time for a weekly wash and blow of my hair and a manicure. Twice a month, a pedicure. One to two times a year, a facial and massage. These are the times I look forward to with great anticipation. I have my IPAD in tow and I scroll through my More, In Style, and Us Weekly mags while my hair stylist and manicurist go to work on me. During my facials, I have a good old girls’ time as I gab away and kee-kee with my facialist, whom I simply adore. And during my massage, I prefer no talking so that I can dart into dreamland and enjoy what has eluded me for the last year and a half–sleep. Sometimes it really is just the little things in life that make all the difference.
8) Thou shalt have one Jaxy-free night a month. I have yet to do this, but starting this Fall, I will take the leap and venture out one night a month. Since my son was born, I have not enjoyed a night out–with anyone. Anything social I do is during daytime hours and kid-friendly. About two months ago, however, I met a friend for dinner to discuss an event that we are planning. Even though our intention was to have a quasi-business meeting, of course, we did more talking and laughing over martinis and wine about being middle-aged divorced moms and the existing dating landscape. We were only out for about two hours, but it was just what I needed. I felt like an escapee from Mommyland, who had stumbled into the land of the non-drooling, polysyllabic, stable-walking, alcohol-imbibing, dare I say –ADULT. And how fun it was to be back.
9) Thou shalt get that snap back. Before I became pregnant, I worked out three to four times a week. My workout program came to a screeching halt, however, when I had to go on bedrest five months into my pregnancy. And since my son’s birth, let’s just say that I have been entwined in a vicious battle against the bulge. Long gone are the days of a magnificently fast metabolism keeping me in a size two or four with little to no effort on my part. At this stage of my life, I have had to recommit to my physical health and fitness. Cardio, yoga, and pilates are my fitness cornerstones. No more hiding behind the universally accepted excuse of baby weight–especially when “the baby” is 25 pounds and just shy of three feet tall.
10) Thou shalt always have an attitude of gratitude. Since becoming a mom, I have had to adjust and re-adjust my life. Motherhood has not always been easy, and there have been a few times when I know that I have not gotten it right. But every day, I try to be a better mom than I was the day before. Jaxon is my beautiful blessing. Raising him has been a labor of love and, to God, I am eternally grateful for our pairing.