with Karli Larson
The transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced-and-working-full-time mom can be challenging, and sometimes very lonely. Throw in a few cats, an ancient dog and one very brave boyfriend, and life gets downright crazy. Join me as I talk through my thoughts and struggles, my miscalculations and my triumphs. We're in this together, you and I.
When I'm not writing here you can find me over at work on the TisBest Philanthropy blog.
My phone vibrates on my desk, and a picture of my son on a mossy tree stump lights up the display. It’s my ex, my son’s Father, calling.
“Hello?” I say warily, bringing the receiver to my ear. My friends all tell me they know immediately when Nolan’s father calls, they say a wary tiredness overtakes my voice. I’m working on that. “Hi!” I try again.
“I’m going away next weekend,”he informs me,”Friday, back Sunday night.”
“Oh,”I say,”Well, OK.”
But it’s not like he was asking my permission. He was informing me: he’s going away for the weekend so I’d better swap out any plans I may have had: I’ll now have our son for the weekend.
I am silent, willing myself not to be petty. I don’t ask where he’s going, why he’s giving up his weekend with Nolan. Our son is not a chore, after all, and I shouldn’t feel any resentment about spending extra time with him. And yet I’m irritated because it’s not like I could ever do the same thing, be afforded the same luxurious spontaneity. If I were to call my ex to tell him that I needed a Girlfriend Roadtrip and that he’d better put the bike and the rugby cleats away for next Saturday and Sunday - he’d sputter in disbelief and hang up the phone on me. And then text me to tell me: no way in hell.
As a single Mom, I’m deemed the Permission Asker. I don’t ever “tell” my ex I’m going away for the weekend, nor do I assume he’ll assist if Nolan needs to be taken to the Doctor, or kept home from daycare if he’s feeling under the weather. If I need a slice of time for work, my friends, myself - I need to ask permission and hope I’ll be granted it. It’s not a given, not as simple as a phone call to say: hey, I’m going away for the weekend.
I’m not an anomoly: every single Mom I know is in the same boat. Their exes can float in and out at will, taking time for camping trips and week-long vacations, while Mom is left holding the bulk of the responsibility. If she wants a camping trip - she’s going to have to plead a little - and even then, it’s not a given. I wonder why this is.
My best friend is getting married this summer. She is 34 years old, and never thought it would happen for her. Her fiance is beautiful and committed and amazing, and I’m blazing with hope and happiness for both of them. She’s asked me to be at her wedding, of course, and I want to be at her stagette, too.
I ask permission: can I take off for a weekend in July?
The answer: “I’ll have to check my schedule.”
I don’t expect to hear back anytime soon, and I think my son might be accompanying me at my best friend’s wedding. I can juggle, of course, and accomodate and make it happen, because that’s what we must do, as single Moms. But sometimes, honestly, I hate the double standard. And wonder if there’s anything I can do to negate it.
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