Megan was a SAHM to her three children before divorce and for the eighteen months since she and her husband separated, she’s been able to continue as a stay-at-home mom. However, as a single mom now, that has meant making some changes to her activities recognizing that when there’s only one parent at home, you simply can’t keep doing it all. Here’s Megan:
People used to ask me if I was sad and I’d say,
“I don’t have a choice to be sad.”
You just have to pick yourself up. I didn’t have time to sit around and wallow, I had three kids that needed me to get up every morning and make their lives happy and bright and move on with life. I didn’t have time to sit around and be sad and let my kids see that.
I never allowed that, and for the first eight months, it was really hard because I thought, we’re going to still do soccer and we’re still going to do all these activities and we’re going to go and keep our lives exactly the same. I felt I had to keep up everything for my kids that I was doing before, but now I have nobody who’s coming home at 5:30 at night and so sometimes at 5:30 I think “two hours till bedtime” and I count down till they go to bed.
This year I finally decided there’s no fall activity. I don’t want to drive, I don’t want to sit, I don’t want to do practice, I don’t have to be scheduled. I want to learn what it’s like to be a mom of a second grader and do homework and I want to know what it’s like to be a mom of a Kindergartner and sit back and do some of the volunteering I do at school. I just wanted to sit at Starbucks once a week for three hours and spend some more time with myself, and I’m finally okay with that.
It’s okay if I’m not the first one to sign up to make cupcakes, and it’s okay if I’m not head of the preschool committee. I had to let all of that go, and that was really hard for me to let go. I don’t put myself out there. I go to the school twice a week for about two hours. I’m happy to help out for a party, but I am not going to plan a party. I finally had to be okay with that and think my kids were okay with that too.
I went through “oh God, what are people going to think of me?” forever. For a while I thought nobody was going to like me. And I still feel different. You go to the parent-teacher functions and the women who are at school all the time are women whose husbands are at work. And I felt whispers behind my back at school when we first separated and people talked about me, but that was okay.
I don’t get much help from my ex. He always tells me if it’s not part of his time schedule then he’s not going to be there. I don’t have many friends whose ex-husbands are around, most of them don’t even see their kids, so I have to continually tell myself to be grateful that he pays me every two weeks and say it with a thank you.
I don’t think you have time to be selfish when you have young children. I just hold myself up and keep on going. I want them to have the best life that they can have and go to college and make good choices and not be different in school because they come from that “broken family” with two divorced parents.
I strive so that they’re still great kids and great students, and I’ll fall apart later if I have to.
The Divorce Coach Says
When my husband and I separated I was in the second semester of my master’s program and able to juggle my classes around my kids’ schedule, so I think of myself as a part-time SAHM. I was like Megan at first – I wanted to keep as much as possible the same for the kids. They lived in the same town, went to the same school, had the same friends, kept up with choir, gymnastics and karate. Fortunately, my ex wanted to share in the transportation duties and that did make it easier for me although it was added co-ordination and when he had a conflict, it was me who had to figure out the solution.
Then, like Megan, there were adjustments to the activities. It didn’t even seem that hard – the choir group was taking a hiatus, my daughter was changing where she was doing gymnastics and I found other moms to car pool with. The end result was that I could manage the transportation on my own if I had to and life was more sane.
Finding a few hours for yourself is really important. Whether it’s sitting in Starbucks, working out, going for a walk, reading a book or relaxing in a bath, be sure to build some me-time in your schedule. All the financial gurus tell you to pay yourself first (i.e. put away some of your salary for savings) and this is the equivalent in the time management category. I’ve found that if I don’t have scheduled me-time, it doesn’t happen. And … doing the household chores doesn’t count as me-time.
My favorite me-time activities are reading, playing the piano, walking/hiking, coffee with a friend. What are yours?
This is the last post in Megan’s series. I’d like to thank her for sharing her story and being frank about her challenges as a stay-at-home mom. I almost wish I could fast forward six months to see how she continues to juggle working and staying at home but I know, it’s all step-by-step and big changes don’t happen overnight. So we’ll just have to wait.