Monday, The Boy turned 12. I know, I can’t believe it either. Like, I – a single woman – have willingly put a broke ass short man’s needs ahead of her own for 12+ years. Willingly. Bonkers. I’m still not sick of him. What’s weird, is that it never felt weird. Life is insane and unpredictable but with my hatchling, it always felt as if he were meant to be mine. He was always meant to be my hatchling and I was always meant to be his mom. I always work at being a better person, blah ,blah, blah… whatever. He’s helped me to want to be better with purpose – to SHOW him the best of me. And what’s more, in my yearning to teach him, this little weirdo has actually taught me so much.
1. Say Yes To Help
I am so stubborn and insist that I can do it on my own, even when I know I can’t… or at least shouldn’t. If a loved one offers to babysit or a mom’s day out or heck even a home cooked meal, say yes. You need it. When you’re a single parent, it can get so overwhelming and lonely. It really does take a village: let the village form.
2. Take the WIN
Even the best kids know how to test you. The most chill little human will FIND a way to test you. When they say kids like to test boundaries; take that sh*t serious. You might NOT want to negotiate with terrorists, but every once in a while, you’ll just have to. Sure, your tiny human might have on a bow tie paired with Fortnite pajama pants and cowboy boots. But he brushed his teeth and ate all his breakfast. That counts as a solid win. Not a single loss there, peeps.
3. Patience is a Necessity
You know that saying “patience is a virtue”? That’s crap. Patience is a MUST. When your kid is 3, learning to tie his shoes and INSISTING on doing it on his own, just come to terms with the fact you’ll rarely ever be on time again ever. And when he’s 12 and acts like he’s new to the whole human thing and needs a point by point list of what he needs to do to be – you know – hygienic – you’ll still be running late to everything. Trust me; it’s not worth the high blood pressure.
4. You Are Creative
You may not be the Pinterest perfect room mother like Kimberly’s mom is, but you’ll get creative in your own ways. For example, The Boy has super selective hearing and his little Boy ears simply cannot register my voice when I tell him to do something. So, I got creative. I text him. Yes, I may be in the next room… sometimes even the same room, but that kid has a compulsive need to read his iMessage ASAP. And now, I just send announcements via Alexa. There is no getting away from Momma. See? Creative.
5. Your Universe Spins Differently Now
This little punk may not be the center of the universe, but he’s the center of mine. I’ve come to terms with that.
6. There Will Always Be Laundry
When it was just me, laundry day meant at the end of the task, the only clothing that needed to be washed would be what I was wearing. I could not rest until it was all done or I’d just go nuts. I managed to keep this routine until he was maybe 2 months old. Now I am just resigned to the fact there will always be a stray sock, hoodie or forgotten blanket and my hamper will never ever be 100% empty again. [See also #3 on Patience].
7. Listening Is Not Optional
Look, this is how I ended up playing 281658721654 hours of Memory and Chutes & Ladders and Monster Jam. Never ignore the incessant babble. You will be quizzed and it will bite you in the ass. At least keep an ear out for key words. Kids sense fear and weakness. That’s when they strike.
8. You WILL Negotiate With Terrorists
That’s just the way it is. Your children- your children are the tiny little terrorists that live in your home. Like it or not, you’ll eventually have to negotiate with them. “Okay. Finish your peas and I will give you a cake pop.” “How about after bath, we will watch Toy Story again?” Sometimes you walk into battle and sometimes you walk into negotiations. Choose wisely.
9. You Don’t Always Like Your Kid
Let me start by saying that I LOVE my hatchling. When I was pregnant, it was actually one of my biggest fears I would not like him. I would seriously break into a clammy sweat worried about how I would raise a child alone that I did not like?! It would just be us. THERE WOULD NOT BE A BUFFER! Spoiler Alert: I’m over it. However – sometimes I just don’t like the kid. He’s moody, and stubborn and occasionally needy and demanding: he’s basically me in boy form. And I don’t always like me, I mean – I AM A HANDFUL – why would I like him all the time? Let’s face it, you won’t always get along with your offspring. I mean, come on, do you always get along with ANYONE? It’s okay not to like him all the time. That’s why we have separate rooms, bedtimes, wine, headphones… whatever helps. Use it.
10. Cereal For Dinner Is Perfectly Acceptable
In a perfect world, there would be enough hours in a day to do everything you need/want to. I would have the energy to create a spotless home after I get home from my full time job and stopping at the grocery store. After everything is put away, I would present my little homie with a hot, home cooked meal while we discuss everything we learned over doing his homework together. Yeah – that’s not going to happen. At least not in my house. I have nothing but pure awe and admiration for the moms who have it all together like that… and double the awe for the single moms. However, I am not one of them. At the end of the day, I. AM. TIRED. I don’t have the energy to get it all done. And I definitely don’t have the energy to pretend I have the energy, ya dig? I don’t have it all together and I will never pretend to… unless it’s sarcastically.
That being said; if every once in a while The Boy asks for Lucky Charms instead of roast, guys – I am so down.
11. It’s Fine Not To Have All The Answers
Contrary to what TV shows and other social media parents might have you believe, you won’t have an answer to every question your kid has. And kids? They have a LOT of questions. Like incessant questions. They will actually question you into baffled silence.
Boy: Why did they pick the name ‘underwear’?
Me: Because they go under the clothes you wear.
Boy: But then why don’t they call them ‘overbutts’ because they do that too.
Me: *baffled silence*
Yeah, it be like that sometimes. In my case, I have learned to roll with it. It’s okay not to have the answer, but I don’t shut down the conversation. “I don’t know. Let’s Google it”. So, while I may lose the “Momma Knows All” credibility (my omnipresence still astounds him), I encourage us to learn together. It’s okay to say “I don’t know”. Just like I’ll never stop learning; neither will he. And on occasion, we will just learn together.
12. Don’t Ever Say “I Won’t Be That Mom”
You will choke on every dumb ass, ignorant word you said about the kind of parent you will be before you became a parent. “My kid will NEVER eat fast food.” “Sugar will not be allowed in our house.” “I will not let Disney Jr. raise mgy baby.” I may have randomly thought these things in the beginning, but even my stupid self was smart enough to never vocalize them. But even if you become That Parent, don’t be That Parent that gives Those Looks to the parents who aren’t That Parent, k? K. I wish I had a pho loving, sushi eater, but no. McDonald’s it is. I ain’t ashamed. I thank baby Jesus that Disney Jr. & the Little Einsteins took the reins when I was too tired or needed to do … you know … actual work and shit. Just trust me. Don’t be That Guy. Or the Other Guy. Just don’t.
13. They Will Be Who They Were Meant to Be
Sorry to burst your planning bubble, but you really don’t get to pick who your child ends up becoming. The best we can do is guide them into becoming the best version of who they’re meant to be. (Except if they’re serial killers. Don’t encourage or guide that please.) You can try all you want, but that future architect you see playing Legos in your living room might wind up being a lit major. . I would absolutely love it my kid were the avid reader I was/am. Alas, he is not. He’s great at research – but that’s because he loves him some conspiracy theories. He has the weirdest and most creative brain and you can bet your ass I encourage him to branch out from that. I don’t see any particular future when I look at The Boy: I see every possible future. I’m not here to tell him who to be. I’m here to encourage him to be the best at what he wants to be. (Again – except serial killer. Not encouraging that. Or hopeless slacker either. Just putting that out there.)
Obviously I’d love a straight A genius, but I am 100% happy he works as hard as he does. That’s a win. (See #2.) Don’t @ me, Tiger Moms. I have a happy and thriving creative kid. We’re good.