When I first went through my divorce and for a few years after, I suffered from loneliness…severe loneliness. My entire family was 2000 miles away, except for my kids and since I didn’t grow up in Utah, I didn’t have friends from school or college here either. All the friends I had were other couple friends that my husband and I had made over the course of our eight-year marriage living here. I went from sharing a home with another adult to being alone with two very small children, one of which didn’t talk! And to add insult to injury, a month before my divorce was final, my best friend, who lived around the block, who I saw almost everyday, transferred out of state for work. The alone time wasn’t so hard during the week-days; I had my work and I still enjoyed companionship from my married friends. We would meet up at the gym or go run and have a coffee here and there. The loneliness hit more at night and especially on weekends. At first my married friends still included me in dinner parties and the like, but after a while, it became hard for me to attend their events unaccompanied. I began to live a very solitary life. Weekends with my children consisted of caring for them most of the time so I didn’t think about being alone as much, but weekend nights by myself were agonizing. For the first two years after my divorce, I wasn’t really into the dating scene, so alone I sat, usually in front of the television.
While I think I went through that trial in my life for a reason, maybe to learn how to be happy alone, enjoying my solitude, reflecting on all I had been through; it also would have served me well to surround myself with people who had been or who were where I was. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part, my married friends were all very understanding and wanted to be an emotional support. But I needed more than that. I needed someone who had been through or who was going through a similar experience, someone who was also a single mom. I needed companionship.
So Tip number 6. While I am not advocating dumping all of your married friends for single ones after you get a divorce, by no means…some of my best friends are married. I think it is healthy to seek out friendships with other like-minded, positive single mothers. You need someone:
1) who will allow you to vent…because she gets it.
2) who understands your new circumstances from first hand experience.
3) who you can share parenting ideas with.
4) who you can maybe go out on a double date with when the right time and guys come along.
5) with whom you can share responsibilities and outing with kids. God only knows I would LOVED to have had another single mom friend go to Lego Land with me and my kids way back when! I remember being frustrated that I could not take my son to Lego Land. Did I mention he was insanely crazy for all things Lego! He begged me year after year since he first became aware that there was a Lego Land. I was deathly afraid to go, worried that I would lose a kid in the chaos of an amusement park. I’ll never forget going to a theme park for the first time when I was a kid. My parents lost one of my sisters. We spent the whole day looking for her. Luckily it all ended well…but that experience scarred me. Anyway, back to my story…finally, one Sunday night, I was feeling guilty, fed-up, and brave all three feelings at the same time and I thought, “That’s it! I’m taking my kids to Lego Land!” I ran downstairs where the kids were playing and I announced, “Kids…pack your bags, we are going to Lego Land!” They yelled and cheered and hooped and hollered! We loaded the mini van and left. I drove 12 hours straight and by Monday morning we were in California, waiting for the park to open. I had not slept all night, so I took an hour-long cat-nap and then we played in the park all day! We ended up going to Lego Land, Disneyland, and Sea World on that five day whirlwind trip. Thank the good Lord I didn’t lose one of my kids. We had fun…but make no bones about it; I was stressed the whole time. How much more fun would it have been to have another mom riding with us, sharing the drive and the experience? Want to go to the movies with your kids? No problem, go with another mom and her kids. One kid needs to go potty, no problem, you can leave the other kid to enjoy the movie with your mom friend while you take the other kid to relieve himself/herself and you help her with her children in turn.
My children are older now but I currently have several single mom friends with whom I have a ton of fun. We build each other up and validate each other’s “mom” skills, we commiserate when necessary, we laugh, and cry together, we celebrate holidays together when the kids are with their dad, and we provide each other with a sisterly bond. So go out there and make a new friend (or two) who is in your same boat. Of course make sure you share the same values/standards and watch and see how you become the best of friends for the longest of times.