SAHM No More explores the the ups-and-downs of navigating a new world of parenting, transitioning from married stay-at-home motherhood to a full-time working, divorced motherhood. And there are a lot of adjustments being made—a lot of adjustments and not a lot of sleep.
So here’s what I’ll be doing this Valentine’s Day—working. Romantic, right? Um, no. Wrong. It’s not romantic at all. Not even a little bit. And even though I’ve never been one for celebrating Valentine’s Day in the way that advertisers have tried to convince us all is the only way to celebrate, there is something about having to get a babysitter on Valentine’s Day so that I can work late that is bothering me maybe out of proportion.
If I’m going to be really honest with myself, and why I’m so annoyed with having to get a sitter, I would have to admit that it might have less to do with the fact that I have to work late. It has more to do with the fact that the reason I can’t ask my ex-husband to watch the kids or my mother to watch them or my brother or a friend is because they all have plans. They all have plans because it’s Valentine’s Day. And I don’t have plans. I have work.
I’m not trying to be too self-pitying about it. The truth is that my single status has been a deliberate choice of mine for some time since my divorce. It doesn’t mean that I’ve been alone exactly. It’s more that I just wasn’t ready for a serious relationship. Well, scratch that. The problem was more that I had a serious relationship after my divorce. Two of them actually. But those relationships were with my sons.
I’m not some kind of mother-martyr. It’s just that my sons were only six and three when their father and I separated and while he was happy to introduce a string of women to them, I wanted to provide consistency. I wanted them to be able depend on me to be there for only them. And I think this worked. I’ve had an active social life and have still found plenty of time for dates, but when things haven’t progressed with the men I’ve been involved with, I haven’t had to worry about my children being too attached to those men.
But here’s the thing. At ages 11 and eight, they’re much more grown-up now. They have their own lives and I don’t think they doubt for a second that I am there for them no matter what. And instead of being a 26-year-old single mother with two young children who was still finishing school and couldn’t even conceive of wanting to be in a serious relationship again, I am now a 31-year-old mother with a fulfilling career and two thriving and independent older children. Maybe I’m ready to not be on my own anymore. Maybe I’m ready for something serious.
Except, well, that’s certainly easier said than done. And not even because it’s hard to find somebody, although, sure. That too. But mostly because now that I’m ready, I don’t have the time for it. With my schedule the way that it is, I barely have any time for myself, my kids, or even, frankly, my dog, let alone for another person. Yet there is still a part of me that wants to find the time now, in a way that maybe I never did before. The problem is though that there remain 24 hours in the day, and though I don’t achieve it every night, I still ought to sleep for at least six of them.
This year, anyway, I’m resigned to the fact that I will be spending what is supposed to be the most romantic night of the year with my computer and my co-workers and pizza ordered in from Grimaldi’s. Which is not so bad. I love my job. But next year? Next year I hope I get a babysitter for all the right reasons.