SAHM No More: I’m Sort Of Cool With Being A Single Working Mother On Valentine’s Day

valentines day singleSAHM 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.

(photo: Denis Vrublevski / Shutterstock)

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  • Andrea

    I’m married and I hate V-day. I never saw the point of it and I hate that babysitters are impossible to find and if you do find them, they charge an arm and a leg (which they have every right to do, of course, this being supply and demand). I also hate that every “romantic” place is crowded, the prices are jacked up, and the service is bound to suck balls (and totally not in a good way either).

    I hate all the pressure it puts on men to buy expensive gifts and chocolates and flowers and jewelery to prove they love their SO.

  • Justme

    I’m married and we don’t do Valentine’s Day either. Our anniversary is in March so that’s two BIG “gift giving” events in a short amount of time. We do Valentine’s Day as a family and celebrate the fact that we all love each other. It usually just involves a new puzzle and hair bow for my daughter along with a nice dinner out followed up with ice cream. Then my husband and I have a big date night just the two of us for our anniversary in March.

    • CrazyFor Kate

      My parents have their anniversary, Valentine’s day and my mom’s birthday within the same week. My dad always complains that February is an expensive month!

  • LiteBrite

    If it’s any consolation, I’m married and won’t be doing much either outside of work. The funny thing is, DH is the one all about going to dinner and doing romantic things. I’m just like like, eh. I’d rather stay in, maybe make pizza (that’s our “love” meal), and clean the guinea pig cages. (Although if he does get me flowers, I won’t turn them away….)

    I agree that there is just too much pressure on the V-day to make it “special” (“special” being in the minds of the advertisers of course). But I hope you do get a babysitter next year, if that’s what you want. :)

  • Daisy

    This was my Christmas. I turned down a trip to a fancy historic hotel in Nashville with my extended family because after 3 years together, I thought I finally had my boyfriend convinced that we should spend a Christmas together, and split it between our two families. He broke up with me instead, and I ended up working on Christmas. Merry freaking Christmas.
    Valentine’s Day has always been my favourite holiday (call me crazy) and thank heavens I have plans with friends this year.

    • Lastango

      That’s awful! Your story reminds me of being overseas and spending Christmas and New Year alone and away from family. That was long ago, and it still rankles in the memory as a uniquely lousy experience.