It’s been a year of learning.
And I’m learning to acknowledge and celebrate the small stuff. The shout out from a client. A hug from the little one. The birds that fly in through the open garden doors. The feeling of the morning sun.
The way I’ve been brought up .. or my DNA is to overlook the achievements. So you did a great job eh? Big deal. Move on.
For the first time in my life, I’m slowing down enough to acknowledge myself. My achievements. Who I am. And appreciate it.
I’m opening up. I’m standing up and saying – look at me. I did a great job. I’m amazing. Ok.. that’s still only on a few select facebook groups..
But at least I am standing up and acknowledging it. For a really smart and capable woman – I’ve had very little confidence in myself.Imposter syndrome at it’s extreme.
But this post is not about that.
This post is to celebrate how far we’ve come. The kid and me.
It’s been 1 year and 12 days of parenting solo. Or being a single parent family.
Last night, I was tired and grumpy. No particular reason. Just exhausted. That yet another week and weekend had gone by.. and I was no closer to getting all the chores done; or getting my business where I want. And a FULL day of “mumma this and mumma that” ie incessant yapping from the kid. Or perhaps its was the 2 Karate Kid movies that he kept talking through. Or the baking. Or the ~3 hours of cycling. Or the hour of gardening in the sun. Yep, that’s what our Sundays are made of.
I snapped at him and told him I had a headache; I needed some quite time. No talking to Mumma for 10 minutes. Just 10 minutes.
Of course he paid no heed. He kept yapping away. But he tickled me. And tried to press my forehead with his little grubby fingers..covered with cookie crumbs.
I screamed at him to go first wash his hands. He jumped up, wet his hands, and then came back to play with my hair – rather give me a head massage. Wet fingers, Wet Cookie crumbs, all tangled in my hair. Climbed all over. And yapped away happily.
It was only 7:30 pm. I read him a story and put him to bed.
Then got back to my laptop for some “me time”.. and ended up ordering fruits and veggies online. Coz I needed them for tomorrow – and I didnt want to go out and buy them.
It was bitter sweet. The exhaustion that comes from parenting solo.
That there’s no one to share things with. Small stuff. Like the pride when he learnt to cycle – that first shaky 10 metres of cycling by himself. The thrill on his face. It was just this Tuesday. He’s been cycling 2-3 hours every day since. On day 2, he decided to “master” the cycling track – a narrow 2 ft circular track around the walking track/park in our apartment complex. It’s got hedges on both sides almost as tall as him. That day, he fell into the hedges atleast 20 times. I stopped counting after that. He never even mentioned the scratches and bruises. 3 days into it, I no longer feel the need to run after him. He goes off cycling by himself. He totalled like 10 hours over the weekend. But every hour, he’d call out to me to come “fix” his cycle. He’d crash so many times that the handle would go all sideways – and when it was no longer “ride-able” he’d call me to fix it.
Yes, we’ve come a long way. Him and me. In ways, we’re growing up together.
We laugh together. We sing together. We dance together. We do projects, we tend the garden, we talk about plants and crops and everything under the sun. We hug. We snuggle. Once in a while he’ll come hug me and say “I love you mumma” “you’re the best mumma in the world”. Sometimes its when he wants something. But many times it’s just coz. Just coz I made his favorite food. Or milkshake. Or read him a story. Or just coz he loves me.
A year ago.. when the “Ex” left.. I couldn’t have dreamt of days like this. I was scared shit. It felt like the end of the world. I spent a good 3 months just crying my heart out. Another 3 months in anger, rage and grief. Followed by 3 months in limbo. Lost. Completely. And slowly telling myself in hushed whispers that I was now a “single mom”. How I dreaded those words.
I shut myself away from the outside world. Daily interactions were limited to my son, and the maid. I didn’t call back the few friends who reached out to me. I didn’t go anywhere. I just hid behind my laptop, delivering articles, websites to a few clients. And mostly, surfing mindlessly.
Then in May, I fell sick. really sick. Had to fly to my parents. Get admitted into the hospital. I spent like 3 weeks on the bedrest – first sick, then recovering; and another few weeks before I was back on my feet.
That was a big turning point for me. My worst nightmare came true – but we did ok. The kid and me. Strangers, turned friends, stepped in to help us – run errands, take me the doc, get medicines, take care of the kid.
And I got tired of hiding; and making excuses about the missing ‘husband’. I decided to open up and acknowledge what had happened and what was happening in my world. So of all things – I posted it on Facebook. Ya. That’s kinda been my lifeline the last few months. Reaching out and connecting with long lost friends; with other women; finding support; finding my voice.
But the strange thing is – contrary to ‘popular opinion’ – people didn’t un-friend me; there were no outpourings of “you need to give him another chance” “for the sake of your son”. None of the BS I’d been hearing from those around me for years. Instead online, I got the support I needed. People I hadn’t spoken to or connected with in ages reached out to re-connect and support me. “You’re strong” “Your son will be proud of you” “You’re a doing a great job. hang in there”. People offered help. People lent an ear. They came out with their own stories.
It’s funny the way to Universe works.
Last year this time, I didn’t think we’d make it. The kiddo and me. I couldn’t sleep at night. I had nightmares. I didn’t know any single moms and I thought it was the end of the world for me, as a person, as an individual, and that the rest of my life would be a drudgery, struggle to raise my son. After all – that’s what the world portrays as single mom. Who’s seen the movie or show about a “happy” “successful” single mom? Anyone? Seriously, do share with me if you know any such.
But since June, I joined a bunch of “women entrepreneur” groups on FB. Yes, I hate networking in person.
Turns out – there’s many single moms there. Hurray!!!!! NHurraaay!!! I’m not the only way. Can’t tell you what a relief that means… that I’m not the only one. It makes things just so much more do-able.
Of late.. I’m having some serious mush gushy moments about the little fella. He’s not so little anymore. Just about 6 inches shorter than me. I can’t carry him anymore. But he still loves snuggling into my arms to watch a movie. And has no qualms hugging and kissing me in front of his friends. Or showering me with praise. We’ve formed a mutual admiration society of sorts. He LOVES my cooking. He thinks I’m the best cook in the world & I should go on MasterChef. Every now and then he hugs me and says, “you’re the best mumma in the world”.
While making the bed a few days ago, he casually says, “You’re my Super Hero” followed by “Nanu is my second favorite Hero” (Nanu = his grand father)… before running off to jump on the bed all over again. Yep, I’d bought him a new SuperMan TShirt earlier in the day.
I’m writing this to acknowledge just how far we’ve come. The kiddo and me. It’s a jumbled set of thoughts. Over the last few weeks, ok, months and year – I’ve been beating myself up. On how I left a “great” job. On how I’ve been “merely” writing and creating websites since. On how I’ve not really invested in my business, or grown it much. Every time I see – again on Facebook – friends posting about their book deals, their interviews, their 6 and 7 and 8 figure launches.. I felt like a failure. Like I wasn’t doing enough. Some of these folks had started their biz around the same time I did..
I’d gone from a nice position in on of the world’s best semiconductor companies – to no title. I wasn’t “condifident” enough to call myself CEO of my own little gig. The Imposter Syndrome taking over. You know, I can’t be CEO. I’m just an average struggling
girl.. single mom.
Some months I made good money. Some months I didn’t.
Most days I cried. Rare days I didn’t.
.. but now.. things are changing.
I no longer cry. I laugh. I smile.
The introverted, A type, no-nonsense get-things-done me, is giving way to a gentler, mellow, “happier” me.
For the first time in my life, I’ve had the time and space, to be me. In that space, I’m finding myself.
It’s actually nice, to not be in a relationship, to be single. It’s actually nice, to live some distance from family. It’s actually nice, to have this time to myself. The hours he’s in school.
Unlike the teens, and twenties and early thirtie… I no longer care what people say. I no longer care about “shoulds”.
I’d forgotten what it was like – to have thoughts, opinions, choices that were totally mine. Last night, after I tucked him into bed, I put on ‘Eat, Pray, Love” and baked an apple pie. Just for myself. And polished it off – kept one insy winsy piece for the kid. I love Julia Robert’s smile. And Bali. And now I soooo want to go back there again.
The kid’s also been hatching this plan, to travel, to see the world. I’m getting adventurous – perhaps it’s time to dig up that old dream of back packing across the world, but this time, with kid in tow.
Over the last ONE year, I’ve lived out so many years… for a while, I went back to being the person I was in my late teens..then twenties.. then thirties. Looking back at photos of the year – I could put them side by side with those from long ago.. I finally started to recognize myself. To see the patterns. To see what it means to be me. Just me. Without all the “shoulds” and conditioning of who I’m supposed to be.
I’m not quite there yet. Its an ongoing journey. But for the first time in many many years, I’m enjoying it. For the first time, in many years, I feel comfortable in my own skin. I feel comfortable being who I am. No masks. That’s an amazing feeling.
I look around and I love what I’ve created. The love with the almost-as-tall-as-me kid. This cozy house. The lovely garden and view. The love and warmth around us. Heck, it takes work!!! A hell lot of work. So I’m stepping up to acknowledge that this is what I’ve created over the last year.
I may not quite have the 6-7-8 figure business, I may not have paid off that home loan just yet; I may not have gone globe trotting with the kid in tow yet; but I have created something amazing. A life that the lil fella and I love.
Time I stood up and claimed it.