By Single Mama
After working my part-time job for 9 months, I decided to go back to college and earn a degree in education. I’d earned a business degree 15 years ago so this would be my second time in college. But this time around, managing time took on a whole new meaning.
I worked during the day from 7:15 a.m. until 3:15 p.m. Then I came home with the kids and helped with homework while cooking dinner. Then we went to all their extracurricular activities.
I took advice from a friend who told me “Take your books with you everywhere.” I studied during my daughter’s gymnastics lessons and my son’s soccer and football practices. I earned my second degree largely because I studied while cheering from the sidelines of fields all over town.
On the rare days that I was caught up on homework and my kids didn’t have a sports practice, I went to the gym and worked out. Exercise was the way I managed my stress. I’m not saying it cured everything. It didn’t. There were plenty of nights I cried myself to sleep because of everything I was trying to carry on my shoulders. But working out certainly helped me feel stronger and like I was doing something to take care of myself.
For two and a half years, I juggled work, kids, homework, housework, sports and night classes. I earned my advanced degree in exactly two years. And I’ve got to tell you — graduating with that second degree was even more exciting than the first time. I really appreciated the level of accomplishment this time. I’d done it all by myself. All the hours, sacrifices and prayer had paid off. I was on my way into a new career.
Despite the truly crazy, jam-packed schedule, I did begin to date again and it was SO different than it was in my early 20’s. I didn’t go on that first date until I’d been separated from my husband for a year. The timing wasn’t deliberate. That was just when I decided I felt ready.
Going on your first date after a 17-year break from the single’s scene is so scary that I almost backed out. During the five-minute drive to meet my blind date, my mind kept saying “Turn around! No, wait! I need to throw up first!”
But I showed up anyway, despite the panic. I think I may have looked up at the guy twice the whole time because I was no nervous. But after that first date, things got easier. And I learned a lot about myself by dating again.
I decided not to introduce my kids to any man I dated unless I thought I might marry that person someday. That first date ended up turning into an eighteen-month relationship, but he didn’t meet my kids until we’d known each other for six months. I was still dealing with finalizing the divorce so I was clear with my boyfriend about the need to take things very slowly.
That relationship ended after 18 months, but it taught me a lot about myself and what I wanted and needed. Once the relationship was over, I knew with much more clarity what I was looking for in a man. I knew what my “deal breakers” were and I didn’t compromise on those.
The journey through a divorce and building a new life hasn’t always been a pretty one. But I do feel good about the fact that I kept going, even when I didn’t think I could. I didn’t give into the pain and give up. Sure, there are still difficult days, but I have friends and family around me. I am blessed. I still pray — a lot. I’m almost five years away from that terrible day when he told me about his affair, and I’m a stronger, better person today than I was then.
To my fellow moms, I hope you never walk the road I’ve been on. But if you find yourself there, please know that this journey is a difficult one but not impossible. You will find help along the way. And you can do it.
This series, Single & Surviving, is written by a Northwest Arkansas mom who is writing anonymously for now. Click here to read her first post.Please post comments for this writer by clicking the orange comment button below.