Single Moms Reinvent Yourself on the Weekends When Your Kids Are Away!
Katherine Lee knows a little about reinventing herself and starting over. “I was with my husband for 13 years,” says Lee an editor at Working Mother magazine. “He was my first boyfriend. After college we got married and planned to get settled financially and then we would get pregnant.”
However, unbeknownst to Katherine, while she was pregnant with her son her husband had become involved in another relationship.
“While I was pregnant I noticed that he was displaying some behavioral changes, but I couldn’t exactly pinpoint anything,” says Katherine. “I was also pretty busy working full-time throughout my pregnancy and when I’d ask him what was wrong, he’d always tell me it was work-related. And although I tried to get him to go to counseling with me, he never agreed to it.”
Ten months after her son Samuel was born, just as Katherine was weaning him, she received a phone call from her husband who broke the news that he was leaving her. Suffice it to say, Katherine’s life was sent into a tailspin. Dealing with this sudden shift in the family she had so lovingly and meticulously created with her husband was, for her, like chartering undiscovered territory.
“I had spent the last 12 years of my life with this person; we were the inseparable couple that did everything together,” says Katherine. “Our weekends revolved around one another and now all of a sudden I was facing this new life alone.”
Katherine had to quickly reprioritize her energies on caring for herself and her son. She had to accept her new life’s circumstances which included; living in a completely different economic bracket, losing most of the married friends she’d shared with her ex and simply learning how to live on her own.
“I was fortunate that my brother and parents really rallied around me. I also think it was the sheer exhaustion from having to take care of Sam that truly saved me from wallowing in self-pity,” says Katherine. “When it was just me and him I never had a break. I was always on and it was important to me to keep us both busy and fill our lives with new friends and people and I made sure to get us involved in every possible Mommy and me activity. If anything, I tried to schedule, my little breakdowns between his naps!”
However, during those first weekends that her ex had Sam, Katherine admits she felt lost and lonely.
“For a while it broke my heart when I had to give Sam over to his Dad,” says Katherine. “Then I started to realize how important it was for him to have a relationship with his Dad and thankfully I was able to be selfless and cognizant of what my son needed.”
Katherine definitely recalls that getting “out there” into the world beyond the four walls of her apartment was a bit of a struggle as well. She also really needed to figure out what on Earth she was going to do with herself during those initial free weekends.
“Learning how to take care of myself and create a new support network was a challenge,” says Katherine. “Yet some of the people that I met in those early months when I was shell-shocked remain some of my closest friends. I do remember going to birthday parties and seeing families with two parents and feeling a strong sense of loss and sadness that that wasn’t my life anymore; that there aren’t two people behind my stroller. But then again I realized that the free time I had was time I could use to do things like sleep! Or things I’d never done but always wanted to try. “
Katherine advises other single moms who find themselves in this position to think of their free time as a gift, and in some respect, a second chance.
“I kind see myself as living my life backwards. In my twenties I was already coupled up making pies in my kitchen, and now in my thirties I’m going out late at night with my single friends, checking out new music and art and even taking up martial arts again,” says Katherine. “In order to be the best mom, I’ve learned that I have to do the things that make me happy; that help me recharge and nourish myself, because I know that when I’m feeling good it makes me a better parent.”
While divorce and single mommyhood is not something Katherine ever would have chosen, she also realizes that this major event has given her a new perspective on life.
“Samuel is six years old now and he grows more adorable every day. It is the purest love that I feel for him,” says Katherine. “If you’re lucky enough to share parenting with an ex, the best thing that you can do for yourself is to recharge your spirit. Give yourself the gift of taking care of you!”
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Before joining the Working Mother team http://www.workingmother.com/
., Katherine was an editor at Parenting magazine, and before that, at Ladies’ Home Journal. Katherine has also written for Pregnancy magazine and was a contributor to an anthology of essays called “The Imperfect Mom,” which came out in 2006.