I’m actually proud to live in such an open-minded time when you never actually know who the Joneses are. Are they Mr. and Mrs.? Mr. and Mr.? Mrs. And Mrs.? Whoever the Joneses are, they more often than not come in a pair of two. Trying to keep up with your kid is exhausting enough; who has the energy to try to keep up with what other families are doing, too?! I for one, do not. Why? I’m a single mom and you can call me Miss Jones.
Before I was pregnant, I thought I would be the type of mom whose kid knew sign language before they could speak, would be fluent in multiple languages, he would be walking before other babies, we would spend hours doing activities and classes, and I would be a total Pinterest mom teaching my kid cool crafts and intricate projects.
I’m four years in and I’m here to say- Fuck that shit.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m raising Carson myself, if it’s the pressures we put on ourselves as parents to be the best, or if the notion of trying to keep up with what everyone the fuck else is doing that has set suuuuuper unrealistic expectations for who we are supposed to become as mothers, but we need to give ourselves more credit for what we do personally for our families and children, no matter who it’s made up of. This parenting this is freaking HARD, no matter who you are. My anxiety was through the roof Carson’s entire first year, trying to gauge where he was compared to other children in their milestones. What I realize now is that no matter what toys, games, and things the neighbors’ kid(s) had, the classes they took, or where they were in their milestones, my son lived in a home where he knew he was loved. It doesn’t matter that it comes from one parent and not two, I can say that as batshit crazy as he can drive me, as difficult as this parenting shit can get, and as exhausted as I am, he has never had to question or doubt that he is loved in our little family of two- just him and me.
Sure, I’m exhausted as all hell most of the time. I’ve had breakdowns. It was pretty freaking uncomfortable touring preschools myself alongside units of two- the Mr. and Mrs. Joneses, Mr. and Mr. Joneses, Mrs. And Mrs. Joneses. It’s awkward when someone hears I have a child and automatically asks about my husband. What husband?? And it suuuuuuuure as hell was awkward when I picked my son up from preschool one day and another 3-year-old point blank asked me, “What’s Carson’s dad’s name?” Uhhh, fuck. I wasn’t prepared for that. Up until that point, I’d absorbed the brunt of the uncomfortable questions from other parents, dates, nosy acquaintances, etc. But I had never been asked about that person by another child-let alone in front of my son.
Being the PR professional I am, I quickly tried to hide my “deer in the headlights” reaction and simply told the boy, “Carson and I probably have a different family than you have. He just has a mommy, and that’s me! My name is Stephanie.”
If I can do this myself, I want other moms to know they can, too. Most days, I have no idea what the eff I am doing. I have given up the notion of trying to keep up with, or compete with, The Joneses. I wish we could destroy this notion and necessity to “keep up” with families and just come together, drink some coffee, wine, tequila-WHATEVER- and openly discuss that none of us- and I mean NONE of us truly have it 100% together. All moms face their own struggles, their own doubts, no matter how perfect their lives may seem to us on the outside. So I think whether we are single moms, divorced moms, happily married moms, domestic partner moms, gay moms, stepmoms, whatever kind of mom you are, know this: we are all in this WITH you. Our lives are just as shitty (literally SHITTY- not figuratively) as the next mom’s, no matter who their family unit is comprised of. Don’t keep up, sit at our table and I’ll pour you a drink.