For each installment of the 31 Days In The Life of A Single Working Mom series, I will feature an interview with a single working mom.
Each day in October, we will gain insights into the life of a working single mom and specifically learn what she does to keep it all together and stay encouraged!
Today’s featured mom is Jessamine.
Tell us about yourself and your child(ren) (# of children, gender and ages).
I’m a 44 year old divorced mother of 2 boys aged 21 and 14.
Where do you live?
I live in a diverse Essex County, New Jersey community.
What do you do for a living?
I am a Learning and Development Specialist.
How long have you been a single mom? What were the circumstances which lead you to become a single mom?
Although I had functioned as a lone parent carrying the full weight of all major things related to my children, single motherhood happened unto me about 5 years ago when my marriage came barreling to a turbulent, screeching hault. (Yes, it was that traumatic!)
Is your child(ren)’s father(s) involved; are you able to co-parent your child(ren)? What does that look like?
My children’s father keeps an alternate weekend overnight visitation schedule. Co-parenting does not take place, which makes educational and other life decisions involving my children immensely difficult, and adversely affects their emotions, as well as mine.
What is your typical day like?
My typical day involves a 12-13 hour work day during “high season” (9-10 are average), coming home to check in by engaging both boys in daily inquiries, quick dinner, bath and bed. Occasionally, I’ll pour a glass of wine, watch some television, and literally pass out on my living room sofa.
How do you handle day to day responsibilities (meals, laundry, cleaning, chauffeuring kids, Dr. appointments, school meetings, etc.)?
Meal preps take place weekly on Sundays — Gangsta Mom over here. I make 3 big lunch/dinner meals to offer variety and nutritional value as we are all “brown baggers”. My little one sometimes pitches in with the cooking, which gives us precious quality time and great conversation. It’s where we learn so much more about each other.
I absolutely LOATHE laundry, so for 2/3 of us, it is done weekly on Fridays by my youngest; the eldest prefers to do his own and that’s just fine. This includes washing, drying, folding, and putting away. Dishes and kitchen duties are communal and is therefore deemed a shared responsibility; however, as I am a self proclaimed “neat freak”, I scrub the bathroom down top to bottom weekly myself.
My boys do assist between cleanings by wiping “drips & splashes” after every use and hair is vacuumed off the floor. In terms of doctor appointments, school meetings and/or events, errands, friend hangouts, sports activities, etc. — you guessed it… I’m “Mom-ffeur” extraordinaire! It’s me, myself, and I continuously balancing their schedules with my work.
What’s the best thing about being a single mom? What’s the hardest thing?
I think the best part about being a single mom is the empowerment and blessing of experiencing life as you wish and want it to be with no compromise — for the most part. If you want it, you go out there, work hard, and make it happen.
It’s the delicious enjoyment of your children by yourself — the connections and memories you’re able to build with them are simply priceless. They know you’re dependable and get to see you forge ahead in the face of adversity; however, therein lies the challenge.
Because I tend to be so focused on “making it happen” my children almost never see me cry — those late nights in bed, shower sobs, and occasionally on my drive to/from work. They have very little knowledge of what it’s like when my heart is in despair as I often shrug it off or excuse it away with the “Oh, nothing…I’m just tired is all” repertoire replete with the most gleaming smile I can dig up from the deep. It’s watching in complete and utter helplessness when they’ve been disappointed by their father once again, or retraining them you are to always be respected when they return from their alternate weekend. Sometimes the hardest part about being a single mom is bearing the weight of all your respective worlds on your shoulders with absolutely no reprieve — just a silent prayer.
What struggles do you experience as a single mom?
The crux of my struggles are financial in nature. The rest revolve around trust. I’m currently working on both.
Are you able to be vulnerable and authentic with anyone regarding the struggles of being a single mom If so, who and when?
I am fortunate to have a small tribe with whom I’ve been able to share some of the “upper layer” struggles I’ve experienced as a single mother over the past 5 years — gripes, really — the frequency of which I seldom share. Among the members of my “Mom Squad” I have the distinguished role of the wise listener and advice giver.
So, for the truly deep and most personal of sentiments and circumstances, I confide in my sister. Though she’s married (23 years), I count on her impartial and loving wisdom on all things life related; she’s been such a constant force in my life. Additionally, I’ve had the recent blessing of rekindling a dear relationship — that with my best friend. Her ability to offer sound and pragmatic advice from multiple perspectives (divorced; single mom with an adult child; professional) has been invaluable! In this regard, I consider myself to be VERY LUCKY!
What one or two thing(s) keep you up at night?
Are you currently dating or in a relationship?
Yes, I’m happy to say that I’m in a committed and loving relationship.
Would you like to be married?
If you are dating or in a relationship, how do you fit your partner into your presumably busy life?
We communicate daily, take advantage of my alternate weekends schedule, and steal away during holidays. He works remotely and travels, which lends itself to flexibility when fitting in “us time”.
When (if ever) do/did you introduce your kids to your significant other?
That’s a tough question because I truly believe it’s purely a personal decision and one that is predicated upon your own mental and emotional healing (break ups leave silent scars), as well as the commitment level of your new romantic relationship.
Other factors in making such a decision may include the length of time, which your children have had to process the break-up of their family (as they knew it) and adjustment period to a “new normal” presuming the children were of age to comprehend.
All this said, however, my children were introduced to my new love pretty early on about 3 months in. I had dated before, but never felt any of those men worthy of meeting my children for a myriad of reasons. Every encounter was rocky and bumpy because my children were ever so hopeful their father and I would reconcile. But as the last 3 years have elapsed, both my boys have seen the positive changes that spawn as effects of this relationship, and they, too, have forged their own with him. It’s an evolving process as the oldest is still QUITE reserved, but the little one has acquiesced and enjoys the benefits of another male role model in his life.
Do you ever get lonely? If so, when and what do you do about it?
Absolutely! I’m a motivated career driven, self-sufficient/financed single mom. I depend on no one and am not in any way, shape, or form funded by anyone, which becomes overwhelming when trying to make ends meet, sort of speak. This very circumstance makes for some nights where I just want to be held… My beau and I decided pretty early on that my dwelling belongs to the boys, so we are cognizant and sensitive to him sleeping over when they’re home. Also, the nature of my beau’s career is demanding. Add that to his personal familial responsibilities and our time together seems far and few in between.
What do you miss most about being in a relationship or marriage (if you were married)?
Albeit, my marriage was far from the full partnership I had longed for, but I do miss the dependability of having another adult present when arriving home. I’d like to have this in a more meaningful sense now that I truly have a deep friendship in this relationship.
What are your top 3(or more) tips for keeping everything together?
My holy grail? Coffee, wine, friends, and a good therapist — in that order.
The latter is so you don’t overwhelm your friends ALL the time. It’s healthy to have a “safe place” where you can spill it all — nonsensical or not presumably with no judgement. Your friends serve as great compasses; they “center” you in ways that nobody else can offering unique perspectives because in many cases they do know you best! Wine for the nights, afternoons, or late mornings (Mimosas or spritzers do qualify) when you need a temporary physiological departure from reality. Lastly, java needs no explanation. Without it, we cannot rule the world.
What are your dreams for yourself and for your children?
My dreams are intertwined with those I have for my children — happiness, love, and financial security. In whatever ways each individual defines the aforementioned, that is exactly what I want.
What one lesson do you want your child(ren) to learn from your journey as a single mom?
I want my children to learn and know that they have the power to create the most meaningful life their hearts’ desire. I want my children to know with certainty that obstacles are meant to be overcome.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that you think would encourage other single moms?
There’s no perfect road — only winding, obstacle-ridden paths with many crossroads and forks from which to choose. Forgive yourself OFTEN and keep plugging away because though I hate to spoil the ending, I want you to know everything will be okay… Remind yourself every time you feel good about life that you always survive and get past the road HH patches. This is truth onto myself. “Just when the caterpillar thought the world is over, SHE became a beautiful butterfly.” ~ African Proverb
What tips or words of wisdom from Jessamine’s journey, did you find helpful to use in your own journey?
If YOU would like to be featured, send an email to LC@alifeofauthenticity.com. If all of the October spots have been filled, I will feature your interview in a continued series.