On chilling out

by mssinglemama on July 22, 2009

Every guy I’ve dated since becoming a single mom has told me, “you need to relax” or “you never relax” My reaction has been the same each time. I stand there and kind of stare at them while scratching my head and then try my like hell not to ask them what the think chill out means. But after the third or fourth guy gave me the “chill out” line I realized that perhaps they had a point.

When I was in high school and college my form of chilling out included downing six Hornsbys and then maybe doing a keg stand or two. I don’t drink nearly as often anymore, maybe once every two weeks. And parties, what parties? Are you kidding me? Unfortunately I was not trained by my mother, who is constantly stressed out herself, in the fine art of chilling out, taking a load off, resting one’s feet up in the air and just reading or staring at the wall. Taking a break or chilling out was not in my household vocabulary as a child. That sucked. But not to worry, I am very aware of this fact and so is my therapist.

Then I had Benjamin. He wouldn’t stop crying during the first 11 weeks. If he was awake he was crying and if he was asleep it was only for a few hours at a time. Somewhere along the way his father lost his job and refused to find another one. It topped off our Miserable Marriage Pie quite nicely and I left him. Now, three years later, I am just beginning to taste the freedom of being able to take a shower without feeling that nervous “what if he swallows a poison chemical and dies while I’m in here” sensation. Yes, I can shower again world and it’s amazing. No, I lied, it is exquisite.

Maybe I was a high strung mother when he was a newborn and toddler but I was alone, I still am (for the most part) and it will take me a while to chill the fuck out. It will. The one thing about being a working single mom that no one – absolutely no one – can understand is the constant 100%, no break whatsoever part of the job description. Going out one night a week for two hours does not constitute a break, especially when you have to pay for it. Having an ex-husband take your child away for one night a week, on a work night, does not constitute a break. Even getting five minutes to yourself in the shower does not constitute a break because if shit really hit the fan, if you just needed a week off you would have to do this: call all of your friends and family and arrange for a multi-tiered super complicated babysitting schedule. Even taking a vacation is stressful.

I can only imagine, they say.

Yes. You can only imagine because there is nothing like this and I am not going to apologize for being the way that I am because I did what I had to do to survive and get us through to the other side, this side – which is actually the happy side. With that said, I am probably more stressed out than most of the general population. I hate it but I like being who I am. So I’m not quite sure how to make it go away or how to balance it all so everything fits in a nice, tiny, little happy package.

I am trying my best to learn how to chill out. I really am. I am actually concentrating and focusing on it. Not working a day job is helping tremendously because when I feel an intense bout of stress coming on I can walk away from the computer and go for a walk or a run. (Yes, a run – I have actually been running here and there). It helps to be doing what I absolutely love. I can’t even begin to describe what it feels like to work for yourself, it is one of the most liberating feelings.

I am taking baby steps to reaching a nice, balanced and healthy mental state. I am also vowing to myself that I will try to accept the help of others more often. But it’s so damn hard to ask. Why is that by the way? And why can’t I just be one of those happy, normal, go lucky girls who knows exactly how to chill out? I hate those girls. Well, I don’t hate them – not really – but I wish they’d teach me a few things.

Oh, and…

Did you know I haven’t had a pedicure or a manicure in over four years? After this eBook comes out (now over 120 pages btw) I am so getting both and a massage.

UPDATE:

Just watched this episode of Momversation on Me Time and it made me feel worlds better, especially when Heather B. Armstrong (Dooce) gives a shout out to single moms.

Related posts:

  1. Toddler-free (for one week?)
  2. There’s a man in my bed.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim July 22, 2009 at 10:21 pm

Love the post, and loooooooove long time the new layout!! I haven’t been here lately, but it looks AWESOME !!!

And yes, a massage, pedi and mani are definitely in order for you !!

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Martini Mom July 22, 2009 at 10:31 pm

I have nothing more profound to say than this: Right there with you, sistah!

I’m trying to be better too, but no one seems to understand the fact that if I don’t do X, Y, and Z, then NO ONE does. There’s no one to pick up my slack for a few days – or even a few minutes – while I relax a little. And sometimes X, Y and Z are not things that can be put off.

But sometimes they can. I’m trying be better about recognizing the difference.

Good for you for trying to make some time for yourself. That mani/pedi/massage sounds long overdue and well earned!

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Becca July 22, 2009 at 11:02 pm

I’m just like that but about school
work. I guess I need to be in control of things that I can’t control. My John always tells me to take breather but I just can’t. I’m trying to improve on my “chillingoutness” too. Oh and about that pedicure… That will def help to relax :)
becca

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jen July 23, 2009 at 12:08 am

My son cried constantly (well it seemed like it) for the first few weeks of his life too until I figured out how to get him to sleep – or until he learned to go to sleep on his own. It was bloody stressful and lucky I had no money to go out because I was too scared to go out with him because of his crying. At a friend’s dinner party one evening a friend held my baby while he cried and I ate – you can tell I probably enjoyed that meal! and then I took over. It was foul but he finally settled down. Nowadays I’m better at (read – don’t feel as guilty) for doing things for myself but it ain’t easy.

And it’s hard for us single mums (especially when you don’t have a child free weekend off EVER) to take time out for ourselves – really hard.

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Chic Mama July 23, 2009 at 12:42 am

Wow, yes I can relate to that! Never get a chance to relax so my body has forgotten how to! Unless wine is involved of course.

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Erica July 23, 2009 at 4:55 am

My son is 9 years old. This week, he is away at camp. MY FIRST ME TIME since he was born. I love the peace and quiet, but at the same time, I miss him terribly!

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arscuore July 23, 2009 at 5:00 am

Thank you, thank you for voicing this. Vacation is NOT a break, and one night a week is not a break. I will tell you that the times when the boy is at his dad’s is surreal, because he’s there for a week. But it’s still not a break, because I worry about him the whole time… You are right that no one understands this except other full-time single moms.

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Colleen July 23, 2009 at 5:19 am

If you learn the chill out secret and can actually relax without a worry running through your mind, PLEASE SHARE!

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Meg T. July 23, 2009 at 7:02 am

I wonder if mom’s in general ever actually “chill out” – I have a partner, and I can’t recall the last time I “chilled out”. I realize that having a diagnosed anxiety disorder makes it hard for me to, you know, chemically chill out but I think that this is the motherhood package: having that little wiggle of worry in the back of your mind all the time.

Okay I just read what I typed out and I sound like a total nutjob. Get that massage lady! And I second Colleen up there, if you figure out the secret share it in a post!

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Heidi July 23, 2009 at 7:02 am

Can I get an AMEN?! Thank you so much for this.

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Katherine (SOLO dot MOM) July 23, 2009 at 7:19 am

Love this post…. we all so very much need that me-time… I had to reference this on my blog today….

Thanks for sharing!!!

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Darcy July 23, 2009 at 8:13 am

Wow. Never did a kegstand in college. Was that relaxing? :)

But on a serious note, I agree with Alaina and everyone here. My kids are 7 and almost-9 and it is just now getting to the point where I feel comfortable taking a nap while they’re awake. Of course, it’s hard for them not to burst in to have me solve some “crisis” – sharing toys, name-calling, etc.

The other day I warned them – “the kid who wakes me up Saturday morning is gonna scrub the kitchen floor with their toothbrush!” They laughed and joked back with me (“What if there’s a unicorn in my bed?”), but lo-and-behold, I woke up at 9:30. THAT was wonderful!!!!

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kristen July 23, 2009 at 9:07 am

I can totally relate! Glad I’m not the only one. The boy’s dad can’t see him without me there, and my parents live 7 hours away. I have to pay a babysitter if I want to go out, and that doesn’t happen. Ever. I took an extra week of vacation this summer just to have time to myself while he was at daycare. It was heavenly – and I got the first pedicure of my life!

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Violet July 23, 2009 at 9:16 am

That is so me and my situation. No one really knows what it feels like to be a single mom unless they have lived it. Everyday is a struggle and the work is never ending and you can never get ahead of it. I have been a single parent for a decade now and the first weekend that I took off to do something that I have really been wanting to do, all hell broke loose and while I had an amazing time and met the man of my dreams, I came back to a mess at home. My goal that I’m working towards is to own my own business, so I can have a flexible schedule which I think would help a lot. It will be several years before that happens (have to finish my licensing process) but I can see it happening in the near future. Thanks for voicing what we single mom’s deal with on the daily!

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melissa July 23, 2009 at 9:28 am

LOVE. THIS. POST.

IT MIRRORS MY LIFE.

GOOD TO KNOW WE ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS WORLD OF NEVER ENDING WORK!!!

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T July 23, 2009 at 9:32 am

Uh huh. Yep. I completely get this too.

I am going to have elective surgery in two weeks and I did have to arrange the “multi-tiered super complicated babysitting schedule” for both me and the kids. But ya know what? I’m worth it. And I’m thrilled to be doing something I’ve wanted to do for years.

How do I chill the fuck out?

Well, since I don’t always feel like drinking, I do yoga. I’ve been doing yoga consistently for over 5 years now. It has helped me to accept myself, people, life and … honestly? When things don’t get done (cause no one else is gonna do them), it still bothers me. But NOT nearly as much.

And um, when you get the secret to helping single parents to chill out?

PLEASE SHARE

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Abby Carter July 23, 2009 at 9:56 am

My kids are older now and I am still stressed most of the time. Still waking up at 3:30am remembering something I forgot to do. But looking back, the hardest age to handle with both my kids was 3-4. My sister now has kids the same ages mine were when my husband died and I watch her and wonder how on earth I did it alone. It amazes me really. Your chilling out is coming, don’t worry. But I do think its time for that pedicure!

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Hanna July 23, 2009 at 10:22 am

Even when I’m chilling out, I’m not chilling out. I’m relishing and sucking every minute of excitement, fun and non-parenting related enjoyment out of the ME time I get. Its not chilling, its exhausting.

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Michelle July 23, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Okay, going to show my ignorance here; What is a keg stand?

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Lesli July 23, 2009 at 12:41 pm

I am totally with Darcy on this one….I get up initially with my two (4 & 7) but then it’s back to bed for Mommy!!! Of course, my little one comes in there every 30 minutes or so, but at least I get in some good cat-napping!

Also, like T, a shout-out to yoga….it can do wonders (with the right instructor). At my old gym, my Tuesday night yoga class kept me sane–and I often left feeling like I had had an orgasm (yes, it was that good and relaxing!). So get John-Bear to watch B for a while and take in a yoga clas…you won’t regret it.

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Ms. Single Mama July 23, 2009 at 12:47 pm

T – what surgery? C’ MON – you have to tell us.

Lesli – definitely. Gym membership starts tonight actually and they have a sitter room. John Bear goes to the same place.

Michelle – a keg stand is when cute college boys hold you upside down in the air and then you put the keg tube thingy in your mouth and they turn it on. Not sure what the point is but I did it. Gets you drunk faster (or guys just get a chance to grab your ass).

Hanna – me too. I go a bit crazy with all of the fun in the free moments.

To everyone – thanks for making me feel less alone and less psycho. And Abby – very glad to hear I am in the middle of the toughest age.

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Sunny July 23, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Ah, yes the dreaded anxiety, the constant need to be doing something, multitasking as an item on your resume. I live it, breathe it, embody it.

Sebastian was gone for a couple of weeks and I actually had the opportunity for some “me” time. What did I do? Work on DIY projects around the house. Yep, I’m *that* exciting. Even when Sebastian is gone I can’t seem to relax and zone out, when I have the time I’m not sure what to do for “me”.

I’ve tried yoga, meditation, medication. No go.

As single mothers (married mothers too!) it seems we’re conditioned to think of everyone else’s needs and put ourselves last.

Birthdays, Christmas and other holidays are also great sources of stress and anxiety for me – not only because of meeting the needs of other people but answering the dreaded question, “What do you want?” It’s almost shocking to hear someone address my needs or desires and most of the time I respond with, “well I need xyz for the house” and the eyes roll.

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Alessandra Genevieve Mors July 23, 2009 at 3:04 pm

I would also like to include all the guys who infuriate me by saying: “uh, yeah, kids are cool”. I want to scream at them “no, your kids are the most important thing in the world, but they are NOT COOL! They will drive you crazy!” This type of statement comes from a type of guy; exactly the type of guy who thinks it is a good idea to say “you need to relax”. Duh. Don’t make it hard to show off what a balanced and well-grounded person I am, dude. Return to the reality bus! We single moms are already on board!

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Dawn July 23, 2009 at 5:24 pm

If anyone told me to ‘chill’ it was because they didn’t know me or the acrobatics of being me. Time for me doesn’t include anyone else. Like any healthy person, I also need solitude and moments of reflection. I secretly think this is why I like being single so much. Having a partner around demanding I be any different, or ‘chill’ … can’t see the nine plates I spin. Alessandra Genevieve Mors (the comment above) saying, “Return to the reality bus!” That says it all.

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Bobbi Janay July 23, 2009 at 7:32 pm

All that stressing has helped make you the woman you are today and as you said you Love her so don’t forget that.

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Amy July 23, 2009 at 7:49 pm

After surviving COLIC/WILL NOT SLEEP BOY I was terrified to learn I was pregnant with twins. Hubby away 1/2 the time so was REALLY scared.

Blessedly the girls were sleeping champs from the start (only waking every two hours when they were hungry for two months ;) But hey, colic boy cried for 5 hours a night and then woke constantly during the night, this was a breeze! By the time the girls were 2 months old I had them all going to bed at 7.30. What followed was ME time. I enjoy artsy endeavors and man, when I think back I was never so crafty! I SO took advantage of that time, housework was forbidden as soon as the kids went down and that was MY time.

Now the kids are older, son 16 and girls 11. There is hope ladies. Really. Now after homework is done the kids get their tv veg time I am OFF duty. I get them to bed and the night continues to be mine. All mine, baa haa haa! Son is old enough to hold down the fort should I want to visit friends or go to a movie or something. Or hubby is home. But usually ME time is spent on the computer or spinning or painting. ME time.

Trust me, with every year you get more and more independence. It just takes time or like me EARLY BEDTIMES!! Failing that what you need is a dear friend or family member who can be bribed/bought to give you one afternoon or evening a week for YOU. Turn off the phone and enjoy. Make it a criminal offense to contact you unless any loved one is in mortal danger, seriously.

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k July 23, 2009 at 10:20 pm

You go!!! That is exactly how I feel, as a single (widowed) parent, I don’t ever completely chill. I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other for my child and myself and chillin’ isn’t necessarily a part of that. I don’t make any apologies for that, as sole provider for my daughter. I completely get what you are saying, and won’t tell you that you need to chill!

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Cheryl July 24, 2009 at 4:06 pm

Oh mama, boy do I know how you feel about getting a break… and then being told to “chill out”. WTF? Are they kidding? It’s really hard not to be pissed off and bitter at the mom’s who have a hubby at home, even if he does NOTHING when it comes to the kids, those moms still have someone to keep an eye/ear open when they need to take a shower, or poop, etc. And really don’t get me started about the moms who have grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, or even good friends who are always offering to take their kids off their hands for a few hours, or a few days, for FREE. Are they kidding me? I’d give BOTH my breasts for that luxury.

But I’m trying not to be bitter. I’m trying to chill.

And take care of my 3 year old daughter by myself. With no family. No hubby. And no free babysitting.

I’m with ya on the pedicure, manicure and massage. And mama, here’s to you getting ALL three w/ a glass of wine. Or three.

;-)

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BK Mom July 25, 2009 at 1:27 pm

I have been reading your blog for a while now and have been tempted to comment, but have not ’till now…this one really hits home! My boyfriend is very much the zen optimist (no kids, never married) while I am the eternal pessimist and constant worrier…on my own with my son since he was 4 months old (he’s now 7 yrs.), I am still trying to find the time to REALLY relax. Is it possible? It seems like, even if my son is gone for the day, there is ALWAYS something to be done! And, yes, I am with you on the babysitting thing; sometimes it’s just easier to forget about it than jump through hoops trying to arrange it. My boyfriend is always telling me to chill out, and stop always first thinking of the worst possible scenario before it even happens…but it’s always on my mind. How do we truly find the time, as single moms, to put everything aside, and focus on ourselves? I feel like my DNA has been permanently altered and for me it’s now impossible…
BTW-I just had a pedicure this morning…

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Adam July 27, 2009 at 7:43 pm

To all the guys out there telling you that you need to chill out. WTF do they know what you need.Only you know and only you have the right to chill or no chill.Well as a matter of fact even you don’t have that right any more.Single moms and dads gave up that right, willingly mind you, when we decided that our kids were worth it.I think I will chill when I am on my death bed and my children know that they are loved with every fiber in my body.Until then bring it on baby.Life is GOOD!!!!! Adam

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Mike July 28, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Parents love, hard to comp. chill.

I had the opprotunity to date a wonderful person, great Mom! Became very fond of her and her son. What a great boy. Smart, outgoing, fun! Miss the checker games, piggyback rides to bed, and much more. Mom would actually have concern when I would take him to bed this way and drop him off, thought he may get hurt, The irony may now be clear. We all went to a movie, the couples behind us were inappropriate, I was not aware! There was interaction between the Mom and the other parties. I asked that this be ignored. The movie was over and the lights were up, time to leave!!! When we left I was chastised for not supporting her with this issue. Was caterogized as someone who would watch someone being assualted in the streets and walk away. I felt that her safety, and her sons safety was jeopardized! Today people harm others over such interactions! Also, I am A father of a ten year old daughter who also accompanied us to this movie. Her safety was jeopardized as well. Was I wrong? My daughter actually overheard our discussion and said the manager should of been notified. Can you really “CHILL”, no! Please as a mother or father, don’t overlook the most precious person in your life, your children!

Please reply,

Sincerely,

Mike

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mssinglemama July 29, 2009 at 7:12 am

Wow. What a myriad of responses to this post. I wish I had time to respond to every one of them. Damn it. But, alas, I have to run and pick up my son from his father early because he lost his job! Yikes.

Guess chilling is not an option today.

John Bear is THE most incredible guy at understanding the fact that I can’t really chill out… but the more we are together and the more I let him help – the more I am able to actually just relax. It’s amazing. With that said, I am just kind of flowing through it all – enjoying every minute. I like being non-chilled, I like my occasional chill and everything in between.

This is me.

Thanks for your feedback everyone… and to Mike – I don’t know what to tell you, sounds like she was scared in the movie theater or something. Good luck.

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