I've been writing a lot about relationships on this blog, but I've yet to tackle one of the most important relationships a single mum needs to engage in—one with another single mum.
When I had my son 6 years ago (wow!), not only was I the lone single mum in the group—I had no mum friends period. That changed one bold afternoon when I met a mum named Amy. We became fast friends and our kids have grown up together. In fact, we just celebrated her daughter's 6th birthday—along with her husband and two-year-old daughter, of course. It took me a good three years to make a single mum friend. Honestly all of my mum friends in the area where I live are married—must be something in the water, hehe. I cherish my mum and dad friends. They are like family!
But there's nothing like a single mum friend who truly gets your parenting situation and makes you feel like you're not the only single mum alive. That's what Mareesa did for me. We met when I was working on a project for NBC Universal. I was seated in a cubicle with her. She was very pretty, very sassy, and at first, I didn't think we'd click. She'd been at NBC for a long time and I was just crashing the party for a few months while on a contract.
It was a quiet day in the office when I swung my chair around and said: "Is that your son?" He's so cute!" She thanked me and when I guessed he was around 3, like my son at the time, her entire demeanor changed. It was like she melted in her chair. When I mentioned I loved working on the project, but the NJ to NYC commute was rough because I was a solo single mum, that melted resolve tuned into pure joy.
See, she was going through a hard time in her marriage and confided she actually felt like a single mum because of XYZ. We were both excited when Mareesa revealed she too lived in NJ. We made a play date at a local park and zoo. We've been the best of friends since. Our boys are buds, too.
Even though our situations are extremely different we are both primarily responsible for our children and know what the morning rush feels like. We know how to turn a frown upside down, because the father isn't around to visit (in my case always … in her case, frequent enough to make her son yearn for that connection). We dish on the chaotic dating scene, share advice and tips and lean on each other in both wonderful and tearful times.
I have a new single mum friend, Jenn, that lives upstairs from me. She works in media (like me) and our boys are in the same Kindergarten class. We've come up with a fun way to keep them busy and ourselves sane during this very long, cold, snowy East Coast winter: Her son plays at our place for an hour and then we swap. While my son is upstairs I catch up on laundry or admittedly nap. It's a really nice way to refresh. I treasure Jenn in these moments, because there really is no off button for me. Her son son sees his dad once during the week and every other weekend.
On the weekends, when her son is not with his father, we take the boys to indoor playgrounds, local plays, or to the park (in warmer weather). In fact, this weekend we have a packed agenda. There's a winter science show at the local hall on Friday night followed by pizza and The Lego Movie. Not only do our sons thrive off one another, so do Jenn and I. Even though Jenn's ex is heavily involved in their lives, we still have common ground. Like, when there was an early dismissal from school and Jenn couldn't make it time. I grabbed the boys, made lunch, and supervised a play date. She's done the same for me. It's also extremely comforting to discuss dating, sharing expenses with the ex (child support), and other hot button topics. I'll never forget the day Jenn told me some mums at the school were horrified she was divorced. "Are you OK???"
Us single mums are OK. And we're even better when we have a single mum bestie or two or three waiting in the wings. My advice to single mums has evolved over the years, but my tried and true advice: Make a single mum friend.