Breakups are universally painful. Like throw yourself on the floor, limp as hell painful. I went through a breakup in 2013 that sucked. After dating on and off for four years since becoming a single mum (that was hysterical), I thought I finally found a keeper. A handsome, dapper man that smelled fresh from the shower all the time (ALL THE TIME! HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE? HE WAS SO CLEAN.)
It lasted a blissful one year and then it was over, like the end of a book. And I was crushed and in denial. It was like he died. Check it: He’s in your life, you’re in his shirt, he knows your drink and that you take your coffee with skim milk and sugar—on what planet does it make sense to end this party ever? That’s the female brain … screaming. The rational brain says: Christine, people breakup everyday. People end marriages after 35 years. Men leave women they get pregnant. YOU KNOW THIS.
The idea of starting all over again for any woman scorned isn’t fun, but when that woman is a single mum with a young child, it’s just ridiculous.My son’s dad isn’t around, so it’s 2x harder because I’m a 24/7 one-woman circus.
F*ck that. I think it’s time to buy that golden retriever puppy my kid is campaigning for. I never want to date again. Son, puppy, and rainbows is fine by me.
You can easily fall into a funk (see rainbow ref above) and oh boy, did I. But the thing about a breakup when you’re a single mum is that you don’t really have time to deal with it. This can be both good and overwhelming. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I cried a lot (when my son was not around). I lived in PJs when I worked from home and watched Carrie-wisdom via SATC reruns. I ate less and drank more. I stalked his Facebook page. I might have texted him 11 times in an hour. No shame, mamas, I wanted him back. I wanted all the things. Like, I want my skinny leopard print belt from Sass + Bide back. Mostly I wanted the familiar back. I was comfy.
But I also kept my life going, because this guy wasn’t my life—far from it. I’m a solo single mum first. I have a little boy that needs me and I need him just as much. I have a job as a writer, blogger, stylist; um, wonder woman. I have a crazy family. I have friends. I have hobbies (like watching Housewives, Girls and Orange). I had two fish, but they are dead now. I have two plants that are alive-ish. I have a lot of things in my life that were completely separate from my big city, sexy, minty-smelling guy. And I had to remind myself of that. So, here are three ways I refrained from an epic breakdown when the relationship I seriously cherished … ended.
I focused on my son
And I always focus on my son, but now he was the only little man I was focusing on. I was no longer juggling. See, my boy is in Kindergarten, which is uh, the new first grade. He has homework, projects, friends, and he plays sports. Instead of thinking about my ex I sat on the couch and my son read to me. We practiced his sight words. We practiced dribbling a basketball. We played checkers. We spent hours looking for a Lego guy’s head. Hello, time-killer. See what I mean?
When I was in my 20s a breakup meant I only left my bed to go to work—or fine, to the bar. When you’re a functioning mum, you need to keep moving and cook spaghetti and cheer your kid on at his basketball game. Even if you’re not a mum, keep moving. Go to a bookstore and read something, anything while you sip a delicious latte. Go to a trivia night with your friends. Take up a sushi-making class.
I love to exercise. It keeps me sane. I took up hot yoga and it made me feel like I was cleansing myself of my past experiences, drip by drip. It’s a scientific fact that exercise boosts your mood, duh. An even better mood booster when you’re a single mum going through a breakup? A dance party with your kid. (Also a great way to tire him out before bedtime). So, turn up the 80s music and dance in the living room. This is exercise and time with your kid in one. I was never the girl who thought I could tone up and look hot and my man would come running back—absurd. My goal wasn’t to get a thigh gap (Seriously, world? A thigh gap!). I just needed to move—listening to Fiona Apple and Alanis Morissette. Obv.
I reminded myself I’m OK alone
My son’s dad left when I was 11-weeks-pregnant. Cha-yeah! It was the middle of winter. I was 26. I got through my pregnancy, birth, and six epic years of raising my son without his father—without a main man—ding, ding, ding. In addition, I wrote a book and worked in editorial magazine offices. This isn’t a soapbox statement, ladies. There is truth that not every single human being needs a partner to complete them. We are not recluses. We are not sad Sallies. Our lives are not on hold because we haven’t met him yet. I am comfortable being alone. I know how to work all day, pick up a four-month-old baby from daycare, and go home to a dark empty apartment—and not be scared. Rather, be empowered.
To sum it up
- Focus on the prize: Your kid. That little person who loves you unconditionally.
- Exercise. Seriously, take a walk to the mailbox or run up the stairs in your house two times. (Dance in your underwear before bed.)
- Get comfortable in your own skin. Love and honour yourself.