Single Mom Slice Of Life:
Why Weird Is The New Normal

As a single parent, there are certain things that I have learned to accept.  For example I do not have the ability to do just one thing at a time; it’s either four things at once, or none at all.  I’ve learned to deal with the fact that no matter what I do, one kid will always feel as though the other is being given preferential treatment.  I’m pretty good at pretending that I’m listening to an argument and caring about the outcome while at the same time I suck at being able to have my bank account at anything more than a zero balance the day before payday.

So, we all have our strengths and weaknesses in this funky parenting game we play, but usually parents have partners to tell them when they’re sane, doing a good job, maybe need to let up in other areas and I don’t have that.  No matter how open we are, no matter how much I share, still 90% of my parenting time is spent behind closed doors with my kids.  Therefore, every once in awhile I have to wonder, am I doing okay as a parent?

If you’ve read anything at all about my family, you know we’re odd.  We have circus names, we hold family court sessions, and we often speak in foreign accents simply because we’re bored.  I have gone to school with my high school kid if for no other reason than to let him know I was paying attention to him.  I’ve made them walk to the grocery store and back for a single loaf of bread just so that they would be forced to spend time together and learn to get along, and I’ve never ever kept them from singing in their loudest most off key voices whenever the mood strikes.

As I have no other adult to bounce my insecurities off of, I often will turn and ask my kids.

Me: Am I a good mom?

Justin: Are you kidding?  You’re the best.

Me: Are you sure?  Because I know I’m not normal, so…

Justin: Well duh, none of us are normal.

Me: Yeah, but again, I’m not a normal parent.  What if I’m the one that made you not normal?

Justin: Then I just have to say, THANK YOU!  Have you seen normal people?  They are WEIRD!

Later, the three of us sat on the couch, watching a movie.  It’s not a large couch, but there we all sat. That in and of itself wasn’t a big deal, we watch movies a lot.  But this was an older movie, one that we haven’t watched in ten years.  There is no doubt that the Country Bears is a kid movie, but there, a 38-year-old, 17-year-old, and 12-year-old watched a movie with animatronic bears. We were laughing out loud, singing the songs, and repeating funny phrases and I couldn’t help but look first to my left, and then to my right.

They didn’t care that this was a cheesy old movie.  They didn’t care that they were sitting on a couch with their mom on a Wednesday night.  They didn’t care about any of it.  They were reliving a movie experience a decade old, and they were loving it.

If they loved living through it the first time, and they loved reliving it again all these years later – their childhood wasn’t/isn’t that bad.  And if their childhood isn’t/wasn’t that bad, then I must be a pretty good parent after all.  I’m not bragging, please believe me I have more losses than wins when it comes to this whole parenting thing, but it is good to find and celebrate the wins when they arrive, don’t you think?

What about you?  What was the last thing that made you feel like you might have a handle on this parenting thing?  Have you been brave enough to ask your own kids how you are doing?  Let us know!

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Wendy Syler Woodward has been a single parent for 10 years, with two boys ages 12 and 16. Originally from southern California, Wendy moved her family seven years ago to Phoenix where she manages a law firm for work, writes for fun, and this year returned to college for her B.A. Follow her on Twitter @WendySyler.