Single Mom Slice of Life
I have been a single parent for too many years to count. Over the years we have created, changed, and resurrected and faked our way through a plethora of traditions and idiosyncrasies that make us who we are.
A few examples:
Before we turn on a light in a main room we state “warning!” I don’t know why, it’s just what we do.
If your birthday falls on a weekday, you get your birthday cake for breakfast.
When one boy says, “mom he hit me!”, my immediate response will always be, “did you deserve it?”
I look back and smile that I taught my boys to pee by tossing cereal in the toilet for them to aim for. I’m proud of the fact that I helped raise Justin’s reading level by muting the TV and making him watch closed captioning.
But by far, my favorite has been and will always be… family night. Just this week we ordered Mexican food from the local pizza place (we live in a small town, it is what it is), and watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Netflix. Just a mom, her two boys, and four crime fighting turtles. It was perfect… until Nick passed out because he had worked all day, and Justin said he was tired from having to walk home from school.
It didn’t matter. It was family night, a tradition born many, many years ago.
In all honesty was born of a single parent not having any money. We used to hide movies from ourselves so we didn’t watch them during the week and had something to watch on Friday nights to make up for not being able to rent or go to the movies.
Back in the beginning, dinner for family night included a $3 box of frozen chicken, a $1 bag of frozen potatoes that I would use a food processor to turn into mashed potatoes, and a pint of ice cream split three ways.
There are some days I miss that… for a ton of reasons.
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The boys were young. They didn’t know that the $5 dinner for three people was splurging. They were excited for Friday nights because we ate on a blanket instead of at the table. We turned all the lights off in the apartment. We laughed, we ate, we cuddled.
Over time, things changed. They were little things at first. We were able to rent movies. We bought KFC instead of frozen Banquet. The boys got older and we started staying up later, watching TV instead of movies. Their excitement lessened and the sighs at having to spend time with mom increased.
Then the changes got bigger. Family night got a little shorter, everyone going their own ways after all the pizza was gone. Eventually, as the boys hit middle school and high school, family night became more optional than mandatory. School dances, going over to friend’s houses took precedence over Will Ferrell or whatever series we were addicted to at the time.
A few times we would move family night to try and keep it alive, and other times, I ate a sandwich while I waited for the call that signaled my break as chauffeur was over.
The amazing thing about change is that it is never ending. Family night didn’t die… it was just stalled. Nick makes it sure to come back home on Friday nights so we can order pizza and watch movies. Justin had told his friends to make plans for the weekend, but not Fridays because he’s already booked. I turn down invites out with friends because… well… my kids are now 20 and 15 and I don’t know how many more chances I get with them.
The ones I do get, I cherish, and I hope that when they have families of their own, they create, change, and appreciate the traditions they make… for whatever reasons they make them.
What about you? Are there traditions your family made that have lasted various growth spurts? What are they? Which is your favorite?