I just returned from a tropical vacation in beautiful San Jose Los Cabos, & was thinking of how single parenting is a bit like being a cast away, but without Tom Hanks – or even Wilson – around for intelligent, adult conversation. After years of being in a partnership, it can feel a little like being stranded on an island. There’s no sleeping in if your Book Club turned into Wine Club the night before. You’re the only one there when your boys are leaking out both ends with only one working toilet. You are the one they clutch onto desperately in the throes of a terrifying nightmare. You have only yourself for company after they finally go to sleep. Getting a volleyball to hang out with starts to seem like a pretty good idea.
I’m a social creature but crave solidarity; an introverted extrovert, I guess. I had spent a lot of my life trying to find quiet time alone – to read, to write, to renew – but I had very little experience with being lonely. After 15 years of having someone to come home to/someone to come home to me, I was unprepared for the chasm of loneliness that can accompany single parenting.
The “every second weekend off” & “no one pestering you for sex” aspects of being single sounds mighty attractive to my married friends, but I have to remind them that there are also weeknights of eating alone, vacations alone, going to bed alone & waking up…you get the picture.
I kept myself busy with family, friends & dating (before I was a Divorce Doula, I was kind of a Dating Doula) but I had to learn to be alone. As Doug Coupland said “The time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself. Life’s cruelest irony.” Those reflective times allowed me to mourn what was lost, but also anticipate the future: what I wanted from my next relationship, my hopes & dreams for my children, and most importantly, how to enjoy my own company.