She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to…Ask Erin! is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions, about anything at all.
*This article originally appeared last December on Ravishly.
I need help dealing with isolation as a single parent. This is my first Christmas since splitting from my ex-husband. He left when my son was 7 months old, almost a year ago, for another woman.
I think I’m over him. I certainly wouldn’t want to be with him again, but I’m jealous of what he has. He has someone he comes home to every night.
I have so much to appreciate. I do. But I see myself isolating others, and I feel isolated. I don’t have many friends with kids, so I feel like my friends don’t understand what I’m going through.
I want someone special in my life, but I have none at the moment. Lots of interest but nobody compelling. Part of me thinks I don’t even have room for anyone else. My 18-month-old takes up a lot of my time. I have help from my parents, I have a good job, but there has to be more than this. Right? I feel guilty for saying that, because my son is everything.
So what do I do about this isolation? Grin and bear it?
First, let me tell you that I really understand. My son’s father and I split up officially when my son was 2, but the marriage had really ended when he was about 6 months old. So, I get it. It can be an isolating and confounding experience to be a new mother, under the best of circumstances. The loss of a partner, even though I assume he is still co-parenting, adds to those overwhelming feelings of aloneness. What you are feeling is valid, reasonable, and normal.
It does get better. The balance between your individuality and your role as a mother will even out. You will find your identity again, your new identity. And it can be a liberating and exciting experience.
Now, for the isolation, it’s something I also understand. When I had my son Atticus, I had all of one friend who had a kid. I felt completely alone in my new role and it took some time getting used to navigating the world plus one.
So what helped? I forged friendships with other moms. I found most of them in mom/baby yoga, which seriously saved my sanity. Some of them I met by chance. Now, there are mom matchmaking websites that can connect you with other like-minded moms in your area. A good starting place is Hello Mamas. It may sound cheesy, but mama, you need a support system of women who get where you’re at.
When Atticus started preschool, I was younger than most of the parents there and was one of the only single moms. It was not rife with friendships for me, at first. At another kid’s birthday party, one mom, after talking to me for a few moments, asked who I worked for. Confused, I explained that I was Atticus’s mom. She said, “Oh, I thought you were the nanny.” Yeah. So, it wasn’t always easy. But, by the end of his preschool years, I did make some friends.
Don’t discount your childless friends! When I couldn’t head out for the night, I had people over. I had dinner parties, whiskey and Scrabble parties, Real Housewives of New Jersey parties (I know, so guilty.). You can incorporate your old life into your new life, you just have to change it up.
As for romance, you will love again, you will be loved again, and it is totally possible to navigate dating as a single a parent. I know all about it, which some of you may recall! And don’t be jealous of what your ex has. In my experience, relationships that spring from affairs never end well. You don’t want what they have, trust me.
And give yourself a break. It’s been less than a year since your breakup and only 18 months since life as you knew it changed. This is a new chapter. Embrace it, you will look back on these days and marvel at how far you’ve come. You won’t feel isolated forever. I promise. xoxo
If you have a question for me about love, sex, relationships, breakups, how to survive thr holidays, how to get through the aftermath of this facacta election, Tiger's Eye, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, your anonymity is golden. xoxo