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Things Single Motherhood Has Taught Me: Installment 1

Happy Monday! I’m starting the week with a new segment on Mama’s Boy. It’s called Things Single Motherhood Has Taught Me. I plan to update this list routinely, because let’s face it—I learn something new every day. This weekend I learned that…well keep reading!

It was the weekend after Thanksgiving and that meant, it was time to put up the Christmas tree. We put up a real tree because I love the smell and I have a weird thing about fake trees and plants and flowers—I think alive things bring energy into a home. (My Nanny passed away in May 2008 and someone sent a gorgeous plant to the funeral home. I took it home with me and I’ve been taking care of it since. It’s very important I keep it alive.)

All I really wanted to do was head deep into the woods with JD and cut down a lush spruce, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation style. Ahhhh!


But, I did want to get up yesterday and just go. Sometimes I just want to goooooo! I didn’t want to dilly-dally or wait around for someone to help me, but reality is, I needed help. As a single mom with a three-year-old, going to a Christmas center where trees and other festive items are sold is easier said then done. Sure, I could select a tree, tip a kid to tie it to my Jeep, but what happens when I get home? How will I carry it upstairs? Who would hold the heavy glass door open in the garage while I shuffled myself, my purse—oh and JD into the elevator? When I got inside our condo would I be physically able to mount it in the tree stand? Do I know how to assemble a tree stand? (The one I have has various metal pieces, ha!). These are all of the things I was thinking about while I cleaned up the breakfast dishes and JD played golf in the living room with a golf club and the soft ball from his T-ball set (don't ask). I knew the answer was no, no, no and well, it made me feel kind of weak and helpless—and bothered. I don’t like feeling like this. I don’t like asking people for help. Last Christmas my brother, Carlo, helped me get a tree and pop it up in the living room, lights and all! Then he told me, “Don’t forget to water it!” It was kind of annoying. I mean, I haven’t forgotten to water JD since I found out I was pregnant with him—and that’s the point right there, I can raise my son, but, uh, I can’t assemble a Christmas tree (reading that sentence seems silly). I need help. I am not super mom, super woman, super anything!

I called my dad.

He was delighted to come over and help us with our tree project. It would take him about a half-hour to get to our place so I planned to have JD and myself ready to go (again, this is me, controlling everything). But, when my dad arrived he was bearing a grocery bag and a three-pack of Matchbox cars was protruding from his pocket. Suddenly my grand get-a-tree-and-decorate-it plan was sidetracked by…making Sunday sauce and meatballs and JD going bonkers over his new cars! “Is this a potty prize?” he asked. “No, bud. The prize for going potty these days is…emptying your bladder,” I informed him.

I was no longer in control of the day. My father was dicing onions in my kitchen and JD was racing his cars in the kitchen around my father’s feet. And at first, I was a little, I don’t know, not annoyed or ungrateful, just in a moment of having to regroup, but not wanting too, maybe. I decided to do laundry and tidy up my office while my father and JD cooked. My small condo filled with the smell of warm tomatoes on the fire and JD’s “Vrooom-Vroooms!” I smiled.

When I walked into the kitchen after cleaning, I found my father and JD stirring the sauce. “You gotta stir the sauce,” my dad told JD. “Never let it sit too long without turning it over.”

I smiled some more.

Soon, my plan was back on track. We were at a Christmas center buying a tree. But, it didn’t seem like a plan or a scripted agenda. It just seemed fun.

Single Motherhood has taught me it’s OK to ask for help and need help. As an independent woman who is a self-proclaimed perfectionist, who seeks both control and balance in her life, this is hard to admit. When I found out I was pregnant, I felt like I lost control. I felt scared and happy and confused and ready and not ready. The mix of all of these emotions colliding was intense, like a plate with 20 different paints swirling together. It was beautiful, but chaotic all at the same time. What did it mean?

Three years later, I realize, losing control happens, but it's not at all the end of the world. It's life. The good life. 

OK, your turn! What has single motherhood or motherhood taught you? Share one thing, because we’ll be returning to this topic often.