Single Mama gratitude-the larger family edition

On the train with my boys
Mamacandtheboys 2012 All Rights Reserved

When I travel alone, I remember how much I appreciate traveling with Shrek, or a friend. Bringing yourself, and two boys, and your luggage into a crowded public bathroom is challenging. Allowing Sammy to go in a public bathroom alone is still out of the question for me.  It just is. Those “family bathrooms” are such a welcomed gift–the ones that are a big room with their own door in some airports and train stations.

When I travel alone I am always hearing how well behaved my boys are, seconds before I want to scream; “don’t eat the popcorn off the floor PLEASE!!!!!”

When I travel alone, I see how grown up they really are.

When I travel alone I see so many folks looking, smiling, staring, but mostly appreciating our family for whatever reason they are.

When I arrive at the destination, in this case my Dad and his wife’s place only a few hours away by train and bus, I feel so much space open up around me. Space is really about time. Time for me to be one of a gaggle of caretakers. I get to meditate, go for a run, and even say; “here are their pj’s, I am going to go to bed early..” and just like that I am asleep and they are taken care of. For those of you who do not single parent often or ever, I can not begin to tell you how rare a gift that is. To be able to go to sleep in advance of your children? It get’s even better–the boys can wake up and go downstairs and they don’t need me. Grampy is already up. Uncle is already up. The cousins are almost up. I can say; “I’ll be down soon” and no one cares.

I can steal upstairs and write a blog post. I can meditate. I can lie on the bed, and look up at the ceiling and just wonder. I can finish an application for that award and send it off two days early. (I am a semi finalist for a very prestigious award, but I don’t want to say anything else. Just send your good vibes to the panel today and this week. The award has to do with race, culture, and education.) I can even write a poem. It may not be the best poem, but it’s a poem.

When I am with my larger family for a spell, I move slightly out of my motherhood role, and find that I am allowed to be both the mother and the sister, daughter, and just allowed to dip a little more into the all of me circle sketched out on the life stage. I love it here. I also love it when my kids see me here. At the same time, new layers emerge in their persona too. Different members bring out different skills, edges, desires, and needs in them too. Last night as they were playing Uncle Tag and laughing their guts out, I could feel their happiness in a way that I rarely get to see. There is an abandon that Uncle brings out, that is so precious. Watching a ball game with Grampy, or painting with Grammy all show allow for new styles of parenting, and loving on them too. They are celebrated and encouraged, and reeled in through new lenses. Perhaps all of this is so obvious to most of you. To me, perhaps as a single mama who doesn’t share that with a co-parent on a daily basis, many of these observations are somewhat new.


  1. We moved the milk to a lower shelf in the fridge, put the cereal in a lower cabinet along with bowls and spoons and now our kids can get breakfast themselves when they get up before us. Such a simple thing has made a big improvement in our lives. My 10 year old can now also make toast too.

  2. Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! We just got back from an afternoon/evening visit to my SIL’s place where Theo played with his cousins for 6 STRAIGHT HOURS. We had to pry him away sobbing.

  3. Tearing up because my boys don’t have this extended family that I wish they did. Their lives would be so much richer with relationships other than what they can find in our house.

    And oh, how lovely when someone comes to visit, and we go out to dinner, and the guest occupies the boys so I can have a bite of food, or takes one out of the restaurant when he gets restless…I feel, what luxury, and do other people get to feel this way every day?

    • I’m so sorry that it feels so hard to not have the family available for the kids. I am a big advocate for “family of choice” too. We have really created a community here of Aunties and Uncles (related and not). Sending you ease and possibility!

  4. What a beautiful post. It’s exactly how I feel when we’re on vacation with my parents in-law and sister-in-law, when the kids are outnumbered by adults 5:3 and I feel cared for as well as they are, in loving hands and company.

  5. The kids are outnumbered by adults 3:5! Feeling dreamy as I take a break from work to read what my friends are up to and enjoying your vacation away vicariously. This summer my husband and I just aren’t up to the trip to visit his parents with the kids. I so admire you for travelling alone with yours and all that you do as a single parent.

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