Friday, September 2, 2011


When I dropped my son off at his dorm, they had a Route 66 decoration theme that I thought was very clever and cute. To me it is representative of these freshman students taking off on a road leading them to a new future. All summer long, we prepared for this adventure. I heard some of my friends complain that their kids were acting out by being defiant and rude. I struggled with my son being out til 2 a.m. hanging out with his friends. But otherwise he was a good kid all summer. Working hard at his job and playing baseball on a college league in his spare time which wasn't much. When I brought up how some of his friends were acting out, he scoffed and replied that our family didn't need him to be creating such drama - we'd already seen our share and we wouldn't put us through anymore.

I read in a book about parenting teens headed off to college, that the summer before departure is one of realigning relationships within the family. They also talked about this during our orientation at the college saying that kids act up to create distance between their families, which then makes it easier for them to leave.

One point in the book that I found especially interesting stressed that for single parents, this transition is especially difficult because of the multiple roles a single parent plays. Whenever I encounter a point like this I feel so validated. Someone out there understands how hard it is to be an only parent like I am. I am not crazy feeling so tired, drained, exhausted and frustrated after years of raising my sons on my own. Yes, there is a great part of me that is so proud of how successful my sons are turning out. But it is often trumped by those other feelings which seem to overpower the good.

In my opinion, based on personal experience and my training in psychology, widowhood is far more complicated than people expect or acknowledge. There are so many conflicting layers such as this one: a parent taking on multiple roles. Most people don't stop and think of the complications. They just make comparisons based on other parents. It is rare to come across anyone who makes the distinction between a two-parent unit and a single or only parent one. I just find it an added burden to always be compared to the status quo when I'm so far from it. And I continue to wish that more people were aware of the issues facing only parents. I'm not sure any great changes would come of it. But simply for the public to have some more awareness of what only parent families face, may garner some sympathy and compassion for them in the future. And maybe that would be enough of a change to be helpful for others traveling this road that will follow me with younger children to raise.

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