You are loved.
Your children love you, so much.
I know you feel pulled in a million different directions.
You do all the laundry, all the dishes, mow the lawn, fix the drain, get all the pets and kids to their appointments, cook all the dinners, and more. You do it all.
And I know you feel like you are pulled to the left and to the right and upside down and inside out and you just want to sit down with a good book and a glass of wine on a Friday night when the kids go to bed and relax. Please, do it. You deserve some peace and quite and time to yourself. And maybe you want to cry in your pillow and maybe you wish you could follow more of your own career dreams but it's hard...it's hard when you are the only parent.
I know you feel all of this because I have been widowed for three years now.
And some days I feel like enough for my children. I have enough love to wrap them both in for the rest of my life.
And some days I don't feel like enough and maybe I'm not...I'm only one person. I can't possibly do it all. I can't take one kid for a bike ride when they are begging to go at the same time as playing tea party with the other kid. I can't be pulled in two directions at once. It isn't possible but I have found that acceptance of this very true fact is what has gotten me through.
My family life, my children's life at home does not look like families with a mom and a dad and that's ok. Over the years we have found what works for us and my children have learned Mom can't be here and there and everywhere, but she will always love you and she will always try her best each day to fit in time with each child.
They know somedays Mom falls short. They know somedays Mom only read you 3 books when you wanted her to read you 5. And Mom only went around the block with you on your bike 2 times because then she had to run off to comfort your crying sibling when they couldn't find their favorite toy. They know Mom is human and she's only one person and this has actually made my kids more compassionate and patient and understanding.
Dear widowed Mama,
I know you feel stretched thin.
I know your girlfriends want you to go to all of these fun activities with them or just for coffee but you can't pay someone to watch your kids so many days a week. That's right...when you are the only parent you have to pay for childcare most of the time unless grandparents are available and this can really limit your social life.
I know that you wish you could go on dates but you are truly living the Mom life...24/7.
I don't have all the answers on how to make you feel less stretched.
I do want you to breathe.
Do the things you can do for yourself that will rejuvenate your soul and energy.
That might mean staying up later than your kids so you can read a book or chat online with a friend or work on your career.
It might mean inviting your girlfriends and their kids over to your house for dinner so that you get to have some adult conversation without having to find childcare for your kiddos.
Always remember self-care is not fancy spa days, expensive face creams, nights out on the town with friends, amazing vacations.
Sometimes self-care for a widowed mom is just waking up 30 minutes before her kids do so she can sit in the dark of the kitchen with a good cup of coffee and a little candle burning while she checks her email or social media, writes, or reads a good book. Or sometimes she just sits there in silence so she can hear her soul tell her which way to turn today.
Sometimes self-care for a widowed Mom is getting out hiking with her kids. Sitting down on a rock while they run free and play.
Self-care doesn't have to be expensive and it can fit into small moments in your day.
Self-care is sometimes being honest with yourself and with the people that matter in your life that you are stretched too thin, you're feeling depressed, your anxiety is rising day-by-day. Sometimes we feel better after just being able to be real and honest and authentic and not having to appear brave and perfect all of the time.
Widowed parenting is really hard. It's double parenting. You're doing the parenting that two people usually share. But, I assure you, even when you feel stretched too thin, even when you feel like you wish some man would show up and love your kids as his own so you could get a break, even then, when your hair is a mess and you're wearing yesterdays makeup and you're tired and lost and stretched...your kids see their mom. A mom they love so much. A mom they think is perfect and amazing and wonderful.
Your kids just want you, Mama. Broken, messy, imperfect, crying, lost, brave you.
I know you can't soak in all the moments with them all of the time because the house work can't always sit for another day.
I know you wonder every day if you are enough, if what you are doing is the right thing to do in each moment.
I know you feel stretched thin.
Do something nice for yourself today. Buy your own flowers. Decorate your own soul. Get a fresh new book. Invite a friend over for dinner. Go to bed at 8:00 if you have to. It's going to be ok.
Look up, you are loved.
Look up, you are a good mom.
Look ahead to your future...it looks beautiful and things are on the horizon that you never could dream were possible.
The universe is working on your heart.
We are going to be ok.
And our kids?
They are going to be ok too.
Love always, Nik