Rebuilding the Modern Village…Independent Mothers
“MOMMMMMM…I don’t feel so well.”
“Baby…you need to go to sleep.”
“Please… a three-second snuggle?”
“Baby…I have to work.”
Three seconds. That’s what I’ve allotted myself time to snuggle with my kids at night after they go to bed. Three precious seconds. As a single working mother, that is IT. That is ALL the time I have for snuggling with my kids. Any more time than that, and I will fall asleep next to them. Their small perfect bodies snuggled up against mine, taking me back to a time when they were 7 and 9 months, not 7 and 9 years old. Taking me back to a time, when life was a little bit easier; a time when I shared home care and parenting with another adult.
Without another adult in the household, I have to be everything. There is no divide and conquer. I was expecting myself to do it all. To have a successful career, be an actively engaged school parent, clean the house, go to the gym, cook healthy square meals, chauffer my kids to their weekly activities, pursue self-enrichment, pay the bills, grocery shop, find time for dating, and time for friends. Then reality hit. I couldn’t do it all on my own. When I was doing well in one area, there was another area of my life (usually my house) that was a mess. The golden standard of balance is a myth, and it doesn’t matter how many self-help books I read or diagrams I draw, I am not going to achieve balance in my life.
Then instead of hopelessness, I started to feel real pride in my situation. I wasn’t perfect, but I was doing a lot of things right. I was taking care of myself, I was building a career, I was taking care of my children, and I was doing it all on my own terms. I started to develop a fierce pride in my self-proclaimed independent mother status. No longer was I defined by the struggle of the balance illusion, I was now defining myself by my own right.
As I started to regain my own power, I began to uncover a whole underground network of single mothers. I say underground, because while I was loud and proud about being an independent mother, I found that other women weren’t necessarily as proud. If they were coming out of divorce, they were often embarrassed. Sometimes, they were overshadowed by the struggle. When they heard me speak with pride about my independent mother status, many women reached out to me. We were forming a tribe. We didn’t have to be alone because together we were so much stronger.
IndyMom.org was born. Independent Mothers and other women in support of single mothers are coming together to support and encourage each other. We share stories of triumph and failure. We share advice on topics like fitting nutritious meals and fitness into an already taxed time schedule, getting out of debt, negotiating for better salaries, career advice, and embracing failure as an important part of life. We’re also providing a random act of kindness in our community through a Free Laundry Day where we surprise unsuspecting families at laundromats throughout the city and pay for their laundry. We are rebuilding the modern village, and we’re waving our independent mother flag with pride. Being surrounded by a group of other independent mothers who understand makes me feel a little bit better and a lot less guilty about those three precious seconds.
Diana Ratcliff, the founder of IndyMom, has a background in politics, non-profit, theatre and marketing. After living in Germany for 6.5 years, she moved to Indianapolis with her two bilingual children to rebuild her life as an Independent Mother. She currently works for Collective Alternative as an Account Executive.