mardi, juin 09, 2015

A single mother looks ahead and worries about what she sees

As I look down the road and see an empty nest ahead of me, I'm scared.

You see, I don't have that many deep friendships. I haven't become part of a natural rotation in too many people's lives, and it worries me. 

Next year my son, a junior in high school, will graduate. I also have a daughter, twenty going on 45 going on 16, who lives in a Northeast corridor city, finding her way mostly on her own.  She's less gone than she thinks she is, but right now she's far enough away that I can't mother her the way I continue to believe she needs to be mothered.

I have been fortunate so far to have had two callings (the word "job" doesn't begin to cover them) that I love. 

But being a parent? Raising the kids, more or less well, with all of the attendant bumps and moments of rapture and glee, has provided a structure and framework to my life - a purpose beyond all others, if I am honest. 

Now that the youngest is about to fly the coop, I'm taking a look at my social life - and not liking what I see.

As someone who has a lot of married friends, I find that they tend to move in circles that most often involve other married friends. If you doubt, this, ask yourself with whom you have spent time at dinners, or on vacations, or in conversations over a cup of coffee or a craft beer. I'll bet that, most often, it's people who live in circumstances similar to your own.

Some of you readers will probably shake your heads in disbelief. After all, though, I'm quite the introvert, I don't lack for connections. Endlessly curious about human behavior and life's mysteries, I have no difficulty starting conversations, or engaging others. I've got friends, people I like, even love.

Why is it, then, that most of my Friday nights, when my son is with his dad,  are spent reading and working more or less aimlessly on a novel at Barnes and Noble?

I live in the exurbs, and go to the suburbs for fun (yikes). Most of my friends are suburbanite married folk I have gotten to know through church(es), most definitely not hipster havens. 

Let me be clear - this isn't a blame game. It's not something anyone can "fix".

 And dear God, I'm not asking for pity.  My nightmare is being invited to events, not because I would add to a gathering, but because someone feels sorry for that "single mom" (a phrase I adjure most of the time because my kids have a capable father, thank you very much). 

When I first pondered writing about my anxiety in facing this life transition, I wondered if  those of you who read this post about friendship and the single mom will divide, naturally, into two camps.

Some of you, reading about the challenges of being friends with a neither-fish-nor-fowl like me, will wonder why I'm making such a fuss.  After all, those of you who are married have made a life-long commitment (even if it's not to be snarky, your second try as a divorcee or widow/er) to someone - and of course, he or she always come first. Everything gets run by your partner, because, well, isn't that the way it is?

Others will understand, because they have found, along the way, that diversity of friendships, including others in their social circles, enriches their lives and challenges them.

Neither of these two groups are better or worse than the other. I just need to seek out more folks in the second camp.

Which is tough for someone like me, who likes asking the questions and presenting other people's points of view much better than trolling for companions in thought, adventure and mischief. It requires remodeling - another transition - this one unsought, but necessary. 

I'll let you know how I do. 

And I'll try to move forward without bitterness, or regret, or even envy. Life is too short for self-pity.

Remind me, please.;

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