This past week, the local Dallas media has openly discussed and grieved one of their own, WFAA’s Saturday “Favorite Foodie,” Stacy Fawcett. Now while I often watched her segment when home on Saturday mornings and had been to the WFAA weekday set a time or two, I never had the privilege of meeting Stacy. As we watched the details of her death unfold and her WFAA friends openly grieve, it sat heavy on my heart. Stacy was stabbed to death, along with her younger teen son by her older teen son, who had suffered multiple concussions/brain injury and, by many accounts told by friends and family, “was never the same again.” Stacy was a single Mom and stood by her son, supporting him, trying to get him the help he needed as he lost his ability to play basketball and no doubt experienced some depression. The public conversations have elevated about concussions, kids/teen sports, effects of brain injury, depression and violence but, while all of these are very important societal issues we must talk about, it was not what was making my heart heavy. Stacy was doing it all as a SINGLE MOM and that, my SHE-friends, I could relate to.
I could not help but ask myself, if this scenario would have unfolded in the mere four years that I was a single mom, how would I have handled it? The anguish Stacy must have felt, the loneliness in her plight, the urge to “put on a happy face” for friends, coworkers and family brought up so many feelings for me, personally.
I found the old fears, joys, regrets all bubbling to the surface. There is no “manual” on being a good single mom, so we just strive to be a great parent. My children were 7 and 9 years old when I began my “single mom years.” Their biological father was only involved for a short time, before he was no longer in their lives due to his criminal activity and the termination of his parental rights.
When we think about the single moms in our lives (and for several of you, that single mom IS you), we tend to see the big picture issues…concerns about finances, custody (if applicable), dating again, etc. But here is a little insider information – my personal smiles and heartaches during that time – much of which I held inside of me, never sharing with those around me, even those I loved the most.
Being a Single Mom meant:
Figuring out how I was going to get to both kids’ games (and I only have two!) which were scheduled at exactly the same time but at opposite ends of the city;
Being concerned about who would talk to my son about the more intricate details of male puberty (I was happy to broach the subject, but pretty sure he was mortified when I did!);
My daughter would never have the chance to be someone’s “Daddy’s girl” like I was;
Warming up with my son before his elementary school baseball games, while all the other boys warmed up with their dads (he was NOT fond of this idea);
Trying to ease the pressure and anguish my two sweet, young children felt to make my Mother’s Day perfect, since there was no other adult in the household to assist;
Being their “go to” parent for both Mom and Dad issues (and me then needing to call other dad-friends to ask how to handle certain issues I knew NOTHING about!);
Being okay with the loneliness I sometimes felt in the silence of the night when both kids had gone to bed. While quiet time can be a wonderful thing, I found that my greatest concerns and insecurities as a single mom came at me incessantly in those quiet moments;
Giving 150% of myself to the kids, with nothing much left for anyone else (that became pretty tricky when I did remarry 8 years ago);
The constant internal struggle with my “superwoman” mentality of “I’ve got this!” vs. my mentally and exhausted self that often shouted from within, “Let others help!” I became convinced, to a fault, that I was the only one who could take care of my children when, in reality, allowing others to help was not a sign of weakness but, rather, a sign of GENIUS and a woman in balance;
Juggling. A lot. Some of the juggling was schedule-driven or time-driven, yet some of the juggling was in my head, in my soul. Get dinner on the table. Have you done your homework? It is 9:30 on a Sunday night and you are telling me NOW that you need to bring a poster board to school tomorrow morning? Am I enough for them? Will they grow up to be confident and kind? Can I really do this without screwing them up?
Spending more time with and sharing more with my parents and sister and brother, because THEY were my support system, babysitters, confidantes during those difficult years who shared the burdens and the joys when I let them in;
When there was good news, a celebration, a victory both the Mom and the Dad in me celebrated with my children;
When they ran in the door after school and after being out at a friends, I was the only one they ran to so they could tell me all about the day’s adventures;
When they were hurt, I was the only shoulder they wanted to cry on or curl up next to;
When they graduated from high school and college (my son just graduated in December), they hug you, love you and thank you for all you did to help them get to this place. And when they live away from you and something big happens (yes, good or bad!), you are always their first call.
SHE-friends, I would not trade even one moment. Our family was different than the nuclear family model, but it is a good family. I am remarried to a wonderful man who is the only man that was there as “Dad” for high school graduations and college graduation. He will be the man who walks my daughter down the aisle and have the joy of holding our grandchild someday. Austin, Alexa and I will always share those 4 years’ of memories, trials, tribulations, heartaches and joys…LOTS of joys.
So as a parting tribute to a woman I never met, thank you Stacy Fawcett for inspiring this personal walk down a former single mom’s memory lane. Thank for reminding us all that it is not easy. Thank you for allowing me to make this Shout Out to my SHE-roes, the Single Moms, in your honor. You will be missed.
Note from the SHE files: Being a single mom is twice as hard, but the return on investment is twice as good!