Edgy Mama Redux: Thoughts from under the Single Parenting Bus
By Anne Fitten Glenn
I haven’t written publicly about parenting in more than a year. This after eight years of blogging, four years of a weekly column in Mountain Xpress, and another year of inconsistent columns in the same newsweekly, all loosely probing my experiences as a mom.
What happened to curtail my writing? The same stuff that may have happened to many of you – separation, divorce, figuring out life as a part-time mom, struggling to support myself and my children (financially and emotionally), searching for a job despite kid-sized holes in my resume, dating (sucks), striving for balance while commuting and working long hours, and, but not limited to, dealing with my kids’ coming-of-age dramas. In a word: life.
During my 13 years of marriage, I was lucky enough to need only part-time employment. Enviro-spouse had a great job (Still does, if you’re looking for that. Get down, girl). His work includes extensive travel, and thus, it made sense for me – the oft-underpaid writer, journalist, teacher, and non-profit worker – to stay home with the kids much of the time. It was an embarrassingly traditional model, that, yes, chafed me often. Oh, you’re a stay-at-home writer? Wink, wink.
Without falling too deeply into the obvious cliches, that time with my young kids was memorably precious (Although I have no desire ever again to change a poop-laden diaper, even that of a future baby who shares my DNA. Are you reading this, my offspring?).
The curse of the model, of course, was once I needed to jump back into the work force, I discovered I’d been set back by those aforementioned kid-sized holes in my resume. I eventually landed an excellent job, but, before that came some scary, even sketchy months. The pinnacle of sketch included six months in a smelly, tiny apartment with a crew of 20-something punks living overhead and windows that rattled in their frames at the slightest breeze. And this was while trying to get used to not being with my kids half the time and dealing with the resultant bewildering grief and loneliness. I can’t even think of anything humorous to say about that time. (Channeling Scarlett O’Hara now, but in need of better lighting).
Today, almost three years after soldiering through a number of swift transitions, I can recognize some pros of single parenting. Number one is that when the kids are mine, they’re mine. There isn’t another parent around to tell me we can’t have popcorn for dinner or play video games all night. I can break the rules if I want. Hell, I can rewrite the rules as needed or throw them on the illegal bonfire in the backyard (Shhhhhh!).
The number two benefit of divorce? Adult alone time. I often tell folks with older children that getting divorced can be liberating in ways they may not have considered. Depending on your situation, you now have time to yourself on a fairly regular basis, as opposed to rarely, which was the case in my marital experience. Of course, getting used to that and learning to appreciate and enjoy it can be a journey in and of itself. Sundays are our kid-trade day, and either equal me getting my kids back (yay) or me getting my single life back (also yay). For a while, I traded the kids for the boyfriend, which, while not an equitable exchange, was fun, for reasons yáll likely can imagine.
While the boyfriend’s now past tense, I do get a thrill of anticipation for most pass-the-kids-back-to-the-ex Sundays. Other Sundays, I’m just sad. I work long hours during my no-kids weeks, but there’s a corresponding freedom to those weeks as well. If the house is a wreck, it’s a wreck. I don’t have to feed anyone except myself (and my pets). I can spend an entire weekend watching Netflix, eating chocolate and drinking beer (OK, many weekends). Some of my married friends are jealous. Sure, divorce is a bad financial decision. It’s emotionally draining. But hey, independence can be exhilarating — just like jumping out of an airplane in the seconds before the parachute deploys.
So why bring back Edgy Mama now? I miss writing. I miss the discipline of the craft. Like many of us, my focus has been fractured by the constant stimulation and variety of the on-line universe. Between work and kids and the rest of life, I don’t have much creative time these days. Forcing myself to sit down and reflect—to practice my craft again—feels luxurious.
And yes, I like stirring pots. I like telling my stories and hearing yours. I like it when readers respond—whether with a laugh, a feeling of identification, or even with anger or constructive criticism.
I like how, as soon as I sit down to write, so many words itch to be tapped out on this keyboard.
Will I continue to write this column? That depends on you, dear readers—both old and new. Tell me your stories, and I’ll tell you (some of) mine.
Long-time journalist & writer Anne Fitten Glenn wrote the book Asheville Beer: An Intoxicating History of Mountain Brewing. She’s currently the East Coast Marketing Director for Oskar Blues Brewery. She lives in Asheville with her kids, her Dorkie Poo mutt, and a refrigerator full of craft beer. Follow her at @brewgasm and @edgymama.
Thanks for writing again & talking about your life on such a personal level. As an aspiring writer/blogger & trying-to-figure-it-out-mama, your words are encouraging and your stories are perfect (in the “just what I needed to hear” kind of way). <3
Sad to see an article that touts the benefits of divorce. Or are you just noting that this cloud has a silver lining? I know the reality that some marriages need to end for the well-being of the individuals involved, but lets not make a sales pitch of it.
I guess you missed the bewildering grief and loneliness part.
Hi EM- great to read your writing again! Look forward to more in the future. I raised a 20 year old on my own and, looking back, wouldn’t change a thing. I remember having a strict and early bedtime for my kid so I had a good amount of “my time” every night. I think that’s what kept me sane!
Boring before. Still boring now.
Great post! I miss me some Edgy Mama! XO
Hi EM, it’s good to read you again.
Great article. I look forward to reading more from you. I remember your articles from before. There’s a new maturity to your writing. While your earlier work showed a little bit of naivete your new voice is strong and clear and has distinct point of view. I look forward to reading more about your journey. Even with a few battle scars but no worse for wear it’s great to have your back.
Yep, I’m older and (a little) wiser, for sure. And definitely more confident in my writing skills. Thank you for noticing and commenting on.
Isn’t it interesting how our voice changes when we wipe away the illusions of our youth about what we thought our lives should look like? Keep up the good work and always speak your truth!
Awesome post, I enjoyed reading this very much!! I am a single mom to a little one and even though I don’t get to pass my child off to her father (dead beat dad) and get that alone time that I crave DAILY … I can appreciate calling all the shots and making up the rules as we go – as well as Netflix and chocolate! I also know how lucky I am to have an amazing career working full-time from home. Sometimes I ask myself why even bother with the often uncomfortable and icky dating scene … except for the reasons you pointed out. Thanks again for the post, look forward to reading more!
I haven’t read your work before, but sure did enjoy this. Please write more! You captured the bitter-sweetness of it all perfectly. Perhaps someday you’ll also tackle the confusion of mixed families and step-parenting! (although I hope not, for your sake).
best part of me being married…3 fine sons that are now grown up and I am so proud of…. better part…well, getting away from the mother of same-said. people change over time. we did.
Good decision! Glad to have Edgy Mama back.
I loved this. Keep them coming, Edgy Mama!
Wow! It’s like you’re writing as the mom version of my single dad experience. Divorce IS a horrible financial decision (esp because I was the primary income source – and still am), but otherwise not that bad a decision in the end, if it lets us rediscover the self we lost in the mix. In many ways I feel like I’ve come back around to nearly the same starting point, perhaps with a little different baggage – but a whole lot wiser.
Thanks, all. Cheers!
Yay! I adore edgy mama, and I look forward to more thought and discussion provoking posts.
Welcome back – and yes, another kidless fan here!
I love being divorced! It has been a good transition for my family. We are all doing much better. Thanks for the piece, and looking forward to you being able to spread your wings at Ashvegas. We all know there’s more to mother(parent)hood than the cutesy/funny we get so much.
I went through many of the same things over the last 3-4 years and can identify with (and maybe verify) the results. Good to see you back in the writing realm again.
Thanks. I’ve got lots more stories to tell about these experiences–glad you (and others) can identify…
Yay! love you
Good post, AFG! Welcome back, and yes, please continue stirring pots. Even those of us without kids appreciate what you have to say.
not a parent; love Edgy Mama. glad to see this return, and hope AFG continues to share her experiences.