Monday, December 21, 2009

A Lack of Balance

So, that's how I feel today, only I wish the teddy bear was my little girl. Then again, if it were, I may not feel this way.

The holidays are having a disturbing effect on my this year. It's my first year without Miss M on Christmas Day, although I get her the following day for 3 days. Still, I think I'm feeling the culmination of a lot of things...

Over on Big Little Wolf's Daily Plate of Crazy, BLW posted yesterday about not feeling balanced because of an inability to do things for herself. I totally relate to that. On the days I have Miss M, besides going to work, I only spend time with her. This also goes for the weekends when I have her. True, we do playdates with other parents, but there's no time for me alone. On the nights when I don't have Miss M, I make time for Hot Girl. She above anyone understands the necessity of "me" time, but I feel guilty taking it instead of spending time with her as I know she misses me. Throw work into the mix and there's very little for me.

I see a shrink every other Friday. He's been great at helping me work through the anger of my Ex's affair, given me great suggestions on how to communicate with her to get what's necessary out of the co-parenting relationship, and is helping me work on my "picker" in romantic relationships. He truly is amazing. By far the most effective therapist I've ever had. Last Friday, he suggested that my life is out of balance. I'm either all on at work, with Miss M, or with Hot Girl. No where in there is time for me to go to the gym, do significant meditation or spiritual work, or explore what I want out of life.

Don't get me wrong, I don't regret any of this. Thing is, when I'm not with Miss M, I'm thinking about the next time I will be. Being a father to her is the most satisfying thing I've ever done, no exception. I feel stretched though and often tired. Shrink thinks I'm sad. I think he's right. About what, though, I'm not sure.

Is it possible that I'm still mourning over the loss of the marriage? Probably. Not the lose of the Ex, but maybe over the loss of what the Ex was supposed to be and represent. I'm certainly stressed about money. Times are tight. While she rarely says so, I know Hot Girl is frustrated that she is essentially the "Tuesday night and every other weekend girl." Unavoidable at this point and she understands it, but she has a valid reason to feel that way. I feel guilty even though no one has told me I should be.

Shrink suggested that I get a baby sitter on Saturdays for a couple hours when I have Miss M. That way I can go to the gym, see a friend or two, or just get some general "me" time. I'm considering it, but I know I'd be thinking about what funny thing Miss M might be saying that I'd miss or the spontaneous hugs that she runs over to give me. I get it, I really do...if I do things for myself, even a little bit, I most likely will be able to feel more whole, less tired, and to get better quality time with both Miss M and Hot Girl. So why am I hesitant to do it?

Maybe because this is the norm for me. I've been so conditioned to "do for other in order to get back" that I feel selfish taking time away. It's a catch 22, right?

What do you other single parents do to recharge your batteries and feel more whole? Balancing the child, work, significant other, and health (spiritual, physical, and emotional) is tough. For me right now, that last one is getting ignored. Suggestions welcome :)


ShellSpann said...

Gosh it's so tough. I've been doing this single parent thing for awhile and sometimes for me it's still difficult to find that balance. I try really hard to get a sitter here and there so that I can have time for myself and time for my relationship. Otherwise I would probably be depressed and go crazy. I love my kiddos and I miss them when they aren't with me. But I am very grateful for that time that I get for myself. *hugs* It will get better with time. It takes awhile to figure it all out and find that balance. And even then, you'll have days where you just feel "off". But it does get better. Promise!


MindyMom said...

I really cherish my *me* time and sometimes that's as simple as chillin' with a glass of wine and a chick flick after LO goes to bed. It's hard for me to have any real *alone* time though, with four kids it seems at least one of them is always around but as long as I take some time for myself I get to feel recharged. I do work out at home so that makes it easier to fit in the exercise part of it and I can get out with friends or the b/f often too.

You can always take advantage of those precious nap times to read a book or something too!

I hope you feel more balanced soon. And I'm sure you now it's not unusual to feels the blahs around the holidays.

Daddy said...

Look man sorry I can't offer advice as a single parent but I still go through alot working a full day and only seeing my 4 C's an hour or two ath the most a night. You have got to do something for yourself during this tough time. Hit the gym, run, get a heavy bag, something to pound out the frustration on and get it out. The only thing I can tell you from personal experience is that the more you let it bother you the worse you will be. Plus as a parent you know that you would'nt want Miss M to feel down if she could'nt have what she wanted all the time, you would do your best daddy job and boost her up and make a lesson out of it and teach her how to never let anything bring her down. Now Big City Dad....Get your arse out there and tear it up.

ZenMom said...

I don't have any brilliant advice to offer. I am in awe of single parents. I can barely do this job *with* a partner.

But I do want to offer a big holiday *hug* filled with the best wishes for you and your baby girl.

Travis said...

As my single brother told me.... dude (Yeah he is in his 20's) go to the gym. do something. you won't be of any use to anybody if you don't do something that lifts your spirits.

And I used to be the one to give him advice. :)

Debbie said...

hmmm..this is hard! I think the key for me is letting go of the guilt! I give my kids as much of me as possible..but when they are not with me, and once in a while when they are..I do something for me! and sometimes that means saying no to someone or something else, if its really not what I want to do...I know it tough!! holidays hurt when you are not with your kids!!:(

Nicole said...

Balance? I laugh at balance. I'm a contortionist. I give to the kids and try for a little me time the six days a month that I don't have them. It's a good thing I like them so very much. But yeah, I need to unwind and work on me in the coming year. It's one of the very first resolutions I intend to break.

Anonymous said...

BCD - my ex lives 6 hours away, so my 'me' time is few and far between, and even when my Rose isn't with me it just feels like I don't stop going because I'm trying so hard to catch up with everyone.

My solution? Well, there's a few little things that have helped. Most gyms have daycare facilities for kids. I've gotten Rose used to the one at mine, and I take her there once a week for my yoga class. She knows that it's time for mommy to go to her "yogurt" class when I put on my gym clothes. Plus, she gets to play with other kids. It's helping her learn to socialize, and it's helping me keep my sanity.

Why not invite Hot Girl over for a movie night after Miss M's bedtime? This way you don't feel so obligated to spend every free moment with her when you don't have Miss M. Not every night, just here and there, in between loads of laundry.

I know that your family is far away so time with them to give you time off isn't an option. Do they ever visit? Even a week or two vaca to NY to spend time with Miss M would be great because it would give you time to get away on a little mini-vaca, even if you're only gone for 3 days it will give you a chance to recharge.

You will be a better father if you make time for yourself, and your little girl will also learn that daddy needs some me time, too. She knows that you love her, but it will do her good to learn how to take care of herself by watching you do the same.

jenn said...

Since I don't share custody, I don't have days without Shiloh. I take my me-time when I can find it. Usually after Shiloh's in bed. That's hard right now while I'm in college because my me-time becomes homework time. But you do what you have to. I do need to find a way to work in more healthy habits. It isn't easy though.

T said...

Yoga, cycling, swimming, running....

I have to do these things or else I show up a resentful Mommy or stressed-out girlfriend. I know this about myself.

People have given me the oxygen mask analogy. Like they say on airplanes? Put the mask on yourself first. Take care of yourself first. Then you'll be able to be more present with others in your life and a whole lot less sad too.

Hey, at least you see a therapist. That counts as *me* time too!

Anonymous said...

When I was married, I was a stay at home mom for almost 6 years. I gave and gave and gave of myself until there was basically nothing left. In the last year I've been learning how to make time for me, and it's made all the difference. It's really important for you to make sure you carve out time for yourself. You'll be a better father, a better partner, and a better co-parent trust me.

Start with something small and manageable, even if it's just an hour to yourself. Give it some time, and see how it feels. I think you'll likely surprise yourself.

Hang in there. It's not easy for any of us. There's a lot of trial-and-error involved :)


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