Posted: Jan 23, 2014 8:00 AM
Is single parenting all work and no play? Not necessarily. A single mom shares her favorite things about flying solo with her two young sons.

While some women take on single parenting by choice, many are thrust into the situation — sometimes suddenly. This was the case for me. Now that I have, oh, over a year of single parenting under my belt, the journey is less about survival and more about finding joy in unexpected circumstances. Here are 10 things I love about single parenting.

1^ I call the shots

I share custody of the kids with my ex-husband, but they're with me all but four nights a month. This means my type A personality gets to run wild. I make many of the little day-to-day decisions I enjoy making — whether it's what they have for dinner or where they get their hair cut.

2^I feel like a badass

When I accomplish things on my own, with no other adults to help me out, I feel strong and independent.

I'm a pretty handy lady, but there were a few things I'd never done on my own until I had to do them on my own. For example, until my ex moved out, I'd never installed a car seat. When I accomplish things on my own, with no other adults to help me out, I feel strong and independent.

3^I've learned to ask for help

I may be an expert car seat installer now, but I'm not entirely on my own. When I tried to install a pendant light, I called my neighbor and she helped me climb onto my dining room table to rewire the light. I've learned to ask for support, whether I need a solo trip to the grocery store or a shoulder to cry on.

4^I'm closer to my family

My marriage was isolating. Now that it's just me and the boys, I've become much closer to my family. We have dinner with my parents, with aunts and uncles, with my brother and sister. My kids see more of their extended family now, and I love that they're experiencing growing up around a lot of family like I did.

5^I don't have to shave my legswoman's razor, isolated

Wait, this one is totally depressing. The truth is, I've been more invested in my appearance lately. I feel confident when I think I look good, and sometimes that means shaving my whatever even if no one's actually going to notice. Dating when you're a single mom isn't a walk in the park, but I'm slowly getting the hang of it.

6^I have a special relationship with my sons

As much as it hurts my heart when my children have nightmares and rough times, I'm so grateful to be there to hold them in the middle of the night. Nurturing them gives me strength. We're a tight unit of three, and hope as they get older we continue to be buddies.

7^I get time off

For four nights a month, I'm totally on my own. Sometimes I miss my kids the moment they walk out the door, but most of the time I'm able to decompress and focus on the elements of my identity that aren't tied to parenting. This is a crucial part of staying sane and I'm thankful for the time my co-parent spends with our kids.

8^I know my kids really well

I'm borderline obsessive about what my kids are up to. I spend a huge amount of time alone with them, and that much contact gives me unique insight into their moods and the details of their lives that I treasure, from the names of friends to the scribbles on homework. They're going to hate this in a few years. Hopefully I'll have new hobbies by then.

9^I involve others in my kids' lives

My kids aren't stuck with me all the time. We avoid cabin fever by hanging with other cool adults, like my brother and my best friend. Every trusted adult who comes into contact with them brings a unique perspective and opportunities to learn. They've been gardening, learning about off-road vehicles and boating — because they're being raised by a village.

10^I have them

Divorce was a traumatic experience. As I navigated the foggy, devastating end of a relationship that had lasted nearly half my life, my kids remained my anchor. They still are. Even when I feel lonely, I'm not alone. I have joy, love and purpose. I also have two little reasons to devote time and energy to myself. I want them to see a healthy adult who works for the things she wants and deserves. I want them to know they can have that too.

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