Looking Beyond The Single Mom’s Highlight Reel

The next time you glance at a fabulous single’s timeline with a twinge of envy, remember that it is only the highlight reel.

I’m an active Facebooker. When I do something fun, I’ll often post pictures. But as we all know, Facebook is only a highlight reel of the fragments we choose to show.

People periodically comment to me that they should get divorced like me so they could do fun things like travel and go out.

I’ve learned to move past the unintended sting those words bring and recognize that the person uttering them is simply tired or resigned. We all have moments when our lives feel stagnant or stuck, or that we are cruising at full throttle, moving from work to the kids’ activities to the laundry pile to sleep.

To be clear, I won’t be advocating for anyone to jump on the divorce train.

I do not get to do fun things because I am divorced. The apocalypse of my former life forced me to reconsider my mindset. I chose to learn as much as I could from my mistakes and to change my worldview. With everything torn apart, I examined the pieces and shifted my priorities.

The past three years helped me recognize that I have a choice in what I do and the types of people with whom I spend time. While putting my life back together, I found that my support network and friendships changed. There are many incredible people who have been with me throughout, but I also purged my life of toxic people and situations. As I focused on my own positivity and how I approach each day, I have surrounded myself with other people with good energy.

I am active, so I seek out others who enjoy playing sports and running in their free time. I write, so I seek out writing networks and meet other book lovers. I adore a group of fantastic moms who aren’t afraid of a road trip with booster seats and a boatload of snacks in tow.

I do not get to travel because I am divorced. I prioritize that experience, both with and without my kids. I am able to occasionally travel on my own for the same reasons that many other parents—regardless of marital status—can: Nana and Poppy are willing to have a few sleepovers with the kids, or to watch my dog for a couple of days. I spend a lot of time creating lists of our daily routines for caretakers, coordinating co-parenting schedules and making sure activities are covered. An early flight means searching for a sitter available at 6am who can get kids out the door because there is no one on standby here at the house.

Each of us, no matter our circumstances, works hard to build the life that we want.

So the next time you glance at a fabulous single’s timeline with a twinge of envy, remember again that it is only the highlight reel. While much of my activity is based upon grabbing life with both hands, it is also to keep busy. Even after three years, I still struggle with a too-quiet house when the kids are gone; I carefully limit long stretches of time alone. For many selfies snapped, there is a holiday spent without my children.

I work hard not to dwell on these moments. Life is short, and we can each fill it with laughter. Sometimes it takes some effort, but the reward is worth it.

Tracy Jensen is a writer, marketer, single mom, fundraiser and music lover. She has been published on a number of platforms, including BonBon Break, Scary Mommy, Mamalode, EverydayFamily and SheOwnsIt. She is also a contributor in the upcoming HerStories Project anthology So Glad They Told Me, a collection of essays about motherhood. She believes fresh air, a good cup of coffee and a compelling story can cure just about anything. Find her on Twitter @bytracyj.

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