Gym Lady and 13.9 Million single parents

As part of my mission to bring back some of the old (and fabulous) parts of Cappuccino Queen that have been missing since tornado Luc, I have being trying to go to the gym as often as I can.  For those of you raising small children on your own, you understand that finding time for yourself can be a bit tough.  This morning, however, I dragged myself (pre coffee) to the gym for a spinning class.  Baby boy enjoyed the kids play area at the gym while I sweat nearly to death on a bike for an hour.  (Oddly, I actually enjoyed the class)

After class,  me and my sister were chatting in the locker room about working out and I was complaining about how hard it is to find the time to work out now that I have baby boy.  A woman about my age was listening in to our conversation and as it was winding down pipped in, smirked, and said, “you need to just get yourself out of bed early and work out then!  Me and my husband have a deal – I workout in the morning and he works out at night.”  As I turned around to acknowledge her comment, I felt my hand wanting to slap her – hard.  Then, I realized that she just assumed everyones situation was as wonderful as hers.

Instead of slapping her, I merely turned to her and said to her in the sweetest voice I could muster, “um well, I am a single parent.  I don’t have a husband to watch my son at 4 in the morning while I work out.  I have to be at work by 6:30am in order to get home in time to pick up my son.”  The woman then got an embarrassed and sheepish look on her face.  After apologizing quietly, she nearly ran out of the locker room.  I couldn’t figure out which hurt worse – her first comment or the pity she had for me when she learned of my situation.

According to the U.S. Census, as of  2010 there were 13.6 single parents in the United States.  Since I only spent a couple of weeks with Luc after baby boy was born, I have been a single parent for nearly my entire time as a parent.  I find this number interesting as most of the people I run into assume that if you have an infant, you must be married of still with the child’s father.  Will the 13.6 million please stand up?  You can’t all be made up of older divorced parents with teens, 16 year old mothers still in high school, or parents in poverty with the other parent dead or in jail! (Oh wait, I better not be so judgement filled myself as my sons father could end up in jail soon as well)

One of the reasons my relationship with Luc lasted even as long as it did is because I was terrified to be one of the 13.6 million.  Even though I had never been a single parent before, I knew it would be tough.  I hate it when I am in public trying to enjoy a day with my son and people notice my ringless finger and either pity me or look at me in disgust.  The silent judgement I receive from large portions of the population is shocking and upsetting, but it is only the tip of the iceberg.  The most painful piece to being a single parent is knowing that I am the ONLY person truly responsible for baby boy.  Sure, I am luckier than most as I have a lot of family who loves my little boy and has stepped up to help me out more than ever, but it will never be the same as a two parent household.

When gym lady gets out of bed in the morning to workout, she is only worried about finding the motivation to exercise.  She is leaving her child with a loving father and not someone who is considering that time “babysitting” or “watching” HER kid.  Since baby boy was born, I have been working.  When I am not at work making money, I am working on raising him.  There is no down time when you are a single parent.  Any time spent away from baby boy is filled with mixed emotions as I am usually feeling either afraid (because he is with his father) or guilty (because I am relying on someone else to watch my son) or just plain miss him.

In addition to working out to get that part of me back, it is clear that I need to figure out how to have balance in my life.  I will let you know if and when I figure that out.