I've finally come up with that term or title for myself and I think it's very accurate and I think if I'm given the opportunity to explain what it means to me, people would agree.
I am in a loving, long term committed relationship. We live as a blended family with five kids and a grandchild full time. We both have full and primary custody of our children. We are not married.
I was a single mother for several years. A single mother in the true definition of the term - I lived alone with my two children singly. Truthfully, I lived as a single mother even when I was married in Nevada and still living with my ex husband, but that's a post for another day.
After dating for some time, Josh and I began to talk about moving into together. He brought it up first, it was actually a way of life that I did not think would ever happen for us. But we began to work out the kinks on how and where to make that happen and we did. I still say, and will probably maintain for quite some time, that blending our two families was the hardest thing I have ever done. There were many times in those first few months that I wondered what I had done.
So now here we are, over three years into making this family work, and it was only this past week that I was able to put a term to how I feel in my role as a mother and partner. I am a single mom in that I am not remarried and I am raising my children on my own. But I must add the pseudo caveat because I am in a long term committed relationship with someone I love.
I suppose the hard parts sometimes are that people don't think or realize that I still struggle in every way that a single mother struggles. I have to make decisions for my two children all by myself. Yes I can ask questions and ask for advice, but ultimately it is my choice and my consequences to deal with from them. I am 100% financially responsible for my kids, as he is his. We don't share bank accounts, we don't share expenses beyond what it takes to run the household. School fees, dance classes, softball, etc. Those are all my finances to worry about. The flip side of course, I don't pay for hockey, or medication, or ice skating for his children either. But I feel like sometimes if I speak of money getting tight or wondering about affording something people look around and wonder if it's so. It is so because I am still very much on my own when it comes to that.
I still need to arrange babysitting for my kids I still need to arrange logistics for activities and birthday parties and extra curricular activities. I have a partner in life - I really do and I couldn't be happier about it. But I do not have a partner in child rearing, or money managing, or decision making.
This is the arrangement we have chose and it works for us. But I don't know if other people understand the dynamic of it all. I don't know if people understand that I'm still so going it alone. I have a sounding board, but that's where it ends.
Sometimes it can be lonely. Sometimes it can be liberating. It's the way that we've chose to do things and it's not the way most families operate. I guess in the long run, at the very, very least, we're showing our kids that a family can be what you make of it and how you make it work. It doesn't have to be conventional and it doesn't have to be what anyone else understands or approves of. As long as there is respect and love, there can be a family that is powerful.