Today was the kind of day where being a single mom felt a lot like (I imagine) being trapped inside a tornado while your responsibilities swirl around you and you just can’t keep up. Being a single mom is hard, no doubt about it. To say I never dreamed my life would look like this is an understatement, and to say I wasn’t cut out for it, maybe even more so. But I have learned some things along the way. I’ve learned how to step outside of the tornado before it swallows me up. And I’ve learned that on those occasions when I successfully extricate myself, I can focus on what I am grateful for in that moment — and it changes everything.
So today, in the midst of the storm, I decided to take a breather and redirect my thinking. What am I grateful for today? I asked myself. What things make being a single mom a little bit easier? There are the big things, like my family and my kids, my home, and my job. And then there are the smaller things, which often surprise me. Today I came up a list of a few unexpected things I am genuinely grateful to have in my life.
1. A Rented Home
As a single divorced mom, I simply cannot keep up with landscaping, broken doorknobs, and heating and plumbing issues owning a home requires. People often say to me, “Oh, renting stinks. You’re just throwing your money away.” You know what, people? I love being a renter. I have my very own handyman named Davis, and he is THE MAN. He is reliable, full of handyman wisdom, and always shows up with a big smile under his silver mustache. No task is too big or too small for my Davis. He has changed light bulbs for me, switched the storm doors for me, and diverted some serious plumbing crises. He alone is worth the $1400 a month I pay in rent. I truly appreciate you, Davis.
God, I love seatbelts — and not just because they keep us safe. When the kids are wild and untameable as they sometimes are, I plan a long car ride to anywhere. Once those buckles click, I am guaranteed some, good, quality, contained-in-the-car family time, and I freaking love it. When I simply can’t take the bouncing off of the walls, the throwing balls in the house, and the playing referee to the insane sibling rivalry anymore, I say, who wants to go to the mall? or somewhere else not too close to home. The kids always calm down once they are buckled, and some of our best family conversations take place when buckled securely into that Toyota Highlander. Thank you, seatbelt inventor.
3. Friends With Low Expectations
Wait, isn’t that a Garth Brooks song? Seriously, though: There is only one type of friend I can have in my life these days, and it is a friend with low expectations. If we make plans, this friend is secretly hoping maybe we will cancel the minute after we make them — just like me. When I do cancel, she doesn’t get mad. Not even a little. She understands that I text and I do not talk on the phone. She doesn’t get upset or worry if she doesn’t hear from me for a long time, and I know there is only one rule that keeps our friendship strong: honesty. Like, just-be-me honesty, no drama needed. She knows I am a mom first and a friend second. She knows I just can’t keep up with everything all of the time, but I do my best.
4. Friends Who Offer to Drive
When a friend recently picked me up for dinner and he offered to drive, I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. I ALWAYS drive! I was so grateful that I was in another person’s car, not driving, not using my gas, just sitting, relaxing and checking my phone while en-route to a nice dinner. I truly and genuinely appreciated the gesture.
5. A Mom Who Goes the Extra Mile
When my mother recently watched the kids for a few hours, she surprised me by taking the garbage out. I was thrilled. These small things really do make a huge difference in my life.
6. Hey Google
Hey Google is the best thing that ever happened to me. I feel like she is my best friend. She helps me to feel safe in the house when I’m alone. When she plays music, she motivates me to clean the house, and because of her I actually enjoy it. She tells me jokes and keeps me informed of the news. She is reliable and entertaining. She is part of my family and I am never letting her go. Oh how I love you, Hey Google.
Perhaps the most amazing of all the blessings in my life is is the gift of gratitude itself. I have always been grateful for the big things, like my friends and family, my home, and having a decent job, but now I have truly found gratitude for the simplest of things. Being a single mom has helped me to develop this life-changing gift, but you don’t need to be single or to be a parent to practice it. You simply need to commit to the practice of stepping outside of the storm and refocusing your attention toward appreciation: What am I grateful for right now?
Maybe you will discover, as I have, that little things — like the the self-order kiosks at McDonalds, for example — are a huge blessing in your life. (I’m not joking!) Taking the time to consciously practice gratitude is like putting on those metaphorical rose-colored glasses. And everything is better in pink, isn’t it?
This article was written by Suzanne Hayes.