By Amy Amatangelo
Parenting is hard. This we know. But you know what else is hard? Being single.
I spent a good part of my thirties worrying that I would never meet the right man, never have a baby and never have the family I so desired. Sleepless nights. Really bad dates. The booming sound of my biological clock. These things tortured me.
I love the life I have now. I can’t believe that after all those minutes, hours, days, nights, weeks, months and years of worrying, I have the family I always wanted. I know it’s a cliché to say you have to pinch yourself to believe it’s true. But I feel like that every day.
I wish I could go back to my 34-year-old self and tell her “Don’t worry. You’ll meet the right guy. You’ll have a baby. Everything is going to work out.”
Then maybe my 34-year-old self, secure in the knowledge of what her future would hold, could have enjoyed the freedom that does come with being single. And I don’t mean I would tell my 34-year-old self to sleep in (I would and I would tell her to do it as often as possible. I would tell her to try to sleep for a whole day straight if possible) but I would make sure she really knew to enjoy and savor the following:
Nobody Cared What Was for Dinner: Honestly I can’t even remember what I ate for dinner when I was single. I have no idea what I cooked. I think I heated up soup, ate a bowl of cereal, made pasta with sauce from a jar or picked up take out. But now dinner is a thing. I have to plan for it. I have to make it. I like cooking well enough but having to do it almost every day? Not so much. And usually, before my daughter even gets to the table she announces “I want something else.”
I Could Talk to My Best Friend for Hours: Many a nights I spent on the phone going over the minutiae of my day with my best friend. And, yes, much of our conversation centered around our latest dating mishaps but we knew everything about each other’s lives. I used to joke that I could go into her office and do her job because I knew so much about it and the people she worked with. But now I have my family and she has hers (twins so she’s definitely more tired than I am). Phone conversations are hard to schedule. Get togethers are nearly impossible. Often she’ll end up telling me something important about her life months after it happened.
When I was Sick, I Didn’t Have to Take Care of Anyone But Myself: Sure no one else was around to take care of me when I was sick, but I could lay on the couch all day long, watching TV and eating crackers. That doesn’t happen when you have a toddler. My worst day as a parent was when I was really sick, my husband had to work late and there was no one available to watch my daughter. That was the day she had frozen French toast sticks in front of the TV for dinner.
My Mess Was My Mess: Seriously I’m not neat. At all. I have a tendency to scatter things about, to walk over something instead of picking it up, and to leave piles of folded laundry on the couch instead of putting it away. But compared to my daughter and my husband, I am a paragon of organization. I’ve suddenly become the neat one in the family (you can hear my friends and family laughing right now). I’m picking up toys, wiping up crumbs, and complaining about socks left on the floor. I didn’t know how good I had it when my mess was the only one I had to worry about.
I Didn’t Know About the Next Level Of Worry: It’s not like I didn’t have any worry at all when I was single. I worried about myself, my job, my sister and my parents. And now I worry about my husband. But nothing, nothing compares to the worry I have for my daughter. It is a level of worry I didn’t know I was capable of. It’s a level of worry I cannot accurately describe. It’s a level of worry only a parent knows.
I would love to hear what you wish you had appreciated when you were single. Post your thoughts in the comment section.