Eleven years ago, I didn’t have a care in the world. I was a recent college graduate living on my own outside of NYC, and my only responsibilities included bills and work. Any night of the week you could catch me at a bar or lounge in the city, sometimes until three or four a.m., and then waking up the following morning at seven to prepare for work. My social life was in full swing. It came to an end when I found out I was pregnant with my son in 1999. “Partying like it was 1999" turned into planning for my son’s future.
I remember attending a fashion show during New York Fashion Week. I was about seven months pregnant and barely showing, (I was one of those women who only gained about 10 pounds and managed to give birth to an nine-pound baby.) I ran into a few friends, and they all had glasses of wine in their hands. One friend complimented me on how much weight I had lost and another friend asked where my glass of wine was. They both remembered, “Oh, you’re pregnant”. After that point, I felt as though I was the leper friend that wouldn’t get invited out any more.
Ten years later, I think I’ve found the perfect balance between being a single parent and still maintaining an active social life. I now live in D.C., and while it's not New York City, there’s always something going on. I have friends who throw parties and have art gallery shows, and I host my own events, which allows me to keep a healthy social calendar. Although I love spending time with my son, it’s not what I want to do 24/7. Dealing with a blizzard and school closings last week reminded me once again that I need some time to myself.
I think anyone who is a single parent and who’d like to maintain their sanity and sense of self should make an effort to have a social life. I know from firsthand experience that it’s not always possible to do everything you’d like to do, but I believe that hanging out with your peers is necessary.
One of the main reasons why I’m able to balance my social life and single parenting is the support system that I have. Luckily, my sister lives nearby, and we’re always swapping weekends so that we can give each other kid-free time. If it wasn’t for her being so close, I don't think I would be able to have an actual social life. Outside of my sister’s help, I also have a pretty good circle of friends who like to pitch in from time to time when I need a break. Although a lot of them aren’t parents themselves, they understand the need for "me" time.
Did I think I’d be able to balance a social life and raise my son 11 years ago? Never. Am I grateful that I can now? Of course! I’m sure one day, my 11-year-old will have more of a social life than I will. I can see myself going from single parent to chauffeur; it’s only a matter of time.
As a single parent, how did you find the balance between parent time & and maintaining an active social life?
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