Friendship, as I've been explaining to my eight-year-old, is about helping your friends, not just playing with them.
While I do a lot of playing with my Single Mama friends, we also do a lot of helping each other out. Lately it's occurred to me, though, that Single Mamas helping Single Mamas is great and all, but perhaps a little crazy, since we're all as overwhelmed as each other, and that perhaps a little education is in order on how others can help us out.
Here are 5 ways you can be an amazing friend to the Single Mamas in your life:
1. Come Over. Bring Wine. Talk Grownup To Me
Marrieds, you know how you sit on the couch and hang out with your best friend after work or on the weekends, while the kids do their thing, or while you're cooking dinner you download your days and chatter over the minutia or the big stuff? You bicker, maybe. You discuss your children's development or how homework went tonight, or decide what movie you're gonna watch after the kids go to bed. Well, that's nice for you. We have no other grown up to talk to and sometimes it makes us feel like we're going crazy! So drop by with some wine and just sit and talk to us for an hour. Bring your kids. We don't care. We will cling to you with the desperation of someone who's been in solitary confinement for a decade. The gratitude will be endless.
2. Offer To Take Our Kids
Your Single Mama friends would be really psyched if every two weeks you just said, "Hey, you want me to pick up Sally from school on Friday and take her home with me so you can get some stuff done?" Holy crap! Do I ever! You mean I can get a manicure? Or leisurely stroll through the aisles at Target — alone? Or take a nap? Yes. Please. And then she'll arrive to pick Sally up all refreshed and happy, maybe with a bottle of wine for you or at least a giant hug and a smile. You will have made a huge difference in the life of someone you love. Huge.
3. Set Us Up
We kind of want to meet someone awesome, but we are often so busy between work and parenting that it's really hard to meet people in the outside world. But for some reason people seem terrified of (or at least unwilling to) setting us up with their friends. If you know someone nice, please don't hold back. We won't hold it against you if it doesn't work out. We won't make your holiday parties awkward (right Mamas?). Just throw us together. If it works out you have become God in our eyes. If it doesn't, no harm no foul. Pinky swear.
4. Offer to Have A Sleepover So We Can Go On A Date
Do you know how expensive it can be for us just to go on a date? Worse yet, do you know what it takes for Single Mamas to have sex? Quietly praying no one wakes up, being inhibited in our expression, setting up traps by the kids' bedroom door to crash down should it open, giving us enough time to stash the object of our desire under the bed, all the while apologizing profusely and pretty much knowing he'll never come back again because it's not his kid and it's just... weird. And not sexy. Give us a hand. Take our kids and let us have one night of uninhibited wild abandon. Or a date. Please. For the love of God.
5. Ask Us What We Need
This may sound pretty elementary, but I have to say that I cannot remember the last time a married friend asked me if I needed help or what I needed. There is the assumption, I suppose, that I have my son 50% of the time, so how hard could that be? But that's 100% of the parenting, 50% of the time. No backup. No pass-off. Any married person whose spouse has gone on a business trip and left them home alone with the kids knows this. I have friends who are full-time 100% single parents (moms and dads) and the hoops they jump through just to get through a work day is staggering. So just ask. We could need nothing. We could need everything.
It really does take a village, and as a single parent, we live in a tiny 2 or 3 person village where only one person does all the work. Having your help will make more of a difference than you may ever know. And, we reciprocate, because we're just used to that.
Kate Anthony is a Rockin' Single Mother who works with Single Moms to weed through all the craziness of what this new life has to offer, and find within themselves the amazing, powerful and relentless love-goddesses that they truly are. For more information about how to work with her, visit her website and find her on Facebook and Twitter.
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