As a single mother, I have often had to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. Unfortunately, I was not always able to take my son, known as The Boy, to work with me.
When my mother was unable to babysit, I had to pay a babysitter and that often took the majority of the extra money I had earned for the night.
When The Boy turned four, my mother moved to Pittsburgh to help my aging grandparents. For the first time, I realized how much I relied on her to be my support system, and knew that I would have to rely on others for help.
Luckily, The Boy attended a small private school where everyone felt like family. His Pre-K teacher watched him during the summer, and let me pay what I could.
The school also had fundraisers at a restaurant where The Boy forced me to eat dinner with a new classmate and his mother. I dreaded having to make small talk with a woman I seemed to have nothing in common with, but now I think I talk to her more than anyone. Before COVID-19 rocked all our worlds you could find me, my friend, Abigail, and our Elementary Coffee Co. crew cackling over at the Broad Street Market.
As a requirement for a scholarship for my son to attend the private school, I had to do community service. I joined the school’s parent teacher organization where I was had to spend more time at the school. This gave me an opportunity to get to know his teachers, the office staff and other parents that needed a little help, too.
Somehow, I had my car and home filled with his classmates on a regular basis. Whenever I needed a babysitter to work a second job, to enjoy a child-free moment, or just to go on an occasional date, I had many people I could call for help. I no longer had to take The Boy to the playroom at a grocery store, just to have a moment to myself.
To save money, I removed The Boy from his afterschool program. Now, he spends his afternoons in the classroom of the Susquehanna Art Museum with the director of education, Tina. His favorite spot at the museum is the huge windows on the first floor where visitors, volunteers and staff would have to occasionally play with his action figures or receive his unsolicited review of the current exhibitions. They also helped him learn his lines for plays at Open Stage Harrisburg while I worked at the front desk.
We have had some many wonderful people come into our lives that have made parenting so much easier. I have quite a few people that I can call on if I need help at the last minute, and I try to be that person for other single parents.
It can be very challenging to raise a child, or children, on your own, so it is important and necessary to have someone that understands your struggles and is willing to help. Even though we have moved on from the small school and I am no longer working at the art museum, the people we met many years ago are still members of our extended family.
I have always been a single mother. Yet, I have never raised The Boy alone. Together we are building an amazing network that we refer to as our tribe.
Don’t worry we have room for more!
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