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Something has gone wrong. Could be with my child. Could be with my friends or the person I’m dating. Could be with work. Heaven knows that problems arise in all of those arenas of my life from time to time.
And whatever problem it is, I become unbalanced and something has to go or I won’t find my balance again.
Almost always, I ditch my need for exercise first. I drop it to the ground and take a sigh of relief. Those few extra minutes it just freed up every day make a big difference, it seems. I continue walking. Feeling mostly balanced once more.
But something’s not right. Something’s not balanced completely.
Dropping exercise didn’t do the trick. Suddenly the rope starts swaying and wobbling more than ever. Whatever problem I am having is unbalancing me more by the second.
I am going to fall if I don’t do something. I have to give something else up or else it will all come crashing down with me on top of it.
I look at the other side.
I could run for it. My chances are slim, but sometimes sprinting to the destination actually works on a wobbly tight rope.
I begin drastically flailing my arms to balance while I decide to run or not to run. I can keep it all in place. I can get there.
As I decide, as I look, as I watch, as I think… everything in my life starts suffering. My relationship with my child. My work. My friendships. My dating life. Standing still trying to decide is not doing anything but making it worse.
I can get there.
I can sprint.
Then, I think of my two biggest needs, freefalling to the ground below. My son. My work. Is it worth the risk?
It never is.
So, I end up doing the only thing I can do to regain balance.
I give up dating.
And if that isn’t enough, I give up socializing.
No matter how many times I stumble, and how far I feel the rope sway, and how strained I become in my effort to rebalance, one truth always exists.
I have enough time, enough energy, and enough effort left to balance the two most important things if everything else is gone. My child. And making a living to support my child.
It seems to be a recurring pattern in my single parent life. And this is why I often wonder if I’ll ever make it to the other side.
I can balance everything when everything is good. But I’m never willing to sacrifice my child or his well-being to save everything else.
And, I never make it to the other side.
Instead, I find my balance after I’ve narrowed my focus onto my two biggest needs. I drop everything that can be dropped, and I walk back to the beginning. I go back to the start. Because… I don’t want to make it to the other side without everything in place.
And when life settles down, I try again to make it across with all five needs once again in tow. All five needs once again in harmony. Always hopeful that on the next walk across I’ll make it. The next walk across I won’t have to drop anything. The next walk across, I won’t have to turn around and start over.
Is it just luck that some single parents do make it to the other side?
Is it just that they’re better at balancing and carrying the load than I am?
Or do some single parents just move long enough and fast enough without any major event or stress in their life that they somehow make it to the other side?
I don’t know.
And I don’t even necessarily know what the other side is.
I just know the line a single parent has to walk to get there is incredibly delicate indeed.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing