I went to Florida for a weekend. Now weekends to me are Monday and Tuesday nights, because that's when I don't have kids. I flew down Monday, rode my bike 6.2 miles, had dinner with the Moms, drinks with a good friend, and then started throwing up.
I threw up for hours. I have not been that overwhelmingly sick in a very long time. I don't wish it on anyone. In fact, my parents had this same thing the day after Christmas, and I now think I was not nearly sympathetic enough. It sucked great big donkey balls.
I was in the same town as my mom. My mom brought me soup and ginger ale. I got to hug my mom and [try not to] breath germs on her . I left her my dirty laundry to wash. I was nurtured and taken care of and that part was wonderful.
When you live in a different town from family, you lose a lot. You lose the free babysitter, the companionship when you are lonely or bored, the extra set of eyes at the beach with the kids. But more than that, you lose that feeling that there is someone there that you can puke on and will still love you, no matter what.
Can you create your own "family" wherever you live? Of course. In fact, on the way home from my jaunt, my plane was delayed for about four hours, and I had to have my friend H pick up both kids from two different schools 20 minutes apart, bring them to my house and feed them dinner. A different friend, T, once drove 30 minutes to rescue us when we locked ourselves out of the house. My friends have helped me move, brought me sick-people food, dragged me out of the house when I was playing hermit and being anti-social. They have saved my kid's birthday parties when I didn't realize how much work I was in for. Sometimes the help that has saved me was a simple as a well-timed phone call or funny text.
My family of friends hold me up, listen to me bitch a lot more than they should (sadly, I'm a whiner) tell the same stories over and over, and rescue me from a variety of situations I get myself into. They also try to stop me from going off on bad tangents, at least occasionally, and listen to me sing bad karaoke.
I should note that they really shouldn't encourage me to sing bad karaoke, but I am glad they tolerate it.
A good friend will help you move. A great friend will help you move the body.
It is not all single mothers, nor even all mothers on my list. And before you think I am selfish, I do what I can for my friends as well. I've watched other people's kids, brought food when people were sick, took people in who needed a place to live, helped others move, held their hair when they vomited. We all do what we can to take care of each other, even though the person you help might not be the same one that helped you in the first place.
When I was a kid, we had no official family in town. Well, we did, but we didn't see them much. My mother lost her parents and only sibling by the time I was 3. She was outed as a lesbian at her brother's funeral, and the extended family pretty much vanished.
What I do have, though, is memories of the big group of friends that my mom had. Mary June, Chick, Brita and Peggy. (Do you see how I don't name my friends and I named my mom's? That's because it is less embarrassing to be my mom's friend than mine, I think.) She created a family of friends for my brother and I, in the same way that I am doing for my own boys.
In my younger days, I generally dated guys who came from big families,in an effort to create what I was missing. Now I realize the friends I have make up for the family I don't. And you know what? They are a lot less irritating than many of my former in-laws.