“split mom” trend . . . is that what this is?

OK, so I was feeling a little mom fatigue today. It’s happening more frequently as I age and as I still do the same stuff I have been doing since first becoming a parent 29.5 years ago. I have that incredible urge sometimes to move on, but I still have a child in high school who doesn’t drive and still needs me in many ways, so I continue to parent in pretty much the same way I always have–by being there for my kid. He didn’t ask to be born thirteen years after his big sister or even eleven or six years after the next two so I am not going to give up on this child the way some parents do when they become burnt out on parenting. I made sure he went through all the same milestones as his older siblings: swim lessons, sacraments, orthodontics, band, sports. I’m in the last couple rounds of the fight and I refuse to throw in the towel.

Still, there are those days when it gets to me, when parenting wears me down. Doing the same things for nearly thirty years in a row really takes a toll, especially when you perceive yourself–and pretty much are–a selfless person.

I was feeling that way today, so I thought I’d try to reach out to similar parents in the world because I would like to know how other moms my age who have been parenting this many years do it. I’m a fan of reality TV programs that focus on families (or at least those that aren’t trashy or live in cults and have raised criminals) and am always keen to see how other people live. I figured there had to be a blog or two out in cyberspace on this stuff.

So I Googled “longtime moms” and “moms with children more than twelve years apart” and the like and what I came up with was this one article rehashed in several publications. It was an interview of a medical doctor named Rallie McAllister who had a child at age twenty-one and then two more sons in her mid-thirties. In the article, she talks about having kids that far apart in age as being a “trend,” so I Googled and Googled to find concrete facts but just found that one article. I think one mother in basically a single article rehashed in several different online publications does not a trend make nor an authority make, M.D. or not. In fact, in the articles there are no other similar women mentioned (except, in one blog, the actress Kelly Preston is name dropped, and we all know celebrities, because they do not even remotely live an ordinary lifestyle or raise their own kids, don’t count. Ever.).

If having just one mother represent all of us moms with great spans of children isn’t insulting enough, one of the writers in one of the three articles, who chose to make it sound as if it was her original piece, added a little “background” by mentioning there were just two ways to become a so-called “split mom,” by 1) being married and having kids in that marriage, divorcing, and then remarrying later in life and having a second family or 2) having a child without ever having been married and then marrying for the first time and having a second family. Either way, in both scenarios, there are two men involved.

No mention of moms like me who are still married to husband number one and whose kids are just spread out in age. There was no mention either of moms who have a half dozen or more kids (at least five families come to mind from my childhood, when it was commonplace), making the spread even greater than mine. And no mention was made of moms who adopted or had foster kids later in life or moms who are raising their grandchildren, some of whom do end up adopting those kids. No matter how many scenarios you want to add to the equation, it definitely comes out to more than two.

I am bound and determined to seek out other “split moms” out there–but I may call the “trend” something that doesn’t signify disunity or fractionalization, no matter how many times splitting crosses our minds.

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