Family life and obligations can keep us from doing things that we really want to do; but it can also be a way of getting out of things we don’t want to do. Over the years, I have to confess that having three kids to tend to has given me an “out” plenty of times. Probably, more times, than I should comfortably admit. I find that as my children get older, however, and I get a little more confident and solid in the life I am living that I use my kids as an excuse less and less—but it is definitely still there.
I am not talking about using my kids to get out of jury duty (which I have never done, I’ll have you know) but more just getting out of boring events or obligations by saying that I have to get home to my kids. I’ve used my family status to cut bad dates short, and not take on unwanted additional work responsibilities too. I tell myself that it is not as though I was totally lying or making up excuses, but I did stretch and use my status as a single mom to keep from having to do icky stuff I didn’t want to. Maybe I would have come up with another excuse, but the three hungry kids excuse has always worked so well that I haven’t had to come up with anything else.
I think that we single parents can get into trouble when we are using our kids as an excuse to keep from trying new things, taking risks, and developing as people. The occasional avoidance of a boring business dinner or cutting short a dull date is one thing, sequestering ourselves within the family unit and not moving forward in our personal growth is quite another.