Truly, one benefit of suddenly finding yourself single again is the myriad of friendships that will develop as you get out and get to know more people in your community. As an older Catholic single, I sometimes find myself in this strange no-man’s land between my peers, most of whom are married, and my single friends, most of whom are substantially younger than I am. Fitting in with both of these groups presents both many blessings and also many challenges.
On the one hand, I am devotedly Catholic and I have children, so it makes sense that I would make friends with people who have children the same age as mine. But because we have a strong Catholic community here, there are rarely single folks amongst these peers of my age.
In these circumstances, I find myself most drawn to the parents who work. I am more comfortable socializing with a group of women trying to balance work and family. I just don’t have anything in common these days with mothers who have the privilege of staying home—focusing their time on caring for their husbands and raising their children. This is not to say that we don’t get along; we certainly do. It is just that friendships tend to be based in common experiences and I find myself having nothing in common with these wonderfully blessed women.
A note of caution here—when I was newly divorced, I did find myself somewhat resentful of these women who were blessed with the privilege of being able to stay at home. Like many difficulties of my divorce, I had to come to peace with this issue before I really felt comfortable enough in my own skin to enjoy the company of this group. I struggled not to project what I saw as a failure on my part onto these ladies who truly did care and support me. It was a challenge I worked through and I consider myself blessed to have the love and support of many of these ladies that I was friends with before my divorce.
In addition to my peers, I find myself having more in common with the single Catholics in my area who are focused on living a godly life, balancing a career and searching for that special someone. Of course, it would make sense that these people are substantially younger than I am. Most of the time, this doesn’t present any difficulties at all. Our friendships are forged in the commonalities of being a Catholic professional in a less-than-Catholic workforce. We talk too of finding love and making it work in a society that does all it can to destroy the very idea of marriage.
These days however, the biggest challenge I have is finding that my oldest daughter and I are walking on the same path. We find ourselves knowing the same single Catholics in this area. For this reason, I have bowed out of participating in some of the local Catholic activities. I would like to give my own young adults a chance to meet people and make their own friends, without their mother always fluttering around in the background.
My friends and my daughter assure me that this is no big deal, we all have enough in common that we can all be friends. And though this is true, I want my children to meet single Catholics that they look up to and can emulate. These types of connections are made best when mom isn’t in the picture.
I find myself blessed with many different friends of all ages, all working for the common goal of Christ in our very secular society. This bond seems stronger than any age-based friendship could ever be. If you are also an older, single Catholic parent, how do you walk this reality of fitting in two worlds at the same time?