I recently had coffee with my friend Erin. She’s one of those amazing people that looks for the good amongst the sea of potential darkness. We sat down over macarons and she told me that she and her husband had recently separated.
Just like that my heart sank.
“But it’s okay,” she said. “It’s for the better.”
Sure it’s hard, especially with young kids, to sort out who goes where and when but I know she will manage. There doesn’t seem to be any time for wallowing and questions like “why me?” Instead, I completely admire her way of moving on.
She had an idea about creating a social event and inviting single parents. She didn’t want a group that would just sit around and rant about their exes. Instead, she aimed to offer a fun evening out with like minded parents. I loved this idea so much and I am pretty sure there are a few of you lovely readers out there that might be interested in finding out more! So, I sat down with Erin and asked her a few more questions…
In a big city like Toronto, what kind of support do single parents have?
There are all kinds of support systems for single parents in Toronto. You can see a therapist or counsellor, speak to friends, or your kid’s teachers. Jewish Family and Child Services, for instance, runs courses in the evening. I’m sure other religious affiliations have similar sessions. But there didn’t seem to be a cool, fun group for single parents, where we could just meet others in similar situations, support one another, and gain strength from our mutual understanding and friendship.
My friend Simone (also a single mom) and I wanted to create a fun but meaningful community of single parents. Something cool and casual and positive, so that everyone knows that they aren’t going through single parenthood alone. Whether you are separated, divorced, or on your own for any other reason, being a parent can be challenging at the best of times, but when it’s just you and your kids, and you have additional “adult” issues taking place in the background, there are times when it can definitely be overwhelming. We wanted to create a space where we can learn to be our best selves and grow amidst all of life’s changes and obstacles. This isn’t the place to trash your ex or feel sorry for yourself. This is the place where we can hang out with other amazing people, take part in activities and events that are fun but also have a positive and relevant component to address our unique needs as single parents.
Simone and I actually met a few months after we’d separated from our husbands – in February 2013 – and became instant friends. We had a special connection and understanding unlike one that we had with even all our best but married friends. We understood one another’s pain, fears, frustration and loneliness, and we shared a positive attitude and a desire to be happy and move forward, both for our own sake and our kids. (Each of us has two boys.) We started hanging out, both with our kids and without, and we’ve been supporting one another through all the ups and downs that have followed. We were certain the entire time that something good would come out of our divorces, and when we decided to start a support group – The Ex-Files – we knew we had found our purpose.
What sort of events will you be offering?
Our first event is a “whine and cheese” on May 13 at a private residence in the Avenue Road and Wilson Avenue area. We have invited a wonderful keynote speaker, therapist Andrea Share, who will lead an interactive workshop about dealing with life’s challenges. We have rounded up prizes and gifts, refreshments and created a Facebook page (facebook.com/theexfilestoronto) so people can receive updates and RSVP. (A website is in the works.)
Since reaching out and emailing everyone we know to invite them to our event, we have had such an overwhelming response. There are so many single parents out there, and it seems that there is really a need for a group like this. People are telling us about how inspiring this sounds and we have encouraged them to extend the invite to their single-parent friends and even to bring their best married friends for support. The events will be fun for everyone.
We plan to have a great event every month, whether it’s a fitness class, a cooking workshop or even a session about dating and flirting! The opportunities in this city are endless. Be sure to check our Facebook page for information about exciting upcoming events! We plan to announce our June event at the “whine and cheese” on May 13, so stay tuned! We also want people to provide us with feedback about what kind of events they would like to attend and what sorts of topics interest them. We are a work in progress and really just want to help others the way Simone and I help each other.
So, do you need a membership?
You don’t need a membership – we want everyone to come to whatever session interests them and suits their busy schedules.
So I want you know, dear readers, if you’re a single parent… where do you find support?