As a single mother there are two things that people often ask me:
“How do you manage to do everything by yourself” and “Isn’t it hard to be alone all of the time?”
In my case, being a single mother was not a choice.
There are many people who do choose to become single parents from the start. Others, like me, begin their parenting experience as part of a couple and then as the result of a variety of life events find themselves as Single Parents.
Three and a half years ago I was catapulted into the role of single mother. Prior to that I had been a mother for almost nine years, and so I had the “mommy role” under my belt. But the “single mommy” title was brand spanking new to me. And that was when people began to ask (and I began to wonder) how I was going to be able to cope and manage all by myself.
For me, managing my role as single mother has always been a one day at a time kind of experience. I choose to face the daily challenges (both big and small) with as much grace, patience and humor as I possibly can.
I try not to avoid the stuff that seems overwhelming or hard. The concrete tasks that come with being a single mother range from running a household (which involves the mundane laundry, groceries, cooking and cleaning) doing the physical chores which I truly despise ( like the garbage, recycling, and outdoor seasonal preparations and clean-ups) and having the experience and knowledge of how to understand and juggle the electrical, plumbing and property-related duties.
The non-concrete tasks are more emotionally based in nature. That is where the true parenting comes in to play. As a single mother I am constantly aware of the fact that I am the only adult living with my children at all times. Being the only adult in a house filled with children and pets can at times be wonderful and at other times feel like a long and scary roller coaster ride! It implies that you, as the only parent on the scene, are always ON and have to figure out how to play the role of “good cop” and “bad cop” simultaneously while managing everyone’s needs and moods (yours included) at the same time. There is very little time to stop and breathe and that is why learning how to re-group in 60-90 seconds has become so crucial for me.
The thing is that as a single parent, all of the concrete tasks are your sole responsibility –you, and you alone, are the person who needs to ensure that everything is done on the right day at the right time.
The emotional piece is also performed as a solo event. We single parents need to learn to hold on tight and walk through the scary moments. That’s been how I have tried to handle my experience. And let me tell you how much I have learned and how many new skills I have acquired in these past three years.
So I guess the answer to how I manage to get everything done and if it’s hard to be alone is as follows. First there is the acknowledgement and acceptance that I am a Single Mother. I am grateful to be a parent and to be the mother to two beautiful and strong daughters. My daughters and I are a team – we stick together and get through everything with a proper balance of laughter and tears.
I choose everyday to put one foot in front of the other and walk through whatever is put in front of me with a smile on my face, fire in my belly, and the knowledge that I have a strong and loving support network of family and friends who are a phone call, text or car ride away.
Being a single mom does not mean I am alone! It means that I am a single mom, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that!