Ever wonder what it’s like to be a single parent? When I was married, I often wondered how single parents coped and managed on their own with no back-up. And then, with no warning or time to plan, I myself became that single parent. I never expected that I would become a single mom, and frankly when I did, I took it on full-speed ahead and never looked back. I embraced the role and decided that I would put on a brave face and go with it.
I didn’t really have a choice. It was kind of like being thrown into a freezing cold, very dark pool of water, and having to learn how to swim through the waves with no life preserver. Okay, that description may sound dramatic to some of you, but quite honestly that was what it felt like. It was scary, cold, sometimes dark, and very often it felt as though I was navigating through mysterious and unknown waters. I never wanted to be pitied (and I still don’t) and I hated when people asked me how I was going to do it. I wasn’t interested in the “how-to” or “self-help” kind of books. While they are helpful to some people, I knew that they were not for me. What I needed was for someone who had survived what I was going through to tell me the straight and honest facts about what single parenting was all about. I just wanted someone (aside from my family and friends) to tell me that I was going to be okay.
The following is my letter to all the newly-single parents out there who want or need to hear what it’s all about. I hope that it sheds some light on the joys and challenges of single parenting.
Dear Newly Single Parent,
This is not intended to be a letter of pity or one in which I will tell you about only the joys of single parenting. What I am about to tell you is the truth as I have learned it over the past 5 years. Everyone’s story is different. Everyone’s journey into single parenthood is unique to them. My immersion into the “single mother club” was not by choice. I started out married for more than a decade. Then, just like that – without any warning or time to process what was happening – I became a full-time member to the club. My first 6-9 months were a blur. I was in shock, and had to process the feelings that came with being left by my husband. Amidst the emotional piece of grieving for the loss of a marriage, blaming myself for not being “good enough” to maintain a relationship, and being scared silly, I for some reason was able to put on a brave face and soldier through life as a mother.
It’s not that I am some super-human who can get through anything… quite the contrary. I am simply a regular chick who believes in tackling obstacles head on and finding the good in what we are given.
I think that has served me well over these past five years.
Parenting is filled with so many challenges and obstacles, and I truly had to remind myself everyday that I was going to be okay and that I could do it. The truth is that there were (and still are) many days when I wondered how I was going to be able to fulfill the task of parent, homeowner, employee, and chauffeur without anyone else to help me through it. You see, I am blessed to have two wonderful parents and a wonderful sister and brother-in-law, but they all live more than a 5 hour drive from my house, and so I am no able to ask them for any day-to-day help. And if you are anything like me, asking for help is not my strong suit. I have learned to do it – not comfortably, but because I have realized that I, like all of us, can’t do it all by myself. I really hope that if you find yourself in the role of single parent, you will have the courage and strength to ask for help from the get go.
I hope that you will come to realize that being a single parent doesn’t mean that you are alone. It just means that you are not sharing a home with another adult who helps out with any of the parenting or household tasks. It’s certainly not a curse or a life sentence. It’s actually an amazing adventure that requires patience, determination and a great sense of humor.
Yes, there are days that feel incredibly overwhelming.
There are days that are filled with exhaustion and a yearning for someone else to help with the garbage, recycling, groceries, and bedtime routines.
There are days that are lonely and spent wondering if you will ever be able to fully trust another partner.
And there are days where you will wish that you didn’t always have to play the role of chief disciplinarian and rule enforcer.
But at the end of each day, there is something very special about being able to reflect on the multitude of things are you are capable of, especially when you might have doubted your strengths.
I actually feel very fortunate to be a single mother. I love being a mom to my daughters, and am grateful every day for all that has been given to me. I try to face every challenge with my head held high, a good sense of humor and the knowledge that even when things seem impossible and scary, it will all work out. I hope that all you single parents will embrace your journey with a belief in yourself, the patience and courage to put on a brave face and keep going, and the ability to ask for help.
And please remember, that if I could do it, so can you!!!!!!