Single motherhood landed on me with the grace of an anvil falling from the sky. I had just celebrated by daughter’s first birthday when I discovered I was being replaced by another. I was blindsided and not at all prepared for the catastrophic explosion of my life as a wife, mother, and restaurateur. To say I was pissed was like calling the Titanic a tug boat.
I’ve met other women with children who’ve been cheating on and always the offense is magnified by the fact that there is a child who (in effect) was also cheated on. A scorned woman has nothing on a scorned mama bear.
I’ve learned a lot since that tumultuous year. I expected doom and gloom, but once the dust settled what I found was so much better. I learned about love, kindness, and my inner strength. If you are a newly single mommy or single daddy, I’m here to tell you it gets better. Here are 10 inspiring things I learned from other single moms.
1. I’m not the only one
I was married to a guy I had been with for six years when my daughter was born. I had a lot of friends who were married but only one who was a single mom. So when I was suddenly (and forcefully) thrust into single motherhood, I felt very alone. Until I started sharing my story.
Every time I opened my mouth a new single mom’s story popped into my world. I realized that there are many women (and a few dads) just like me, also tossed into the single parenting seas. It brought me relief to know I was in good company. It gave me hope to see other single moms finding success and joy. If you are a newly single mom or dad, know that you aren’t alone.
2. Take it one day at a time
I’ve always been a planner. I planned my way from a humble start to owning a successful restaurant at 26. I was good at everything I set my mind to because I planned my way through almost everything. But when someone else tossed my plans out in the cold, and my child and I after them, I was forced to learn a valuable lesson. Sometimes plans change.
The amazing, hard-working single moms and dads I met taught me that sometimes you just need to take it one day at a time. Sometimes single parenting seems impossible. Plans are mangled under the constant flux of uncertainty. I’ve learned when the sea of single parenting brings you a storm, you just hold on and take it one day at a time.
3. Single moms (and single dads) are incredibly strong
We do a job designed for two. We manage to raise children in less than ideal circumstances. We do it all relatively alone. If that isn’t a formula for making incredibly strong people, I don’t know what is.
I’ve always been a strong gal. Professionally I was a force to be reckoned with. But the tribulations of being a single mom have brought me to my knees on more than one occasion. Even so, each time I managed to bounce back as an even stronger woman.
When I see what my single parent friends endure, and watch them grow from these terrible experiences, I am reminded of the amazing strength that lies within all of us.
4. You can learn to do almost anything
I’ve seen single moms learn to fix appliances, build furniture, and fix cars. I’ve seen single dads learn to braid hair and find their inner Julia Child. When you are the only adult in the household you quickly learn to do whatever needs to be done. I’ve built furniture, changed tires, and most recently taught myself new skills so I could work from home. Sometimes you discover a side of yourself you never knew you had.
5. The stereotypes just aren’t accurate
If you rely on the media for all your single parenting news, you might be convinced that all single moms are impoverished, uneducated manipulators who are simply churning out babies to stay on welfare…or whatever the most recent stereotype has become. And while I have come across some of these gems, most single moms do not fit this profile.
Almost all the single moms I’ve met were either married (like myself) or in committed relationships when they became pregnant. Then at some point the partner opted out of parenthood and left these women and babies to fend for themselves. Of course this scenario doesn’t apply to everyone, but I’ve seen more of this than the stereotype.
There also a lot of successful single parents. Well educated single parents. Single parents finding love. You simply can’t put everyone into one judgmental box.
The point is there are lots of reasons why relationships don’t work. People are complicated. Life is complicated. Relationships are complicated. Perpetuating these stereotypes and assuming they apply to each person is a disservice to single parents everywhere.
6. Thoughtful single parenting is better than dysfunctional couple parenting
I heard this so many times from single parents. Many of the single moms and dads I’ve met are so much happier being single parents because their relationships were so dysfunctional and taxing.
Of course I still think a caring, committed, and thoughtful couple raising children is better for everyone involved. That said, many couples are a hot mess. So much so, that the household becomes emotionally toxic to everyone including the kiddos. Single parenting isn’t easy, but it is better than being in a dysfunctional situation.
And yes, I am MUCH happier now.
7. There are plenty of happy kids being raised by single moms (and dads)
I too imagined sad and broken children when I thought about my future as a single mom. Happily, one of best things I’ve learned is that there are plenty of happy and much-loved kids being raised in one-parent households.
My daughter is one of them. She is the happiest little person you’ll meet. She is surrounded by loving and supportive family and friends. She has everything she could need and is privileged in many ways. So yes, it is possible to raise happy kids when you are a single mom or dad.
8. Creating an emotional support system is critical
I learned right away that surrounding myself with the right people was key to my emotional recovery. Because of what I went through I was pushed to mend relationships and cut others lose. I kicked out everyone that had nothing positive to offer and brought in friends and family who loved me and wanted the best for me.
Today I have an extended network of loving and supportive friends. I am closer to my family than I’ve ever been. My daughter has a clan of mama bears who would move heaven and earth to keep her safe.
If you are a single parent in the trenches, it’s critical that you surround yourself with loving and supportive people, who can offer you a new happy normal.
9. Single parenting brings families closer
One of the best things I’ve seen over and over again is how single parenting can bring families closer together. Grandparents, siblings, and extended families often rally around single moms and dads. Offering love and support when it’s needed most.
I’m closer to my family than I’ve ever been. And my daughter is so attached to my parents. She bounces from one set of cuddles to another, completely secure in the knowledge that she is loved.
10. Single parenting can make you an amazingly well rounded and happy person
As you can see, it’s not all doom and gloom. Make no mistake, I’m not discounting how incredibly difficult it is to be a single parent. It is impossibly difficult. And no one really gets it unless they’ve been in the trenches. But it can also be a happy challenge.
Being a single mom has made me better in almost every way. I am stronger, more capable, and much happier than I’ve ever been. I’ve done things I would have thought impossible just a few years ago. I’ve pushed myself to my limits and broke past them to find a new better version of myself. My child is so much happier today than when I was living the white picket fence façade.
This path is not easy, but it can be a fulfilling one.
That’s my humble little list of the 10 inspiring things I learned from other super-awesome moms and dads. What about you? What did you learn from other single parents? What advice do you have for new single parents? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Until next time awesome mamas and amazing papas.