It was a mild spring day when I walked around my beautiful home one last time. With tears filling my eyes I gazed at the near empty space where I had imagined having two more kids grow up. My daughter would never eat from the berry patch I had planted, she’d never play with her dog in the backyard, and she’d never enjoy the lilac and cream colored room I had painted just for her. Less than a year after moving in with my husband I was moving out with my one-year-old baby. A few days later another woman moved in.
My life has completely changed since that doomed spring of 2012. I’ve suffered, grown, and come to terms with my new life. This isn’t a story with a sad ending though. I’m happier than I ever thought I’d be, I’m loving being single, and I’m manifesting my dreams.
Each mom’s path is unique. I don’t pretend that each single parent’s experience matches my own. But I do think single parent’s share many similar experiences.
This is my list of lessons that I have learned since my world was spun around and I was harshly ejected as a divorced single mom.
1. Being a single mom is a lot harder than I ever thought
Before my divorce I knew a few single moms, and I knew their lives weren’t easy. I didn’t realize exactly how unimaginably hard it was.
A single parent does a job designed for two. Everything lands of his or her shoulders, decisions, errands, phone calls, doctors’ appointments, pick-ups, drop-offs, making money, paying bills, cleaning the house, cooking food, buying groceries, caring for sick kids, schoolwork…and let’s not forget raising human beings. EVERYTHING.
Think about that for a sec. It is unimaginably exhausting in every way. So if you know a single parent, be kind to them. It’s the least you can do.
2. I learned to give up control
I’ve been described as controlling on more than one occasion. What made me a great business woman and successful restaurant owner almost drove me crazy as a single mom.
You simply can’t control everything. You can’t control your kids (there’s an obvious one). You can’t control your circumstances. You can’t control what people say about you. You really can’t control much except your own actions and reactions.
Once I started focusing on what I COULD control–like my plans, working hard toward my goals, and being the best version of myself I could be–life got a lot easier.
3. Being a single mom is easier than being in a shitty relationship
This one probably shouldn’t be a surprise. Once I wasn’t occupying valuable brain space worrying about what my partner wanted, needed, thought, didn’t think, did do, didn’t do…oh and where he was at 2AM..hmmmm…life got a LOT simpler.
Focusing on a bad relationship is ridiculously taxing. Being single, not as much.
4. I enjoy the freedom of being single
Speaking of being single…I really LOVE being single! I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but I’ve been in a relationship since my teens and married twice. I know what it’s like to sacrifice for a partner. I’m enjoying putting me first (well me and the little one).
This is the first time in my adult life I’ve been single, and I realized it’s awesome!
I do what I want, go where I want, and live how I want with no other input. I’m free to choose my own direction without having to weight what someone else wants.
It’s not for everyone, but it’s perfect for me.
5. Friends mean more when you are a single mom
I must say I have a more vibrant social life now that I’m single. Yes it’s harder to get out with my little one, but my friends know we are a package deal and love us nonetheless.
When you are a single parent your friends become your family. Friendships mean a lot more when you don’t have a partner to lean on.
I value my friendship more than ever, and without the time suck of a bad relationship I can share my free time with good friends.
6. I manage my money way better than I ever had
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Money has been tight since my divorce BUT it turns out I manage money much better when there isn’t much of it.
That’s not to say I was bad at it before, but things got kicked up a notch once money was scarce. Frivolous spending isn’t an option when you are a single parent.
I’ve learned to be happy with very little. And these days saving money is a lot more rewarding than spending it.
Yes, I’m putting a positive spin on a huge obstacle, but that’s what this is about. If you grow and learn you can change your circumstances.
7. It’s much harder to get ahead as a single mom
Even with all that smart money management, getting ahead has been difficult. I expect this is true for most single parents.
There are so many logistical obstacles, it can be overwhelming. But with the right plan anyone (even a single mom) can squeak forward and find a successful path.
It took me two full years of brainstorming to FINALLY find the right plan. I knew I wanted to be home with my young daughter and I also understood I needed a good income (the equivalent of what two people earn). I had skills but they were the wrong ones for my situation.
I finally mapped out a plan that included what mattered most to me. Now I’m actually seeing that plan come to life and it’s so exciting.
8. People judge single moms, a lot
Holy crap people are judgmental assholes! (Yes I see the irony in that statement) I guess I’m not surprised.
Making yourself feel better at the expense of another is nothing new. It’s a condition as old as humanity.
Even so I was a bit shocked at the assumptions people made about me. Suddenly a lifetime of skills, experiences, and good deeds are all negated by the “sin” of being a proud single mom. Hmmmm.
I’ve always had a thick skin so this was another exercise in tolerating the ignorant opinions of others.
If you are experiencing this my advice is to ignore the mean attacks and focus on making yourself the best person YOU can be.
9. Dating is crazy hard as a single mom
Maybe you saw this coming. Between trying to find a sitter (or just making sure my mom is available) and analyzing if the dude across from me is good enough for my awesome little girl…it can all be pretty complicated.
I’ve done my share of dating, but right now I’m content focusing on my child and growing my business. Plus as you recall being single is pretty liberating.
10. My bond with my daughter is better and stronger than ever
One thing I didn’t realize was how close my daughter and I would grow. I mean yes we’ve always loved each other, but being the only parent has made me so in tune with her needs.
I have single handedly raised her into a smart, loving, and joyful little girl. And in doing so she has become equally attached to me.
While I was busy loving her, telling her how amazing she is, and building her self-esteem something unexpected happened. She started doing the same for me. She is constantly offering me hugs, kisses, cuddles, and words of encouragement.
Everyone who knows us knows we have an unbreakable bond. We are pals. And her love for me is inspiring. However we got here I am grateful for the unexpected gift of our bond.
How about you?
There you have it, this is my list of the lessons I learned from being a single mom. From understanding just how hard everyday life can be, to feeling liberated to be single, to savoring the bond I have with my child, it’s been eye-opening.
What about you? What lessons have you learned as a single mom? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Until next time amazing mamas!