Single motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever faced. And there is no way to prepare for it. When I see new single moms with that wild look of fear and shock in their eyes, I want to take them and just hug them. Of course no two experiences are the same but many of the challenges we face are similar.
This path of single parenting isn’t an easy one. I’ve learned a lot along the way, but there are a few critical things I NEED those new mommies and daddies to know. For those in the trenches, here are three critical things I would tell a mom facing single motherhood.
1. It’s ok to be hateful and really pissed off
Wait what? Where’s the kumbaya you say. Let me explain.
If you are that gal (or fella) who just found out that you were lied to, trampled over, and are being left to take care of a child that you expected to raise with your partner, you are REALLY pissed off. And hearing warm and fuzzy tales about forgiveness and love probably isn’t cutting it right now. I know. I’ve been there.
When my life was blown-up, by less than ethical people, all I felt was a deep, forceful hate. People wanted to preach love and kindness; meanwhile fire was running through my veins. At that time all I wanted was the equal destruction of those who had systematically ruined my life. There was no room for warm and fuzzy.
At times I was made to feel like a failure for not being able to let go of the hate. As if I was somehow inferior for feeling this totally understandable emotion. Ironically it wasn’t until I said “f*%k it, I’m ok with the copious amounts of anger coming out of my soul.” that I somehow felt that anger lift from me.
Yep. Once I accepted my anger as a natural and reasonable part of the process, it somehow began to dissipate. I realized it was critical not to fight what I was feeling, but to experience it, understand its source, and accept it as a necessary part of my journey. A shitty part, but necessary nonetheless.
Look ladies (and fellas, if there are any single dads reading this) you’ve been emotionally assaulted and trying to force yourself to feel something that you sincerely don’t is only going to hinder your recovery. You need to allow yourself to feel (and come to terms with) every emotion created by these crappy circumstances, and that includes hate.
Of course this isn’t an excuse to burn down a house, blow-up a car, or hire a local thug. Although let’s be honest, we would all understand if you did any of those things. My point is, it’s ok to be angry, bitter, and even hateful. Accept yourself. Accept your feelings.
The only rule. Just try not to end up in jail or destroying your own life when you are embracing those feelings. Remember you’ve got a little one who needs you so keep your expression of hate to more, ummm, legal options. Try kickboxing, hiking, journaling, burning photos, vent to your friends, or the classic favorite, sticking pins in dolls.
2. You’ll figure it out, and it will (eventually) be ok
My Mother’s Day bouquet from my husband of three years was still sitting on my kitchen counter when I realized it had all come crashing down. I had the bonus of my entire life being intertwined with my ex. We owned a successful business together. We had just bought a house. Everything was intertwined. This wasn’t going to be easy.
After it was all said and done I was left with the ashes of my former life and the job of full-time exclusive single-parent…absent any actual employment. The logistics of being left to raise a child alone felt insurmountable. I spent endless loops of time stressing and trying to figure it out.
People did what good people do and tried to offer empty bits of hope. Phrases like, “it will be ok”, “you’ll get through this” and so on. Mostly I called bullshit. I sure as f%$k didn’t feel like it was all going to be ok. They felt like empty promises meant to soothe me long enough to get through the day. And at that time they were exactly that.
But eventually I carried the shadows of my life forward and slowly (very slowly) rebuilt a new life. Pushed forward by my overwhelming love for my child, I did figure it out. At no time has it ever been easy, but I did create a new life. Independent of my old one. I made difficult choices, set my priorities, kept trekking forward, and eventually looked up to see a happy woman in the mirror. And that new life came with amazing new friends and better relationships than I’ve ever had.
And eventually, you will be too.
3. Accept the sacrifices that have to be made, love yourself, and cherish your child
Ok so that’s three things all rolled into one but they are all intertwined and critical for you to move forward.
First know and accept that this new life isn’t going to look like your old one. It will probably be harder, especially at first, if not harder it will definitely be different. You’ll likely have to choose between a batch of equally unappealing choices. You’ll lose stuff, dreams, and probably people in the process. Make no mistake, sacrifices will be made. But the sooner you accept it, the faster you can move forward. You’ll never get across the desert by looking behind you.
Finally, and most importantly, know that love is what will get you through this. Love for that little person for whom these sacrifices are made. Love for the child who needs you, who adores you, and who trusts that somehow you will make it all better. When I was battered and broken it was my child’s unconditional love that pushed me ahead. Step by step her hugs and kisses were the currency with which I survived. Her love for me reminded me to love myself, and I did. I loved both of us into an awesome new life.
So if you are a newly minted single mommy or daddy facing the challenge of single parenthood. Know that it will be okay. It probably won’t be easy. Ups and downs are expected, but it will smooth out. You are way stronger than you ever knew.
What do you think?
I write these posts knowing each situation is unique. The challenges I face as a single mom are different than that of another. And the path to single parenting is also unique. I never pretend to speak for all single parents or to suggest that each experience is like my own. I am simply sharing what I’ve learned and hopefully manage to inspire others to embrace their own unique path.
So what three things would you tell new single moms or dads? What bits of wisdom have you learned? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Until next time awesome mommies!