I will never forget the first night in our new house. The divorce was rolling along, and my daughter and I were going to spend our very first night in our own home. Something about having a place to call our own, a place for just us, was liberating, exhilarating, and empowering. As I opened the front door, I set her adorable little toddler self on the ground and breathed a sigh of relief. I closed the door behind us, leaned back against it, and slowly slid down, sinking into a sitting position. For the first time in what felt like forever, I could breathe. As I took the time to take a few slow, deep breaths, I was snapped back to reality by the horrible retching sound, followed by the splatter of vomit on the cold tile floor. We both locked eyes with a look of complete panic and horror!
Y’all, let me tell you: Single mommin’ ain’t easy!
There are so many different types of single moms in this world. Moms who do all of the work and shoulder the full weight of parenting, moms with a traveling spouse, widows, divorced moms, and moms who are raising children on their own, all fall into the category of “single mom.” I never imagined that I myself would become a single mom, and when I found myself in that position, I was completely unprepared for what the future held. As the old cliche says, “If I only knew then what I know now!”
Here are the top five lessons I learned the hard way:
- It Can Wait. This lesson applies to so many things in life. I strongly feel this is an important piece of information for all moms to remember but single moms in particular. The biggest question I learned to ask myself was: Does this have to be done right now? I learned so many times that the answer is no. Asking yourself whether or not something can wait can help you prioritize what is really important. I often found myself realizing that a bedtime story could not wait, but no one would ever know those dirty dishes were going to stay in the sink until tomorrow after work. One of the perks of being single!
- Flex Your Muscles. There is no better time than when you are doing it all on your own to model for your children what it looks like to be strong on the inside and out. I will forever be thankful for the years when it was just the two of us because it provided me with an unmatched opportunity to teach my daughter about perseverance. I distinctly recall the time I found myself narrating to a perplexed two-year-old that I had never rewired a smoke detector before, but I was going to figure it out so it would stop beeping! I was always fully candid, explaining when something was new or made me nervous, but modeling that I would not give up! Now that she is school-aged, nothing makes my mommy-heart burst with pride more than when she says, “We can do that! We can figure it out!”
- Know Your Limits. While showing your strength inside and outside is absolutely imperative, it is equally necessary to know your limits! This is one of the lessons learned that had the most serious consequence for me. You simply cannot be everything to everyone. You must understand your individual limits. One day, I decided I did not need to have anyone do my yard work because I could easily take care of the landscaping in my front yard. I had never used an electric hedge trimmer in my life, but I was absolutely determined to take care of this on my own. After 10 minutes of trimming hedges, more blood than you can imagine, a trip the ER, a nerve repair surgery, and no feeling in two of my fingers more than a year later, I am extremely lucky to still have my fingers and hand! Everyone has strengths, areas for growth, and a few chores that are better left to the professionals!
- Take Time for You. Whatever it is that makes you feel whole, make the time to do that! It may take some creative scheduling, but you can do it! For me, my stress relief was running. For an hour after work each and every day, I would load up my daughter in the jogging stroller and go for an hour run. Some days we would chat, and some days I would plug in my headphones and escape for awhile. You deserve time to be you!
- Learn to Forgive. This lesson was by far the hardest to come by, and one I am still working on today. Learn to forgive yourself and others. Life is not always perfect. You will have good days and bad days. Sometimes, you will pack your child an all-organic lunch that includes the proper ratio of each individual food group and includes all major vitamins and minerals (high-five!). Sometimes, you will send last night’s leftover pizza with a sweet note. Your precious child is thankful for you! Please do not be so hard on yourself. Learn to forgive, and learn to forget. Tomorrow is a new day.
The Fort Worth Moms Blog sponsors numerous Neighbor Groups — online Facebook groups for women in and near Tarrant County. In addition to regional and topical groups, be sure to visit the Tarrant County Single Moms Neighbor Group.