After many years of single motherhood I reached a point where I felt I could no longer take the weight of all the years of struggling on my own. Being a single parent, sole head of household became too much to bare.
I found myself in a constant mood of of non-conformity and a feeling of unfairness, as if life had done wrong to me for no reason, I kept asking myself why do I have to struggle so much? Will it always be like this? I was mentally and physically exhausted. Being on this state all the time kept me strictly focused on things I did not have, it had me focused on need instead of what I already had, my abilities and everything I was able to do on my own. I realized I was looking at life from a negative, counter productive perspective that was very harmful to myself and my children.
When we first get married we are not thinking about divorce, that’s definitely not in the plans but when it happens we tend to assume from the beginning that we are not capable to raise a family on our own, neither are we trained to do so because we expect to work with a team, a team of two. Unfortunately this is the case of many of us who have found ourselves shortsighted by a fog of uncertainty, facing the scary and unavoidable reality of having to make it on our own, with our children by the hands and also succeed.
This is the moment where fear settles in, our world turns upside down and so does our self confidence. We don’t believe we can make it but we know one thing for sure, we have “no choice”. These two words are amazingly powerful and can drive us to do the most unbelievable things, so we take this “no choice” like a power shake and jump in the mess ready to do whatever it takes for our children.
But there’s also a downside to this, the same “no choice” belief is the perspective that makes all our efforts and accomplishments feel like sacrifice. When everything we do is a result of sacrifice, we don’t see our extraordinary feats and our ability to transform into these powerful women. Don’t get me wrong, we do become extraordinarily able but we just cant see it.
This is inability is also nurtured by how we take in social beliefs and other people’s perceptions of us as single mothers. For example, think about that moment in a conversation when you outer the words “I’m a single mother”. After enduring an awkward pause in my case, a very popular reaction of people I’ve shared this with is an expression that lives somewhere in between “I’m so sorry” and “I admire you, you must be strong”, but besides that reaction what made me most uncomfortable was the feeling I had when saying the words, I honestly felt embarrassed, a fear of being pitied and a sense of failure and guilt, but why?
Most days from the moment I woke up I was trying hard be on top of my game in a constant never ending state of planning, organizing, rushing, timing, stressing and worrying, despite all this I was still getting things done but because I was in the ‘no choice’ mindset everything I did felt as if it was the last resource I had. One day I broke down and I got my answer.
I was finally driving home from a full day of work with a lot of stressful commuting, my work at the time required me to do lots of driving, I must have put about 4 hours of driving that day before it was time to head home. I had to rush and pick up my children, make dinner, do homework, make sure they showered, give them some quality time and get them ready for bed. Hopefully I would have time left to prepare things for the next day, catch up on some cleaning, laundry, dishes, school lunches, make a grocery list, plan dinner for next day and be ready for another work day just as intense.
As I was driving I felt taken by an overwhelming feeling of mental and physical exhaustion. I started crying until the crying got so intense I had to turn on my hazard lights and stop at the shoulder of the highway, I was unable to drive. I cried until there was nothing left in me, tried shaking myself out of it over and over again, tried to put myself together thinking I had to be strong because I no choice, I had to do it. I felt angry at myself, angry at my work, at my ex-husband, at my family, angry at life and the whole universe, I wanted to give it all up. I said to myself “If this is the life I have to live with my children I give up, I’m not living like this anymore, from now on I will find a way to make my choices, I will choose”. I had no idea how I was going to do that but just saying that sure made me feel relieved.
Deciding to go against everything I knew and question it made me look back at my harsh journey and pay attention to all the things I had done until that moment, I was saddened but amazed at the same time. How many times have we heard from people “I have no idea how you do it” or “It’s amazing how you are able to do all that on your own”. How can others see what we are able to accomplish but we don’t? This is the first step, to see what others see, observe ourselves and focus on the way we do things and how well we deal with challenges as single parents.
I got to the conclusion that despite who came into my life or what happened, I would always be a single mother, I would always do everything humanly possible to take care of me and my children, the question was, what if I accept single motherhood not as a condition or a temporary state but as part of who I am? What if I believe that I can do it on my own?
The truth is that although we have not been aware of it we have learned and we have found many different ways to take challenging situations and make them work for us. We’ve been doing it all along but we just weren’t aware of it. Every day we get better at it and we will for as long as we are mothers and raise our children. We have become masters of our single motherhood.
Single motherhood is not a condition or a terrible state from which we have to get out of. As it presents many challenges, it also offers many blessings: motivation, courage, strength, persistence, purpose, self-worth, responsibility, immeasurable love to give and a unique, very special bond with our children.
We must discover, embrace and love these gifts to find the joy and extraordinary in what we do and who we are. As we strive to raise our children we will also become much healthier, stronger and happier women.
Sending love to all the extraordinary masters of Single Motherhood.