I Became a Single Mom on Mother's Day, Now What?
Updated: Mar 7, 2019
This year, Mother's Day has a bitter sweet feeling. Bitter because it was on Mother's Day last year that my marriage technically ended. Sweet because the end was such a relief. Without recalling all the gory details, it is a day that will always remind me of where I was and from whence I came. That day defines the moment I officially became a single mom. I did not know what it would mean, nor how I or my children would be affected. All I knew was that at this point, anything would be better than the last five years of my life.
I think it was that feeling of utter relief to be finally free from the web of torture that gave me the strength to look at my situation as positively as I did. I did not think about what was to become of me now that I was on my own, nor what would become of my children. After all, my youngest had just turned one only a few days prior and my oldest was only two. Instead however, I saw an opportunity to live a peaceful life and in my mind's eye finally regaining that peace was all that mattered. So, I relished in the thought of it just being us three and I pictured myself holding it down easy breezy.
Although having regained my peace of mind and having had my life somewhat restored to normalcy was exhilirating, single motherhood came with its own bag of challenges. Overnight, I found myself trying to figure out daycare that I could actually afford, how I would transport my children to and from daycare so I that I could go to work, and commuting for what seemed like an eternity each day and coming home so late at night that I hardly spent quality time with my kids; I had to figure out who would take care of them when I had to travel for work and how to maintain some semblance of balance in my own life so that I could take care of Shermain the person and that included managing two passion projects.
Little things like going to the grocery store became so complicated. If you're a mom with two young children then you totally get where I am coming from. Trying to read product labels or browse through the aisles at Target while running behind two toddlers is a daunting and tiring experience and it is one I only attempt if I absolutely have to. Thank God for Amazon or I don't know how I would manage it all. Because of this, family outings are far and few and in between. I simply can't manage two young babies on my own. As they have gotten older it has gotten better but the truth is I am not quite there yet. So unless grandma or aunty plans to tag along I am bound to our home. Time also became more scarce as there was no partner around with whom to share parenting time with. So I found myself working on side projects or doing the laundry late at night after putting the girls to bed and getting very little sleep as a result. Weekends are no longer your own and dating is definitely out of the question.
Becoming a single mom also took its emotional toll and though my therapist (yes I went to a therapist and so should you. They are great!!) was able to really put things into perspective for me, I will admit that there were many days and nights when I felt so low and so overwhelmed that I would just break down and cry. Those were the moments when the devil would sneak into my mind and feed me negative thoughts and lies about myself. Lies that made me feel washed up and used and worthless. Lies that made me feel like I had destroyed my life beyond repair.
It took real strength and courage not to succumb to these destructive thoughts. One of the things my therapist repeatedly told me that stuck with me was to allow myself to feel the things I felt. That all the emotions that came and went were normal. That giving myself time to heal from the trauma was important. She also constantly reminded me that this too shall pass and though she was right the truth is you never completely forget what you have been through.
This brings me to anger, another deep emotion that I dealt with as my therapy sessions progressed. At this stage in the process I was no longer feeling sorry for myself but feeling deep bouts of anger and they were usually geared not only towards my husband but towards all the men of my past who had hurt me and whom I felt had contributed to the broken woman that I had become. I hated them all for what they had done to me but nothing would compare to the hate I harbored for myself. Deep down I blamed myself for not being smart enough, savvy enough, or tough enough and for being the weak woman who allowed everyone to walk all over her. I blamed myself for not seeing the truth, for not asking more questions, for allowing myself to be fooled and even more so for staying as long as I did and ignoring all the signs that showed me something was very very wrong with my relationship.
My therapist again reminded that it was ok to feel angry, but that I needed to use the experience to learn and grow. She also told me that most women who have gone through what I have, even if they do find the courage to leave always tend to go back. She let me know how much she admired my strength and that I deserved to give myself some credit. Being the type of woman who was always hard on myself and always seeking perfection it was so difficult to cut myself some slack, but as time progressed things did get better.
Learning to love yourself is a process of the mind. It requires persistence and practise and as this year's Mother's Day approaches I have so much to be thankful for. This past year I spent a great deal of time working on me because I knew that the only way I could be a good mom is by making sure that I am physically, emotionally and mentally healthy. Taking those steps were paramount to my survival and recovery. It is why I feel so passionate about self-care for moms. My approach included taking the steps to finding a good therapist, finally going to the dentist to figure out the reason behind all the jaw pain I had been experiencing for the past two years!!, taking my vitamins daily and making sure I was taking all the right amounts for my age and lifestyle (yes these things do matter), eating healthier, trying to exercise ( this has been the most difficult to implement but I have been doing good), partaking in things that bring me joy ( i.e. reading a good book, scheduling a spa day) and diligently working on my career.
Though all these things contributed to my overall recovery and maintenance the one thing that truly pulled me through all this was daily prayer. During my marriage, my spiritual strength was weakened and somewhat demolished but by becoming single I have found God again and that alone in itself is a blessing. Reconnecting with God has opened my mind and heart to all things new and wonderful. Restoring faith in Christ does not happen overnight and at first it was a struggle to just sit and commit to simply reading my bible. Each time I made an attempt at it I felt my thoughts constantly straying or having feelings of anxiety. Through persistence, meaning commiting daily to reading His Word each day became easier and today I crave it and find myself praying to God at anytime of the day for even the simplest of things. Through daily connecting to God through his Word I have been comforted and reassured that my past does not define me. I define me and that definition comes from God who created me with pure love. As my life continues to evolve I have faith that God is doing His work through me and guiding me on the path that He has destined for me. There are times when I have felt stuck unsure of when my breakthrough would come ( I am actually in that place right now) but it is in those moments that I have learned to be still, continue to pray, have faith and to allow God to do the rest.
I believe that the bad times make us all stronger and many of us did not choose to be single mothers but having been dealt those cards does not make us any less of a woman or a mother or a person. Society may make us feel like a "statistic" but we are the norm. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, of the 12 million single family homes, 80 percent of that is headed by single mothers. Single parent homes outnumber homes with married couples and those statistics are very telling. It means that there is a really huge number of women who get up everyday and struggle to do it all alone. Society expects her to put on her superwoman cape and just do what she has to do and we forget that a living breathing human lies behind the role of being a mother. For those with the support (maybe from their partner or a grandparent or aunt for example) maybe she is better able to juggle it all. But for those who lack support it can be an overwhelming life filled with stresss and sacrifice.
The work of mothers whether married or single or co-parenting is never done. It is a non-stop daily cycle and no matter the age of your children each stage comes with its own set of challenges. Society needs to do more to support our mothers, especially our single mothers. More policies and benefits need to be put in place in many of our workplaces. Health benefits like paid maternity leave still have a long way to go and as women and mothers we need to rally around each other more. More fathers need to step up to the plate financially and emotionally and us mothers need not give them a pass because they are dead beat dads. Children are not cheap and if you are unlucky enough to have a father whose presence is lacking use your legal right to at least get him to financially support his children by filing for child support through the courts. Relieving some of your financial burden can help you in the long run.
This Mothers Day I pray for all mothers that may be feeling lost, overwhelmed, despondent or alone. There is hope mamas. So many of you have given me hope just by reading your posts in my feed. One of the things blogging has shown me is that our struggles are not unique that many other women are going through the same experiences both good and bad and that is one of the positives of social media. We may not live near each other or even be friends but by sharing your own life lessons and experiences you can help another woman who is also on her own journey and seeking hope or answers.
I have also learned from this blogging experience that we are all not so different after all and as moms who have been gifted with the task of carrying, nurturing and raising healthy children who will grow up to be healthy adults who will make a positive contribution to their communities and the wider world there is so much more we can learn from each other and there is so much we still can do to support each other. It is my hope that as we celebrate mothers that we also think about how we can each contribute to making our own lives better and setting a foundation for an even brighter future for ourselves and our children.
Happy Mothers Day Mamas!