I heard through the grapevine that an acquaintance of sorts said: “Single mothers have it easy.” I immediately laughed out loud because I thought it was a joke. That had to be a sarcastic joke, right? Had they ever even met a single mother in their own lifetime? I don’t know one single mother who would say she has it easy. Even the celebrities who are single mothers who have help at the snap of their fingers, STILL struggle. If you are like this acquaintance, then I need you to listen to me and my snippet of a story.
Single momming isn’t easy.
Exhaustion is a daily struggle. I had a newborn with colic, who breastfed and woke up every 2 hours for 6 months straight. I felt more refreshed back then than I do now. This is a different kind of tired. The kind you don’t even talk about anymore because it is ALWAYS there. Some days are better than others, and some are brought to you by pure adrenaline, a little bit lot of coffee and a whole ton of prayer. I sleep less and not as soundly, I am always on high alert. During the day I don’t stop, I can’t. There is always something to do, whether it’s actual work, household chores, one kid who is still home, pick up and drop offs. There are bills that need to be paid, meals to be cooked, and even just trying to keep up with a friend. Someone or something ALWAYS needs my attention. When I sit down for a moment, I feel guilty but also, so very exhausted.
Mom guilt has become the new normal.
Every mother feels the existence of “Mom Guilt” in her parenting life. I didn’t expect the guilt to ever increase as much as it has. I even feel guilty giving my kids their nightly half-hour show as I am sitting here and typing this out. There is guilt about not wanting to play every single second with them. If I take a shower while they are awake, guess what? Yes, I feel guilty. The IMMENSE amount of guilt over my divorce haunts me, daily. I worry that I screwed them up permanently and they will blame me. If I hire a babysitter so I can go to yoga once a week, the entire time I am there, I think I shouldn’t be. When a child gets sick or does something wrong, I worry that “everyone” looks at me and thinks, she’s not doing enough. I want the guilt to die down a bit, it just seems to be a new battle I am currently working on.
This was never my plan.
This was NOT my Plan A or even my Plan Z. Being a mother always was but, not a single one. Does anyone actually get married and think, “I mean yes, till death do us part or we just get divorced?” I didn’t walk into my marriage thinking it wouldn’t work out but, it didn’t. Now, I have to put my big girl pants on and get things done. I am proud of who I am and becoming. I am stronger than I ever imagined I could be. Things that get accomplished by me and me alone, amaze me. Yes, I give myself that pat on the back here and there because you know what isn’t fun? Cleaning up dead, petrified lizards and being the only adult during a hurricane but, I do it. I am learning to kick butt and take names better than I ever thought possible. With all that feeling of accomplishment, I still want someone “to do life with.”
The future holds such beautiful possibilities
My future excites me but, it also is my number one fear. I worry about my finances, all of our health, college tuition, even being able to take them back to Disney World someday. I want to be able to provide for them with fewer worries. Every night I pray for my children that they stay healthy and safe, and I pray that God gives me that grace as well. I use to want to go skydiving, and now I wouldn’t do it if you paid me to because I can’t do things that make me sign waivers. The future can be terrifying for a single mother. The past seems overwhelming to think back on. Living in the present is what helps, I put one foot in front of the other.
To the acquaintance of sorts, see how easy single mothers have it? No one walks in the door to help me at the end of the day. There is no one to just say “hey the kids were A LOT to handle today” or “can you handle dinner I need to finish up some things.” It is on me to make EVERY DAY work for this family. There is no room to let anyone down, including myself. The one thing I do have easy that you don’t have is the LOVE I get to experience as a parent. It makes all the hard “stuff,” worth it.