Parenting, parenting, parenting!!! Gah!! There is so much they don’t tell you in the books and so much you are constantly learning! A lot, they never tell you! Adding to that, doing it alone is whole other mental trip! This week on the blog, we’re launching a new mini series of things we wished someone would have told us about…starting off with Single Parenting. Whew! It has been a journey, read along with some of the things I wish someone had let me know about being a single parent!
You might feel invisible : This isn’t to throw shade or to be negative for the sake of it, but when you’re pregnant, the majority of the questions are geared around you, how are you feeling, are you sleeping, you’re glowing…then the second you have a child the focus dramatically shifts to this new life ( rightly so…I mean they are beyond cute! ) and people seem to forget about the vessel that was ripped apart in order to bring this adorable life to earth. Well fast forward a few years later and it hasn’t really changed, I feel like my life has become so wrapped up in my little ones that I don’t know where I end and she begins. I didn’t think I would have to work so hard to remember myself, remember the me before motherhood. And though I think I do tap back into that somewhat, especially with the blog, I feel as if the pandemic has made it worse because it isolated us and I felt like a one woman island, wanting help but knowing full well I would never ask for it. I also felt like I was doing a lot of the reaching out to others and it wasn’t often that I would receive a check in, but it definitely ebbs and flows.
– You will wonder if you’re doing a good enough job : This in no way is reserved to only single parents, this is probably a very universal thought, and I suppose the very fact that you worry about it means it’s coming from a place of love. But, this past Mother’s Day kind of hit home for me the fact that I did’t have someone reinforce that I am a good mother, on one of the most commercialised days of the year. It is normally the one day a year where you are told you are doing a good job and in some ways I guess it adds a spring to your step. I am constantly wondering if I’m making the right choice and if a decision was the best one or if I should be different or if I should be more patient in this context….etc. It might sound silly, but genuinely speaking, just having someone look at me and say, “you’re a good mom, you should be proud”, would mean a lot. I know am, because I can only do the best that I can and my daughter is lovely enough that she tells me how much she appreciates me, so I definitely feel it where it counts.
Being a mom is the best reason you’ll ever have to take care of you.
– You will be beyond exhausted : There will be things that will have to be put aside, not every task will need to be ticked off, some things will have to wait. When you’re the one running around, it’s hard not to rest because again, it’s all on you, but if you’re not listening to your body and giving yourself grace, who will? if you’re not in your best shape to look after yourself and your little famjam who will? This may sound lazy, but I’m not bothered, this pandemic has taught me the importance of napping/resting. Literally sitting down and doing nothing/nada/zilch. I feel so much better for it and I am a much more energized person after it. If you feel tired, rest, your body is telling you something, even if it’s to rest your mind. Also, I don’t mean spending that time on social media, actually shutting your mind and eyes off. Deep breathing/meditate/pray. Whatever it is in order to simply chill. It is 100% worth it.
– You will forget things and be spread thin : This might be unique to me, but sometimes I’m so overwhelmed, worry about money and feel like a failure if I can’t pay a bill on time; so I have taken to paying them twice ( this has happened to me 3 times ) and at this point I can only laugh about it because it’s that ridiculous. But, it’s because I’m mentally all over the place. Yes, I know I can write it down ( I do ), yes, I know I can have a calendar to keep organized ( I do ), yes, I know I should check my bank account before making payments in double ( I do ). Though it doesn’t happen all the time, it’s just an example of me trying to do too much and being caught out for it. In this case it’s a good problem because I then skip a month’s payments, but on another note, that money could have gone to something else. All that to say, I wish I had known just how many things I would be juggling, and just how many things I can’t afford to wait for someone to do it, because that someone is me.
–You will lose you s@#$: Listen, we’re all human, we all have our moments of not so glory. When the pressure mounts and you realize that it all comes down to you, those are the moments where I genuinely cannot cope. This is one of the main reasons why I find it better for my mental health to be organized because then I don’t feel as overwhelmed. Not to say that I don’t have moments when I just give up, because it’s a lot. Parenting at the best of times is a lot, doing it alone even more so. Adding to this when co-parenting isn’t an option for many reasons and lack of interest appears to be the main reason, frustrations can mount because at the end of the day you know that it is all on your shoulders. And…unfortunately the ones who will reap the repercussions of that pressure is your child. I think honesty is the best policy in those moments, we work on transparency in our house, if I’m feeling tired or low on patience, I will tell my daughter from the beginning, or if I just don’t have the bandwidth to deal with her attitude or something she’s struggling with, I will ask her for some time. It has served us well, keeping in mind she is an only child so it is a bit easier for me to manage and she’s a very mature 7 year old.
– You will feel lonely : Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret the decision to be a single parent, it’s probably one of the best decisions I have made in the last few years, but that doesn’t take away from the feelings of loneliness I wasn’t prepared for. Keep in mind, I was in a relationship for over 15 years with 1 person, I lived with them for approx 13 of those years, so being alone is a major trip! When my daughter has gone to bed, the kitchen is clean and the quiet of the house seems to settle, that is when I wish I had someone to look over to and smile, someone to snuggle up to and talk about anything. I don’t know if it’s because I have spent most my life with someone rather than without, that I don’t know the feeling of not being with someone, and that may be one of the aspects, but at the end of the day. Everyone wants someone to love. Human connection is fundamental to our survival and without it…parts of us die; well at least parts of me as I am a social person. If I were to offer any advise, it’s to lean into your support system, reach out to people and keep those connections strong. I also feel like it’s important to be honest about how you feel, if you’re feeling sad and alone- then say that, you never know just how someone else is feeling. For me, it has actually helped create a deeper connection with my friends who are also mothers.
If there is one thing I can relay to anyone, it is the fact that feelings are fluid, they are ever changing and that isn’t a bad thing- you might feel a certain way today and as quickly as it came, it could change in a few hours. Try not to sit in those feelings for too long, don’t dwell on them, because it will eat away at you. You are doing a good job, you can only do the best you can with the tools you have in your arsenal and things will get better. If that is in the way of you finding your way or eventually find love again; you will look back at those times and realize just how far you’ve come. From one mama to another- don’t stop.