Dear Single Mom:
Most of us didn’t choose to be single moms but it happened. Either because someone walked away, broke vows, and/or physically harmed us. No matter how we got here, we never dreamed of being single moms when we were little girls.
I didn’t choose this. I envisioned marrying the right person and staying happily married forever. But I ended up doing it alone and often muddling along trying to figure it out.
Like so many of you, I have found myself at my breaking point at times so I am not going to tell you have to enjoy every minute of this chaos. You don’t have to and it is not for me to tell you it could get easier, but sometimes, it does, and sometimes, it doesn’t. I am not even going to tell you to hold it together because I already know you can. I also know there are times when you can’t.
You put on a happy face even when feels like you have nothing left to give. Guess what! You are allowed to crumble. You are allowed to cry. You are allowed to curse. And you are even allowed to scream. Not all the time, but sometimes, and just for a little while.
You are allowed to be stressed about making the rent on time, especially after that unexpected car repair bill or the month when the daycare bill is higher because school is out of session. You are allowed to feel sad when all you want is a break from the world. You are allowed to feel like you need a break from your kids – the very kids you love more than your own life.
The truth is moms – whether we are single moms or not –all fall apart sometimes. Even when we try our best not to. There are times when no matter how much we are trying to hold it together, it seems we are falling harder. So, we have to let go. We have to feel pain and fear and let go of expectations.
When your teenager is driving you insane for no reason at all. When your seven year old is throwing a fit because his father didn’t show. When your family or friends are mad because you can’t spend time with them due to working two jobs. When your job needs you and you don’t have childcare for your sick child. It is okay to fall apart.
Stop telling yourself you will push through, that you have to be stronger, that you shouldn’t cry, that you are not trying hard enough, or that you somehow are required to make it work. Stop demanding such high expectations of yourself. You are only human. Sometimes, everything is a mess and you are trapped in a place you can’t escape and there is not a damn thing you can do about it.
Sometimes, you handle stress by smoking or drinking an extra glass of wine. Other times, you handle stress in ways that don’t make sense to anyone but you. It is okay.
I have been there and I get it. Sometimes, I can’t seem to get a minute, an hour, a day, or even a week that is going right. Everything seems so impossible. Today is one of those days for me. My mind is full and my heart is empty.
Ladies, motherhood is not for the weak and all the things that go with it, come in waves and sometimes, those waves crash harder than you ever expected. And single motherhood – that is a whole new level of intensity. You are alone to bear the burden of the battered shore. So, go ahead, crumble, fall apart and feel your pain. You will still be there in tact when the storm is over – I promise you that.
You don’t have to hold on to that pain or hide it. Allow yourself to fall as far as you can even if it is the bottom of a f*cking bottomless pit. Sometimes, we get so tied down doing everything for everyone and considering everyone’s feelings that we forget we are human. We forget we are allowed to feel things and fall apart because we are trying to hold everyone else up. Meanwhile, no one is holding us up.
The thing about single mothers is that we have learned to stand successfully on our own two feet but so often, we stand alone. But having to be Mom and Dad to our kids doesn’t mean we have to be perfect. We are allowed to cry, break, crumble or wish we were anywhere but here. It is okay to fall and fail and learn from our mistakes. Because if we don’t do just that, we can’t move forward.
There is light at the end of the tunnel and the longer you do this, it gets easier to deal with the stress and frustration. And there are still good moments even while you are struggling to find your footing.
My living room floor is often impossible to find because of all the toys that often inhabit it. I have stepped on Legos and I found myself uttering four letter words. I have been awoken from deep sleep by a crying child and I have been thrown up on and pooped on. And I have been told by a teenager that I know nothing or that he hates me. But I keep going and when I can’t keep going, I break down.
There is clothes in my closet that I’d like to fit me again but that probably won’t happen because my hips are proof I gave life to my children. And I can’t let that worry consume me when I am trying to raise my boys right and while I am trying to make ends meet. In my home, there is yelling, fighting, crying and losing it all before 8 am. I have cleaned up drawings off the walls of my modest home and I have done it hyped up one at least on pot of coffee – and with creamer that isn’t even fat-free.
My bed is soft and comfortable but it isn’t mine alone. I often wake up to a foot in my face – or in my back or my neck. There is curiosity the minute we walk in the front door and rebellion more often than I want to believe. Exhaustion is my normal but it is also a reminder of all the gifts in of my life.
There are often smudged windows and stray socks and shoes no one can find. New clothes and shoes, haircuts, and loose teeth are a reminder they are healthy and continue to grow. It is disbelief and pride all in one.
I am overwhelmed and unhinged especially between the dandelions I receive and the mud on my kitchen floor. My life is tiring and complex but it is where it is supposed to be. And the meltdowns are plenty and allowed.
I know it is okay to let the rain fall and allow the storm to pass. Sometimes, you just have to crash and burn so you can rise from the flames. You will come out better, stronger and more appreciative of your loved ones.
To every single mother trying to keep it together, you don’t always have to.
Another single mom just trying