28 Nov Single Parenting And The Stuff No One Tells You
I didn’t plan on being a single Mom, but I’ve done my very best over the years. Sometimes though, my best didn’t seem good enough and I wondered if my child would be scarred for life.
There are high’s and low’s to this single parenting gig and I’ve cried a river over the last 17 years. I’ve learned a lot about my strength and mental wellness (lol! No, but seriously) and the resilience of my child. We have become an unlikely duo, joined at the hip and connected by an unbreakable bond.
I’ve made mistakes over the years, tons of them in fact and I’ve often wondered, “How come no one ever told me this stuff would happen?” These mistakes ended up being life lessons for me and my kiddo; she will be 18 years old next month and I’m happy to announce that I haven’t broken her. She’s in one piece, happy and thriving…while I contribute that to SOME of my parenting skills, she was truly raised by a village. I am fortunate to have parents who supported us in so many ways during our hardest times. She has an Aunt that is like a sister to her and an Uncle that she trusts and confides in.
No one tells you how hard being a single parent will be and yes, you will make mistakes and you won’t be the perfect parent, but you will always strive to do your very best. I sent my kid a text the other day thanking her for loving me unconditionally. You know what her response back was? “You’re weird.” I read it and immediately thought to myself, “Yeah. She loves me.”
I just wish I knew then what I know now. I’m going to share a few things that I have learned over time with the hopes that it will help someone else.
You can’t be both Dad and Mom: If you are a single Mom, that is your role. You are a female built with the innate sense of mothering, so do that. Be a Mom. You can’t try to be a Dad because you’re not a man. The wonderful thing about being a Mom is that we can be sensitive and stern when needed. We are built to be nurturers and caregivers. We are beautifully emotional and can provide things to our children that Dad’s can’t and vice versa. What you CAN do is make sure she has at least one male role model in her life that you both trust; one that will do her no harm and only has her best interest at heart. My Dad plays this role in my daughter’s life and no matter the distance, he always called, texted or emailed. I know that some single Mom’s may not be fortunate enough to have a trusted male role model that their child can lean on. It sounds cliche, but if that is the case, you have to point your child to God (which should be done anyways.) He’s the only one that can fill that gap. I’ve seen it.
Never talk bad about the other parent: When my daughter asked why her Father wasn’t around, my response was simple and true, “He no longer wanted the responsibility of being a husband or Father.” This answer does a few things: (1) Puts the responsibility of his decision on HIM; (2) Told my daughter that he left because he chose to. He didn’t leave because of her; (3) Allowed me to be truthful without being nasty (even though I really wanted to be nasty and petty.) My daughter asked a lot of questions and I was honest about my role in the divorce, my suspicions, why I chose to make certain decisions when it came to protecting her and the list went on. I had to learn that I couldn’t force her to see my side; she had to learn for herself why I made the decisions I did. And trust me, they do find out for themselves…and you have to let them.
You are the adult: I didn’t consult with God about my decision to move to Charlotte. I was running from shadows and wanted to be in a place where no one knew me. When we moved, it was a struggle financially from day one. We were making it, but barely. When I brought up moving back home (the first time) to my daughter, she threw a fit. We fought, yelled, it was ugly. I made the decision to stay because I “didn’t want to upset her.” Chileeeee…I was the adult! We were in a place of famine. When you are in a place of famine, that means you need to change your location and go where there is manna. You can’t let your child run you…you are the adult. Where you go, they go. They will bounce back and be just fine.
Live your life: For the last 17 years all of my focus has been on Gabby. As she transitions into this next phase of her life, I have been learning to let go. I need to let her enjoy her college experience and trust that everything I have taught her will stay with her as she makes life decisions. Once she goes to College, it’s going to be my turn to live my life and enjoy the fruits of my labor.
Trust your journey as you navigate the road of being a single parent. You’re gonna be alright.
From my heart to yours,