Being a single mother is challenging, but this mum wants you to know you’re not alone.
I looked forward to showers. Not for all the reasons you’d think, though.
It wasn’t because I had few moments to myself – finally reclaiming the body that had become so foreign to my eyes. It wasn’t because I had a few moments away from the baby, who had become more of a fifth limb than a separate entity. It wasn’t even the feeling of cleanliness after stripping off spit-up-stained shirts.
Showers were magical. In the shower, my tears would cease to exist the minute they left my eyes. With the gentle stream of the shower, any trace of sorrow – any inkling of loneliness – would be washed away before I could even acknowledge their presence. I would watch the water spiral down the drain, hoping my feelings of emptiness would follow behind. Each time, I would think it was the last time I would cry.
But, it wasn’t.
There were many more days. But, I never sought help. I always blamed myself – my inadequacy, my hormones, my struggle to adjust to my new life. The truth is, it was me. It was just me. All day, every day. And, that was the problem.
I was walking the path of motherhood alone.
I could see the footsteps of the generations of mothers before me. Unlike my lonely steps, they walked in tribes. The path they had paved was meant to be walked by many - together and at once. I could envision mothers stopping along the way to attend to fussy toddlers, mothers carrying younger ones and letting the older ones run ahead. Children were watched by dozens of eyes, and held by dozens of arms. I could hear the banter between the women as they sought advice from one another, and vented their frustrations. I could feel the strength of their bond as they shared their moments of joy and love.
For months, I continued to walk alone.
I would see another like me across the park playing with her baby and would exchange nothing more than a smile.
I would see another like me struggling to entertain a restless toddler at the grocery store and would exchange nothing more than a look of understanding.