Mother’s Day is now very different for me. In the past, the usual Mother’s Day morning consisted of an attempted sleep in, hearing the pulls of sticky tape and rustles in the kitchen as my daughter and husband prepared to greet me with a gift and a homemade card.
Hearing giggles as she cracked the eggs making me breakfast in bed and being woken by a duo calling out ‘Happy Mother’s Day!’
Come Sunday, I will wake in my apartment alone. My daughter will be at her dad’s; it’s his turn to have her over at his house this weekend. I will FaceTime her and unwrap my present in front of a screen.
This time last year I would have never imagined what was to come in the months ahead. Not in my wildest dreams.
Since my marriage ended suddenly, I have done this all alone. This year my daughter started school; I have done lunches, meetings, homework, uniforms, and making parent friends in a group of happily married couples. With little income, I have had to somehow come up with the money for rent, food on the table, clothes, her birthday party. The list goes on. I have done it all, not by choice and through no fault of my own.
But I did it. I’m doing it. It is something I never thought I would have to do. But here I am, every day, one foot in front of the other.
I doubt myself constantly, doubt my capability, doubt my patience, my strength, my resilience, and my ability to keep it together in the midst of all the chaos. But all I have to do is look at my little girl and see that despite my self-doubts, I am successfully raising my little girl as a single mother and she is thriving.
I remember the day my husband left; I sat in utter shock and fear, head in hands thinking how am I going to do this? I don’t know how to do this!
As parents, daily we sacrifice, we worry, we stress over finances, struggle to budget, try our best to keep it together, get anxious when life takes a turn, live on little sleep, have to be strong even when our world seems like it is falling apart. From the day our children are born, that is just what we do.
The only difference is, being a single mother, you do it alone. It’s not necessarily harder, just different. While I may curse the fact I have no husband to vent to at the end of the day, I am thankful that although it’s hard to manage alone, there is no bickering or fighting anymore. A killer in our marriage and it had an effect on all of us.
Now it’s my job solely to make sure we survive, to manage everything; to keep it together and try and conceal the struggles so my daughter doesn’t have to worry.
It’s a lonely road to walk.
As single parents it’s little lines we say to cover a crisis quickly to avoid our children stressing, the things we do to shield our children, our tears we quickly wipe away so they don’t feel insecure, the nights we go to bed alone with the only comfort of knowing our snoring babe is fed, bathed and happily dreaming even if outside their bedroom door, circumstances seem nothing but a constant struggle.
We do it because we are now their everything and them ours because they are our reason for living, our motivation to survive and our hope in the darkest of times.
Listen: Dr Ginni Mansberg shares how her divorce kick started her career on I Don't Know How She Does It (post continues after audio...)
Being a parent is hard, in the best of circumstances. Being a single parent isn’t harder, it’s just different. You don’t have a spouse to share the burden with. There were times in my marriage I felt as though I were a single parent anyway. In an unhappy marriage, this is common to feel you’re doing it all alone. To those that are walking that path, I feel you; I’ve been there.
This week is one of the toughest weeks in my personal life, but through it all, I am trying my best to focus on being grateful for what I do have. I have a strong, smart, happy little girl. I am a mother, something I have dreamed of being ever since I can remember. I have a bed to climb in every night. I have food in the fridge.
I have the most incredible mother who I can turn to for love and support and cry to when I can’t deal with the day anymore, who is my best friend and who has shown me how to slowly rebuild life from hitting rock bottom. She raised us three kids through very turbulent times in her marriage but taught me to never give up. Losing her husband (my dad) to suicide and being left with nothing, she has somehow risen above it all against all odds and come out the other side a strong and resilient woman and mother. If she can do it, I sure can!
I have my baby sister who is my heart, my soul, and my happy place, she can make me laugh when all seems less than funny, and she has an ability to calm me like no other. I have a brother who is my light and strength. He is a male figure in my life that has not and will not ever abandon me. I have a father, who has now passed away but shows me signs he is still near watching over me through this time in my life.
I am grateful for amazing friends who’s love, support, a listening ear, help, and advice warms my heart and gives me strength to face another day.
I may wake alone this Mother’s Day, but I am not truly alone. My life is just beginning; yes it’s not the life I imagined I would have. But maybe just maybe, in time, I will find it may be better than I ever dreamed it would be.
To all the single parents out there, you have my heart. You are not alone. And you’re doing a damn good job. You deserve recognition, and here I am saying well done. Tomorrow is a new day. One foot in front of the other. It’s all going to be ok.