Single Parenting is hard, really really hard. When I became a single mom, I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. I joined support groups and reached out to friends who were also single parents and tried to learn as much information as I could so that I would be prepared.
But even with all of this new knowledge, I still feel like there were things that no one told me. There were things that took me by surprise and sometimes were really tough and overwhelming. I want to be honest about being a single parent, so that my friends and family understand why sometimes I can’t do things or go places or feel guilty over what seems like very trivial stuff. I love my daughter and wouldn’t have it any other way, but here are some things you need to know about single parenting and the struggles we face.
We always feel guilty. The guilt is with us all of the time. It’s present when we are at work. It’s present when we are at home. It’s present when we are having a night out with our friends. It’s present when we treat ourselves to something nice. It’s hard to explain the guilt, but it creeps up on us out of nowhere. Because there isn’t a second parent present in my child’s day-to-day life, I feel like I have to spend every single non-working moment with her. I think if I had a partner I wouldn’t feel nearly as bad because he would be able to give me a break and my daughter would still be with one of her parents. But because I do it on my own, I feel guilty every single time I go out and get my parents to babysit. I know it sounds silly but it’s a very real emotion that I experience nearly every day. I wish I could somehow get over it, but I can’t.
People will judge you. Society judges everyone for everything so this shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but people can be very cutting and hurtful with their words. One of the most insensitive things anyone has ever said to me was “why didn’t you try to make it work?”…. Um, hi. Do you really think I just gave up? That I chose to walk away and wash my hands clean? No. I wanted it to work more than anything in the world but you can’t force another person to do something that they don’t want to do. I didn’t choose to become a single parent; I just set out to become the best parent I can possibly be. And that hasn’t changed even though my relationship failed.
It’s lonely. There are days when I wish I had someone to experience motherhood with. I wish I had a partner to experience all of the firsts and to be there for the tough days and to give me a break on the days when she is sick or cranky or overtired. It can also be lonely when you talk to other parents who are married or in a relationship. They’ll talk about how much their child loves playing with their dad or how their little one climbs into bed with the two of them every morning and it makes me sad because I just can’t give my daughter those things.
It’s stressful. Parenting is stressful. Children do not come with instructions and sometimes we have to use our judgment and common sense to figure things out. But single parenting is especially stressful at times because you’re constantly second guessing yourself and wondering if you made the right decision. I know that married couples go through this too but at least they can reassure each other and speak logically when the other is feeling extremely overwhelmed. On days like that I am extra grateful for my parents, who always remind me that I am doing my best and that I am a good mom.
Dating is a chore. After working all week, all I want to do is throw on my pajamas and spend some quality time with my daughter. The last thing I want to do is have to get dressed up and go make small talk with a stranger for a few hours. That’s precious time away from my baby. I do want to meet someone, but I feel like I don’t have any time to do it. It’s almost like catch 22; I don’t date because I don’t have time. And because I don’t have time, I don’t date.
Single parenting is hard but it is also really rewarding. I am the reason that my daughter is becoming this amazing little human. Every action, word, smile, mistake and gesture is a reflection of me. She is the most loving little creature and is almost always happy. This is because of the way I am raising her. Yes, there are days where we both get tired and overwhelmed, but it’s always rewarded with a smile and a hug and a kiss from my daughter, and no matter how many times in a day she hugs and kisses me, it never gets old and always melts my heart.
And even though it’s hard and challenging, I’ve experienced a love I never knew existed. I’ve learned to appreciate my family and friends in an entire new way. Being able to lean on them for support and to get me through the tough times has really opened up my eyes and has allowed me to see who matters and who will always stand by me. And as if that isn’t enough, I experience this beautiful and amazing love with my daughter each and every day. I had no idea I could love this big or this much, but being a mom has helped my heart grow bigger than I ever thought possible.
Being a single parent is tough, but it’s taught me so much about myself. It’s not always as easy as I would like it to be and there are really hard days. But I always get rewarded with her love and affection which makes every difficult moment totally worth it, a thousand times over. It may not be ideal to some, but it works for me and I wouldn’t change a thing.
“There will be so many times you feel like you failed. But in the eyes, heart and mind of your child you are super mom.” – Stephanie Precourt