You’ve heard the words again and again. ‘Single Mom.’ You probably know some. Maybe you were raised by one. Maybe you are one. Maybe you are just grateful that you’re not. Perhaps you see the words as being synonymous with strength, with grace, with love. Or maybe the words make you feel a sense of pity, of sadness, of loss. Sometimes the words are misinterpreted as a cry for help, a call for praise, or an excuse for hardship. But for us women who face the uniquely real challenges of bringing up our kids almost completely on our own, those two little words mean so. much. more. This is what it means, what it really, truly means, to be a Single Mom.
It means finding reserves of hope, courage, and commitment that you never even knew existed, deep within your soul. The hope that it will all turn out okay, that you yourself will turn out okay, but most of all, that your children will turn out much more than okay. The courage to do it all alone. All of it. Breakfast, lunch, & dinner. Naps & night-times. Toothbrushing, hairbrushing, nailclipping, baths, & showers. Work. Billpaying. Housing. Transportation. Food. Insurance. School clothes. Holidays. Birthdays. Vacations. Yearbooks, fundraisers, field trips. Homework. Booboos & Emergency rooms. Broken bones & broken hearts. Wounded knees & wounded egos. Playing. Holding. Cleaning up toys, & food, & paper, & vomit. Wiping up counters & tables & glass & snot. Tying shoes, zipping jackets, packing back-packs, fixing ponytails, & gelling hair. Doctors, dentists, sports, playdates. Sibling battles, parent-teacher meetings, calls to the principal’s office. Sick days, sleepless nights, rocking cuddling, loving. ALL OF IT, ALONE. And, the commitment it takes to wake up and do it all again. Tomorrow.
It means learning to leave your child with a trusted friend, and driving to work in tears.
It means skipping meals so that your children will always have enough to eat.
It means learning how to fix toys.
It means missing school performances that your kids have worked so hard on, so that you can stay at work yourself.
It means never, ever getting so sick that you must spend the day in bed.
It means holding their hand while waiting for the ER doctor to tell you the news, without anyone being there to hold yours.
It means feeling your very heart break inside you as you watch anticipating smiles turn to tears over forgotten birthdays and holidays from the parent who lives away.
It means gently attempting to explain adult behavior that you yourself can’t even grasp.
But the hardest part, the craziest part, is that it means never letting your children see any of this.
Never letting them know it’s hard.
Never letting them see you struggle.
Never letting them see you cry.
So it means showing them their indispensable value.
It means them growing up knowing that they will never have to settle.
It means letting them see through example that they are as strong as the heart that they grew next to.
And it means always, ALWAYS being somehow able to summon the will to hold on for just one more day…..for THEM.
And at the end of it all…
It means that their tightest hugs, their sweetest kisses, their most serious talks, and their silliest laughs will be shared with YOU.
And you will be blessed to watch them blossom into amazing individuals.
And you will pat yourself on the back knowing that you alone are to credit for the out-standing people that they have become.
And so it means it will most definitely all be worth it in the end. And every step along the way, too.
Read Erin’s stories at Soulful Stories of Momhood.