I never planned on being a single parent, but it happened. I love my children and I cannot imagine my life without them. But parenting alone is hard, and there are some really big challenges that stand out.
There is no lonelier feeling than worrying about your children, about taking care of them, and keeping a roof over their heads alone. When I am up all night because someone is sick, or I am struggling with whether I have made a right decision, I feel overwhelmed and alone. I don’t miss my ex, but I wish he played his part. The burden of knowing you are the only person invested in your children’s lives and future is scary and hard to bear alone.
I look forward to the milestones of my children’s lives. They are the best reminders that I am doing a good job, that I have not screwed them up, and that they are growing up healthy and turning out to be amazing human beings. While I look forward to the celebratory milestones like every other parent, I hate celebrating these milestones alone. I feel like a single voice cheering my children on, and it is a subtle and painful reminder that I am alone in this experience.
Single moms cry – a lot, but it is the worst when you have moments where you have held it in for so long, and you finally let the tears flow. And you can’t let your kids hear you. So, you grab a pillow and you cry into that pillow. The crying alone part is magnified because you know you have no one to help you or to tell you, “it’s going to be okay.” I know it is all up to me to pull myself together. It is not like I have a choice. But I need these moments. And I just wish someone could hug me and tell me it will get better, even if that is not true.
This may not come as a surprise to those of you who know me, but I hate asking for help. I just want to be enough for my children, so I try to convince myself I can manage and balance everything. While people are willing and eager to help, it takes a lot on my part to swallow my pride and admit I actually need help and that I cannot do it all. It is even harder to ask because my children and I have been let down by the very people that were supposed to be there for us. So, I focus on doing the best I can despite the circumstances because asking for help is just plain hard.
Every parent on Earth disappoints their children once in a while. But when you are a single parent, it feels like you are disappointing them more – maybe you’re not, but it sure feels like it. You don’t have as much time and money, and you just can’t play the role of two people. I wish I could give them everything they want because all I want is for them to be happy. But alas, I cannot, and I need to learn to be okay with what is out of my control.
Having to explain to my child something that is hard to understand is probably the hardest part of being a single parent. Why doesn’t Dad call? Why doesn’t Dad show up when he is supposed to? Does Dad love me? Is he ever coming back? Watching my child struggle to understand the absence of his father breaks my heart. But I watched my older son before him go through the same thing, and he turned out just fine, so I can take some comfort in that. He is almost 18 and tells me that he never missed out on his father not being around and that I gave him more love than two parents could. (Yea, just thinking about that makes me teary-eyed.)
I love my children and my life. If I had a choice between single parenting and not being a mom at all, I would choose to be a single mother without hesitation. But as many single parents can tell you, some days are rough, and going at it alone is very lonely. We are all doing the best we can with the cards we have been dealt, and despite our worries, our kids are turning out just fine.
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