Sometimes I wish I could just talk freely about what it is like to be a single parent.
I don’t like to. I like to hide, honestly, behind the cloak of busy. And I keep myself moving and moving and moving trying to numb those areas in life where I don’t really want to talk about.
And then sometimes I find myself looking at others and smiling and nodding and then thinking no one wants to hear about that, right? Where’s the joy? Isn’t it more interesting talking about the next project or holiday or what we’ll be making for dinner and smiling and nodding and doing the half interested wave at each other?
And then sometimes I stand in my room and I look around and I feel so utterly and completely alone.
I deal with so many questions all the time.
Not from the world.
Are you insane? Why weren’t you worth it? Your kids will hate you forever. Why didn’t you try harder? You don’t measure up? What will you do? How will you make ends meet? What if you are alone the rest of your life? What do they think of you?
And I just get lost in those moments of self pity.
So I thought that instead of just thinking thinking thinking about what it’s like and wishing that people understood that perhaps I would just write about this part of life. Maybe you’re a single mom. Or not. But chances are you know one (or a dad) and one of the biggest things that I deal with is feeling alone and misunderstood.
Like I don’t measure up in the world’s hierarchy of love, success, and awesomeness in life. After all, most happily ever after love stories don’t end up the way my life ended up. But but but I’ve come to realize that just because life doesn’t have all the glitter and perfectness that it doesn’t negate the beauty, purpose, joy, or wonderfulness that can saturate a life.
So I decided to write my heart, from me to all of you, in the hopes that it blesses you or gives you a glimpse into the world of being a single mom.
It’s a struggle. It’s lonely. You deal with guilt and wonder and hope and lots and lots and lots of work. You deal with jealousy and feeling like you’re not worth being loved or fighting for. You deal with going out with other couples and feeling like the odd one out. Or you deal with sitting at a restaurant with couples for your 40th birthday and the waiter asking you now who are you with? and you say, with a broken smile on your face it’s just me.
Because that’s what single parenting is. It’s a whole lot of just me moments in life.
It’s easy to judge from the outside. It’s easy to say that you always look sad or that the person messed up or all of that. Don’t judge. Please please please don’t judge. Judging doesn’t make us stronger as a human culture. Judging divides.
Give. Listen. Have empathy. Give a hand. Take the kids at times.
But really really just love and be there.
I look at my life and from the outside to the world it could look like a crazy mess and that I have so much to do and you know what? It really truly is – the lots to do and manage part but not the crazy mess part. It may be crazy but it doesn’t automatically equal a mess.
Life can be redeemed.
Now know that there are hard things. Like the truth that there really isn’t a moment where there are breaks – there isn’t the opportunity to roll over and hit snooze or to get sick and get back up. There are moments of tears and I hate you’s and just a whole lot of hard work.
I could dwell on all of that. But the reason I tell you that is this – if someone who is single and parenting on their own or having a huge burden to carry no matter what the reason don’t tell them that you have that too. Because until you’re faced with always making dinner and sitting in teacher conferences alone you don’t understand the real weight of sitting in a home all alone at night. And sometimes the I understand comments actually hurt worse because even if they’re good and full of intentions it’s really really hard to understand the day in and day out and day in out lonely that can happen.
So listen. Love. Let the tears fall when they need to.
So now, this cannot be a downer post. And it’s not going to be. Trust me. This is about being real and finding joy and living a life with intention and not sitting in muck and despair and self-pity. That doesn’t get us anywhere. That keeps us stuck.
So we move bravely onward and forward making hard choices and being determined to see beauty in ordinary.
In fact one of the biggest thing I’ve learned in my journey is the power of friendship. I’ve learned how people stand up and how people who I thought were friends hide and disappear. I’ve learned that there are those in my life who are available at all hours. Be one of those friends. Don’t be a friend who doesn’t want to get in the dirt with that other person. Love them.
That’s one last thing. Give grace for moments of tears. Even if the situation is better and right for them. Give grace. There is still a moment – a releasing of the Hallmark dreams of life and 43rd anniversaries and someone to laugh with when your kids do something crazy – that is lost just a bit. So grace matters so so so much.
Just don’t disappear.
Be there. Love them. Support them. Don’t exclude.
Do you know that in the last couple of years I’ve discovered a strength that I didn’t know I had? I realized that I can stay caught up on laundry and dishes and that I can do this. It’s really really really hard but I’m a fighter.
That’s what I tell myself every morning when my alarm goes off at 6:30am and I had gone to bed at 1am because I was working so that I can pay for all the things that need to be payed for and so that I can spend $5.99 on a MineCraft book at the school book fair just because. You know why?
I love my kids.
I love my kids fiercely.
We all love our kids.
So friends. Those are my words. Am I an unhappy person? No. Not at all. I was just told that I seemed unhappy – but you see it was a judgment made on the surface not a real get to know you in the dirt there for you statement. Do you know that I’m happy? And I’ve learned about life and real deep joy. I’ve been made to come face to face with myself and wrestle my own fears. And I’ve learned the power in the words I matter and I am enough and bravery.
That’s what I want you to walk away with.
But rather camaraderie.
After all we all want to raise our children to be amazing.
We’re stronger united.
ps. thank you for the likes and shares of this post. especially if it gets this in front of one mom right now who needs to hear how much she matters and how she is loved.
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