I don’t write about being a single mom that much.
Sometimes I don’t because I feel this shame and don’t want to be labeled (I know, I know, in my head). Other times, and most times, I don’t because I want to honor my kids. And yet other times, well, I just don’t know what to say.
I could tell you how it’s not easy. Or how sometimes tears fall from my face because I feel so not worth it. Or how there is much work to do always. Or that there are things that are hard that you don’t realize – like filling out forms or figuring out holidays or answering questions.
But instead, I want to tell you what I’ve learned. Because oftentimes in life we don’t get to hear what one has learned in hard situations – we just hear how it’s hard. But the truth is that I’ve learned so much that I wanted to share that part of my story too in hopes that it encourages you or you can think of another to encourage as well. So here goes:
1. I learned that I judged others. Way too quickly. I’d look at outside circumstances and think well if only they did it this way or wonder why they didn’t try hard enough and so forth. So much of that from me. I don’t like it anymore. Instead now I’ve learned the power of empathy.
2. I learned how strong I was. I knew I was strong. But, I tell you nothing has shown me that when we need to be strong we are just strong like this journey has shown me. There are so many times when I am pushed beyond the brink of self and I keep on going.
3. I learned the value of friendship. Yes yes yes, this. I learned how much friends matter and how sometimes the best thing you can do for someone else is to simply show up. Sometimes it’s very hard to say help or yes or I need help and I am so grateful for those who would just help – plow my driveway, bring a meal or listen.
4. I learned to not feel shame. I think it’s easy to attach shame to one’s life based upon circumstances. When my money was horribly tight I’d feel such incredible shame. Being a single divorced mom – wow – that one was easy to hide from. But, instead, I’m learning that this is part of my story and that my life can still be with deep meaning and joy.
5. I learned I am not alone. There are many of us in this life with stories that don’t match what we dreamed about. I learned that sometimes the lonely is felt because we all think we are alone but deep down inside we just haven’t shared. So I work to not hide where I am and what is going on.
6. I learned how my heart would break. Because of my kids. And wanting for them joy and happiness. And not being able to fix things in a way that they think best hurts.
7. I learned that moments truly do matter. Because of my kids. And that sometimes it is worth saying yes to the $15 it costs to go on a wagon ride simply so that we can be together. Sure it’s a bit pricey, but it’s not the wagon ride I was investing in – it was the memories of family and laughter.
8. I learned that I can do what I often thought I couldn’t. I know, how weird is that sentence? But I actually learned that I can stay caught up on laundry and the dishes can be done and the rooms cleaned and so forth. I guess I hadn’t realized how dependent on another person I was until I had to do it all myself. So I learned to not grumble, but rather to just do.
9. I learned to be grateful. Yes, yes, yes this. Grateful. Just for the moments in life that really matter. For the times when I would get a break. For good friends. For coffee. For new days and new opportunities. For this outlet to write.
10. I learned how to have hope again. I’m not sure if I have to explain that or not, but know that I lived in a very sad and dark space. I think I’ve really learned the truth of finding joy.
Thanks for walking the journey with me.
Oh yes, and beyond that as you’ve heard me write time and time again – our past does not have to dictate our future happiness. I want you to really remember that – the beauty in living life grateful for life lessons and being willing to risk and love and give and find joy again.
ps. Here are two other articles I’ve written about this.