Lost in your identity as a single mom? Boy, have I been there. Over the years of my marriage, two were knit into one, and my identity became absorbed in his. Then I found myself a sudden widow and single mom. This was not what I had ordered. Who was I without my marriage? I no longer fit in at a couples’ class at church. Socializing with our friend group, made up of couples, got awkward and sadly, stopped altogether. Even when my parents and siblings gathered, I made the headcount odd. I felt more married than single in my values, schedule, and lifestyle but stripped of the role and title of wife. I didn’t belong anywhere. Single mom life wasn’t supposed to be my life.
Finding identity as single moms is a struggle. Whether death or divorce led to your singleness, it takes time to adjust to the massive change. But my identity has taken shape as I’ve let go of the life that was and stepped fully into the life that is. Let’s look at 3 ways to find your identity as a single mom.
1. Pay attention to you.
As single parents, it’s easy to become absorbed in the role of mom. This is especially true if we’re parenting 24/7, navigating kids through loss, or parenting young children. Without another adult in the house, our relationships with our children become more prominent. They become our companions and get most of our time and attention.
In doing so, we can become lost all over again. But taking time for yourself is not selfish. What are your passions and interests? Developing hobbies, pursuing interests, engaging in activities, and making time for self-care help us develop our individual identities outside of motherhood. A few years after becoming single, I started writing and teaching Bible studies and while it’s sometimes hard to justify taking the time, I come alive doing it.
Developing hobbies, pursuing interests, engaging in activities, and making time for self-care help us develop our individual identities outside of motherhood.
2. Make new connections.
As if divorce or death isn’t hard enough already, many times, you have to divide up friends, too. Many women have to say goodbye to the friendships they’ve made with the wives of their now ex-husband’s friends. And when a spouse has passed away, it’s easy to lose touch with their former friends and colleagues. We need other adult friendships when we lose the companionship and intimacy of a spouse.
Keep the longtime connections in your life with friends and family while reaching out to make new ones. As difficult as it is to let go of some relationships, you might find that forming new friendships with people who didn’t know you before your divorce or your husband’s death helps you find your identity in single mom life. That may come naturally as you pursue new hobbies and interests or join other groups of singles.
3. Set new goals and dream new dreams.
The loss of a spouse through death or divorce also means the loss of plans, goals, and dreams. In the shock and grief that follows a loss, it’s almost impossible to imagine a future different than the one you’ve counted on for so long. But knowing where we’re headed is part of defining who we are.
Setting new goals and finding new dreams is key to finding your identity in single mom life. In one sense, you have a new freedom to pursue goals and dreams you may not have been able to in marriage. I took longer than I thought I would to embrace a new future. But daring to make a new bucket list, to step out in ways that feel scary, and to push forward with my own goals has helped me see my capabilities and passions. Many days, I miss being married. But most days, I like who I am, the freedom to pursue passions I’m finding here, and the future that lies ahead.
What have you done to find your identity as a single mom?