Dear single mom: some days, it feels like we’re doing this single parent thing all alone. We wonder whether it’s just us dealing with certain struggles and emotions. That only compounds the struggles, because we begin to feel isolated and inadequate.
But if we were sitting down over coffee, sharing about our kids and our days, we’d see how many struggles we single moms have in common. Becoming a single mom creates new burdens and triggers new emotions. Today I’m sharing 9 things single moms feel.
1. You flinch when someone says she’s a single mom because her husband is out of town or working long hours.
Before I became a single mom, I used to say this, too. We flinch because we’d love our single parenting to be temporary! If only a spouse would walk through the door after a long business trip or overtime work hours. Many single moms parent alone 24/7 or pass weekends, birthdays, and holidays alone while their kids are with the other parent. When someone throws out the single mom comment, extend grace by overlooking it or help them understand by smiling and saying, “Welcome to my world!”
When someone throws out the single mom comment, extend grace by overlooking it or help them understand by smiling and saying, “Welcome to my world!”
2. You bottle up way more than you let on.
There’s no shoulder to cry on when life gets rough and no spouse to whom you can text that funny story. Most of it stays bottled up, rattling around in your thoughts and heart, as you fight to be present in your parenting and responsibilities. Two things have helped me: daily journaling to brain dump or unleash most of my thoughts and meeting a friend regularly for conversation.
3. You look stronger than you feel.
You look strong to those around you because you’ve learned to manage the house, fix the broken dryer, juggle sports and dinners and homework while mothering alone. Outsiders think you’ve adjusted to your new normal but inside, you don’t always feel strong. Ask for help when needed, like help picking up your kids from school or practice.
4. You worry about the future.
Single moms carry near-chronic worry about the future. We worry about how the death or divorce of their father will affect our children. We worry about finances. We worry about all the things we never get to because we’re one doing the job of two. Prayer is the best way to win over worry.
5. You need time away more than you realize.
Goodness knows it’s hard for a single mom to get away by herself because there’s no spouse to watch the kids and a looming to-do list. But self-care helps us parent better. Carve out time alone at home or an evening out with friends to let yourself reset and refresh.
6. You feel vulnerable away from your kids.
I remember feeling this the first time I left my children for a weekend. My kids had already lost their father and they couldn’t lose me as well. But that fear only sets off a string of worries that keep us from our parenting best. Shift your perspective: it’s healthy for kids to have independent experiences and for moms to have time away.
7. You want to date. You’re scared to date.
Most single moms long for someone to grow old with and someone who cares intimately about them. But, the reality of dating is daunting and the thought of finding someone—let alone bringing him into the family—is intimidating. Allow yourself and your children to heal and focus on becoming the person you want to be rather than hyper-focusing on someone you long to meet.
8. You grieve what you wanted for your children.
This was not the way you dreamed it would be. As a single mom, you’re mourning multiple losses – a husband who died; a marriage that imploded; the future you envisioned; the kind of life you wanted for your children. Allow yourself to process the loss while you create beauty and purpose in the life you have now.
9. You fight stigma and statistics.
It happened again this morning. I filled out another permission slip and had to write “deceased” in the blank for father. Getting used to checking the box labeled divorced, widowed or N/A doesn’t make it easier. Then there are the statistics about children raised in single-parent homes. The truth is statistics don’t govern our home; we do. This is where a family vision statement can help us parent intentionally.
Tell us! Which one of these single mom struggles most resonates with you?