For New Single Parents

A friend of mine recently became a single mom, in such a difficult way that I can’t even pretend to begin to understand how she is feeling.  She is scared, and I don’t blame her.

It’s been long enough for me now that single parenthood is just my way of life.  I don’t even think about it most of the time.  But I do remember how it felt in the beginning. It was nerve-wracking, earth-shattering, free-falling.  The way we got there might be different (and certainly some ways of getting there are more traumatic than others), but all of us who end up in this place could have used some words of encouragement in the beginning, when single parenthood is new and terrifying, and your entire world has shifted, and the earth even feels different under your feet.

So, these words are for you… the new single parents.

Right now you are afraid, not only of the overwhelming responsibility of raising a child (or children) on your own, but of the dizzying possibility that you may never feel normal again.  Maybe you don’t even want to feel normal– you don’t want this to be your reality.

Even the little things seem like insurmountable tasks.  Going to the grocery store on a weekend, for example.  Not just physically missing the help with the kids– you can handle that.  Watching the “complete” families, the “traditional” ones.  That’s the worst.  Feeling the unsettling void of the support of a significant other.  Having no one to share the struggles and triumphs and proud moments of parenthood with.  You’ll be jealous of the people you see who have that.  You’ll feel cheated.  You’ll be afraid that you will never have that again.  Single parenthood will feel unnatural and impossible, like trying to breathe underwater.

But remember this.

You will have something incredibly special that they will never understand.  The love shared between a single parent and their child is fierce and beautiful and overwhelming and is, in my opinion, an entirely different kind of love than anything a coupled-up parent can ever know.  Everything will be more intense for you: the challenges and stress of parenthood, yes, but also the attachment and bond to your children that develops when you are the only one they rely on, day in and day out.

You might be afraid that you can’t do it, that it’s too much to handle, but you can do it, for the simple reason that you have to… because if you don’t, no one else will.

And there will come a day, in the not-as-distant-as-you-think future, when you realize, in a quiet moment reading to your children before bed, or seeing the wild excitement in their faces as you walk through the daycare door, that you not only don’t remember how it was before, but you don’t miss it… and you truly wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.  Single parenthood will feel like all you’ve ever known.  It will be happy, and peaceful, and there will be joy and laughter and more love than you ever could have imagined.

The hard times will pass, like the good ones do.  This is only one moment out of your whole life.  You will be proud of yourself and your children and how far you have come.

Everything is going to be all right.  I can promise you that– because I’ve been there, and now I am here… and someday soon, you will be too.

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  1. by Christina Marie

    On March 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Thank you for this beautiful piece…I’m compelled to share

  2. by Santanna Harley

    On March 3, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    O my Im jus recently single with two children under 5 and you have no idea how much these words means to me! Thank you for sharing. In tears but jus knowing i will make it. Thank you and god bless!!

  3. by Kristin

    On March 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve only recently discovered your blog but I have come to love it! I’m the single mother of a 19-month-old girl and, after graduating from nursing school last year, am just getting to this point as I’m settling into a new job and things are falling into place for myself and my daughter. It’s comforting to know there are other single parents in similar situations!

  4. by AnnalisasMom

    On March 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Beautifully put. I have been a single mom since I was 10 weeks pregnant and I absolutely love that my now 3 month old daughter looks to me for everything. If someone is holding her she will find me first and stare at me the whole time someone is holding her. Love it lol! :)

  5. by Heather Feigner

    On March 3, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Thank you so much you made me cry and proud at the same time. Your words are sweet and empowering. So thank you so very much.

    One Very Proud Single Mama

  6. by wen

    On March 3, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    LOVE THIS. I’m 44 with a (surprise) 3 yr old. I never knew anything other than being a single parent. You’ve captured it so fabulously here! Got tears. Love your reference to the grocery store and the “traditional” families.

  7. by WS

    On March 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    I agree with everything in this article EXCEPT that the single mom to be will miss the support of a loved one … b/c loved ones are all around. Parents, friends, co-workers. I found support all around me. Sure, I missed having my baby’s dad by my side (and he is a good friend now so I am lucky), but you can’t ignore the people that ARE there for you. I was with my little one for a year before dad started to participate, and my daughter and I have a very strong bond as a result. You can’t beat that. Ever.

  8. by Kimberly

    On March 3, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    thank you for that, because I have been a single mom for about 10 months now to my 16 month old son. It is tough and exhausting and wonderful all at the same time. I cried reading this, and I know how far I have come in the short 10 months! I am excited for the future and whatever it will bring to us. Wouldn’t change it for the world :)

  9. by Beth

    On March 3, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    What a great post! I wish I would have read things like that when I was pregnant. I looked high and low for books or anything about single-parenthood and came up almost empty handed. What you wrote is 100% true and you expressed everything I have felt since my son was born 3 1/2 years ago. Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece!

  10. by Mia

    On March 3, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    This is absolutely spot on. As a single mother of 3 these are the exact words that I repeat to myself on a daily basis. These are the raw emotions that you feel as a single parent. Parenting is the hardest thing in the world and the most rewarding all rolled up in one.

    Thank you for vocalizing the struggles and joys of being a single parent so honestly.

  11. by Jo-Jo

    On March 3, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Julia- I am a recent single mother of two children. The spouse recently retunred from working overseas and the ptsd was so horrible and frightening for him, that we had to separate everybody so he can heal and become the father he was prior to his deployment. Times are rough right now and frightening to think that it is just me teaching these children how to prepare for adulthood. Going to the grocery store does suck, I miss it when our family went together. I am grateful that those whole families are able to keep working together though. Right now is a trial but this to will pass. Thanks for sharing I needed to read this today.

  12. by danielle

    On March 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    My daughter is 2 and half and i have been a signal parent since she was 1. I have learned that it is ok to cry, ok to get upset, and ok to do thing for yourself. It’s important not to feel sorry forself and to have an outlet to keep you sane. You are not alone. There are friends and family always. Always other people to help you feel grounded.
    You can do it -on I am xo

  13. by DB

    On March 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    I wish this was here about 2 yrs ago! Great post! Everything is so true, and there is a major major major bond between me and my mini me. his father isnt a father, just a body occupying space and air. My life was completly changed and i wouldnt trade it for anything under the sun moon or stars. Cheers to all of us single moms! We are powerhouses and we know it deep down!

  14. by cynthia

    On March 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Spot on! Amazingly true! Thank you! :)

  15. by Maggie

    On March 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    I have so much respect for all the single parents out there. I grew up in a single mom household, and now being a parent myself, I do not know how my she ever did it.

  16. by christin

    On March 3, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Thank you for this. I cant explaint to you how nice it is to just hear others feeling the same and nowing theyve made it through! Tears to my eyes but tears of hope! Thnk u

  17. by Me and my boy

    On March 3, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    That was beautifully written and perfectly true. I would also like to add how important it is to keep your routine. Don’t start anything you’re not going to continue if/when you are ready to expand your little family again (such as co-sleeping, ooops!) You don’t want to have to change the game when Mr, or Mrs, Right comes along.

  18. by Melinda C

    On March 3, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    One of my good friends came across your article and forwarded it to me. As I read each word I couldn’t help but cry. Everything you written is exactly how I feel. From the daily struggles to wondering if I’ll be okay to if we’ll ever find someone. You’re words give me hope that I will be okay for my soon to be 2 year old baby boy. You’re absolutely right when you say, “You might be afraid that you can’t do it, that it’s too much to handle,” and I do feel like this many times. But I do believe the rest of the statement, “for the simple reason that you have to… because if you don’t, no one else will.”I will be strong and move forward. Such a strong statement! I believe that we (I) will be stronger and happy in the future. Thank you =)

  19. by Eliana

    On March 3, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    i love the encouragement and advice it gives. I’ve been a single parent since I found out I was pregnant. My sons father walked out during the pregnancy since he couldnt handle the change it brought to me physically and emotionally. My son is now 3 and a half months and eventhought thankfully i had my sister to take over the responsibility during the pregnancy, my son is my greatest achievement til this day. I think back on everything i went thru and it doesnt matter because the love be gives me is so genuine and innocent. It gives me the strength to better myself for him. Your words let me know that their are many other women feeling like me and looking for hope. Thank you.

  20. by Christy

    On March 4, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you for this. I found myself nodding along as I read it. My girl is 2 3/4 & I kicked her father out about 5 months ago. In some ways, it is harder but in some ways (for me at least) it is the same or better.
    I do miss having a partner-someone to experience the ups & downs with, to fill in when I am unable, to rejoice with me as she does something new, to laugh with me when she named her first baby doll (“Poor Baby”) or says something funny, etc.
    But, I love when my daughter throws her little arms around my neck & gives me sloppy kisses & tells me, “I love you, Mama!” or even when she tells me she likes me!! I love knowing that, to her, I am the world. I just have to live up to it.

  21. by Julia

    On March 4, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Thank you all so much for the lovely responses to my post. I got all teary-eyed reading the comments! I’m glad that my words were helpful and ring true for so many fellow single parents out there. Stay strong! WE GOT THIS. :)

  22. by Melanie

    On March 5, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Thank you Thank you Thank you! I’m a single mom to a wonderful 15 month old and I Love your blog and the way you write with such honesty about your life as a single parent. Keep it up!

  23. by K

    On March 5, 2012 at 9:30 am

    This piece was absolutely wonderful and made me tear up at work. I was left to deal w my entire pregnancy on my own when I found out I was pregnant. I let my ex know and he was outraged … He didn’t want anything to do with me or the baby. He actually wanted me to get an abortion. Honestly, the only reasons I wasn’t miserable throughout my pregnancy and even afterwards, were the fact that my family and I are incredibly close and they were super supportive and above all, that I was excited to have a little me soon! :)
    He’s around now and comes and sees the baby and everything but only bc his family got involved by complete accident, might I add. I’m glad my baby will know who daddy is. I wouldn’t keep him from seeing the baby, it was never my intention, even after everything that was said and done. Although he comes around, I feel like I am the only true parent bc he’s not the one having to deal w everything that comes w a baby. Doctor’s visits, preparing everything baby needs before they get here and even now. I actually take pride in being able to do it all on my own. Even before any child supp was involved, my baby wasn’t in need of anything. It may sound ugly for me to say but even if he wasn’t around, we would be fine. My baby has mommy and our entire family for love and support. I am glad he is at least around to see and play w though.. it’s better than not knowing that person at all, right?
    Anyway, I love the article and the empowerment behind it.
    Being a single parent is very rewarding.

  24. by Glo

    On March 5, 2012 at 9:52 am

    This was so beautiful! I am tearing up right now and I’m not even a single parent!

  25. by ashley

    On March 5, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    I agree with everything written EXCEPT how a single parent will have a bod with their child that no married parent will. Abosulutey wrong. I’ve been both a married parent and single parent. Absolutely no difference.

  26. by michelle

    On March 9, 2012 at 9:02 am

    this was really good, however i just dont agree with the part that says you will not miss the way things were before or want it back. for someone that loses they partner through death will feel differently, they may adjust to life as a single parent but in the back of their minds they will always wonder what it would be like and miss the life before.