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.