When she’s with me for a whole day with no breaks, I want to hide, when she’s not with me I’m depressed and grumpy. The dichotomy of single motherhood.

Dear Single Mom.

Mama, when I say that I get exactly what you shared with me here, I mean I GET IT. I get it in a way that a lot of parents with partners cannot possibly understand. Single mom issues are so different. We talk a lot about parenthood, and motherhood in particular, being the hardest job there is. But we don’t go far enough with that assessment. Yes, parenting and mothering is incredibly difficult. But the problems single mothers face are on a whoooooole other level.

I’m going to share a bit about my own story here, so you know where I’m coming from. I’ve mentioned my girls in other columns. I have two wonderful, amazing spitfires whom I love and cherish with my whole being. When my partner and I started our family, I didn’t think for a second that it wouldn’t play out exactly as I envisioned.  But life has a funny (and rude) way of not going according to our plans. 

My marriage ended (quite unexpectedly) and I found myself trying to figure out how to raise my girls on my own. I was IT for my girls. Twenty-four hours a day, six to seven  days a week. I did it all, all of the time. I did it without breaks. I cried myself to sleep every night and woke up in tears most mornings. All of the joy was gone. I couldn’t enjoy the time we had together even though all we had was time together. After being their end-all and be-all for six or more straight days, them being with their dad was anything but a relief. It felt like a piece of myself was missing. I was completely lost without them.

It took me a long time to find a balance. But, I bring good news: there is balance! It’s OK to “turn off” mom on the days you don’t have to be mom. The adjustment of going from having your children with you all the time to being alone is tough. You may need to get reacquainted with yourself. Spend the day in bed, reading and binge-watching your fav shows! Hook up with some girlfriends and go to brunch or get your nails done.You might find that spending that time on you will make you a better mom, like I did. And that, in turn, benefits you AND your little girl.

You were so right when you called it a dichotomy. Motherhood, single or not, is full of stark contrasts. But the two parts of your very different worlds have one thing in common: you. I cannot overstate how beneficial it can be for both of you to use the time  that she’s not with you and use it to find and nurture yourself! 

I’m holding you in my heart, mama. I see you. I feel you. I hear you. You can do this. You ARE doing this. 

From One Single Mom to Another,

Is This Normal

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