Being a single parent is not something most people set out to do. You immediately place yourself in a box where people want to know your “story”, they want to know how you got to where you are now, not typically with bad intentions, just usually out of curiosity. I became a single mama almost three years ago, and some days are better than others, but as with any stage of motherhood, if you are always thinking of your child, and how you can guide them in the right direction, you are on the right pathway.
- Go to church- In the first months (and years) of being a single mama (I have never been a single daddy, so all of my experience is one sided, I apologize to my single daddy friends), I remember feeling like such an absolute failure. I felt like I had failed my child, and most importantly, failed God. Going to church was a painful experience for me, because I just felt like all eyes were on me (they weren’t). I lost my primary church family (many did not even check on Cole’s well being, let alone me, so I am apparently still holding that grudge). I needed the support of a church family, and when I didn’t get it, I felt more alone. It was at least two years before I felt strong enough to attend church by myself when Cole was with his daddy. I hated answering the questions “where is Cole??”, even answering it made me so sad! But now I go to church alone when Cole has his “Church of Christ Sunday”. I find that I am able to listen and learn from the service in a different way than when he is beside me.
- Go on vacation- I don’t mean go on vacation without your kid, some mamas can do that, but I simply can’t. If I am going to spend money I want him beside me, I am so cuckoo for my kid. There is something freeing about hopping into the car, just me and Cole, and going on an adventure. I like to think it makes him think that Mama can do anything.
- Exercise- Healthy mama = Happy mama. I have had a love/hate relationship with my body for most of my life, so exercise has been a constant need. I joined a run group this spring that pretty much changed my life, I had never worked out with a group of women who support each other and life each other up more. I just recently discovered that from my driveway to a local duck pond it is exactly one mile, so I can walk there, run around a bit then run home. Your child needs to see that you take care of yourself, so that they will have self worth too.
- Manage your finances – This one is a biggie for any single parent, but especially mamas, since men are traditionally the members of the family taxed with taking care of the family’s finances. When you live within your means and make a monthly/weekly budget, you are teaching your children to be good stewards of what God has provided for you. When you are constantly, painfully in debt, you are teaching your children, whether you mean to or not, to never be content with what they have, to always want for more more more.
- Get out of your house- My natural instinct when Cole is with his daddy is to hole up and hermit myself away. In the beginning I was so deep in my own depression and failure that I hated to be away from Cole. I would encourage you to find a tribe of mommies, married or single, find a Sunday school class or bible study group, spend time with your family and friends, to avoid ruminating if you can. Cole’s daddy and I have become friends (some people do not even know we aren’t married we are together so often) so it is not rare for me to be at his house with Cole, or Cole to be at home and his daddy be here. If you can get to that point for the sake of your child’s health and happiness, do that.
- Pray without ceasing- I know your struggle, and God hears your pain, He is the great comforter. I had to learn to pray for guidance, for myself, for my finances and for His plan for me. You are not alone, as much as you feel like it many days.
Happy Sunday to you and your families. I am off with Cole and his daddy to hunt down that creepy Mama Cottonmouth we spotted yesterday