It’s hard being a single mother, no matter how you break it down. I don’t know about you, but it’s something that happened to me. It wasn’t planned – that’s for sure!
I can precisely remember the day it really hit me. I had just survived a harrowing six months of drama, watching my marriage disintegrate into a pile of flames. The dust was beginning to settle one late winter day, and I took my then nine-month-old daughter to the market.
We were walking through the aisles, her buckled into her carrier, and I remember thinking, “Okay, this is it. I’m officially a single mom. This is just the way life is going to be like from now on.”
I felt terrified, relieved, and overwhelmed, all in the same breath.
The days, weeks, and months of newly single parenting continued on in a blur.
Amid diaper changes, food prep, laundry, bills, late nights, and just being a mom – a few fears continued to creep up on me, namely:
- I’m terrified thinking about how this will impact my innocent, precious child.
- I don’t know if I will ever meet someone again (or if I’ll ever want to).
- I’m afraid I will have to give up my professional and personal dreams because I can’t imagine balancing everything successfully.
These fears continued to nag at me over time. Whether they were playing loudly in my mind or quietly playing in the background, they were there.
Thankfully I found a way to unlearn them through a combination of hard work, a willingness to open myself up and dig deep, and divine intervention.
It took me a while to get there, but I’m happy to say that I did work through all three of these fears and got to the other side. I’m sharing these with you in hopes that maybe they can serve as shortcuts for you.
Let’s look at these fears on why it’s hard being a single mother and talk about ways to see them differently:
1. I’m afraid my child will struggle growing up in a single-parent household.
While first adjusting to being a single mom, I noticed my protective motherly instinct was on hyperalert. For this, I turn to the experts for help and guidance.
According to Psychology Today, “Research shows that about 80 percent of children of divorce adapt well and see no lasting negative effects on their grades, social adjustment, or mental health.”
This article (which I highly suggest – it’s very reassuring and grounding) shares specific things we can do as parents to work toward the highest outcome for our kids.
Another favorite takeaway from this article:
“Parenting while divorced may require some new education, some extra attention paid to your own mental and physical state, and your children’s. But neither my child nor yours are lifelong victims because their parents didn’t stay married.
We have a great deal of control over the home life and the quality of the relationships we create,” says Wendy Paris.
Additionally, research shows that kids can learn to thrive during and after divorce by developing a keen sense of resilience. Ann Gold Buscho Ph.D. says, “The good news is that resiliency is a skill that can be taught, learned, and practiced.”
She suggests several strategies to help encourage resilience while coping with divorce, including practicing relaxed breathing while focusing on optimism and gratitude.
Seeing this in a new way:
After learning, studying, and applying my own life experience, it became even clearer that divorce is very hard on kids.
But, my fear of its impact on my daughter wasn’t going to help her accept and find her way through the reality of our situation.
Some things that actually did help:
Seeing my daughter as capable of thriving. Understanding that children grow and blossom through various different life experiences. And instead of feeling like a victim, choosing instead to focus on the positive things happening in her day-to-day life.
Seeing that she is on her path and has a vastly different view of this entire experience. (This was a big one for me. I was projecting many of my biases onto her, which wasn’t helping.)
Acknowledging that resilience is one of the most important qualities a person can have, and through this experience, my daughter would have the opportunity to cultivate and develop this powerful inner resource.
It’s so hard being a single mother, but another saving grace was realizing that although I often felt lonely, I wasn’t alone. We were both a part of a much larger picture. I recognized the many resources available in my community that I could turn to when needed.
2. I will never meet someone.
This fear runs deep. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that the emotional scars from divorce leave a mark on your heart. It’s impossible to ignore. But when you take a closer look, what does this mean?
For me, I felt a sense of unworthiness because I thought, “If it didn’t work out with him, why would it work out with someone else? I must be flawed in some way.”
I’m going to bypass all of the years of dating men who truly weren’t worthy and cut straight to the chase. Know that you are, in fact, exceedingly worthy of a loving, supportive partner if that’s what you desire.
You’ve endured a painful experience and are learning lessons you likely needed to know. But this doesn’t take anything away from who you are or what you deserve.
Try not to get caught up in the drama of the storyline (for me, it was playing on a loop in my mind for a long, long time).
Although it’s hard being a single mother, you are a whole, healthy person who is just as deserving of love as everyone else. So try to stop this negative storyline from running the show.
TIP – One thing that helps to reframe thoughts is Byron Katie’s four-question process. It’s radical, and I recommend that you try it! You’ll walk away thinking everything happened exactly as it should, and you will feel free to open yourself to new beginnings.
See this fear in a new way, and try working with these positive affirmations:
Through this experience, I can see my worth for the first time in my entire life. I’m becoming clear on how and why I settled, and I now see what I deserve in a partner. I know that I will attract my highest good at the right time and in the right way.
This time alone has helped me overcome my beliefs about myself and what I deserve. This time has been an incredible blessing.
I can now see this divorce as the universe stepping in and placing me on a brand new path, one that is right for me.
3. It’s so hard being a single mother. I’ll never be able to achieve my dreams in life.
I wouldn’t say that I felt this with certainty, but there were times when just the overwhelming demands of juggling work with my day-to-day life left me feeling that there would be no time for me to carve out to pursue my dreams for my life.
But this isn’t true.
When I was going through this, I often studied and looked at countless examples of women who survive and thrive as single moms. I could see that it was possible.
Then, little by little, I found a way to hold the vision for what I wanted to happen. I could begin to see a way through. Also, I found time to listen to inspirational podcasts while commuting throughout the week.
While working, I found time to jot down my dreams and goals during my lunch break. And I developed a mindset that allowed me to see a way through. When I held that vision, things magically began to fall into place (more on that later – stay tuned!).
“You’ll see it when you believe it.” – Wayne Dyer
Seeing this fear in a new way:
You can commit to loving yourself every day in every way possible. This includes taking action, like taking time to create a vision of what you’d like to see in your life now. Small daily actionable steps can yield amazing results.
Consider something new: the perceived setback of (unplanned) single motherhood is the universe offering you a brand new fresh start to the rest of your whole life ahead. You’re in a position to create the life your heart desires.
Remember this amazing quote by Maya Angelou, “Life loves the liver of it”. As you move toward living the life you desire, the universe will be there, conspiring beside you, supporting you every step. Trust me! As a single mom, I promise this is true.
An extra note on the value of community:
The story you tell yourself about this challenging, often lonely time of being a single parent may need a rewrite!
You’re never really alone.
Think instead of expanding and evolving your support system.
This could be an opportunity to deepen relationships with extended family while also connecting with new friends and other single parents in your community.
Scheduling playdates, cooking together, and just bonding with other parents in your neighborhood might bring the joy you seek.
Here are a few more takeaways:
Yes, it is hard being a single mother. But there are so many things you can do to help you to keep your vibration high as you navigate this terrain.
Through dedicated effort, you can surround yourself with so much love and energy that you will attract a loving partner in the right way at the right time (if that’s what you want!).
Your child is loved, supported, and surrounded by a community that cares for you both. You are not alone.
It’s true that you can live a life that aligns with the visions in your heart. And you can begin to move toward this today.
Especially as a single mom having the courage to take a hard look at your fears and a willingness to peel them back and see them in a new, empowered way is an act of bravery. Honor yourself every step of the way, and see this time of solo parenting as a chapter in an incredibly rewarding journey!
And remember this – “The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all. -Mulan”
Did you find this story helpful? Please share it with a single parent who might appreciate it today!
Ps: See more single mom insights here.
And check out eight advantages of being a single mom here.
(This story was originally published on February 23, 2022, and has been updated for thoroughness and clarity.)