By Stacey Avila, CCMA
I understand why some parents stay for their kids. The bitter truth is that single parenting is hard. There is no manual or partner to jump ideas off of, there is no one to lean on for support on those hard days your toddler or teen decides to test their limits. It’s just you. Raising a child needs more is usually what runs through your head, isn’t it? Because, me too.
Mama, you are wonder woman! Regardless of the days, you bite your pillow and scream, the days you cry in the shower so your kids don’t see, or the days you sit in your car and take a deep breath for an extra 5 minutes before driving to pick up the kid(s) from daycare/school. You need to remember you are still human and you were a person before you had children.
I am a single parent to two beautiful boys ages five and one. My five-year-old’s father is very much present to him and I share my son and we have mutual agreements (it was not always this way) but we do not co-parent. Co-parent is a verb that means you share the duties of parenting a child. I do the parenting on my own. For example, I take him to all appointments, dentists, doctors, you name it. I take him and pick him up from school every day, I do the parent-teacher conferences, and drive him to and from practices. I don’t have a choice but to have a plan every time he is sick whether that is missing work to make him better or finding a sitter. Doing everything on my own and feeling unappreciated or unhelped by the one who should be shoveling the dirt with me, sometimes blinds me from what is best for my son.
I get this selfish bug inside me that wants to keep my baby from his dad because he does not struggle the way I do. This feeling is valid, this feeling is normal. What you do with these feelings are what will define you as a parent. Feel your feelings and release them, don’t let them consume you. It’s a beautiful privilege to be present for your children through the bad as well as the good. Don’t hold your children back from their other parent because you have not dealt with your emotional trauma. Work through it mama it’s worth it.
I used to struggle with letting my baby go for the weekend with his dad. The first time my son asked me “Can I sleep over papa’s house?” my heart sank, I felt like crying I felt like saying no. I felt like I failed somehow somewhere. I took a deep breath and swallowed my pride and told myself “ Your son comes first”. I felt empty when he left. I even felt a little mad that I had to share my son with his dad who does not struggle the way I do for my son.
Here is my truth though, through this first weekend away from my son I learned that I wasn’t mad at his father. I was upset because I felt I deserved to be present for every moment in my son’s life, so when he’s with his dad I am missing out on moments. That was a hard pill to swallow because as a mom I do not deserve compensated time from my son’s life because I parent him 100% of the time. My reward should be his happiness and his overall growth. Though I am entitled to feel what I feel as a single mom, I am not entitled to my sons every waking moment. He deserves time away from myself and a healthy bond with his father. When I realized that everything became easier, I did not feel run down by my everyday parenting chores, I did not feel resentment towards his father and I did not feel as anxious about not being the “Fun Parent” anymore. I was free to simply be my son’s mom.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from this journey is that you’re not alone, beautiful people will cross your path and love your children the way you do. I’ve learned that stereotypes are wrong about single moms. We are not bad moms, we are strong moms who love deeply. I’ve learned that it’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to not have everything figured out and feel your emotions without reacting. Whether you’re a single mom or a two-parent household I promise you all parents have “mom guilt”. You are a mom and that is enough. You learn as you go, regardless of where you started.
Below I will link my favorite single mom blog page and podcasts that have helped me grow as a single mom and parent: