From great pain comes great art. I wish it worked differently, but the idea of a tortured writer, singer, artist, etc. discovering their greatest gifts during periods of pain, seems to hold true for, well, even me.
As a single mother, there is one question that is almost guaranteed to arise in conversations you have with coworkers, peers, friends, family, and sometimes, complete strangers: How do you do it? Becoming a single parent, whether by choice or by fate, is daunting, and dare I say, very scary. You’ve either had nine months to contemplate how in the heck you’re going to make it work, or you’ve been in a slowly unraveling relationship in which you’ve spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out how two hands could possibly handle the work of four.
It all started innocently enough with a casual conversation between a close friend and I. She lamented that since her husband rarely made it home before 8PM each night, she was pretty much “like a single mom.” Having been a single mother in the past, and intimately knowing their struggle, my mind wandered to all the single moms out there who managed to make it six months, a year, a decade! How dare she compare her situation to theirs.
I struggled greatly with writing this post. Not just with the actual content itself, or with telling a story befitting my courageous friend and her tiny angel, but in asking for insight into a topic that, as a culture, we typically shy away from because it is so painful. I don’t think people truly understand how much is lost when a baby dies. And I know I absolutely do not. But if you ask any parent who has experienced something as horrific as the loss of a child, they will tell you that not even one day goes by that they don’t think of them.
Describing life as a single mother can be done in four simple words: the struggle is real. You wake up everyday knowing that you are about to embark on an exhausting journey that requires at least two more hands than you have available, your patience is still running on empty from last night’s power struggle over eating vegetables, and bedtime cannot possibly come soon enough. And did I mention, once you finally collapse for the night, tired and defeated, you get to wake up and do it all over again tomorrow.
Let me start out by saying that I became a single mother by choice, not by chance. Does that mean I planned for it to turn out this way? Absolutely not. But you roll with the punches… or in this case, I rolled with a sleek, black, City Mini baby jogger (which, by the way, is an excellent way to appear to be a mother who has it completely together).
When I was about 6 months into being a single mom I was having a conversation with a coworker who casually mentioned that her husband never made it home until about 8PM each night. Thus, she lamented she was "pretty much like a single mom" too. At the time I was incredibly annoyed... how dare she compare her life to mine. We were nothing alike and she was most definitely not a single mom by any set of standards.