This is a 10-minute streamline writing, check out what that’s about here.
No one wants to be a single mom. No little girl plays with dolls imagining what it’ll be like to be a single mom. As if there’s something glorified about the experience. The little girls I know carry baby dolls tenderly, pretend to nurse, and change pretend diapers.
Single Moms = Super Heroes
One might say there’s nothing superhero about being a single mom. I say being a single mom is one of the hardest experiences a human can do. No amount of imagining prepares you for what it’s really like; it’s becoming a mom multiplied by a 1,000. Becoming a mom is hard enough. There’s support for this transition in books, playgroups, mom friends). There’s a normalcy to this process. Becoming a single mom is unspoken of …. the freaks, the unlucky ones, the ones you never thought you’d be. This is what I thought.
I’m not talking to the single mom with an established career (though my hat is sincerely off to you) or the ‘single mom’ with a co-partner or ex who sends child support and supports his child with regular time together (you are one lucky mom). I’m talking to the single mom piecing days together to pay the bills, the single mom raising a child without a father in the picture. Maybe you call him sperm donor, shithead, loser. Maybe you don’t know who he is. Whatever the case if this is you, I understand, you understand.
The days are long, the nights longer; especially if your baby is up all hours of night making up for lost time with mom. You juggle 10 balls and know you can’t catch them all, but damn you try because your kids are one of those balls. Unfortunately, it’s the ‘kid ball’ that must often fall so you can hold on to the slippery ball of survival (making $$ and taking care of yourself enough to make everything work).
Money, Money, Money
Kids and work don’t go together in my experience. That’s the hard part, sticking your kid on the back-burner even when it burns you up inside. You do this because you have to go to work, to make the $$ that’s front and center. The $$ that keeps life together. $$ has to come first, no matter what intact, full-timing moms think. If you’re the only one making $$, then no matter how sick your kid is you still go to work and your child goes to ‘sick day-care’ where other sick kids lay around on couches watching cartoons. Tears your heart. Yet, you know that missing another day of work could cost your job. It doesn’t matter if you were up every 20 minutes all night breastfeeding, cleaning up vomit, and spoon feeding chicken soup.
The Heart Knows
What matters is that you show up. Do the job. Not many people want to hear about your internal struggle, your sick kid. Yet, your heart listens. You know that taking care of your kid is your job by right. You know by now that there’s no money in doing this. You suck up, pay someone else to watch your kid so you can work and pay the bills. But not too much or your welfare is taken away.
Being a single mom is falling asleep while you map out the next day minute by minute because your days are that tight; waking each morning praying that none of those mapped out pieces move and screw up your delicate plan. You move through days upon days that eventually break you in, break you down, split you in two.
A single mom with no support financially or physically. Unless you call a drop-by-visit once a week, month, or year support. Nothing to depend on. You’ve learned by now not to depend on anyone but your self.
Both Mom & Dad
You figure out how to become mom AND dad. You weave the two together, even though you know the look doesn’t look good on you. You are “the nurturer” doing the best you can for a child you hardly ever see. You are “provider”, bringing in money. This trumps all. The one that really loses is your kid (and you will get PTSD). They might not know what they don’t have when they’re too young to notice. But you, you know. Mom always knows.
You know it’s not fair for a kid to have to go to two day-cares in a day or be picked up by a neighbor of a neighbor because that kid’s dad forgot to pick him up and his mom is in the middle of making a full course meal for a chef client across town. You know it’s wrong that your kid can’t find you when he’s hurt. Because you’re not there. Or that when he does find his mom, her face is scrunched up so tight that he doesn’t know how to approach.
You know those kind of available moms. You watch them, maybe feel surrounded by them (that’s part of the PTSD), probably always thought you’d be one of them. You never second-guessed you wouldn’t be one of them. You know the ones …. they hold their kids tender with plenty of time to give. A good, available mom doesn’t drape baby over her shoulder while she cooks, cleans, gets ready for work; wishing you could put the kid down, put the kid away so you could get what needs done. But there’s nowhere to put him but a day-care that costs half your paycheck or shut in a room where the cries make you stuff ear plugs so you can focus for just that much time. Because for some reason your brain shuts down when you touch your baby, hold your baby, god forbid breastfeed your baby.
An available mom doesn’t walk away from her screaming toddler “mommy, please come back”, yet, you do, you must time and time again crying the whole way away, feeling a hardness clamp around your once open heart.
Ten years later and there’s bitterness in my throat. I am angry I didn’t get to ease into motherhood and experience the softness of my baby’s head. Angry that I can’t remember what my baby felt like in my arms because I was too busy trying to put him down. Angry I didn’t get to be the kind of mom I saw everywhere. Angry I couldn’t forget the clock and BE in love bathing, feeding, holding my baby because I was too busy counting down minutes for him to close his eyes and sleep, so I could do all the things needed doing because no one was there to do them.
Full Time Job
It’s hard to juggle more than one ball in each hand; one ball for taking care of kids, one ball for taking care of you (mom). If you’re real good you can add in a third ball (taking care of house). That order of priority spins on its head, turns upside down when you’re a single mom, at least the kind I’m talking about because there’s nobody else making $$. The whole caring for kids quickly becomes an inconvenience, a hardship, a full-time job you don’t get paid for.
My kids are old enough now that I no longer have to work 65+ hour weeks with nights of no sleep, days of unpredictability. I’ve done my time. Anger resides at the base of my throat where every now and then it’s hard to swallow and keep that burning down. At these times I pity myself, wishing I could go back, make better choices. Wish I’d known that the father of my child would transform into a video game addict when the going got rough. A woman doesn’t always know how a man will react to becoming a father, especially one who was never fathered himself. Then I look at my son and I wouldn’t change a thing, he’s perfect.
We women who become single mom’s out of necessity, soldier on. Swallow down the pill of regret, anger, self-pity. Spend as little time as possible with other moms who seem to have all they need at their fingertips, including their kids. We do what it takes to keep the balls in the air, the puzzle together. This may not be the healthiest approach, yet it’s the only way some of us moms know.
Written by Tara in 10 minutes.
Try this kind of writing out for yourself; It’s a fun, uplifting way to bring understanding to an issue that you’d like deeper insight into. If you’re feeling daunted, try your hand first at a 10-minute writing and ease in that way. If you have a spirit writing to share, please send in word.docx ✨
May all bellies be happy!