There is no right way to tell a story of being a single mom. There are as many unique stories as there are single moms. I will just attempt to tell you mine. I am not looking for pity or compassion because becoming a single mom was purely my choice with all the joys and tribulations that come along. But, I want you to pause for a moment and maybe reflect that so often we really don’t know what is happening in other person’s life. Maybe by reading this you can embrace the idea that life happens in so many varied forms and none of them is better than the other. My life isn’t less desirable or valuable than yours, just different.
Getting divorced was easy; getting custody was more of a battle. My-now-ex and I both knew we wanted to be divorced, at some point. But for me there was no question whether I wanted to share custody of our children with him 50/50. One of the reasons I wanted to divorce was that I knew he wasn’t capable of neither taking care of himself nor providing home for the girls. He insisted that he was perfectly sane and able to do so. The court didn’t think so and thus I landed full physical and legal custody. Our children live with me and he gets to spend a couple of hours with them during the week. He hasn’t held a job in over four years and lives in his car.
The responsibility of raising our children, providing them with a shelter, food, clothes, paying for their hobbies and pleasures falls entirely on me. As a matter of fact I feel proud of being able to pull this off; I am a woman after all. By saying this I admit it is harder to make money for a female when your most recent years were dedicated to raising the kids. No, I don’t feel inadequate, I am just painfully aware that my nurturing talents, my mothering skills don’t get recognized by potential employers and don’t translate into a nice executive salary. Instead, I sense that society would want me to feel guilty for the fact I hadn’t been pursuing a career while being a mom. I chose to be present in my children’s lives but at the expense of my own marketability.
I am a single parent who relies completely on her own financial, mental and spiritual resources to raise two young daughters. While exhausting it is also hugely gratifying. There is an undeniable bond that the three of us share. We don’t have any family in the US. In a way we are really as close together as we can be. There is beauty in it and sadness. I know my daughters through and through, I sense their moods and can guess their thoughts. It is extremely powerful, this attachment we share. Yet, sometimes I feel drained and lost. I am the only parent they can rely on. I am their sole mental, emotional and physical support and they have no one else to go to. I need to be extremely strong even when I am vulnerable like never before. I feel the burden of raising two humans who have an absolute trust in me.
I realized long ago that there is no point in comparing myself to moms who have the financial and emotional support of their spouses because I don’t. I am the moneymaker, the decision-maker and the one who gets up in the morning to get them ready for school. And I am a woman. I find myself sometimes awake at wee hours wondering how all this will work out. I have my fears and insecurities. I cry and the next morning I wake up and continue my solo dance in front of God’s eyes. I stumble and fall and I get up. Each time I rise I am wiser and stronger.
With all that I realize my happiness doesn’t depend on money or lack of it; instead it depends on relationships with the people I love. Most importantly it depends on my own relationship with the Universe and myself. The more I live my life surrendering myself to the divine the easier eventually it gets.
So this is my story. I also know a woman who has been abandoned and left without any resources to raise her two young sons. I know a woman who chose her own self-esteem over the comfort of a nice salary her husband was bringing home. These women go on living their lives and struggle often. They appear strong and composed even when they are falling apart. All we know is that they somehow manage. They laugh and cry, like all of us. I am telling you this story because I am one of them. It is bittersweet. I love my life. I wouldn’t change it for anything.