Being a single working mom is not for the faint of heart. You are responsible for all aspects of your household, emotional/physical well-being of your children, and finances. When your kid is sick and you don’t have help, you have to drop everything and pivot accordingly. It is a lot. It is stressful. It is taxing. Especially if you become a single parent very early into your child’s life, you are not only trying to navigate learning how to be a mom, but discovering who you are as a mom in tandem.
The last two years have been the most stressful I have ever experienced. It brought up a lot of childhood trauma I never dealt with and l had to learn to put to death my expectations on what I wanted and pivot to the reality of my situation in a way that was fueled with joy, gratitude, and peace. Rough. I also felt so much shame in my poor decisions, fear and anxiety of trying to provide for my daughter, and I was living out my biggest fears I had as a kid.
Even though these last two years have been difficult, they have also been the most fruitful. My faith has deepened in ways it never would have otherwise. I have been able to deal with parts of myself that needed to grow and change. I chose daily to not waste this time and let God build my character, slowly and steady, one day at a time. I have had to truly let go and let God.
I wanted to share some of the things I have learned to encourage you to press on, find peace, and discover that you have it within yourself to transform your situation for the better.
5 things I have learned as a single working mom:
Be a “good enough” mom, not a “perfect” one
Outsource tasks to help your mental load
My role as a mom hasn’t changed
Put your own oxygen mask on first
Go to therapy or get a coach
Being ‘good enough’
Thank you social media for making it so much easier for women and moms to fall into the comparison trap and letting envy run rampant in our hearts. (But, here I am also using it has a tool to bring hope and encouragement)
As a full-time working mom and single mom…I don’t have the mental and emotional energy to do a lot of the things Pinterest, Instagram, and my friends say to do. I don’t have creative, seasonal sensory bins. I don’t make cute meals my toddler always loves to eat. I don’t have a fully screen-free home. I don’t have a ton of fun outings planned or hours and hours and hours of straight, undivided attention time to give. (lets be real, NONE of us do and thats okay!!!)
But what I been providing my daughter is a predictable, stable, loving, and fun-filled home. I have worked hard to create a secure attachment with my daughter and do my best with what I have the ability to give. We have simple routines, silly things we do together, and I just do my best to be good enough. Perfection is a death sentence. She isn't going to remember what we did, she will remember how I made her feel.
2. Outsource tasks to help with the mental load
Single mom or not, women have a constant running to-do list in their heads. I have learned that even though I think I can do it all, I definitely cannot. I have to be okay with not being able to do all things, 100% well.
I worked with my friend and wellness coach Alex Casini (now Riley) over a year ago to help with my physical health. She encouraged me to consider ways to help my mental load. So, I outsourced grocery shopping. Instacart was a saving grace. I was able to see exactly how much I was spending, ensure we had healthy food in the home, and I didn’t spend an hour plus twice a week going to the store either with a fussy baby or in-between meetings or before daycare pick-up. Doesn’t seem like much, but it helped ease my mind SO much.
So, how can you build a village for yourself if you don't have one or better utilize the one you do have?
3. My role as a mom hasn’t changed
My purpose as a mother is still the same, to raise a daughter who has a strong moral compass, is compassionate towards others, is a critical thinker, is a value to her community, and loves God. To be a guide, not her peer. To unfold the present I have been given and help her on her journey in this life.
I feel the constant pressure of my never-ending to-do list. Feel the weight of my past decisions. Struggle to keep up. Go through waves of intense joy and deep depression. My job is still the same and it is more important than an Instagram-perfect life. She just needs me to be me, to be present and love on her. She doesn’t care if the house has the perfect Montessori set-up or if we have a ton of fun activities always planned or millions of dollars.
Right now, she just wants me to hold her, play with her, and be consistent. We put too much pressure on ourselves as moms to BE something outside of our capacity. We think our children need us to be X,Y, and Z, when in reality, they just want you to get in the pool, they don't care if you have a bangin' bod.
4. Put your own oxygen mask on first
Won’t lie, I am still trying to figure this one out, but have made significant strides (hello, Own Your Chapter). As a birth doula I felt like women deeply prepare for pregnancy and birth, but postpartum and the years after are not prepared for or discussed as deeply.
Becoming a mom changes you. I feel like I lost myself for a long time. However, I am committed to finding time and space for me again. I am a mom, but it isn’t my whole identity. Postpartum forces you to face this question: who am I know that I am a mom? What made me happy before I had a baby and how can I do those things now? What space do I need to carve out for myself to ensure my soul is fed so I can pour into others, especially my daughter?
My daughter needs to see me properly take care of my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Prioritizing my relationship with God is important to me personally, investing in things that enable me to refuel my tank (my morning routine, time with friends, reading books instead of watching TV, working out, cooking one fun meal a week), and not always putting her needs above my own every single time first.
One thing I did not expect when becoming a mom was all the childhood trauma I experienced would resurface in many ways. This is not a shameless plug for my own business, but I very deep urging from a fellow mom that it is vital you do self-reflection, increase your emotional awareness, and give yourself space to heal (if needed). In order to increase our window of tolerance, to be more patient, loving, and present moms, we have to increase our bandwidth for stress. In order to do that, you need to focus on increasing your awareness of yourself (go to therapy! get a coach!), meditate (find moments for quiet, peace, and shutting your brain off intentionally, not numbing it) and movement (exercise!).
At the end of the day, I want my daughter to see that no matter what, I was resolved to live a life rooted in joy, thanksgiving, and steadfastness. I want her to see that I am not perfect. No one is. Mistakes happen. Trials come. Pain is inevitable.
Our lives are all unique. Our trials are different. Our need for deeper purpose is the same.