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slides: Mum’s the Word: 4 Things to Remember When Parenting Alone

Friday, March 27, 2015


Since becoming a single mother, I have found a new source of motivation. Photo Credit: Heather Terry Photography (Image Cropped)

No matter what the external circumstances are, parenting is never easy. On the other hand, parenting as a single mother is an entirely different kind of battle. 
You do all the same things that regular parents do, except you do it all on your own. What is more, if you’re a woman, you also do all those things with everyone and their grandmother telling you, “You just need to meet a good man, and then it will be okay.”

See Slides Below: 4 Things to Remember When Parenting Alone

The messages in popular memes, TV shows and movies aren’t so encouraging either. According to the Lifetime movie network, single moms can be sure of just a few things: 

1) Their life will include endless hours of waitressing or stripping, most likely both. 
2) They are probably dating an escaped serial killer.
3) Their mascara will run (because it’s the cheap kind) every single night due to the hours dedicated toward crying over unpaid bills.  

Even big budget films like “Labor Day” and “St. Vincent” continue to stereotype single mothers as women who, though charming and pretty, make wildly questionable decisions like harboring escaped convicts and/or letting alcoholics babysit their children because they are…well…desperate and dumb. 

Thankfully, though, these stereotypes and expectations of single motherhood are not written in stone.  I am here to tell you that we, the single mothers of America, have the power to change the single mother narrative.

Since becoming a single mother, I have found a new source of motivation. Having a daughter changed my life in a good way. I realized that every single moment is precious and that striving for my dreams is important not only for my emotional well-being, but for the message it sends to my daughter that women really can live abundant, beautiful lives no matter what life tries throw at them. I am exhausted much of the time, but I live each day with a passion and a purpose. 

And yet, I will admit that I’ve had those days where I get off of work, ready to relax, only to have my daughter vomit all over my hair, clothes, body, and HAIR, while still demanding dinner and a bedtime story to boot. On those nights, I do kind of wish for a partner, and I cry a little knowing that tomorrow I will have to wake up and do all things those things over again with no respite. 

Clearly, we’re not always going to be in a happy, empowered, “I am Oprah” kind of mood. So for those dark, vomit-filled nights, here are a few things to remember that will hopefully make you smile or even think, “Yes, I can do this, and I will do it all again tomorrow.”


Related Slideshow: 4 Things to Remember When Parenting Alone

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When you're walking on the streets of Portland and someone tries to get you to buy something, or sponsor a dying tree in New Zealand or a non-profit, mental asylum for dogs in Missouri, saying, “I’m a single mom. Sorry.” is actually a fairly legitimate response to get them to stop talking to you. 

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Every success you have sounds so much more awesome when you’re a single mom. “You’re a college graduate and you’re a single mother?” “You got a promotion, and you’re a single mom?” Whoooooaaa?!  “You tied your shoes today, and you’re a single mother?”  Whoaaaa?! Sometimes, the compliments really are that ridiculous, but who cares. Take pride in your accomplishments and recognize that the people supporting you are absolutely correct. You are a great mom, and you’re a “Rock Star” to top it all off.  So go ahead, strut your stuff, Mama.

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Being a parent is wildly transformative. You learn to draw strength from your little one’s love, and in turn, you are able to do things you never thought were possible. Additionally, you get to do all those great things with someone who will most likely never stop loving you. My brother once consoled me, when I was emotional and pregnant, that I shouldn’t cry because I was giving birth to a new best friend. Thinking only of future diaper blowouts and the plot of White Oleander, I doubted him. However, since actually giving birth, I have begun the magical journey of sharing the world with a child. I’m falling in love with life all over again because I’m getting to experience things through her eyes.  What used to be a plain old tree in my parent’s yard is now a dragon’s lair with a princess (or a prince) locked inside. Parenting is a gift that you can treasure until the day you die. Don’t take it for granted. 

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You are not alone. Even if you have absolutely no family or close friends helping you, there is a huge community of women out there who feel the same as you, and I promise that they are ITCHING for community. So when you are feeling down, and from time to time you will, reach out. Whether it’s in person or virtual, reach out to the men and women out there who share your struggle and who would love to support you, even it’s just emotionally. You are never quite as alone as you think you are. 


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