Life As We Know It {A Window Into Solo Parenting}

You know that saying, “I don’t know how she does it?” I think that about myself every single day. Don’t worry, this isn’t a post patting myself on the back. I mess up so many things daily. We are struggling to get through most days around here, and mommy guilt has taken up a permanent residence in my guest bedroom {no, Mom…I am not secretly talking about you}. I do however understand the curiosity and misunderstandings surrounding solo parenting. It looks different for every family, but I think that there is one general similarity — it is TOUGH.

Becoming a momma for the first time is typically this magical time where you are exhausted and excited and shocked at just how much you can love someone. To be honest, I love my son like crazy, but I already knew my heart had the capacity for all-consuming love. I had that with his daddy. We were lucky. Until the day I turned into a 27-year-old widow. It was three months before the day I turned into a 27-year-old solo mom. Yes, just 3 months before one of the best days of my life, was the absolute worst day of my life.

So what does being a new mom look like for our family? Well, first of all, I had to tell mommy guilt to pick the big topics and leave the little ones behind. Is the house a mess more often than not? Of course it is. Does my little one get more screen time than I would like? He definitely does. Am I exhausted as soon as I wake up every day? Absolutely, ALL the time. Do I make sure to show my son just how much I love him every day? Probably more than he would like.

Life As We Know It - 1I know the mommas often do a lot of the parenting in many families, but around here I do ALL of the parenting. I don’t have my husband to bounce things off of. I don’t have someone who truly loves my son in the same capacity I do; as his parent, teacher, and protector. When decisions regarding his care must be made, I have to make them without the input of his father. There is no one there at night when I need a second opinion on whether he feels warm or seems sick. When someone has to worry about our finances, that someone is me. How do you balance your time as a working momma knowing just how precious every minute together is? As a solo parent, I am all he has left and that will never feel like enough…because it isn’t. Every milestone in my son’s childhood is bittersweet because his daddy isn’t here to share in the celebration.

My goals for our family shift often and have changed from survival to actually being able to step back and plan our future. These days I can focus on getting us through the month and not just the next hour. I can schedule play dates and trips to the zoo in advance without panicking. Of course, just when we get on a schedule, one of those treacherous grief-stricken days hits that throws everything back into chaos. There is no calling daddy to see if he can pick up dinner on his way home because today was more difficult than most. When I take out the trash, he “helps” me so that instead of taking 2 minutes it takes 10. When I load the dishwasher, I have to open and close the door after each dish so he doesn’t break yet another bowl or try to climb on the door. When someone has to read Llama Llama Red Pajama for the ten thousandth time, that someone is me. If the little one is sick, there is no discussion over who will take a sick day to stay home with him. When I am sitting in the living room contemplating licking one of his toys to catch his cold, I have to remind myself that solo parenting doesn’t come with sick days.

Some nights I have to do more in the two hours after he falls asleep than some people do in an entire week. Although I truly love being a momma, I don’t get to smile contentedly and honestly say that I wouldn’t change a thing. I would change a lot. He would have his daddy, and I would have my partner. I would not be able to say that my son has seen me cry more than I ever imagined he would. So much that it no longer phases him. I wouldn’t be the momma that tries to bring awareness to the idea that not every family looks the same. The momma that gets upset when people assume that my husband walked out on us. I wouldn’t be forced to face all the little wonderful things my son will never get to experience with his father.

Of course, we also get to be one of those families that can truly say it takes a village, and we have the best village. No one will ever replace his daddy, but that boy is so loved it amazes me every single day. Knowing that we are constantly surrounded by love and support is one of the few things that keeps me going.

Life As We Know It - 2I can’t sit here and tell you that as a solo parent I have to do EVERYTHING all by myself. I had to learn to ask for help and let people into our little world, but boy did they show up. Watching my son light up when he sees his grandparents brings me so much joy. The relationships he has with our friends and family are something I will always treasure. I couldn’t pick a better support system for us if I tried. We have so many people that help us in so many ways. There is always someone to call when I need a babysitter, or a handy man, or a personal shopper, or a shoulder to lean on. I can only hope that our village knows just how much they mean to us and how much we appreciate being able to depend on them.

All that being said, we have found a life that works for us now. Most days we laugh and play and snuggle. Most days I get to see his beautiful smile and hold him close. We can often be found dancing to our favorite song together in the living room. He runs over to me as soon as it comes on now which can turn any bad day into a great one. Some days he even climbs up in my lap and tells me “ove oo”. I will always miss his daddy, but our son has taught me how to live again. For that I am grateful. For all the joy he brings to my life when I thought it would be impossible, I will be forever grateful.

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One Response to Life As We Know It {A Window Into Solo Parenting}

  1. C October 28, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    Thank you for this! It’s hard to articulate to others how being a parent alone feels and the challenges we face. Although our circumstances are different I definitely relate and appreciate you for being able to put all that hurt and feeling into words. I am deeply sorry for your loss and applaud you for how you are dealing with it.

    -Another mama with a little trash helper

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