Dear Single Mama,
I see you doing everything - literally everything - with all your heart and all your will...
Nursing all night or warming up bottles. Doing each diaper change, outfit swap, kitchen cleaning, toilet scrubbing, meal prepping and cooking, lunch box packing, dog walking and pooper-scooping (little human(s) and fury friends)...
I see you doing every pre-school drop-off and pick-up, getting your little one to and from activities, play-dates, chaperoning field trips when you can or leading carpools to and from soccer/dance/football/karate/girl-scout/boy-scouts. I see you helping with homework after a long day at work when you're exhausted but still hands-on being your little one's number one tutor and fan.
I see you having to call out sick from work one to many times to stay home with a sick baby or toddler because it's just you at home. I see you trying to balance it all, and you are doing a freaking incredible, amazing job.
Because whether you've been a single mom from the start of your pregnancy, or you experienced the loss of your significant other, or went through a divorce and/or an intense custody battle, or got walked out on left to fend for yourself and your cub, you are a mother. and a damn good one.
I know some days are SO hard. So exhausting. Seem to never end or go by way too fast.
I know the loss of a spouse, physically or emotionally, is one of the hardest things to go through as a human, as a woman, and as a mother. But you are still here. Your kids are fed and kind and smart and talented. And so are you.
Whatever you've been through that got you on this road called "single parent" avenue, you are navigating it with such grace, courage, and strength.
So, single mama, please know you are so loved, cherished, and appreciated; whether it's through the eyes of your best friends, your family, and/or your little one(s), they see you, too.
Everyone sees how hard you work to provide, to educate, to be there - ALL IN. Night after night and day after day. Even when you don't see it in yourself; others most definitely do.
I know some days you will question your sanity, this life, and how you got here. But please know that even in your darkest hour, you are so bright and such an incredible human and mama.
Whether you're in the midst of custody or into a new season of single mamahood healing after the loss of a partner and/or divorce, you will get through this. As the quote goes, "A ship is safe in the harbor, but that's not what ships were built to do" by ________, the same goes for your journey of motherhood.
Adjust your sails, face the winds, and grab your compass and your heart. You will get through the stormy seas and feel sunshine again. You will learn that as each day passes, you are stronger than the day before. You will learn to let the wall you've build so strong and so tall down a little when needed. You will learn to love again, trust again, and truly believe that you are where you're meant to be and that everything happens for a reason.
Don't be afraid to be sad. Don't be afraid to cry. Don't be afraid to get angry.
Learn to be vulnerable.
Don't be afraid to lean on your friends and your family for support.
Learn to ask for help and trust that people want to actually be there for you.
Don't be afraid to read 12387 articles on single parenthood so you can relate to someone.
Learn you are not alone.
Don't be afraid to get into therapy and join a support group.
Learn to navigate and express your feelings; be open to freeing yourself from your past.
Don't be afraid to try meditating, acupuncture, or breathing exercises for stress relief.
Learn that you need to take time for yourself.
Don't be afraid to TREAT YOURSELF.
Learn to budget and save where you can; go see a financial advisor. But, also make time to invest in self-care; schedule a massage, mani/pedi, facial, go out just "because," or attend your favorite concert if you can plan ahead.
Don't be afraid to get back into the dating scene when it feels right; let your hair down and get dolled up, because, you deserve it.
Learn to let your guard down (when and if you're ready).
But also, don't be afraid to hide from the world if that's what you need right now (big fan of Katy Perry "Grace of God" as an anthem to cry it out in a closet or blast in the car).
Learn that being a single mom isn't easy, but you won't feel so stuck forever.
Don't be afraid to be the best mama you know how to be, simply by doing what feels right and when.
Learn to have faith in yourself and your situation.
Don't dwell too much on your past, and stop focusing on your flaws or questioning how and why you got here...
Learn to let things go (in time) and trust that everything happens for a reason.
Remember a healthy happy woman is a healthy happy mama who can raise healthy happy babes.
I see you single mama, because I'm in your shoes.
I know how it feels to want to rip the eyeballs out of anyone who says "OMG it was so hard to be a 'single/solo mom' it when my husband was gone on a work trip!" (Because, how dare they even think that's the same thing as being an actual single mama?!)
Being a single mom typically means not having a partner to come home and ask you about your day, tell you they're proud of you, help you live off a two-income pay check, help you run errands or watch the baby/kids, cook a meal for you, or emotionally support you via texts and phone calls throughout the day or after a sleep regression.
I know how hard it is to go through the rollercoaster of change, grief, loss, anger, pain, feeling alone, facing heartbreak, stress, tears, anxiety, depression, trauma, the quest to seek "balance", and all the sleepless nights tossing and turning causing over-exhaustion.
I know how it feels to ask WHY and HOW.
I know how some days life seem so unfair and painful and like everything was taken away from you in the blink of an eye (no matter how many warning signs there may have been leading up to divorce or separation). But I also know how beautiful it is to have a special one-on-one bond with your babe(s) and to let go, move on, and heal. Because YOU deserve it, first and foremost.
And I know there are bright days ahead where you look back on this chapter and say "I did it." You'll look back and see how many obstacles you faced, but you still kept going. You'll look back and see all the sacrifices you made, but see how they paid off.
You'll look back and say I AM STRONG. I AM CONFIDENT. I AM LOVED. and this was just a page out of my book that's not done being written yet.
About the author:
Shelley is a mama to a cub just trying to bloom with grace. She speaks up about the salty and sweet moments of her life on her Instagram, @saltysweetseasons and on her blog, saltysweetseasons.com. She's a published writer, has been featured on podcasts, is a food stylist, content creator, recipe developer, and blogger who's also the Digital Media Manager at FIT4MOM. Shelley loves chips and salsa, herbal tea, writing poetry, golden retrievers, and sunshine. She's a single mama to sweet babe, Tanner Kai, who's her whole wide world.