Any parent can agree that parenting is tough. It is a challenging and
complex experience that requires every fiber of your being, and although at
times you can become overwhelmed and exhausted by it, you would never trade it
for the world. Being a single parent is no different. The added level of
complexity comes with the fact that you’re handling most, if not all, of the
responsibilities of raising your child on your own.
National Single Parent Day is the day to recognize and honor the valiant
work and sacrifices of single parents to raise healthy and happy children. As a
significant number of children are raised in single-parent households, this
recognition is unique and powerful—it not only recognizes the single parent’s
hard work, dedication and passion towards raising their child, it motivates and
drives single parents to continue this work even when society frowns on parenting
without a partner.
In celebration of Single Parents Day, I have been asked to think about
what it means to be a single parent. My answer is as complicated as the
I have been a single mom for almost six years now. I have so many
moments that help me to define what it means to be a single parent. I can share
numerous examples of shedding physical, emotional and mental tears in my every
day experiences and struggles as a single mom. Being a single mom requires
strength of both mind and body, endurance, being a master at time management and,
most importantly, the fortitude to hold your head up through it all.
To explain what it means to be a single parent from my perspective, you require
an understanding of what I’ve learned so far.
I can do
it all. Many people ask, “How do you do it all?” And my answer is always, “I
have no clue.” Even though I doubt myself regularly and believe that I will not
accomplish all my daily tasks, I bite down, focus on one thing at a time and
get it all done. My house may be a mess at times and I may have laundry in the
dryer that has been there for the past week (and I’m only pulling out the
clothes as I need them), and we may order out 2 to 3 days a week, but it all
couldn’t do it all without help. I literally have an entire community available to me to help me with my
son. My neighbors, friends, nearby family members, fellow bloggers and
co-workers are all available to provide an encouraging word, a laugh, a
shoulder to cry on or someone to watch my son for a few hours for a mommy
mental break. Yes, I can do it all but I couldn’t possibly do it without their
good day, there could be a bad week. As a single parent, there are those amazingly great days where you feel
like you could conquer the world if given the opportunity. These days can last
for an entire week and you feel as though you can fulfill every task out there
without even missing a beat. And there are those incredibly bad days, too. Those
days can last for months. It is those days when there are unexpected expenses
that creep up, when you wonder how you’re going to make it through the week: How
am I going to be able to afford to feed my son for the week? How will I be able
to commute to work? How can I get through the week with this dread in the pit
of my stomach? This is real, and no matter how much money you make or how many
people are around you to help, it is hard to break through the mental torment
that we experience when wondering how to make it through.
time for you helps everyone. I noticed that when I am more relaxed and carefree, my son is equally as
relaxed and carefree. Whether we know it or not, our feelings and actions play
a huge role in our child’s daily life. They depend on us to lift them up when
they’re down and keep them grounded when they’re touching the sky. Finding time
for yourself and taking care of yourself makes that happen.
as fun as you make it. Even on those most challenging days, we still can make life as fun as
want to make it. My son and I will jam out in the car, run around and play in
the park, color and draw together, read at least 15 to 20 books a night, give
each other hugs and kisses to make each other feel better … we make life grand.
We could easily let those rough days keep us down but instead we work harder to
make life as we want it to be and not how it is. Live in the moment and be
happy and healthy. Don’t expect the future to bring happiness.
your instincts. You’re doing the best you can. Even though we doubt it from time to time—and many people may put us
down just because we’re raising our children in single-parent households—we are,
in fact, doing the best we can. We are working through this whole parenthood
experience, just like every other parent. Trust that you’re doing the best that
you can and focus on raising your child.
own rhythm. Every single parent has questioned themselves at some point. We question
whether we will figure this whole thing out, or find a rhythm to it all, or we
think we are failing ourselves and our kids. Every single parent household is
uniquely different; they each have their own rhythm. Focus on finding your own rhythm
and focus. In the end, you will find your rhythm, and life will become simpler.
today, plan. It’s so easy to get bogged down by the day-to-day, to allow the
negativity to creep into your soul and drain you. Instead of getting bogged
down, focus on today’s tasks—complete them, step-by-step—then start thinking
about what you can do in the future to avoid the bad things that happened
today. Don’t dwell on it; plan to make it better.
So, what does being a single parent mean to me? It means handling it on
your own but knowing that you have the support of family, friends and others to
help you get through it. It means relishing in the good days and enduring the
bad days. It means finding time for yourself, in order to continue being the
best parent you can be, and finding fun in even the simplest things. It means trusting
that you are doing the best you can and focusing on the positive rather than
dwelling on the negative. And, finally, it means finding your own rhythm in
life—one that works best for you and your family. Be happy and healthy, and
live in the moment, rather than waiting for the future to bring happiness.
Single Parents day is March 21st! Tag #singleparentsday to show us how you are celebrating.
Natasha Peter is a single (and solo) mom of 1 and blogger at Epic Mommy Adventures. Her blog focuses on sharing her epic adventures with her son, sharing her secrets to success as a single parent, and offering advice to other single parents managing epic adventures of their own.