Today, I was inspired by a young, 20-something single-mom who happens to be a close family friend. She shared with me some of her recent struggles and her story was so reminiscent of my 20-year old single mother days that I had to put my thoughts down for all the single mothers out there who are struggling everyday; those who are also gifted with life experiences that today seem hard, but will one day be looked at as just one part of an amazing journey.
My advice is simple ladies: Bloom where you are planted!
I spent essentially 15 years being a single mother in between the birth of my 3 children, a marriage and then being widowed. During that time there were struggles, challenges and difficult conditions. After lots of stress and struggle, I came to the realization that I could choose to still live an abundant life. It became empowering to know that I could put my energies toward the things and people who are most important to me instead focusing on or giving my power away to those struggles. I wasn’t going to let them get the best of me. And, single moms, trust me, I went through some stuff that could have easily wiped me out as a young woman and as a parent.
After a while, it took acceptance in order to appreciate that I could be just as successful in my personal and private life as a single mother as any married woman with children could. The first lesson I had to learn was that of balance. Life’s demands can make a person go crazy, add in single parenthood and you could, at times, feel like you have molotov cocktail on your hands. Let’s be real. Your day starts by getting up at the crack of dawn to get the kids fed and ready for daycare or school; you go to work all day and deal with crap there, only to come home and work another 8 hours handling everything on your own. Add in attending school functions, the stress of being the sole provider, spending quality time with your children and all else that comes with running a household, which often times means robbing Peter to pay Paul. Yes, married mothers go through some of these same struggles, but it is when you know that you do not have anyone else to fall back on that those mole hills feel like they are turning into huge mountains for you to climb.
However, with maturity comes acceptance and with acceptance comes growth. Single mothers, the most important thing you can do to maintain your growth is to nurture yourself. What do I mean above when I say, “Bloom Where Your Planted?” I mean, find your strengths, accept your weaknesses and then grow. The first step is to figure out what makes you happy in your own personal life. Not in the life you lead with your children, but what makes you personally happy as an individual. An example can be going back to school, indulging yourself in a specific hobby, focusing on your spiritual side. Second, don’t be so hard on yourself. Any decisions you have made that may not have totally been in your best interest at the time, you can use as learning tools. We only learn to grow through making mistakes. Third, be open for development. Find a way to work in that extra class (i.e., online training, etc.) to advance yourself. I worked for 2 years on my paralegal degree through correspondence training. With all that was on my plate, it was the only option at the time. When my boys went to bed, I went to school in my little apartment. Read self-help books (they worked wonders for me). Get involved in your church. Find ways, outside of the stresses of work and home life to feel good about yourself. Fourth, if you need help, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for it. We all need help once in a while. Another point I would like to stress is this: DO NOT get stuck in dead-end relationships. Always keep your power in your own control. Never give your power to another person and then rely on them for your happiness. Form your personal relationships on your own terms, not someone else’s. It is not until you are in a good, stable and secure place with yourself that you are able to accept a good man into your life. When we are insecure and unstable, we tend to settle for less. Never settle for less.
Being able to bloom where you are planted means when you get weak, think about where you are today versus where you were 6 months or a year ago. Being able to love ourselves and accept our situations for what they are right now allows us to succeed where we are. It creates the path for our futures which in turn directs our steps toward moving on from the typical stereotypes that come along with single motherhood. Taking time to reflect on the positive attributes of your life once in a while will do you good. At the same time, reflecting, but not dwelling, on the negative will allow you to basically compare yourself to the only person you should compare yourself to and that is YOU. Most importantly, loving and accepting yourself for who you are to yourself and your children and being proud of where you have come is very important. There are no limits for your future as long as you are open and willing to grasp opportunities.
Lastly ladies, if you don’t take anything from this article, remember that you are not defined by what others think of you. We find definition in our compassion and unconditional love for our children and our own self-acceptance, self-worth, compassion and love for ourselves. So, surround yourself with uplifting people who truly care about you and your children’s well-being.
KUDOS to all you single moms out there doing what others think is impossible! Keep on blooming!
Peace & Blessings,