Posts Tagged ‘single mom’

What NOT To Say To a Single Mom: How Do You Do It All?

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While exiting my city bus years ago with a sleeping toddler an older woman came over, gently placed her hand on my arm, looked into my eyes and said I was an inspiration. I was confused, because I was just trying to get my baby to daycare and get to work. She was a woman I’d often see on the bus in the morning though we never spoke. She told me she didn’t know how I did it, how I got the stroller on and off the bus every day and how I kept my daughter entertained on the bumpy ride. All by myself.

That wasn’t the first or last time friends (and strangers) would gasp with amazement and ask how I did it all. How I could handle being a single mom. That picture above is how I feel every.single.time someone tells me this. So stop it…seriously.

Let me explain.

So I’m a woman, right? I got all my womanly parts. I have two arms and two hands. No cape (I checked), no Maleficent wings, and even though I am desperate for Thor-like super-powers I do not hold any magical powers within my 5’5 frame. I swear too much, I talk to myself at work, and I like drinking white wine. I lied. I LOVE drinking white wine. I would wear my faded converse, a T shirt, leggings and NO bra all day everyday if I could. I’m self-conscious about my weight, think my face favors a chipmunk and I’ve got too many rolls to count. In my past I had to be royalty – I mean my name is Alexaaaaaandra. I cry at commercials, I like to watch action thrillers before I go to bed and people annoy me all the time.

Oh and I happen to be a single mom. But, let me be clear, running a household alone doesn’t mean I am any different from anyone else. Single motherhood arrived at my doorstep when my kiddo was 2 years old and I think if I paid more attention to what was going on in my life I would have realized it was going to be in my future. It wasn’t something I wanted, but guess what – shit happens.

How does she do it? Her daughter is sooo well behaved! How did she go back to school and graduate? How did she get a job right out of college? How DOES she DO it?! How is she succeeding, how isn’t she failing?

How? I work my ass off. Every. Single Day. The SAME as a lot of mothers and parents out there. I ensure my daughter is happy, fed and loved. The only difference is that I am raising my daughter without a partner in the home. I co-parent (which is super stressful), but at the end of the day it’s just ME. I’m responsible for her well-being, for ensuring she is growing up to be respectful and kind. I work hard every single day to provide a life for her. The SAME as a lot of mothers and parents. There is nothing unique or special about being my situation – I hold no special powers and I’m actually pretty upset I’m so damn ordinary.

So when I get told “Alex, how DO you do it all?” I roll my eyes. Twice. I do what I can – which is never enough, but that’s quite OK with me. I make mistakes, I slip up, I fall, and I’ve even crashed and burned. It’s life. I’m learning through my accomplishments and failures. When I became a single mother, there wasn’t any other choice but to get up and kick ass. There was no way I was going to let someone else raise my daughter, so I had to muster up the strength and find a way to make it all work. Single mothers can and DO thrive and succeed. Our success and our children’s happiness shouldn’t be unusual. Because they’re not. And I am proud to know so many single parents working their asses off every single day for their kids, knowing there isn’t someone they can fall back on, wanting the best for their children.

So the next time you feel the urge to tell a single mom “how do you do it all?” I encourage you to find another way to compliment her in a way she’ll appreciate. I promise, she’ll appreciate it.



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[Lessons From A Student Mama] The Mistake Of Trying To Do Too Much While Balancing School And Family

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For years before I graduated from college in 2011 I imagined my graduation day.

I’d wrap myself in a long gown, and attempt to fight back tears, tears of years of sacrifice and struggle. Trying to steady myself on the seemingly long walk to the stage to accept my diploma I’d search in the crowd for my loved ones and my daughter waving frantically wanting to ensure her Mommy saw her. I’d close my eyes, hear my name and slowly walk on the stage, praying I wouldn’t fall. With a frantically beating heart I’d smile wide all while thinking I did it. I did it. I finally did it.

My graduation day was a dream I had ever since I re-enrolled in college two years after my daughter was born.

Every student dreams about their Graduation day, a day of celebration and excitement. It can seem out of your reach when you’re in the midst of studying for exams and burning the midnight oil. And for those who juggle parenthood and employment alongside being a student the journey to securing a degree can at times seem daunting. That image of walking across the stage to accept my college diploma was, at times, the only thing that kept me from walking away from pursuing a higher education.

As I look back at the five total years I spent being a student, I’m in complete awe that I was able to prioritize my education. Though I had two older siblings that were in college, it wasn’t something that was ever pushed on me or encouraged. I figured I should go because I didn’t want to be stuck in my small town forever, but I didn’t take it seriously. It wasn’t until after I had my daughter that I realized having a degree would open more doors and could help me provide a brighter future for us.

 

Read the rest of [Lessons From A Student Mama] The Mistake Of Trying To Do Too Much While Balancing School And Family over on The Young Mommy Life.



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[Co-Parenting Matters] Talking To Your Child About Your Ex

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As much as I have grown thorough my experience co-parenting over the past six years there are still much for me to learn.

I admit, I can be quite stubborn and there are certain things I will not budge on, and this causes severe tension between my co-parent and I. It’s fair to  say I hold quite a bit of anger towards him, which is quite unhealthy and has affected both my personal and professional life. Most importantly it’s affected how I communicate about him with our daughter.

I have the ferocity and strength of a mama bear protecting her cub when it comes to my daughter. And over the years I’ve felt the need to protect her…from her own father. Her little heart can only take so many letdowns and she shouldn’t cry over him and his broken promises. I internalize all of how she feels, and at times I feel like a ball of rage. At times feeling absolutely unable to console her or to make our overall situation any better.

When she talked about him, my body language changed, my eyes shifted and became just slivers. There was no conversation, she would talk and I would listen. But not really. One night while home watching the child he and I made sleep the night away, I wept. I wept for the man he wasn’t. I wept for her sorrows. I wept that I couldn’t protect her.

Read the remainder of my post over of The Young Mommy Life.



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Celebrating Christmas As A Single Mom

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With Christmas just 22 days away, I feel an unusual sense of calm this year. This will be my sixth Christmas as a single mom, and I think I’ve finally gotten to a stable place in my life where I can balance the additional bells and whistles of Christmas with everyday life. And I’ve learned not to expect anyone else, even my co-parent to step up and participate during the holiday season.

I look at my life now – a full-time job, a college degree, a nice apartment in a good city, Christmas presents hiding out in my closet…and I get goosebumps. Things but a few years ago weren’t so seemingly put together.

Being a single parent has required me to be extremely creative during the holidays, even to get the most basic of items. I watch every dollar that comes in, and now paying my student loans off there hasn’t always been a lot, if any, extra funds to spend during the holidays.

I didn’t grow up with a lavish Christmas; it was the opposite in our house. With four kids, and often foster kids, a single mom working at times with two jobs, we were happy for what we had at the end of the day – each other. And when I became a mom there was a sense of excitement to have an extravagant Christmas, for her Dad and I to really provide for her what we didn’t have ourselves. And then I struggled being a single mom and that dream seemed further from my grasp.

Read the rest of Celebrating Christmas As A Single Mom over at The Young Mommy Life.



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Adventures in Co-parenting: Its. Not. About. You.

*First written for The Pushback blog*

This post was inspired by my friend Deesha Philyaw of Co-parenting101.org and her new book Co-parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive in Two Households after Divorce.

When my seven year old daughter comes home from visiting her Father’s house she’s either overjoyed to see me, and ready to cuddle and share with me all the fun she had that day. Or, she walks by me without saying a word, throws herself on her bed and tells me how much she wants to live with her Dad. My daughter, the drama queen, usually reacts the negative way.

The thing that gets me is that I never thought she’d react like this. Why would she when she’s got me? I give her everything she could ever ask for. I sacrificed my anxiety (and some of our savings) to take her to Disney dammit! I’m the incognito tooth fairy who gently places a dollar underneath her pillow as she sleeps. I’m the one taking her to see the movies she wants, visit the parks she wants, making smores with her. I’m front row in school performances. I’m the one breaking my damn back to provide a roof over her head, good food in her stomach, and an abundance of toys and books. And SHE wants to live with HIM?

See what I just did there? Me, me, me. Though only seven, I find myself at times dumbfounded that she doesn’t see how dysfunctional and unsupportive her Father is and how much pain he causes her. The uncontained rage I feel when she tells me she wants to live with her Father frightens me. My body tenses. When her big brown eyes full of sorrow and despair look up to me, and her toothless mouth tells me she wants him not me, I crumble. Wait, you don’t want me? After all I’ve done for you? I feel defeated, as if all I’ve done to build a life for her has just blown away with the wind.

Co-parenting over the past six years has been the most horrifying and enlightening experience I’ve ever had. It’s no secret that my daughter’s Father and I are not co-parenting seamlessly. I’ve felt hurt, pain, disappointment, loneliness, and anger. I feel ever so protective of my child, even trying to shield her from her own Father.

But, it’s not about me.

Encouraging my daughter to talk about and engage with her co-parent was at one time impossible for me to do. Over my dead body would I let him infect her with his lies and instability. He was going to mess everything up, I was sure of it. It has been a rocky journey to stop feeling like the victim, to stop thinking it’s all about me. Because it’s all about her. My daughter. Our daughter. I needed to give her wings and allow her to love her co-parent and his family. She needed me to support those relationships, and I’m trying. I’m learning. Children are incredibly resilient creatures, and as most parents know, pick up on so much, even when words are not spoken.

The bottom line is: she loves her Dad. I want her to love her Dad. Her Dad loves her. And I love my daughter, so I will continue doing my best to support their relationship and provide a judgment free zone where she is able to talk freely and openly about how she is feeling in regards to him, because I love my daughter.

And because it’s not about me and my feelings.



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