#187. A Letter to Single Moms- Dr. Christiana Stephen

Dear Moms,

Newborn baby feet in a fluffy blanket

I hope everything is going on well with you? A friend of mine suggested I write or do a live video on single moms. Not that I neglect or deliberately ignore speaking about this, but to me, I believe a mom is a mom regardless of the circumstance. And so, I look at moms as moms. When she asked me to write about this, I thought to myself, what exactly do I have to say? and in that, I realized I had a lot to write about.

I was raised by strong women of which some were single parents. I understand the struggle and I can relate. I saw a lot growing up and I think its time I pick up this challenge and begin to explore in series the topic ‘SINGLE MOMS’. I’ll start with exploring Some unanswered questions in your mind:

  1. Am I Up to the Challenge?:the short answer is YES. The longer answer is that parenthood is the biggest undertaking you’ll ever face. But that’s true even if you’re married! You will get past the fear.
  2. Will it Be Lonely: A lot of times it is inevitable to be a single parent. It could be as a result of a partner who is dead, an abusive one or one who you seem incompatible with. Whatever the situation is, you are a parent, so RELAX. Growing up and sampling opinions of women around me, a lot of them agree that being a single parent can be lonely. I saw how some of my aunties were. Even though they were strong and managing well, they had times I could tell that they needed someone to understand, they needed someone to speak to and they felt lonely. In situations like these, I advice you put your mind to working, going out and being around trusted friends, this can be a huge relief.
  3. Is it demanding; Being a mom is demanding in itself but doing everything by yourself is a huge task. You play the mom, dad, sometimes you become brother and sister as well, depending on the situation of things. It is demanding to look after a child by yourself. Especially if you have to do the providing and have no child care support, it becomes a huge weight on your shoulder. The good-news is that ‘YOU ARE MORE THAN YOU THINK’.
  4. Talking about the absent parent hurts every time: Raising a baby and toddler alone is a lot different than parenting an inquisitive five-year-old whose friends have moms and dads who either live together, or are both involved. Your child will ask you questions about the father and that may bring back memories you may be trying to get over. No matter how tempted you are, try not to say anything negative, until the child is of age to truly understand the situation. No point telling your toddler, your dad was a mess and we broke up, that will end up breaking your child. Keep conversations simple and avoid lies too. Learn to answer quickly and change the topic, do not dwell on the topic. You can also plan your answers ahead of time because your child will ask. And rest assured that it’s normal for you to feel sad, anxious, guilty or even enraged after having this tricky conversation. Just try to keep your cool around your kid.
  5. You definitely need help: It’s a single mom’s instinct to feel like she needs to do it all, but that’s not realistic or rational. Despite what your seemingly perfect mom friends say or do, no one is super mom. Ask for help and accept help — especially if you’re a solo single mom, with no other parent to pitch in. I know that “being on” 24/7 leads to burnout, so say yes when family members and friends offer to babysit (and repay them with a coffee gift card or by returning the favor for their kids). In the beginning, it will be hard to loosen the reins of control, but eventually, it will feel comforting to know that help is a phone call away.
  6. You’ll become a penny pincher: I don’t care how much money you make, you’re going to automatically reel in the spending and rethink your purchases. In addition to basic financial obligations that come with bringing up a tiny human, you’ll tack on life insurance, healthcare and a college savings plan (gulp). Child support usually helps with basic costs, plus medical and work-related childcare, but extra expenses always come up, be aware.
  7. Dating is a juggling act, but it’s doable (so do it!): date if you have to, but first give yourself time to heal. Be true about your status to your new date. Don’t lie about your child or deny the fact that you have one, it isn’t worth it. If a man loves you he’ll prefer the truth and stick with you than a lie.
  8. You’ll learn how to multitask: That includes holding down a full time job, raising two kids, cleaning a house and even trying to fit in the occasional night out. There is a reason they invented wine.
  9. You’ll have an amazing bond:Without another adult around, the bond with your kids will be a strong one.                                                                                                            Don’t Push yourself too hard, life happens and this part of the things life throws. Live your Life and Make it count.

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