Dear Single Mama Parenting After Loss,
I see you. I know you. I am you. I know how hard this new journey is that you’re traveling. It was never planned. I know it’s not easy being a single mom. It’s not the life you dreamed of. It’s not the happily ever after you signed on for. It can be exhausting and lonely, but at the end of the day, all that really matters is the happiness and well-being of your children. They are your life. There are no sacrifices too great. You’d do anything to give them a stable, loving home, even if it means you’re the only one there.
I know there are days you are too exhausted to cook and too sad to eat. Your only goal is to make sure that your children are looked after. Some days you make a big deal about bringing home their favorite takeout, like it’s a special occasion and that always makes them happy. You hope that way they don’t see the sadness you still carry…or the worry. Other days you desperately hunt through the fridge for leftovers and the pantry for sides, so you can put together a healthy meal with minimal effort. Whatever it is you’re doing, you’ve GOT this! Your kids are happy, they’re healthy, they’re fed, and they know how much you love them.
I know there are days you stare at the clock and count down the hours until bed because you can’t remember the last time you have had more than 3 consecutive hours of sleep. You’re so tired because it’s hard doing it all on your own day after day. I know there are nights where you scoop your wide awake toddler into your bed, wrap him tightly in your arms and stroke his hair, hoping he’ll fall asleep soon. You are so exhausted, but he wants to play. He’s been extra needy since the separation. You do what has to be done. You rally, pushing thoughts of rest to the side. You hold him, you love him, you reassure him, and you watch the sleepless minutes tick by. Finally after what seems like forever, his breath slows and he falls into a deep sleep.
As hard as those full-throttle, morning to night, no rest, toddler-chasing moments can be, those quiet moments just before bed are even worse. That’s when your body stops and your brain starts. The anxiety hits you. Your whole future looms in front of you – unknown and uncertain. You are tired, you are exhausted, and you are scared. There is only you. There is no one to ask for help on the nights your preteen wants to be a night owl or when your toddler wakes up at 2 am crying with night terrors or because he misses his daddy or when your daughter is crying because she’s sick and in pain. It’s just you – a single mom alone with her children. Alone. With the weight of the entire world on her shoulders. SuperMom, but you’re not feeling like much of a superhero.
That’s when the questions and the doubts creep in. How can I do this every night? Alone? What if I am not enough? How do I know that I’m doing this right? Someone, please, help me! Tell me I’m going to be OK. Just hold me and say the words, but no one does. Not because they don’t care, but because you can’t ask anyone for help. You can’t admit your struggles or your doubts. On the outside, you want to look strong, even though inside you are breaking all over again. Just like you did before.
All you ever wanted was to create a loving family. To share the love you have to give with your partner and your children. But that future is gone, just like the baby you once carried but never got to meet. The tears come, and very quietly, you cry yourself to sleep. You don’t want to wake your son.
Courageous Mama, I know you are hurting. I know you have doubts. I’m here to tell you that you are enough!
You have already survived the unimaginable. You have already survived the un-survivable. You have done more than just survive, you have lived! You have courageously stood up to your fears, even to Death, and you have said not THIS time. You are a force to be reckoned with. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are brave. You ARE enough.
Do not doubt yourself or your strength. I know you do not feel brave now, but when others see you, they see it in you. If you cannot believe in yourself, believe in them until you DO believe in you again. They know the sacrifices you’ve made. They see what an amazing mom you are. They know that you can accomplish anything you want. You will stumble, and you will fall. And that’s okay. Rise back up and try again. You only fail when you stop trying. I promise that one day it will all fall in place, just like it’s always been meant to be.
One day, when you rise, you will be a beautiful phoenix rising from the ashes, and Mama, when you rise, you will soar.