In the beginning, being a single mom can suck. I apologize for the curse, but there’s no other way to begin - chances are, you didn’t sign up for being a single mom; you didn’t want to raise your kids by yourself, you may be having a tough time adjusting to being a single mom, you may not understand being a single mom because you were raised by two parents, you had no idea how lonely it would be to be a single mom, and you wonder when does being a single mom get any easier. (If you stopped reading right now, I wouldn’t blame you but please don’t… I’m just getting started.)
Because at first, we all go through these various emotions and have these thoughts. It’s normal and natural. In fact, you have to have the negative fears and worries before stepping into the awesomeness of being a single mom! So bemoan, worry, carry on about costs, budgets, balancing work and parenting, babysitting and dating woes. Go ahead… so you can catch up with why being a single mom is so AWESOME!
At first, you’re juggling A LOT: home, work, the fight, the co-parenting, the anger, the worry, the righteousness, the fear. It’s a ton of stress. You never sleep. No one gets you. You wonder if you’re crazy. You snap at your kids. You bad-mouth your ex. You worry about money, earning money, and fear you’ll be single for the rest of your life. Girlfriend… here are my arms to give you a hug!
If you remember anything from this article, remember this: it gets better. It gets easier. You can figure it out. You can do it and eventually, it is AWESOME!
Let me tell you what AWESOME looks like and why there’s so much to look forward to:
1) You get to make popcorn and ice cream milkshakes for breakfast.
Meaning, no one else tells you what to do in your home anymore. You’re in charge… you may be a little afraid of that but it starts to become fun when you realize you get to change traditions and make your own party. You no longer have to defer to your kids’ other parent. You get to step away from proving your worth to those who don’t or can’t approve. You get to eat what you want, get up when you want, stop making the bed in the morning if you want.
It’s all up to you and that’s worth celebrating awesomeness!
I remember changing some traditions… ice cream milkshakes in the morning being one of them. If my kids wanted sweets… I agreed, selecting wisely, but no longer beholden to outside opinions. Then I switched up holiday practices… initiating a chocolate event that friends still ask for these many years later. I got rid of the clean plate club and the “make your bed in the morning” rule. I left dirty clothes on the floor and started wearing my scrubs to bed at night.
In other words, without the stress of a bad marriage, I loosened up and we began laughing more.
That’s pretty awesome!
2) Money, money, money…
Let’s say it together gals… money and income and budgets and finances are the NUMBER 1 worry of single moms period! WE are the front page story on newspapers everywhere. Yep, that’s us. Pretty awesome.
Worrying about how you’ll raise your kids and take care of yourself pulls at men and women alike after divorce but for moms, it’s particularly tough. I was an out-of-work actress living in NYC in my late 40’s when I got divorced. I had no idea how I’d manage my own needs, never mind thrive and the attorneys kept arguing I’d just get married again… you can imagine the rage. I also had debt to my attorney that needed to be paid and credit cards due that I used to play the “keep up with my lifestyle” game everyone wrongly encourages. Even today, I have mortgage debt to manage and pay off.
But the good thing, no the GREAT thing about anger (or righteousness) mixed with obligation and drive is that it gets you going. Anger moves mountains. “Do not get in the way of a woman’s anger properly channeled to the greatest good!”
It takes feeling the fear, the sting, the injustice, the righteousness before you’re able to channel that power toward figuring it out, but figure it out you will if you let yourself.
In order to earn money, I’ve edited a Ph.D. dissertation, rented rooms; I’ve babysat, I’ve continued with my modeling and acting work; I learned how to coach, I had a stint in an office, I have a social marketing company. I said yes to possibility and created a belief that I could and would figure it out. Borrow my belief if you must… but have that belief in yourself because when you do, it’s really AWESOME - fear goes away. You face your bills. You pay your debts. You manage your impulsive shopping at Zara… just sayin’.
You have no idea what the future holds for you. None. Based on your past, you don’t have any idea of who you’re going to become. You have no idea what luck will come your way. Start taking it day by day, moment by moment if you have to. Don’t sell yourself short. And begin to imagine a great future - doing so will help you find your way toward it!
In the meantime, understand what you’ve got to live on and become creative… I’ve had over 10 ways that I’ve made money the past few single mom years and am still always saying yes to the opportunity to do things within my value system.
Being in control of those money fears is really AWESOME and so are you!
3) You decide who enters the castle gates:
Usually, at first, you go between trusting no one and trusting everyone. Your filter is broken and you think everyone is there for you. You indulge the fears and the story. You over-share to anyone and everyone who will listen to you for five minutes (or five hours).
One particular Thanksgiving after my divorce I was invited to a friend’s family Thanksgiving dinner. I cornered my friend’s brother as he was trying to leave the dining room to play football with the family after dinner and just chewed his ear off! I was still in the spinning phase and could not shut up about the pain and frustration of my divorce. The poor guy…. cute, single, he never said hi to me again after that. And I learned a valuable lesson…
You get to decide who’s safe to invite in. You get to select your community or your tribe. You get to surround yourself with people who will lift you up or who will commiserate with you about how bad all men are. How bad your ex-husband is. How bad your kids’ father is. Or not.
I recommend not doing that.
I recommend you find a tribe of women (and men) who will lift you up and teach you how to trust yourself and others. A community of people who will help you rise above your fears and imagine the kind of life you wish to create. And a community of people who, like you, are driven to create financial stability. I know that it’s possible to have what you want, I also know it’s important to be with others who are doing the same thing!
Laura Bonarrigo is a Certified Life Coach and a Certified Divorce Coach at laurabonarrigo.com. Laura's a writer, public speaker and the founder of doingDivorce School an online coaching program for those ready to shed the pain of divorce. For empowering and practical ways to lose the identity of your past, visit www.doingDivorceSchool.com and laurabonarrigo.com.