It’s the events in our lives that shape us but its the choices that we make that define us.
I don’t mind writing outside of my comfort zone. In fact, there are times I welcome the challenge because I know that my heart and mind are going to be stretched in the process. Writing allows me to grow and mature.
Lately, I have been trying to write more about what has been happening in my life and my perspective on the circumstances I face. As I began to think about what to write about, the idea of being a single parent, specifically single moms came to mind.
I often wonder why I contract those kinds of thoughts because I can do research on them but I don’t have the experience of being a parent. Yes, I’ve helped out others with their kids but that’s not exactly the credential someone who might be looking for help on this subject is searching for.
So, here I am, writing on a subject I am not completely familiar with and writing a little bit outside of my comfort zone once again. As always, I welcome feedback (both positive and negative) because it will only help me get better. I am sure there are a multitude of others out there who can speak on this subject with greater diplomacy than I am going to attempt here. So, take this as you will. These are just my thoughts.
Being a single mom isn’t easy. In fact, it has to be one of the most difficult undertakings in the world. I remember when I went through Security Force Academy in the USAF, we prided ourselves on being a group of men (some women too) who were part of the “true military.” We still held true to certain military standards that a lot of other carrier fields had given up on because they didn’t believe they were necessary. As such, we were holding ourselves to a higher standard and worked just a little bit harder than a lot of others out there.
I remember going through the training and finally graduating and beginning my time as a military police officer. I was told, again and again, about how much harder we had it than others. We lived by a different code and we lived with certain expectations and had standards that we set for ourselves that made us stronger and better, in some ways.
That isn’t to take away from anyone else in the military either. We had nothing but respect for anyone who answered the call and served in the US Armed Forces. We were there to protect them at all costs. It was simply that we lived by a code.
While I allow myself a level of belief in the statements we made, we still had time off. We could still joke around and be lazy at times. Despite taking our job as seriously as we did, we had our down time. It makes me think of those who are moms out there and they don’t get a day off. They don’t have 30 days of paid vacation. They are employed full time and that’s not 40 hours a week, that’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year.
Days off don’t happen often. You don’t get the opportunity to call in sick, even if you are. You are a mom and single and raising a child, often all by yourself. That isn’t easy. It can’t be easy. Anyone who says differently has no idea what they are talking about. Being a mother is hard work and even though it can be rewarding, the trials, challenges and demands are always present.
So, that being said, I want to offer a few suggestions to those of you who are single moms out there.
- You are not alone.
For some, you have friends and family close by who are willing to help out. I’ve heard it said on many occasion that when you have a child, you find out who your real friends are. Those are the people you should want in your life. You don’t want and you don’t need people who are in your life because you are convenient to them. True friends challenge us to be the best we can be.
To those of you who don’t have friends and family close by or are faced with other circumstances which limits those who help you out. The truth remains, you are not alone. You might feel that way, you might believe that but you are not alone. There is always someone who is in the fight with you.
- Don’t lose faith.
There are a million reasons why you are or became a single mother. You could have been living the fairy tale dream wedding and it all came crashing down. You may have lost your significant other to death, maybe he showed his true colors and walked away because he was in love with someone else or the responsibility was just too much. Maybe, just maybe, you didn’t get along with your significant other and you felt like it was better this way. Whatever the case, don’t lost faith in your ability to raise your child.
We struggle when we doubt. We struggle to live out what is inside of us when we begin to believe we can’t do something. The obstacles in our lives are not there to show us what we can and can’t do but to build character in us.
Let me go back to my Armed Forces days for a moment for the purpose of an analogy. While I like running, I am not good at it and I am not fast. It was rather difficult to learn that I had to run two miles in under 17 minutes. Now, truth be told, that’s quite a bit of time but for someone who simply isn’t fast, that’s a challenge. I told myself, again and again, I couldn’t accomplish that. When I arrived at basic training, I failed that time miserably too.
Over the course of the next several weeks, I ran three to four times a week and when I graduated, what I couldn’t do I was able to accomplish. Following basic training, I got even better! What began as an obstacle I believed I couldn’t accomplish became an obstacle I overcame because there were tools within me that were brought out.
Believe in yourself.
- Don’t give up!
It’s the easiest thing in the world to just give in and give up. When you began raising your child, you were faced with a million questions and million doubts plagued your mind. As you journeyed into the unknown with your child, you faced the unknown head on. As time went on, you may have found yourself knocked around and knocked down at times.
Why do we fall down? So we can get back up! The fight might seem impossible and the end might seem like it is never coming. The goal isn’t to get to the end though, the goal is to live! Keep pressing on with whatever strength you have. It might not be much but it is there.
- All you need is love!
It might sound cliché but it is the absolute truth. You don’t need all the answers and you don’t have to have everything figured out. You might not have any clue where your next meal is coming from or how you are going to make the next rent payment. That might create a dark cloud to loom over your life. Don’t let the fear of the unknown or confusion get you down.
What you need to remember is this: love your child and love yourself. You are not defined by your past and you are not defined by your mistakes. You are defined by love. Live your love out loud. Love your child and they will grow up into the man or woman you envision them to become.