Being a single mother is one of the most difficult challenges that a woman can ever face. And I know, I am part of the club.
It might be because you made the choice – perhaps the man by your side wouldn’t be a good example for your children, or because of divorce, mutual agreement, abandonment or even disappearance. It may sound unreal, but there’s a bit of everything in this world. Some men run when they get a whiff of news like this. They run, fly, change city and even change their name.
What got you here isn’t so important. What’s important is seeing the positive side – although it has cost me a lot to see it! Having children brings with it everything that you never thought you could have being single: love, companionship, and infinite joy.
Our God was the victim of trickery, despisal, lies, indifference, rejection, and hate. Who can understand us better than He? The best place for single moms to find refuge is in the heart of Christ! And what better model than Holy Mary?!
1. Don’t be afraid of being alone
When we look “alone” up in the dictionary, the definitions aren’t so encouraging: “without other’s help or participation… isolated and lonely … having no companions…” What then are our children? They are the greatest company that we can have. They are a joy and the motor of our lives. Being a single mom isn’t the end of the world, God will always put the right people on our path to help us make our way.
2. Talk to your child
Whether you believe it or not, they understand everything. If you have a baby, tell him about what you are doing. With a sweet voice tell him: we are going to organize these toys, cook something delicious, or buy some things. He or she might not be able to talk yet, but one smile takes care of everything. This way neither of you will feel lonely and they will become more and more accustomed to your voice. If the are a bit more grown-up, do it anyway. You are the person that they most share with. Open up your heart and always maintain an attitude of listening.
3. Be deaf to outside critiques
Prudence is not one of the most common virtues. It’s easy to launch hurtful commentaries, to critique and judge without giving it much thought. When other people’s commentaries hurt you, remember that Jesus said: “He who is without sin, throw the first stone” (John 8:7). Just remain silent and offer it up.
4. Cultivate memories
Always remember: you can never go back and time. Every minute that you have with your children is worth gold! So, courage! Treasure every moment. Take pictures, even of those moments that might seem simple or irrelevant. Later on, they will be precious memories. Our grandparents had albums chock full of photographs that were like a gold mine to them. We will look back on these times when the littlest things made us happy. Today, no one prints their photos. We keep them all in our cell phones, laptops or harddisks. Let’s be like on our grandmothers!
5. Keep a journal
I got this idea when I was pregnant. I wanted to write down the sensations and hopes that I had at that moment. So I decided to start keeping a journal with exact dates of all those moments that touched my heart the most. Write every time you have some free time. Tell your son about that family that he will have, what you expect of him, what adventures you want to have with him in the future, what you want to whisper to him when you hold him in your arms (for those who are single mothers since pregnancy). You can write when and how he ate, crawled, walked and ran for the first time. When he is a more mature, you can give it to him as an unforgettable gift.
6. Offer him or her up to God
© Y.H Kao/ Flickr
Every sacrifice, every early morning, every tear, every joy, every victory. Offer up everything that hurts: your loneliness, your broken heart, your tears, everything that keeps inside. I think this is one of the hardest parts about being a single mom: you have to hide that sides that overwhelms us.
7. Be Realistic
Fill yourself with patience. Many times we tend to reject the reality that we live but – come on! – we need to accept the facts. This is our only life. We won’t have another shot at this. We have two options: sit down and cry, succumb to bitterness and infect those around us with it. Or we can take a deep breath, assume a good attitude, and asked God for strength to do the best we can as single moms.
8. Spend quality time with your children
What you do with your children depends on a lot on their age. If you have a baby or a small child, you can spend your free time reading, taking a walk, or going to the park or zoo. Creativity is one of those gifts that are polished or born when a woman becomes a mother. Paint a picture, cook their favorite food, ask them to help you in the garden, go to the movies. Many plans don’t require spending money. You have no excuse to not spend quality time with them!
© Thomas Hawk/ Flickr
Try always to be joyful. Even if they don’t say anything, your children perceive what mood you are in. I know, it’s difficult on your own! But you can’t make your son or daughter feel that they make your life unhappy. Show them how happy and content you are to have them in your life. Likewise, smile at those who are around you. There’s nothing worse than someone bitter.
10. Never talk badly of their father to them
No matter what the reasons are for not being together, don’t speak badly to your children about their father. Set aside your pain, anger, and disappointment. Don’t stain your heart with grudges or lies. Watch your language when you have to refer to him in front of the children. It’s not necessary that you mention how cowardly he was in leaving you. They will realize what kind of person their father as time passes (in the cases where they are in contact with him, or he has some kind of custody, etc.)
11. Find ways to let it out
Never do this in front of the children. They might feel afraid or confusion. If you have to cry, do it! But do it in your room or somewhere where they aren’t. All those who tell you: “don’t cry,” “he’s not worth it,” “don’t complain,” don’t really get what you are going through. So don’t pay attention. Nowhere is it written, “crying is prohibited.” Keep in mind here tip number 6; there is always a Man who is willing to listen and console us.
12. Make contact with other single moms
Even when we are surrounded by friends and family that support us, we need support from others who are going through situations similar to ours. They can share their experiences, give advice and allow us to get things off our chest. If you have friends or acquaintances that are also single moms, you can organize outings to free your mind a bit. You can go get a cup of coffee, cook together or do something fun with the kids.
13. Be thankful
Millions of women in the world dream of becoming mothers. Thousands of couples spend huge amounts of money on infertility treatments. Hundreds of couples dream of having in their arms what you already have in your life: a child. Appreciated what God has given to you without worrying so much about the circumstances that lead to you being alone. I have heard a lot of moms say: “A child is God’s greatest blessing” and for a while I thought they were exaggerating. But now that I am a mother, I know there is no space for exaggerations when it comes to the love for a child. Love him, hug him, kiss him and be grateful that you chose to be his mother.
14. Pass on the best you have to your child
Sadness can lead us into depression. It’s true that sometimes we feel as if the entire world is coming down on us, that we are running out of strength. WE don’t feel like we can keep going on. Our frustration exhausts us, and we ask, “Why me?” We know that a child should have a father and a mother that loves him and raise him together. But, unlike what commonly happens in this world, we need to pass on the best we have to our children. Give them joy, peace, serenity, security, and confidence.
15. Take care of your personal appearance
© KINO/ Flickr
Although you might doubt it, this is an important point. You are you child’s reference point. They absorb everything that’s around them. So try to keep you appearance up: choose what you put on, pay attention to your make up and even how you paint your nails! If your daughter sees you wearing miniskirts, what right will you have to question her when she does the same?! If you put on the first thing you see and never look at yourself in the mirror, what are you going to be able to say to your son who wants to do the same? Remember: you are the example and the model to follow.
16. Repeat daily
Last but not least, repeat this phrase as many times as necessary: “I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13).