It took a little time, a little more grieving and a whole lot of soul-searching on my part to finally let go of the reigns and relinquish some control and trust their Dad. However, once I did, I felt as though the earth and the rest of the universe had literally been lifted from my shoulders.
When my husband unexpectedly left the family I was left blindsided and gobsmacked.
During the early days, I had no idea how I would get through each day and night, and I worried almost obsessively about the psychological impact of the separation on my kids. I wanted to ensure that they got through the experience with the least amount of trauma and grief as possible.
In my foggy, grieving state, the only way I felt I could cope and make sense of what seemed a nonsensical situation was to do my very best to control everything that happened to and around my children. Basically, I wanted to do everything myself. I planned and tried to predict the outcome of everything.
I wanted no outside help or interference whatsoever, especially from their Dad, my ex. I in no way begrudged him spending time with them, but I singlehandedly wanted to be responsible for all things relating to them. I wanted to make all decisions. I required detailed explanations of absolutely everything. I expected regular phone calls and updates when they were with him.
I fiercely held on to this new-found control as a kind of crutch to get me through those dark days and nights when I sometimes didn’t know what was up or down, right or wrong. I was on the verge of becoming a complete control freak and could quite easily have run myself (not to mention the kids) into the ground by tenaciously holding onto my need to know and control every aspect of their lives.
It took a little time, a little more grieving and a whole lot of soul-searching on my part to finally let go of the reigns and relinquish some control. However, once I did, I felt as though the earth and the rest of the universe had literally been lifted from my shoulders.
I was still mom, I was still important and still in charge, but I could now:
Let things pan out naturally, and as they were supposed to, rather than how I thought they should
I was happier and freer, and my kids, I’m sure, were also aware of a new-found lightness in the home, all because Mom was finally willing and able to chill out a bit, let go and ask for help from Dad (or anyone else) when it was needed.
Below is how you can learn to surrender control and accept help as a single mom:
Realise that nothing is in control
There is actually no such thing as control, except as a concept of our mind. The only thing we know for sure in this life is that one day we will all die!
You may have all of the best plans in place, a formulated outcome in your head for every possible scenario, and be working your butt off to achieve whatever it is you want to achieve until you’re physically and emotionally exhausted. You don’t want outside help or advice because that might just interfere with your master plan.
Then, something happens that you hadn’t actually planned for…because life and the universe has a funny way of mixing things up and throwing obstacles in our path when we least want or expect it. So, you end up disillusioned and exhausted because things didn’t pan out as you thought they should.
However, if you take a small step back and observe, you may just find that things turned out OK anyway. And, if you're really willing to open your eyes and take a look around, you may find that they have turned out even better than what you originally planned or hoped for. Next time you feel the need to completely control something, try to take a step back and just go with the flow...and see what happens.
Know that you deserve a life, too
You won't always have your children living under your roof with you – even if by small chance they never leave home, you won't always be in charge of them!
Don't make your children the center of your universe. It is all too easy – especially for us single moms – to live vicariously through our children. There is so much to get done and to organize, from the mundane to the extraordinary, and as mothers, we naturally want to be in the midst of it all. This is something I still find myself struggling with from time to time.
This may sound obvious – but it's important. Find something to do that doesn't involve your kids. Something that gives you joy, just because it does. If you have very small children and circumstances dictate that you can't be away for long periods, do something at home, with them in the background. Find something creative – craft, baking, drawing, writing, whatever you're naturally good at and enjoy, as this will give you a satisfaction that hours spent in front of the TV or wandering around the house will never compare to.
If and when the kids are with their Dad, try to limit telephone contact – again something I struggled with in the early days. Let them be (as long as their safety is not a concern, of course), and focus on being you. Once your mind is occupied with the beautiful things you are doing for yourself, you'll find that the need to control naturally slips away. You'll be more relaxed, as will your kids, by default. Don't underestimate how much our kids feed off of our emotions!
Allow others to be as they are
Of course, as mothers, we have a responsibility to ensure that our kids are safe and doing what is appropriate, to an extent. We can't, however, control how they will feel and react when they experience disappointments and setbacks in their little lives, as they will. We want to protect them from hardship and pain, but the reality is (as we all secretly know), we can't. We can help soften the blows and try to steer them in the right direction so mistakes aren't repeated, but that's about it.
Let them be, as much as is possible. And apply the same theory to their Dad. He may be extremely disorganized and messy, he may forget some things that to you would seem unforgettable, but that is OK. As long as your kids are safe and they're being fed and cared for, they will be fine! They will adapt to yours and his differing parenting styles - as long as they see you, their mom, adapting. So, try to let go and just see what happens.