I have pondered on that question many times over the past two decades that I have been a single mother. There is a line in the movie Lincoln… where he asks, “Are we fitted to the times we are born into?” When I heard that line it made me get deep in thought. And I asked myself that very question. Was I fitted into the times I was born into and was I selected in some cosmic way to be a single mother, let alone mother to my two children?
When I think profoundly on this axiom it makes me wonder why I was selected to be this single mother by the universe?
The obvious response to that would be, uh…because you got divorced? Okay, I see that one must be a divorced or single person and have children to be called a single mom. But I am a thinker and I like to understand things on deeper levels. After all, my becoming a single mother didn’t exactly follow the more common ways one becomes one.
It wasn’t a death or an unexpected pregnancy that led to my becoming a single parent. I was married 8 years before having our first child. I was 39 when I had my second and last child, so it wasn’t an ill-prepared idea that led to the sudden break up of our family. It was a chorus of reasons that no longer interest me. But is there a greater reason that I was selected for this role?
And if you are a single mother, was there a greater reason you were selected too?
Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence.
I read something that my daughter said when writing her success plan for college. The first question was, “Who do you admire?” Her answer: “My mother, because she carried the weight of the world on her shoulders and still managed to create a stable home environment for my brother and me.” Over the past 20 years, I have had indirect validations here and there that made me feel like I was doing something right as a single parent. But when I read that, it made my shoulders drop and the tension that has resided in them for a very long time slowly released.
I breathed in a deep cleansing breath then sighed away the strains for that moment. I smiled and said to myself that maybe I was the person who was supposed to raise this little girl and help her make an imprint on the world as a strong woman. What will she do as she studies film and how will she express herself in this medium? What did she learn from me that got her through so many stages of growth and what will stay with her? What will she discard? What will she take with her to the next stage of her life?
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
I think all mothers, all over the world dream of changing the world for the better through their children.
Single mothers do it without even knowing they are creating the very essence of resilience, of flexibility, of acceptance, and of family values with every word and action they commit. I never dreamed that I would one day be a woman who raised a family alone. It seemed utterly inconceivable to me since I came from such a big family, full of noise and children and energy.
But as I sit and simmer on that I realize it was actually my training ground for the single mother I was to become one day. My experiences with my very large family which consisted of 15 Aunts and Uncles and 47 first cousins, were what I called on to manage what at times seemed like an unbelievably daunting challenge. I was shown over and over the real heart of what a family is. To me, that was everyone pulling together at family Christmas dinners as a tribe with side dishes and presents in tow. It was the example of love shown when you didn’t get accepted to the college you dreamed of going to and someone was there to console and encourage you through your disappointment.
It was in the examples of love I saw from the big sister who bought you a prom dress just hours before the dance because the one you made turned out to be a disaster. It was the example I saw in my father waiting up every night until all of his children were home safe from the football games and movies with friends. And it was the parents who showed up and let their 39-year-old daughter cry when her heart was broken after her husband left her just weeks after their second child was born in the middle of their home remodel.
It was all that and more…so much more, that I leveraged as I navigated through so much alone.
One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life; that word is love.
My son was only 8 years old when my father died. But it’s as if my son has known him his whole life by the imprint my dad left on him. My son and my nephew who is the same age were taught to recognize every air force plane manufactured. He told them stories about how the planes performed in WWII because my dad was a navigator on a B-17. Those lessons stayed with those boys until this day.
They are able to tell you every heroic mission those planes flew in. His imprint on my son has indeed lasted his lifetime. He has a love and passion for history I have never known in anyone other than my father. So, maybe I was the woman that the universe selected to raise this young man. Because the man who made the biggest imprint on him was my father. And the man my son is now forming himself to be is a fine man indeed. Just like my father.
My children are young adults now embarking on their own unique journeys to get themselves to their next Port O Call in life. How they use what they learned growing up shows in big and small ways every day. How they treat people. How they hold human values and give everyone in the world a chance to prove who they really are…good or bad. And as a result, they will make their own assessments and act on their own navigation. They have good friends and they are good friends. And their capacity to forgive is deep. It is in those moments that I can feel my slight imprint on them.
Though I was not happy that my husband no longer wanted me in his life, I was adamant that he remains in theirs. In whatever way, he was capable of. Though he was never there in the daily lives of my children and he often was just that Disneyland Dad, they love him for who he is. Their relationship has grown and shown itself to have matured as they have. As they all have. I never wanted them to have a father they didn’t love. I can’t imagine that since my own father was so important to me. So very important to all of us. Even though they have cultivated a relationship that is full of filters and niceties, they have a father. And that makes me happy.
Fight for the things that you care about, but do so in a way that will lead others to join you.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
For the past 22 years, I have fought hard to maintain my family. To keep a roof over their heads, clothes on backs, food in their tummies, books on their shelves, toys in their closets, and a knowing that they were safe and secure inside our little family. And so, in doing this…in being their single mother, I hope they will take with them all that is good. All that is right. All that empowered them and all that carried them. And I hope they discard all that did not serve them well. And I wish that they lead others to join them in being good citizens of the world.
So, maybe I was indeed, fitted into the times I was born into and maybe I was selected in some cosmic way by the universe to be a single mother. A single mother to my two exceptional children.
And I like that.