Sometimes I truly think that I am the bravest person I know. I don’t say that as a boast in a Hip Hip Hooray! Go Get Em Tiger way either!
I mean in a way that can sometimes feel quite lonely.
Being the bravest person in the room can be an isolating feeling more often than not. As single mothers, we have to keep up the front in an effort to protect our children from feeling fear that we may project.
Fear that we truly fear too.
But we cannot let them feel any more vulnerable than children of divorce already feel. So, we suck it up and put on a brave face. Brave means: “ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.” Yes, that’s us alright!
That is the truest definition of a single mother too. We get up and face the dangers and endure the pain that divorce puts us through, all the while showing courage to our children.
“I’m going to be brave today!”
I used to roll my eyes every time someone told me how strong I was. Correction. I still roll my eyes when someone tells me how strong I am. It can sometimes feel like another way of telling someone they feel sorry for you.
People don’t mean it, but it can be the equivalent of someone saying something nasty about another person and then finishing the sentence with, “Bless her heart”.
The reality is when you become a single mother you don’t have a choice. You don’t wake up one day…alone… and say, “I am going to be brave today!”. You get up, sigh and say I have to be brave today. I have to be strong today. I have to keep moving forward today, tomorrow and every day to come.
Single mothers are indeed one of the strongest and toughest demographics in our society.
For me, part of it is because of the societal ways that my generation viewed the role of women and the way they viewed the role of men too. I am 60 years old and I am considered a Baby Boomer. The Women’s Lib movement started in the 70’s. I was a kid and an adolescent in the 70’s. Women were entering the workforce in many different ways then the roles they played during WWII, a.k.a Rosie the Riveter.
During that time, when the war was over and the soldiers came home, the men took their jobs back from the women who were serving as airplane mechanics and truck drivers and even baseball players, all while taking care of the home and kids as well. My mother was of this generation and that was the model I was given by the society I grew up in.
Only in my case, there was a twist to my story. My mother was not of the belief that women should “not” work. She worked as a nurse during these times and when I was a kid growing up, she went back to school to get more and more degrees focusing on medicine, public health, and infectious disease.
And my father supported her all the way. She always preached to her four daughters growing up that we didn’t need a man to support us. We needed to be educated and have a good career of our own. So thankfully when I became a single mother, I did indeed have a college education and a career.
Overnight I became as strong as the women who built airplanes during the war and who went home every night and took care of their families. All of a sudden, I really was that person who brought home the bacon and fried it up in a pan!
The only thing was that I didn’t come from divorce and most of my friends and family didn’t either. I didn’t have a role model I could look to and say, “Well, if she could do it so can I!” I had to draw the map and get out the compass and plot out my strategy alone and build my own model.
So, with each new day, I got up and did it all over, again and again. I was brave every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Forget Everything and Run, Or Face Everything and Rise.
The choice is yours.
Being a single mother can be rewarding in that you learn your strengths and abilities in short order. But it is not without its terrifying moments too.
By the time my second child was 6 months old I was an old hat at being a single parent. My husband left me for an older woman (I know figure that one out) when our baby was an infant of 4 weeks old. So, by six months I had it all pretty much down.
If I could survive the night feedings, the care of my toddler son and all the while work a full-time job, oh and did I mention we were building a house too when he hit the road for his new old lady, literally? I figure anything ahead of me was going to be cake!
Well, I’m here to tell you it wasn’t. It was hard. It was only hard on the easy days. It was really really hard on most days. But I had a choice. I could choose to fall apart emotionally or fall apart physically. Or maybe just maybe, I could rise.
Maybe I could do this! My sister once told me I was like a Phoenix. I just kept rising from the ashes. My immediate response was, what the…? You mean you look at my life as crashing and burning? Of course, she didn’t. She saw in me what I couldn’t see. She saw me rising.
Rising above my pain.
Rising above my sadness and certainly rising above the man who fled his incredibly young family for the old lady in the shoe!
I chose to succeed. And I am still choosing to succeed. I am still a single mother; a single woman, but that isn’t because I am bitter or a man-hater or anything like that. But as you can imagine, becoming a single parent with such young children and having a career, I just didn’t have any spare energy dollars to throw into anything but my family.
Do I have regrets?
Yes, I do. Too many to count. But I am still brave every day that I get up. And like my mother, I have decided to go back to school. I have decided that I am brave enough to start a new direction in my life and even a new career that I can do well into my 80’s.
I am going to take the sum of all my experiences, my heart aches, my triumphs, my challenges, and my fears and channel them for the greater good by coaching other single mothers to find their best and strongest and bravest selves too! And to succeed not just as a mother, but as strong and free women.
No greater validation came to me then when I received this text from my son who sent this while he was at work.
“Hey, I forgot to tell you because I’ve just been so distracted lately but I’m really proud of you for going back to school and getting your certificate. Just like grandma! Good job momma. You’re doing great!”
So, if you think your kids don’t notice your strength, don’t notice how brave you are and don’t appreciate your drive…think again. They really do. It’s good to be brave!