I’ve been a single mom for over a decade. I’ve learned many things the hard way, valuable lessons, and many mistakes. Most of what I’ve learned was because I was forced to do it alone.
By sharing my experiences, I hope other moms will feel encouraged and empowered to care for themselves and their families.
10 Lessons I’ve learned in a decade of being a single mom
1. I am capable.
One of the most challenging obstacles I’ve faced as a single parent is doing EVERYTHING on my own. Suddenly, having to do all the household chores, care for the children, and financially provide for my family by myself was overwhelming, and it took me many years to realize that while it may be hard, I am still capable.
I’ve surprised myself over the years with just how capable I am. After two large dogs tore up my backyard, my son and I attempted to grow grass without any other help.
It involved planning, budgeting, researching, and asking many people how to grow a full yard of green grass. Not only was it exceptionally physically taxing but mentally as well. When I was married, I would have instantly put yard work in the column of “husband.”
But we did it. I spent every morning watering what looked like dirt and mud until the entire yard was finally full of grass.
Two years later, I still struggle to keep up with all the yard work, and if I had the money, I’d pay someone. But now, I know I can do this, which is empowering.
2. I have a better relationship with my kids than I thought possible
Early on, I was worried my kids might resent me for the marriage falling apart. I wasn’t always physically there for my kids, like at school field trips or when it wasn’t my weekend. I wasn’t mentally or emotionally there for them early on when I was overwhelmed with my problems and issues.
But I found that as my relationship with God grew, my relationship with my kids became stronger. We have a deep bond. We enjoy each other’s company, and we have mutual respect. I’ve spoken to so many single parents, and one thing each one says is their bond with their children is tighter than anything else.
I love seeing who my kids are becoming and watching them learn new things. They may not be perfect, but they are perfect to me. And that’s all that matters.
3. It’s not so bad being single – in fact, I enjoy it
When I first became a single mom, I was embarrassed to tell people I was a single mother. I hoped and prayed I’d get married soon so I wouldn’t have to do everything alone.
But as the years went on, I began to see the benefits of being single. I can concentrate on my work and children instead of worrying about keeping someone else happy or instead of obsessing over a dating app profile.
I have the freedom to discipline my kids without someone else questioning me or trying to live with someone who is more punitive in the discipline.
I have time to myself when the kids are at their dad’s. I don’t consider it a lonely time but a time to do what I want. I have time for friends, hobbies, and extended time for God.
In some ways, knowing all the house responsibilities lie with me is freeing. I can decide when and what to get done, and I’m not building up resentment towards someone else who isn’t moving on my timetable.
And, of course, I have the bed to myself.
4. It is worth it to get along with your ex for the kids
It is challenging when you have disagreements with your ex. However, I have learned that trying to get along for the sake of your kids is always worth it. Children are perceptive and can sense the tension between their parents even when they don’t understand what’s happening.
If you can find a way to resolve your differences and present a united front, it will make a massive difference for your children. Giving more than you’re getting is a great way to start. Ask God what he requires of you before responding.
Getting along with your ex isn’t possible for every circumstance, but if possible, it will make sharing custody and co-parenting much easier.
5. I have to constantly work on myself
I’ve learned as a single mom for over ten years that I have to work on myself constantly. This is especially difficult because there’s not another adult in the house to point out to me when I’m being unreasonable, too strict, or even too passive in my parenting.
As a result, I must constantly work on self-awareness to be the best mom possible for my kids. Knowing my faults and weaknesses, I can be more patient and understanding with my children when they make mistakes.
The best way I’ve found to be vigilant about ensuring that I’m providing my children with the best possible upbringing is through therapy. We all have baggage and trauma that, if not worked through, will work its way out of us and unto our children.
Working on yourself and confronting your reactions and feelings is rarely enjoyable, but it’s worth it. Not only will your parenting improve, but all your other relationships will also.
6. I can’t do it all by myself. God is my constant companion, and he puts people in my life to help us through it.
The biggest lesson over the past decade has been that God is near.
God is my constant companion, and he puts people in my life to help us through it. I am grateful for the neighbors, family, friends, and even strangers who have shown up for us during the tough times.
We often get in our way and don’t accept help when offered. And almost all of us fail to ask for help. We don’t allow others to help us. Embrace them with open arms and allow them to help you as much as possible. It will make this whole experience a lot easier and a lot more bearable.
7. I’ve had to depend on God more while a single parent than any other time in my life
We don’t truly know God until we know complete dependence on Him. Over the last decade, I’ve leaned on God for unknown finances, learning new skills as a single parent, helping me through the long nights, and comfort when there’s no one to hold me.
He is my strength when I am weak, my comfort when I am sad, and my hope when I feel lost.
You can turn to God as your friend – vent to Him when frustrated. Turn to Him as your husband – He will provide financially, listen without judgment, celebrate with you over your child’s achievements, and comfort you over your child’s disappointments.
Without God, I don’t know how I would make it through each day. I am so grateful for His love and grace that He shows me every day.
8. Your kids see when you’re trying.
Your kids can see that you’re trying. No matter how exhausted or stressed out you may be, putting in the extra effort to make things work will show in your child’s life when they’re older.
It may not seem like your kids can see (or care…teenagers) how hard you’re trying, but you’ll see that they do through their interactions with others and their love for you. Or when your child tries to take care of you when you’re sick or attempts to make you breakfast.
So, even when everything is falling apart, remember that your kids are watching and that your hard work is not going unnoticed.
9. It’s never going to be perfect.
There will always be chaos in the kitchen, laundry to wash, and toys to pick up. We get stuck in our heads and think our messy and imperfect life is less than the happy, perfect stay-at-home mom next door.
But the truth is, even if you were married with two loving parents for your child, the house would still be a mess. There would be disagreements, uncertainty, and plenty of bills to pay.
But amid the chaos, there are also moments of happiness and love. These are the moments that make it all worth it.
10. My family is not a broken family.
When I first became a single mom, I was ashamed and felt like I had failed my kids somehow. I was worried they would grow up feeling like they came from a broken home. Christian media and society do a great job of reinforcing the thought that we are a broken family.
But over the years, I have realized that my family is not broken. Sure, we don’t have the same traditional structure as some other families, but that doesn’t mean we are any less whole.
My kids are my everything, and I’m grateful that they’ve helped me see that societal norms don’t define our family. We may not be traditional, but we’re definitely a family.
Being a single mom for over ten years has taught me many valuable lessons. I’ve learned that I can depend on God more than ever, that my kids see when I’m trying, and that it will never be perfect. But, most importantly, I’ve learned that my family is not broken just because we don’t have the same traditional structure as some other families.
It is close to my heart to encourage and empower other moms to care for themselves and their families. I know it can be difficult as a single parent, but it is essential to remember that you are not alone. Not only is God near, but some people want to help you. Embrace them with open arms and allow them to help you as much as possible. It will make this whole experience a lot easier and a lot more bearable.