Single Mommy!

Updated on February 06, 2008
B.E. asks from Philadelphia, PA
17 answers

Hi,
Thanks for inviting me to the group. I'm a new mom and I am loving every bit of it but I do have one problem. During my pregnancy, my fiance and I split (it's his daughter). I am having a really hard time coping with it. I'm lonely, and juggling sooooo many things at once (im in grad school full time, I work, and I of course have my little munchkin!) I really miss him and I hate the fact that my daughter doesn't have her mommy and daddy together at the same time, I was raised with both of my parents and my baby deserves the same. Any advice? Thanks...

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So What Happened?

I've realized that a lot of people have asked me what the turnout has been on this particular sticky situation. Its been a while since I was on here last. The three of us have a wonderful, healthy, and loving relationship. Her father and I did not get back together, and thank god! We are great friends now, which is something we were never able to do in our intimate relationship. My daughter is very loved, very happy, and she gets the best of both worlds! We actually live pretty close to each other so she sees both of us daily, however we do alternate weeks, one week she with mommy and the next she's with daddy. I am in a great relationship now with a wonderful man. Thank you all for all your support. I finish school next year. I am so much stronger and happier now that I know what I am able to do on my own. Again, thanks to all you guys for all your help!

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A.P.

answers from Philadelphia on

hi i am also a recently singled mother i have 2 children 3 year old son and 1 year old daughter. im 22 and my ex is 37 but he would rather live the life of someone my age. i wasnt working when i was with him but now i have to start doing all that stuff again it is really hard but i always keep in mind whats best for them and sometimes its not best for the "father" to be in their life especially if they dont want to be. Us woman are strong. personally i would love for us to be a big happy family but my babies are happy and thats all that matters to me.

Angie

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B.L.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi there. I just want to say that even though what you're doing is very difficult, it is also amazing at the same time. I too, am a single mom (I have a 6-year old little boy). I am also in school full-time and work full-time as well. His father and I had been engaged and when I found out I was pregnant things started to go downhill. He actually lives in a different state and I raise my son now full-time with pretty much no help from him or anyone else (my son and I live here in PA by ourselves...no family or anything either). I too was raised with both parents most of my life, so the thought of raising him on my own was very daunting and very scary. It has been a little over 5 years now since I moved here and everyday I thank god for my little boy, he is the reason I continue to pursue my goals and my dreams. He is also very appreciative of the things that I am able to provide for him.

Even though things seem very difficult to you now, you also can't make someone stay with you just because of a child...and as hard as that is...it's even harder on the child because they can honestly feel the tenseness (no matter how young they are). I know that even though things seem crazy and unmanageable right now, that they will get better. I also know that there are wonderful men out there that really do accept single moms and some that actually treat the child better than the real father...even though so many people don't believe that.

My one word of advice is this: try to keep a semi-decent relationship with the father if they want to be a part of your child's life even though you guys aren't together anymore. Even though someone else may come into your life that other person will always be dad (IF they choose to be) and your daughter may learn to regret you if you are negative in any way around her when it comes to her father. Good luck...and if you need any advice I would be more than happy to try and help you.

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A.B.

answers from Providence on

hi! i'm so glad i read this, because i felt like i was the only mom that was alone and trying to manage! my baby isn't here yet and i'm kinda stressing out about so many things, and while i can't say i'm happy you're in this situation, i'm glad that i'm not alone!
well, as a child of a single parent and single mother, i think your little girl will be proud of you, and even though she doesn't have a dad, she will one day understand all of this and have great respect for your hard work! i saw my mom struggle for years, and i love her more for what she did for us everyday. it's hard being alone, both as a mom and a woman, but i really feel that you and your daughter will be great!
i wish i had advice, but i'm better at support! so if you ever need to chat, i'll be available! take care, good luck and it will be ok!! A.!

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M.A.

answers from Boston on

6 Strategies for Single Mom Success: How to set goals, say goodbye to guilt, and look on the bright side.
By Laura Broadwell

Pages in this Story:

• #1 Assemble a Support Team • #4 Say Goodbye to Guilt
• #2 Ask for Help • #5 Nurture and Set Goals for Yourself
• #3 Readjust Your Priorities • #6 Make Peace with the Past

#1 Assemble a Support Team
A few weeks after I adopted my 8-1/2-month-old daughter, Eleni, I was about to take her to the park when I suddenly burst into tears. As I glanced down at my little baby, my backpack overflowing with diapers, bills, bottles, and toys and a big bag of trash that desperately needed to be tossed -- I thought to myself: How can I possibly carry all this stuff? And who's here to help me?

Looking back now, I realize that as a first-time single mom with a new baby on board, I was clearly emotional, exhausted, and stressed. But in that moment, I was also struck with the reality of being on my own with a child to raise, bills to pay, a household to run, and only 24 hours in the day. No wonder I felt frazzled!

More than four years later, I can safely say that being a single mother has at times been difficult and demanding, but it's also had great rewards. If you're a single parent -- by circumstance or by choice -- you'll no doubt hit some bumps and turns along the way. Here are six strategies that can help you weather the rough times and enhance the joy of parenting.

#1 Assemble a Support Team
"Single mothers can often feel isolated and overwhelmed, so it's important to feel that you have some sort of community behind you," says Sheila Ellison, author of The Courage to Be a Single Mother (HarperSanFrancisco, 2000) and founder of SingleMomsConnect.org, a nonprofit organization that matches single mothers as support partners.

Carlena Seep-Gaither, a central Minnesota single mother of two, has long relied on a solid network that includes her best friend, her parents, and other parents in her community. "I realized early on that no matter how strong I felt, I couldn't do this alone," she says.

Even now that her kids are 6 and 4, Seep-Gaither still receives an emotional (and hands-on) booster from her team when the going gets tough. "There are days when it's hard to feel as if I'm being the best mother," she admits. "But then my best friend or another parent will remind me to hang in there or tell me she's proud of all I've done for my kids, and the morale boost helps to keep me going."

For Tracy Shaw of Southbury, Connecticut, life wouldn't be the same without her Wednesday night supper club (she and three other families from her daughter's daycare center take turns cooking meals), a reasonably priced handyman, a support group called Parents Without Partners, a circle of friends, and reliable babysitters. "Even though my ex-husband lives nearby and spends two evenings a week with our daughter, I'm still her primary caregiver, activities coordinator, and chauffeur," Shaw says. "Without some help, I would have a tough time maintaining a balanced life."

#2 Ask for Help
It's sometimes hard for single moms to ask for help -- or even admit they need it. (As single mom Leane Vinogradov, of Calgary, Alberta, aptly puts it: "I've often been to the point of tears and filled with guilt before I could pick up the phone.") But if you crave an hour or two alone so you can nap or take a break from the kids, need help around the house, or are coping with a family problem, don't be afraid to ask for help -- and be specific about what you need, says Jane Mattes, a New York City psychotherapist and founder of Single Mothers by Choice. "There may be people in your life who want to help you but are not sure what to do."

If -- like many single moms -- you feel uncomfortable asking for help, or worry that you're being a burden to busy family and friends, try to trade services with other parents. Karen George of Mays Landing, New Jersey, often swaps babysitting duties with a neighbor. "When my husband and I first separated, my son was 15 months old, and there were times when I just needed to get out of the house for an hour," she recalls. Knowing that she had a babysitting partner nearby "saved me money -- and my sanity," she says.

#3 Readjust Your Priorities
"Many single moms fall into the superwoman trap, feeling that in addition to working all day, they must also keep a clean house, serve home-cooked meals, and tend to their children's needs," Mattes says. But single mothers need to be realistic about what they can -- and can't -- accomplish in a day, she adds. What's more, they shouldn't feel as though they have to overcompensate just because they're parenting on their own or going through a separation or divorce.

"My best advice to single moms is to lower your expectations and give yourself a break," says Ellison. For instance, it's okay to serve cereal or a fast-food meal for dinner every now and then, as long as your child's overall diet is healthy. And it's fine to have a less-than-spotless house if it gives you more time with your kids. "Before my son was born, I was a total neat freak," recalls Christina McCarthy of Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

"But after the baby arrived, I realized I was driving myself crazy trying to be a mom, work full-time, and keep everything perfect at home." These days, McCarthy has freed up some personal time by hiring cleaning help, but mostly she's learning to let things slide. "I realized that if I wanted to spend time with my son -- and get any sleep -- I had to rethink my priorities," she says.

#4 Say Goodbye to Guilt
No matter what your reason for being a single mother, you're probably well acquainted with a nagging sense of guilt -- about working too much (or too little), not having enough time or money, being embattled with your ex, wanting to provide a sibling for your child, feeling that your family is "fractured" or less than ideal -- you name it!

But while it's always easy to find something to feel guilty about, "it helps to focus on what's good and right about your family rather than on what's wrong or lacking," Mattes says. Ask yourself, for instance, whether your children are loved and well cared for; whether their basic needs are being met in a consistent, dependable way; and whether your home is a warm and happy place to be. "These nonmaterial things are ultimately more important than a closetful of videos and the latest toys," Ellison adds.

Elisabeth Scalchunes of Roslyn Heights, New York, agrees. "I often feel guilty about a lot of things -- that my daughter's father isn't involved in her life, that I don't have the option to work at home, and that I don't always have the money or time to take her to Mommy and Me classes," she says. "But I do take comfort in knowing that my 2-year-old daughter is happy and secure and loved by many people. And this helps me put my guilt away in the proverbial drawer."

#5 Nurture and Set Goals for Yourself
Even if you share custody with an ex-husband or partner, you probably find it hard to get through all the things on your must-do list each day. "Still, it's important to set goals for yourself -- for the day, week, month, or year -- so that you have something to look forward to," says Patrice Karst, author of The Single Mother's Survival Guide (Crossing Press, 2000). "Having goals, no matter how modest, can keep your spirits up and keep you moving forward," she adds.

Some single moms have long-term ambitions, like going back to school, losing weight, starting a new relationship, or moving to a better neighborhood. But for many moms, the most immediate, sanity-saving goals involve finding some much-needed personal time -- whether it's going out one night a week (or month), listening to music, writing in a journal, getting fresh air and exercise, or spending a few minutes a day in quiet reflection.

"One of my goals is to read a bit before going to bed each night," says Mary Royse, a single mother who lives with her 2-year-old son in Cincinnati. "Some nights, I may only get through one or two pages before falling asleep. But at least I get to live in a fictional world for a few minutes every day," she says.

Aside from setting goals, single mothers need to take care of themselves. Whether it's making sure you eat well, taking time to exercise, keeping in touch with friends, getting enough rest, or even seeking professional counseling if you need it -- you'll be a better mom if you make yourself a priority.

#6 Make Peace with the Past
Finally, it's important for all single women to try to create a peaceful and harmonious home life. For some mothers, this means putting aside bitter feelings toward their ex or finding ways to minimize past -- and present -- resentments. Karen George, for instance, still struggles to forgive her ex-husband for the demise of their eight-year marriage and family life. "But I realize that I'm basically raising my son on my own, and my actions have a big impact on his well-being," she says. "So I try to stay positive, even when negative thoughts creep in."

Adds Tracy Shaw: "Over the past few years, I've worked hard, read books, subscribed to Web sites, attended counseling, prayed -- all in a commitment to making my divorce a transition, rather than a devastatingly bitter legacy, for my daughter." And while Shaw admits to some lingering anger, her life today is largely peaceful and happy. "My 4-year-old continues to be a tremendous inspiration," she says, "and not a day goes by when I don't feel blessed to have been given the gift of motherhood."

Laura Broadwell is a writer in Brooklyn, New York, and the single mother of a 5-year-old daughter.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, July 2004.

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R.W.

answers from New York on

Well, i know it is hard cause i am a single mom of 4. Always remember that we are both mom and dad, we have a saying moms surity and daddy maybe. Be strong and keep in good health to take care of her, but do not ever utter a bad word to her about her father.

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A.W.

answers from Philadelphia on

I was 21 years old, with 3 children under the age of 3 when their father went home to his mommy and has rarely visited or written his kids in the past 18 years. My children were 10, 11 and 12 when I married my current husband after less than 3 months of dating. During those almost ten years I worked, went to college and struggled through every day, not alone, with my children.

You will miss him for a while, but eventually you'll find a new perspective. The mommy daddy thing is overrated. Your child needs love, understanding and patience consistently and you alone can provide it. If he chooses to be involved with his child, that is his choice. You need to do what is best for your child and yourself and let him do what he's going to do without judgement.

Good Luck, A.

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J.D.

answers from New York on

I am a single mommy too of a preteen and terrible twoster. I just got divorced to the man I loved for 13 years of my life. My older daughter was raised by me alone until she was 3 (its true men don't mature like women do). It was hard - lots of tears and feeling like it could never get better.

The first year of a child's life is the most precious - unless he is abusive, don't separate her from him.

My x husband and I got back together when she was 3 and after our second child was born, I woke up and realized, life is too short to be miserable, so I left. My little one was only 15 months.

We make a point to do a 'family' day every 2 months. I plan it so its on my terms and we do not split the children for Christmas. We suck it up and play nice for the whole time. I attend his family events and he attends mine for those 3 days of no school no work. Don't get me wrong, it took a really long time to get to this but it lets my little one see that we aren't strangers. We have an agreement that we don't speak to each other though - and it works. We converse only for small things like - make a left at the light, etc. You would be surprised how much it isn't required to speak when you are enjoying the children. That way there is no 'zinging' or arguments to be had.

And good for you on the grad school, job and parenting! You are doing it! I had my daughter at 18, and just finished my bachelors last year and worked the whole time while going to school and believe me, its tough! I dedicated fall semesters to my daughter and spring went full time while working full time with overtime. Many nights crying but my daughter knows how valuable education really is.

Good luck.

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C.L.

answers from Washington DC on

Hey B.!

I just want to first say that you are amazing! Being a mom is difficult as it is but to be in grad school at the same
time is awesome!

Secondly, remember this...your baby's happiness should come first. Regardless if your ex is there or not. If he doesn't want to be there, that's his loss. He's missing out on a wonderful woman in you and seeing your daughter grow into an amazing person.

Even though most of us don't have babies with the intentions of being single moms, unfotunately it happens. My grandparents stayed in an unhappy marriage for over 40 years . They stayed together for the sake of having both parents in the house for the kids. As a result, out of their 4 kids my mom was the only one to get married and have kids, and even her marriage(to my dad) didn't work out. I'm saying this to say their kids saw their unhappiness and as a result was not able to trust love. Do what is best for your daughter.

I think its better to not have him there and your daughter see you happy in your home and him happy in his home than for her to see you both unhappy together.

I know its lonely and heart breaking to have things happen the way that it did with you and your ex, but try to focus that energy on your daughter's happiness and in mending your heart, because like I said in the end it his loss.

Good Luck!

C.

P.S
I love being a mom as well!

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S.S.

answers from New York on

Hi, I am so sorry to hear that. I know exactly what you are going through. It probably feels like the world is falling down on your head. Right now, there's probably not much you can do to change your daughters father, but for you, the best thing you could do is talk about it to a friend you trust or to others on mamasource. Believe it or not its your therapy. Day by day you will began to feel better. Remember that its really nice to have both parents in the houshold, but its also harmful when things are not right. Children can sense when there is a problem. If you guys can't make up, you may have to keep on moving and be the strong woman that you are.

Keep your head up!

Rashele

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S.J.

answers from Philadelphia on

I went through the exact same thing. My ex and I were together for 8 years, had one child who's now 4 1/2 and then we had another last year, when I was 7 months pregnant he left. It's taken a long time to get over it and adjusted, but now I've realized it's for the better. Hopefully soon you will see the same. Each day will get better. Is your ex in your daughter's life? My ex and I have a really good friendship now and we realize that it won't work between us, but we're still in it together raising our children, and they know that also. I hope that you and your ex can come to some agreement and communicate. The hardest thing I think for your child will be if she sees you not get along, sees you fighting, etc. How long has it been since you guys split up?

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S.F.

answers from Rochester on

B., I can understand what you are going through my fiance and i broke up before my son was one.It has been over a year and it was very hard when it first happened,but it does get easier. I think we all have this picture perfect life of what we want mom,dad and baby together but its ok to change that picture of what we thought was perfect to what really is perfect,and that is loving your child no matter what with or without dad in the house and living with what is and not what we thought it should be. The world keeps going with or without us and we have to make the best of every day or we get all tied up stressing over our chidren not having there father in the same house. Truth is our kids will grow up to be great people as long as love is first not if mom and dad are together. I hope everything goes well for you and your daughter and good luck with grad school.

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E.G.

answers from Burlington on

Hi, I'm a single mom too. Similar to your situation I was seperated six weeks before our fourth and youngest son was born. That was five years ago...

I'm not sure how you (the parents) have been handling the break-up. Is it civil?

Sometimes you can't get people to accept their parenting responsibility. You may have come from a two parent home but maybe he didn't. Maybe you both did but there was dysfunction. Alcoholism in my exhusbands two parent family played a BIG part in our divorce. My ex just didn't know what being a GROWN-UP meant.

As hard as it is... try and keep the door open for a relationship to develope between the Dad and his child. Do everything you can to keep him involved. This doesn't mean camp on his doorstep. It may mean something simple like mailing doctors visit results to him. Try for visitation. That's a hard one. Sometimes pregnancy is an extremely emotional time. Maybe you've mellowed now that your hormones aren't raging. These really aren't simple things to do... I know, my exhusband lives 3000 miles away.

E.

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A.

answers from Philadelphia on

I am also a single Mommy. I work full time and have a 3 and 4yr old year who are extremely active. It is hard when you are dealing with your own issues as well. I lost my husband last year so I can relate to those feelings of lonliness and loss. i worry about my kids not having that "male " influence around, but that is why we have friends and family to help.
Don't get overwhelmed by all the emotion, things will work out. It's true when they say just take it one step at a time, everything will fall into place. Don't think you can do it all, take time for yourself and let people help you!
Good luck!

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M.D.

answers from Burlington on

Mentally focus your energy on your well being and your little girl. Sometimes putting her first will divert your attention on your current loneliness.

Your baby will be the unconditional love in your life. Make her your purpose for being until your pain lessens.

We should have a plattsburgh play group!

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J.

answers from Pittsburgh on

don't give up or give in to anything but the best for you and your baby! Good boundaries and high standards will be your saving grace - oh and a long vacation, more hours in the day, an extra day a week to just catch up on sleep- yes, I'm a single mom twice - 1 each son ... it gets better, after school your life will calm down with work. Find some good friends and some good babysitters - maybe some moms to trade babysitting with so you can get your work done and breath - always remember to breathe!

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A.J.

answers from New York on

Welcome to the club! I know it seems lonely, it's really hard to find other people out there just like you sometimes but I promise you, we're here! I got engaged when I was in college and I became pregnant. We broke up before she was born and he has never seen her. It had been hard these five years, the financial part is the worst, but my daughter makes every day worth it. Treasure it, it goes by fast!
~A.

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K.O.

answers from Buffalo on

We have alot in common!! I'm not a single mother, but I grew up with my parents seperated. I am a mommy going to grad school and working full time as well. I know it was hard for my mommy, she actually just started dating again because it was too complicated to raise me and date other people. My father still was there for me and I seen him often, but I still had the best of both worlds!! Focus on your dreams too, and your daughter.. the rest will fall in place. And don't forget to take time to yourself. Us busy mom's have to stick together whether we have our significant others or not. It's tough balancing all of these hats!

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