Becoming a single mom is a whirlwind of emotions and unforeseen challenges, a path I wish I had ventured into with a better understanding. As I embarked on this journey, my expectations were colored with a touch of naivety. I knew it wouldn’t be all sunshine and rainbows, but the reality surpassed my unpreparedness.
The notion of co-parenting loomed before me, an enigma waiting to be unraveled. I had heard the term, but its depths and intricacies remained elusive. The magnitude of change awaiting me was intangible, a force I struggled to grasp. Little did I know, the essence of my existence would transform in profound ways.
Allow me to emphasize that each experience is unique, mine being a tale of friendship turned sour. Co-parenting dynamics can be harmonious, where parents synergize effortlessly, prioritizing their children’s well-being above all else. However, in my circumstance, toxicity tainted the equation, leaving my counterpart unwilling to rise above negative emotions and place the children’s needs before his own.
The weight of these emotions and the challenging situations I face as a single mom are difficult to articulate, for they encompass a realm beyond words. From the whirlwind of uncertainty to the depths of frustration, my journey is marked by a myriad of sensations. The constant juggling act between parental duties, the bittersweet moments of triumph and sacrifice, and the relentless battles fought to shield my children from the repercussions of a broken relationship—these experiences shape the mosaic of my single motherhood.
These are the things I wish someone would have told me that would have better prepared me for this role as a single mother to twins.
Having to share your child with someone else, especially someone who you don’t get along with, is HARD. You don’t have any control over your children when they’re with the other parent, worse, you get cut off from them because the other party doesn’t like you and tries to punish you by alienating you from your kids.
It’s hard not knowing if your children are properly taken care of or if they have all they need when they can’t communicate and the other party doesn’t offer any information. I have learned to pray and let go because I can’t see all that happens, but I know God does and there is no point in me worrying about things when He’s in control.
I didn’t expect that I would spend much of my time filling motions with the court, trying to go to the court for a hearing. However, when you are co-parenting with a narcissist or an ex who wants to make things difficult, you may find that you have to go to court a lot.
So far we’ve gone to mediation twice and I’m in the process of filing to go to court again because of constant parenting plan violations by the other party and we’ve only been doing this for less than 3 years.
This is one of the mistakes I made as a single mom co-parenting with a difficult ex. I thought that we could work together but it hasn’t been the case and that resulted in me having to spend time trying to get the best outcome for our kids.
I didn’t prepare for the emotional side of single motherhood. Yes, I knew that I may get lonely or that raising twins by myself would be hard with little help from the other party, but I wasn’t ready for the other emotions.
I have struggled so much with depression, worry, fear, and anxiety on a level I never experienced before. Most of these emotions came about as a result of co-parenting with a toxic ex because of the gaslighting and other tactics I wasn’t aware of before.
Some of the hardest moments during this journey were when I had to separate from my kids with no contact, especially since they are so little. It was incredibly hard to get anything done around the house because I couldn’t stop crying and thinking about them. These emotions get easier to handle as time progresses but if you’re not prepared for them, they can be devastating.
Even if the other parent chooses to be there, you may find that you are doing most of the work on your own. It may be that they refuse to support you in providing for the children or they may be an on/off parent who chooses when to be there, so don’t rely on the other party as much.
I found that in the beginning, my ex would disappear for months and then show up trying to be a parent and that was hard because I had to figure out my work situation and know that I couldn’t rely on him to be there. Once I placed him on child support, he was more consistent (mostly because he wanted to reduce the amount he had to pay) but oh well.
Taking care of newborn twins while recovering from a c-section, dealing with an absent parent, and navigating the first year of motherhood were tough! I couldn’t have made it without my family. My mom took the whole month of March off from work so she could help me and I can’t thank her enough for all the ways she’s been there for me and my kids.
Throughout my single motherhood journey, I have had to rely on others to make it. The funny thing about this is that when I found out I was pregnant, I wanted to run away after my ex told me I should have an abortion. I felt alone and lost and I didn’t think my parents would accept me. I trusted that man more than I did my family and that was a mistake.
More times than not, you’ll be surprised by who supports you.
I used to think that taking time to care for myself was selfish and a no-no as a single mom. However, I am learning the hard way that it’s important to ensure that your health and fitness are on point. I don’t mean self-absorption to the point where you’re neglecting your children, but making sure that you are eating the right foods, exercising, and getting enough rest are integral to being the best mom to your kids.
Also, learn to manage your stress and get into a sleeping routine that allows you to get 8 hours of sleep. I have had times when I overworked myself so much that I didn’t have enough energy for my children. Or I didn’t get enough sleep because I was stressed or worried about something and in turn, I became this angry mom who was always upset at her kids for no reason.
None of these things are good. So make sure you allow God to fill your cup, get enough rest, get your nails done, buy clothes for yourself too as you shop for your kids, eat the veggies, and make time to exercise so you can be happy and present and able to take care of your kids.
As a single mom relying on one income, the last thing you want is to be laid up in bed or at the hospital because you neglected your health. Now there’s no one to care for your kids and the bills are piling up. Take. Care. Of. You. Mama!
I didn’t know how hard it would be to manage my kids, be there for them while taking care of the house, and make sure all the bills are paid. I realized from the beginning that I couldn’t work outside the home. I couldn’t rely on my ex to keep his part of the parenting schedule because he would always change things last minute and my family was busy with their lives and couldn’t stay home and watch my kids. Also, I couldn’t afford daycare. So I decided to stay at home and find ways to make money from home.
Now staying home doesn’t make it easy to make money and take care of the house. Being a stay-at-home single mom is difficult and I have had to learn how to manage my time so I get work done, take care of the kids, and make sure the house isn’t falling apart. It’s not easy and there have been many times when everything has fallen apart but God is faithful and I am learning to trust Him to guide me through this.
This goes hand in hand with learning how to manage your household as a single mom. Finances can be really stressful if you aren’t prepared or organized. You have to understand that you are a one-income household so everything falls on you. You have to find ways to make sure all the bills are paid each month and that there’s food in the pantry.
Unless you have family support, no one is going to help you when you fall behind and you may find yourself in difficult situations. I thank God for my family because they have been there through the hard times and have financially helped me when I couldn’t make ends meet. Your ex, if he is hostile towards you, won’t care if his child support check bounces. He won’t call to make sure you and the kids are alright so be sure you are financially ready for single motherhood.
I did not give myself permission to enjoy my pregnancy because I felt ashamed that I had become pregnant out of wedlock. For quite some time, I hid my pregnancy from my family and friends and so it was hard to enjoy the journey.
Now, I look back and I wish I had taken more photos; I wish I had given myself the freedom to be happy that I was carrying twins.
Before becoming a mom, it was easy to get up and go whenever you wanted. Need to run to the store? No problem, just grab the keys and go. However, now that you’re a single mom, it’s not as easy. You have to coordinate your errands around the best times for your kids and it takes way longer to get out of the door. Unless you have child care, you can’t go to the gym, movies, or pretty much anywhere else.
Single motherhood has made me much stronger and more confident than I was before. When you bring kids into this world and have to find ways to provide for them, care for them, and protect them from the person you once trusted, it does build some resilience in you.
I have learned to be vocal about my boundaries when co-parenting because I have seen how much it has negatively affected me when I wasn’t vocal and allowed him to walk all over me. I have gained the strength to carry two crying babies to the house after a long day because they didn’t want to walk. I have found ways to provide for my kids I never knew were possible because I realized that they depend on me and I can’t let them down.
More importantly, I have learned to find my strength in God. He has been my provider, my healer, my solace, my refuge., I wouldn’t be here without Him and His guidance. This journey has been hard and unexpected but I know that as long as I trust the One who sees all and knows all, it is going to be okay.
Apr 8, 2022
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