Friday, January 31, 2014

Single Mother Part 4: A Letter to Mothers Everywhere

I ran into a friend who has a newborn last night and she honestly said "this is hard!" I couldn't help but laugh at her honesty and the very mirror of my own daily feelings. Luckily, I was laughing with her. I started thinking about all my amazing mother friends who make one, two, or more look so easy and juggle it with a bunch of things I can't even imagine. I wonder, do they all struggle at one time or another? Judging by the number of popular mommy blogs I have read, I am willing to bet my friend and I are not the only two. But here's the thing, her simple statement made me feel like a weight had lifted off my shoulders. Because it was okay for someone I admire and respect and believe could run the free world if asked to say this is hard. So this is for all those women out there who have struggled at one point in their lives (whether by themselves or with a supportive partner) with that all important "mommy" role.

I love you because I know whether you tried for years to conceive, planned and executed conception on a schedule, had a surprise pregnancy, there was a point in your pregnancy (maybe when you were throwing up for the umpteenth time, suffering from unstoppable heartburn, or in the midst of labor) you wanted control of your body back to yourself. And it didn't mean you loved that baby any less.

I love you because whether you gave birth to or adopted your child, that first time you held them in your arms you fell in love whether you believed in love at first sight or not.

I love you because you will read all the books/blogs/advice channels about whatever challenge you had with your little one and at some point figured out that there is not one "solution" for any parent/child combination. And while it is lovely for people to try to help with good advice and we are so thankful for so much information accessible at our fingertips, there is a time where you have to close the books, turn off the computer, and look into those trusting eyes and make a pact. We are in this together. We will try our hardest. We'll try new things and some will work and some won't. And then you will know it is okay to trust your instincts because you are an amazing, caring parent and you can do this.

I love you because that first time you leave your house without the little one will be hard. Whether it is in the first week, month, year, or decade. There is a time when you will trust your child with someone else. It is okay to be deathly terrified and feel like you just snuck out after curfew at the same time. It is okay to say no to someone who fits all the "requirements" but gives you a feeling that you aren't quite sure. It does and doesn't get easier with time, in different ways. And that is okay, too.

I love you because you feel just a moment of humor when a significant other or close family member struggles taking care of a little one. Because just like you, they have now learned that what worked yesterday (or three minutes ago for that matter) is not working now. And that is how your entire life is and maybe now they understand and appreciate you just a little more.

I love you because you will be amazed with every stage your child reaches. And sometimes you will think back to those times vomiting/with heartburn/in labor/filling out form after form for adoption agencies and think why did I even care, it was all worth it.

I love you because you will struggle and struggle to teach your child to talk and then someday secretly (or verbally) wish they would just be quiet for five minutes. And then you will feel guilty about it. But that is okay, too because we have all been there.

I love you because you are going to deal with more human excrement, in ways you could not imagine, than you ever thought possible. And you will start to analyze it. And you are going to talk to other people about it (significant others, health care professionals, and child care workers at the very minimum). And you are going to wish they were already potty trained and then feel guilty for wishing their lives away. So then you will wish for just one day that doesn't involve dealing with human excrement. And then you will wish for just five minutes. And then you will laugh at yourself and get through this stage. Probably by telling your friends about it.

I love you because someday you will be next to your child's bed, at the doctor's office, in an emergency room, or in a hospital room wishing you could switch places with your bundle of joy. You may start negotiating with your Got and confessing all your sins for just a sign that everything will be okay.

I love you because you will start to function with less sleep than any sleep study in existence says is necessary. You will recognize that your child needs to learn to self-soothe (and they will learn) and by the time they go back to sleep you will be wide awake. And sometimes you might let them sleep with you just so you can get a good night's sleep.

I love you because you will make your child cry. Probably in public. Probably in front of a bunch of people who will silently (if you are lucky) judge you and your parenting skills. Not because you are a horrible person but because you are an amazing parent who knows that setting boundaries is a critical part of raising a healthy child and sometimes (always) that is more important than what other people think of you.

I love you because someday you will be so proud and think you have it all together and your child will throw up on you while you are walking out the door.

I love you because when your child is learning something new like talking, putting together a puzzle, or reading, others will jump in to "help" them find the right word or piece. But you will hold back and count to 10, 20, 100, whatever it takes so that they not only learn the task at hand but they learn persistence, resilience, and that they have a patient environment to try new things. Even if you are the least patient person in the world. You can do it. I know you can.

I love you because at some point when you are being used as a pony or a jungle gym, you will want to never be touched by anyone ever again. And sometime later when you are snuggling a sleeping child, you will feel guilty. And at some point you will stop blaming yourself and find ways to distract your child with another toy when you need a few minutes so you can truly savor their love when they give it to you.

I love you because at some point before your child is potty trained, you will realize that baby wipes (whether you buy them or make your own) are pretty much the greatest cleaning supply and wonder how you lived without them.

I love you because you will think every other mother you meet has it easier or harder than you for one reason or another but inside you know that it is a challenge for us all.

I love you because you will remember "when you had a life" or "when you could just walk out the door" fondly. Sometimes wish for a moment or two of that freedom. And know that you wouldn't trade your current situation for any of it.

I love you because no matter how great your support network is inside and outside of your home you will feel alone in the process sometimes. You will need someone to tell you that you are doing a good job and not be able to ask for it. And someone will tell you. And you will cry. And you will not be able to explain to that person how much you truly needed to hear that. And that will be okay.

I love you because you know a million other moments I don't know about or haven't reached yet. And you will be there to laugh with me or cry with me and share the moment with me either virtually or in person.

Want to read more of the single mom posts?   

*~*~* Single Moms - Part 1 - You Will Never Be As Hard on a Single Mother as She is On Herself
*~*~* Single Moms - Part 2 - Toddler Gone Wild
*~*~* Single Moms - Part 3 - The Light at the End of the Tunnel