How Hard Is It To Be A Single Mom?
People ask me how hard is it to be a single Mom very often. If you say that it is hard, it will be. I prefer to embrace it and make the very best of all that I have available to me to be the best single Mom that I can be.
Years ago, I was a Senior Executive in one of the world’s largest global companies, responsible for the Caribbean and Central America’s Human Resources. Mentorship was a key aspect of life within the organisation and my Mentor was the Head of our region’s financial portfolio.
During our years together, I was transitioning into my role as a single Mom for the first time.
It was because of her support and mentoring that I was able to learn how to perform so well in the role. These are some of my most important lessons in response to the 7 questions I am asked frequently.
1. What Is It Like Being A Single Mother?
Being a single Mom was never in my plans. I had everything laid out perfectly.
As a successful career Executive, I delayed having a child thinking it would have been too much to manage climbing the corporate ladder and to be a good parent.
They are both very demanding on your time and other personal resources.
When I got married at age 44, there was also the thought that “it was too late” for me. However, there was joy all around when I discovered I was pregnant.
Again, I thought my marriage would last the test of time but after a year and a half, I found myself having to manage alone.
In the beginning, it was very (dis) stressful but I soon realised that my priorities had to shift and be balanced.
As my Mentor said: “You just have to be the best working, single Mom that you can be,”
2. How Do You Balance Being A Single Mother With Everything Else?
I do consider myself fortunate to have the support of my family and the ability to outsource some activities to lighten the load.
Honestly, I do not know how Moms who have neither of these are able to cope, especially if they have more than 1 child.
My housekeeper is a gem! I have always done my own laundry and cooked for us. Everything else my blessing of a housekeeper takes care of. We have been together for almost 10 years and she is an important member of our family.
Sometimes, in the past, my career took me on the road with lots of travel. When it was possible, my Mom would fly in from Florida and accompany us to whatever country I was working in.
My daughter has been travelling since she was 6 months old.
You would think that with all the support I have life would be easy. Well, it is easier for me than it is for many others. But, I am a hands-on Mom.
There are things that I do not delegate such as taking my daughter to school and events, homework and family events. This is where it becomes a balancing act.
3. How Difficult Is It Being A Single Parent?
For me, the difficulty came with managing a demanding career to ensure that I was able to retain my income and continue to give my daughter the lifestyle that she was accustomed to.
Our home back then was a large, 4-bedroom house on a 1/4 acre of land in a rural part of the country. The traffic was horrendous. I would wake at 5 AM each morning, get everything packed into the car and rest my sleeping daughter onto the back seat.
After an hour or more drive to the city, I would park next to a square opposite her school, get her dressed, give her breakfast and walk her over to her school.
The evenings were also stressful as we had to face hours of traffic to return home. We arrived after sunset most days without much time to spend together, enjoy our home or relax.
One day, I added up all the time we spent commuting (over 4 hours each day) and decided that it would be better to move to the city. Our apartment is 1/3 the size of our home but, it has allowed us an opportunity to have more time to simply live, enjoy moments and create memories.
This move happened when my daughter was 7 years old and it is a decision that I have never regretted.
4. What Is The Most Challenging Thing About Being A Single Mom?
The move to a smaller home that was closer to work and school made life much, much easier. There was still one thing though that kept me away from enjoying the lifestyle we wanted.
My career. At least in the traditional sense.
I still had to get up early every morning and leave my daughter. There were constant long days and nights and I felt that she was missing out on having at least one parent close.
That is when I made the toughest decision of all. I left the corporate world and began constructing an independent earning framework.
We are travellers, so the construct of my income sources had to be flexible enough to go with us. In addition, I wanted to have multiple income streams that could create sustainable revenue for us.
That desire led me to do a deep self-analysis to determine what I enjoyed doing and the lifestyle I wanted to create. My analysis and research led me to discover a few online communities that provided not just training or learning but rather genuine support to create and build an online business.
5. Do You Regret Being A Single Parent?
3 years into growing from a Solopreneur to an Online Entrepreneur, I can confidently say that I have no regrets about being a single parent.
This realisation did not happen overnight though and it is something that I have worked hard at and on. Isn’t that the same with anything else meaningful that you want to achieve in life?
Life does not always work out the way you plan it. Success comes from being resilient, persevering and being flexible enough to adapt as you go.
Of course, I would have liked my marriage to work out but what about spouses who have died? You are left with the same end result – having to adjust and find ways to manage on your own.
I do not believe in regret. I prefer to learn from my mistakes and keep moving towards achieving the lifestyle that I desire.
6. Why Did You Decide To Be A Single Mom?
I always smile when I am asked this question. Being a single Mom was never on my cards. Call me old-fashioned.
Children deserve to enjoy the benefits of having both parents in their lives. Of course, there are some extenuating circumstances that prove quite the opposite.
My references though are towards the situations where it is possible and beneficial.
My daughter is now 11 years old and finally enjoying some measure of a relationship with her birth father. This I consider being very important because it will shape her choices later in life.
It is the repeating of the life script that I wanted to avoid. I did not grow up with my birth father and began living with my birth mother when I was 7 years old.
I know the impact those outcomes have had on my life and wanted to change the script.
Still, I have no regrets.
7. How Do You Find Time For Yourself?
I am an introvert who enjoys her own company and I grew up as an only child. It took some work to adapt to having another person in my space 24/7.
Unlike me, my daughter is at her best when she is with friends. She shines as she looks after other children and will bend backwards to see them happy.
That means our house is always full of visitors.
For a few years, when she was younger, I did give up a lot of my own time. It only felt like that at first though. Soon, it was more about her than me and I had to remind myself about self-care.
Again, having friends and family who were happy to care for her while I went off to do some adulting continues to be a blessing.
Over time, she has become my best supporter. We both love a lot of the same things: road trips, travelling and discovering new cultures, music, dance, movies, having friends and loved ones at home and sometimes just relaxing together.
She understands and respects me when I need some time for myself and I extend the same care to her.
Some Closing Thoughts . . .
I like to think that we are blessed. Answering how hard is it to be a single Mom is not all that challenging for me.
But then again, although life did not start out easy for me, along the way I learned to make the best of what comes at you. It makes no sense to wallow and allow yourself to become bitter, regretful and stressed.
Easier said than done, I know.
There are so many possibilities today, as a single parent, to improve yourself and your lifestyle. It will always involve some measure of sacrifice. Everything worthwhile does.
Today, as I look back, I am so very thankful that I used my resourcefulness to explore, experiment and redesign my life. My daughter and I are so very happy as a result.
It is never too late to change your script.