Source: You Know You’re A Writer When….
For the past three years I have dedicated myself to my son and nothing more. In doing this I have sometimes (often) neglected myself and my needs. Although I have a clear understanding of the perils in making this choice I justify it by saying “motherhood=sacrifice”. I have not been out on a date or in the company of anyone since I was three months pregnant with him. He will be three years old next month.
Last night I went to dinner with a close friend of mine whom I had not seen since before I gave birth to my son. My friend had not been introduced to me as a mom. The only memories that lay between us were those of me as a single, free, and adventurous woman. This cautious woman that sat across the table cutting meat into little pieces,assisting this tiny person with holding his drink, and wiping crumbs from his mouth must have seemed like a stranger to my friend. I caught my friend looking across the table in what seemed to be a range of emotions from surprised, to disbelief, and maybe even a little amazement.
In the midst of watching me be a mom for the first time, my friend still somehow managed to treat me like the woman that I once was. I felt like myself again for the first time in a long time. Every worry and care, stress and struggle in my life had no meaning in those moments. We were two friends catching up on life with the company of a pleasant and well behaved little person.
My friend won my son over during dinner by playing swords and drums with chopsticks, racing crayons across the children’s men, and just talking to him and acknowledging him as an individual and a guest at the dinner table. Meanwhile I was also spoken to and treated as an individual and catered to with each and every one of my needs attended to. It was different being taken care of.
For me being a mother ushered in so many changes. Changes in my priorities, the way I dress, my body, the way I feel about myself just to name a few. The feeling of being glamorous and beautiful has seemed to escape me. Last night although I was draped in my usual all black apparel from head to toe with not an inch of makeup or lip-gloss on I felt like a beauty queen. I felt beautiful by the way that my friend stared directly into my eyes and not for one second focused on the pounds I’ve gained the clothes I wore or the ponytail dawned on my head. My friend used the windows of my soul to see into me.
At the end of the night I was hugged tightly and held closely. For three years I have managed to overlook the aching of loneliness and the pain of being touched until that moment. Just a simple sincere hug soothed what I did not know was ailing. An embrace that made me feel safe, protected, and cared for. Smelling the scent of another human being and taking in the aroma of their cologne made me feel alive. Funny how the smallest gestures of kindness can open your eyes to so much.
It’s official. My running partner and I have officially made it to and survived the semi-big leagues. Last Saturday we ran our first half marathon after two months of hard core training and one year of 5k’s. It was a surreal feeling crossing the finish line and joining and elite group of runners. We are half marathon runners. A title that I now realize needs no explanation. Those that do understand. Those that don’t wouldn’t get it anyway.
On any given day the media will display headlines covering child support battles of the rich and famous. If you are a roamer of social media as most of us are it is not unlikely that you will stumble across a rant from a celebrities’ child’s mother reading off a host of issues they have with a father who is in the spotlight. The number one qualm being money; not enough money to be exact. Just yesterday I read six different articles based on a “single” mother expressing her feelings about not receiving enough money, time, or attention from the famous father of her child. A teen mom star turning her nose up at $1700 a month in child support stipend, the mother of a singers child upset about $2500 a month in child support, an athlete airing his own dirty laundry against a mother of several of his children whom he gives a stipend of $20,000 a month, a young lady acting out of spite, anger, and seemingly desperation to get the attention of her sons father who has been successful for years but recently joined the cast of a popular show and she now wants her son to have a piece of that pie and seemingly her fifteen minutes of fame.
But what about us? What about the everyday single mothers in the world? The ones of us that make up the majority that receive $0 a month in child support and no acknowledgement of the existence of our children? What about the warrior women that wear the shields of a mother and a father daily and carry the load of parenting their child alone day in and day out? Who will be our voice? Where are the headlines shining light on our plight? We don’t receive so much as crumbs to scoff at much less than thousands to be unappreciative of. It is just us supporting our children off the fruits of our labor and sometimes just barely by the skin of our teeth. There are no headlines featuring us or articles written about us. We do our due diligence in peace and quiet and focus only our children.
No judgment towards any mother regardless of the social or financial status of the fathers of their children. But this article is not for the ones with exceptional circumstances. Or is it? Maybe shedding light on the many of us who don’t have the luxury or option of support will maybe make them a little quicker to show gratitude and less reluctant to express anger and dissatisfaction.
For the single mothers out there doing it alone; this one is for you. This is to remind you single mom that you are enough, you are acknowledged, and you are making the tough decisions that make the world of your child go round. As single mothers we have a right to go through a rainbow of feelings day in and day out towards our situations as long as we still manage to show nothing but unconditional love and support towards our children. We all go through all of the stages of grief when dealing with an absentee parent; grief, anger, confusion, a brief moment of peace and then the cycle repeats itself and you are right back at where you began sad and angry. It’s ok to live in the moment of each of those feelings briefly. But do not allow your personal anger and emotions to urge you to act out. Always be kind, gracious, and informed. Know your rights and pursue financial support through the courts when you have tried all other logical options and simple verbal communication has failed you. When (if) you take those steps down to the courthouse do so with an attitude of respect for all parties involved including yourself, your child, as well as the child’s absent parent. Harbor no hard feelings in your heart towards the lesser only love and a small level of pity towards the fact they have chosen not to be present and share in the day to day light of your blessings. Housing negative feelings and harboring resentment will only add dead weight to your already heavy load. Never speak derogatory words or cast ill wishes towards the absentee in public, in private, and above all in front of your children. We all want to sometimes. We, although super women, are still yet only human with emotions. But I promise you humility and graciousness will sew more good seeds and blessings for your children than a big check. They are watching your steps and mimicking your mannerisms. Teach them the right way.
Be encouraged each and every day. Even on the days when money is tight, times are you tough, and your toddler or teen is having tantrums stay positive. Trust and know that your body was built for this. You are a carrier and promoter of life therefore the power that lies dormant in you is enough to forge through any obstacles life may throw your way. To the moms that work one, two and sometimes three jobs, the moms that go to school, the moms that are just trying to figure out how to put the pieces of their hearts back together and re-join society know; everything is going to be fine. Your child is going to be fine. And although some days the trails feel like they are far greater than the triumphs, the fact that you are still going means that you are still surviving. You are training your children by example to be tenacious and self-sufficient. Preparing them for life and instilling in them priceless characteristics that bread success. Although there may not be many headlines or spotlights shining on your struggle; there are two pairs or however many sets of eyes that your children have that are always focused on and looking up to you.