The Ups and Downs of Being a Single, Divorced Mom

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Compiled by Rachel Hoeing

With Triad Moms on Main, one of my favorite parts of this job is giving women a perspective that they may not have thought about previously. We've been able to promote empathy from our readers by sharing stories from moms with special needs children, women who have struggled with significant loss, mothers of multiples, and women who are battling life-threatening illnesses, just to name a few. We've shared blogs written by business owners, teachers, doctors, dads, counselors, and more. Each blog can bring about awareness, expand our minds and open our hearts.

The group of mothers I am highlighting today are single, divorced mothers. I wanted these women to share some of their struggles and some of their joys so that those of us who have not been in their shoes may find some empathy, some sympathy, and also some things to help these women celebrate. I interviewed a number of local mothers and combined their answers below. 

If you can relate, we would love for you to share some of your ups and downs in the comment section below. 

The Downs:

- Being a single Mom is uncomfortable and awkward. People don't know whether to ignore you, feel sorry for you or if there is some juicy story they need to ask their friends about later as to why you are a single parent. It always struck me so odd. 50% of our population is apparently divorced (unfortunately) and yet I never seemed to encounter a single one of them, especially at preschool.  

- When you are married you think it is difficult to plan vacations and activities with your husband and your crazy mother-in-law. Get divorced - then you should try it with your crazy, unrealistic ex husband and crazy unrealistic ex mother-in-law.

- You argued about finances when you were married. You are still arguing about finances. You have spent most of your income on lawyer fees and custody battles.

- When you come home at the end of a long day of work and just want to settle in for the night, there are still little ones waiting for you who need your help. You never get to say "You deal with this tonight."

-  No one revels in the quirky little joys that children bring like only that child's Mom and Dad can. If you are a single parent, chances are, there is no one to immediately share in your parenting joys and children's special milestones. It can feel lonely in the happiest of times.

-  Sharing your kids is brutal. Even if you are on the best of terms with you ex, having to share them is always a struggle.  No one steps on to the maternity floor and says "Ok. After I have this baby I can't wait to have them every other weekend and Christmas." It may look like every parents dream to have regular weekends off from your children and be given the opportunity to do what ever you want. Unfortunately, it just feels like you are always missing something important that you should be there for.

- You are about to leave work and your boss walks into your office and proceeds to have a 30 minute conversation. As you look at the clock you realize once again, your children are the last ones waiting for you at day care.

- Your ex will inevitably get a new girlfriend who inevitably will have children of her own. You are now juggling your schedule, his schedule, his girlfriend's schedule, your kids' schedule and her kids' schedule as you try to plan holidays and weekends.

- Dating, enough said.

-  For a while when my daughter was very young I was fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom. My Friday and Saturday felt just like Monday and Tuesday.

-  For some reason, friends and other couples take you off of their dinner party invite list because there are no longer two of you. I missed my friends and going out with other couples. I never minded going by myself and sort of loved not having a plus one.

- Dealing with the ex becomes a business negotiation.You have to take the "personal" out.

The Ups:

- Bedtime, you get all the cuddles and hugs and kisses all to yourself.

- Life as a single mom of two is much better than a married wife with two kids and a childlike husband, because at least with your kids you can put them in time out and teach them a lesson. :)

- You can watch whatever you want whenever you want on television, no matter how cheezy, dumb or mindless it may be.

- I never realized how much my husband stifled the dreams I had for the future. Now I am finding myself again and putting my dreams as a priority with no one to tell me they won't happen.

- The bond between me and my children is so strong. Most days we only have each other and we are extremely open and honest with one another. We are the best of friends while they still have respect and know who is in charge. 

- Dating, enough said.  :)

- You have a stronger trust in God, family and friends. When you truly rely on your support system, you realize the loving power of this foundation.

- I am happier than I have ever been. While married, my life was mundane and boring. My ex and I were arguing all the time. I had more tears and more fits of anger than I had ever thought possible. I never had hope for happiness  Now I smile, laugh and enjoy life.

- Support of teachers, counselors, coaches, kids friends parents and unexpected influences. It really is amazing.

- Great satisfaction in helping others who are starting the process of becoming a single mom when you have gotten through the initial transition.

- While I was given the wonderful blessing of marrying again, I treasure my days as a single parent. I am proud of who I found out I really was and I now look at parenting and marriage much differently. Thank Goodness! I have a beautifully blended family that includes a fascinating chaotic ex-wive and lovable complex step children!

- Possibilities the future holds.

- We started couples counseling prior to our divorce. Once we were divorced I continued the counseling and have found so many ways to make myself a better person, mom and friend. 

- Once in a while we have cereal or ice cream for dinner. If I don't want to cook I don't cook. If we want to go out to eat we go out to eat.  It's so nice to choose whatever my kids and I are in the mood for when mealtimes come around without another adult complaining about it.  :)

- Becoming a stronger person overall.

A few words of advice:

- No matter how right one party is vs the other, it doesn't make the kids feel better to be convinced. Let it go.

- Routine becomes more difficult yet so much more important for the kids.

- ALWAYS take the high road to protect the kids.

- As a mom, this is the hardest job ever and no matter if you are single or married, the reward of the job is the same. My married mom friends have all the same struggles, worries and joy and we are all lucky no matter the challenges we face.

-  If you are really doing what is best for your child and your own mental sanity, you have to come to terms with the fact that what goes on at the other parents house (with of course the exception if it is something physically or mentally abusive) it is Not Your Business. Chances are they do not want or need your suggestions on how to be a parent on their time. Ugghh. It is so hard because that may mean that bedtimes, eating habits, television shows, discipline are all being done or viewed differently. It would be wonderful if everyone could be on the same parenting page, but chances are you would have probably stayed married if that were the case. Focusing on how things should be different will truly make you crazy and it will be all you talk about.  Not good!  It is a big fat lesson on learning to Live and Let Live!

Thank you to all the amazing moms who contributed to this blog post!  You know who you are!  ~Rachel
Anonymous commented on 11-Jun-2012 07:24 AM
These are great! I've been single for about three years now and one thought that I can add is to not assume someone who is divorced will want to begin dating again. After 15 years of a tough marriage I am so happy to be spending time with my children and
friends. I am sure I'll want to date at some point but I am no hurry. Thinking I could not live without a man is what got me in a bad marriage to begin with.
Anonymous commented on 11-Jun-2012 08:08 AM
Being a single mother (regardless of prior marital status) is super hard. Noone really appreciates the every day struggles, the constant feeling of being judged by others like another single parent. Believe me, we want the same things married parents do
for their children!
Amy K commented on 11-Jun-2012 08:59 AM
I am so glad you ran this. One of my dearest friends is going through a divorce right now and it is hard for me to relate to her. Helps to know what to say and what not to say!
Emily commented on 11-Jun-2012 09:00 AM
I am a divorced mom of three and found myself nodding in agreement with almost every quote on here. We're all in this together ladies!
Anonymous commented on 11-Jun-2012 10:10 PM
Great article! I am a divorced mom of 3 years and can relate a lot of the points made. Thank you for writing this =)
Anonymous commented on 12-Jun-2012 08:31 PM
Wow! You said it! I have recently stepped into the world of being a single mom and it is sad and crazy. I have so many worries! Yes, it is nice to have a husband take your kids to the park on Saturday so you can get a few things done, but I never asked
to have this "new stranger" rip my children from me from time to time! Yes, I feel there are things I may be missing out on! I do like knowing that I may find out more about myself and be even more independent one day . . . . Thank for writing this! It is
hard, but I guess I am not alone.
Anonymous commented on 12-Jun-2012 10:24 PM
I have recently been left by my husband and have so many fears! Thank you for writing this! No, while I was in the maternity ward, no one said, "Do you want you kids some weekends?" I have cried myself to sleep and woke up with more tears. I worry about
when my kids love the girlfriend! My friends and family have been AMAZING! But there have been some HARD days. I know there will be more. My kids are the reason I wake up each morning, although i understand the comment about "the happiest of times can be the
lonliest"! There are so many more things I would like to say . . . . . . Thanks for writing this blog!!!
Looking at Divorce commented on 22-Oct-2012 04:48 PM
I agree with emily!! We will make it through somehow!
lila commented on 25-Jun-2013 03:51 PM
i am a new single mom, but when i am alone is when everythin falls apart :( i feel i fall into a deep hole and even thou my bbgirl is sleepin next to me i still feel from time to time emptyy! when this feelin goes away?
Anonymous commented on 12-Oct-2013 12:02 AM
Unfortunately, I am 10 years post divorce and more sad than ever that my daughter (who so desperately wanted a sibling-even step sibling) never got that. I left an mentally &emotionally abusive unfaithful spouse when she was 10 months old. He stayed in her life, and is good to her and I am glad for her that her dad chose to be in her life- but I am weary and despaired from struggling on so many levels on my own for so long. I'd love to read stories of a 40 something single mom of 1 who met someone this late in the game to have a shot at a blended family for the latter part of my daughters years before she is 18...reality is, timing now of her truly having a sibling bond with a blended family sibling is extremely unlikely. I know there are so many other much much worse situations in the world, but all my child sees is married or blended families not ONE like hers and it breaks my heart
Suzy commented on 02-Apr-2014 11:38 AM
Love this blog! Thank you for writing this. Yes, being a single mom is very tough (as I am one I can attest to this), but just like anything else has pros and cons so glad to see both sides shared!
Mollie commented on 02-Apr-2014 11:56 AM
I think one of the hardest parts of being a single parent is the disconnect from others. It would be great to see more support groups for single parents! I can never fit in to a group at church bc those with kids are married, and those who are single do. It have kids.
Hanifah Ashry commented on 02-Apr-2014 01:29 PM
THANK YOU. Will totally be sharing this on my pages.
I appreciate this so much. It is right on point and I can absolutely relate.
Wishing all of us the best and new successful marriages and healthy families.

PS...Feel free to check out my Facebook page That Mommy Life where I share my mommy experiences :)

-Hanifah :)
Anonymous commented on 02-Apr-2014 02:24 PM
Lila, I have found that divorcecare was a tremendous comfort for me after my divorce.
Anonymous commented on 17-May-2014 04:02 AM
As a new single Mom, I can relate to all of this! I find myself worrying about these issues and it helps to read this and to know I'm not alone. I agree that single Moms should support each other as much as possible because no one else really truly understands the struggles we face. Thank you for taking the time to write this. :)
Anonymous commented on 03-Mar-2015 03:27 PM
I am so glad you shared such an honest look at divorce! Thanks you! I wanted to say that I've recently come across a system that really helps to manage, track, and pay child support, and it's made a big difference in my life and some of my friends' lives as well. I think it would be great for local child support offices to start offering SupportPay to their constituents. People need better organization tools for Child Support, and SupportPay does a great job of this.

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