The Ups and Downs of Being a Single, Divorced Mom

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


9 thoughts on “The Ups and Downs of Being a Single, Divorced Mom

  1. BC

    Please do not go to your child for comfort, letting them sleep in your bed for your need or being your confidant. This confuses the child. Find comfort in support from friends, find other interests. I am now a single parent for second time. I have children in twenties, teens and an elementary age. I did talk too much to my children of personal issues and allowed them to sleep in my bed because I was hurting and lonely. That has caused much emotional harm to my children and has backfired on me. Please get good counsel for yourself and your children and establish healthy boundaries. Be the parent. That is the best gift you can give your child, an adult that they feel safe with, a child loved for who they are, and their boundaries respected.

    Please post single mom groups on this thread. Where are they for those in the triad area?

    Reply
  2. Suzy

    Love this blog. Thanks for putting this together Rachel! As a single mom, although not divorced – I’ve been a single mom since day one which has it’s own pros and cons probably, almost all of this I could relate to. For the pros I especially under stand the bullet about “It can feel lonely in the happiest of times.” I think that’s the hardest part of being a single mom, not having someone to truly share those parenting milestones, good & bad, with. For the pros, this one spoke to me and I certainly think it’s the biggest pro of being a single parent “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.” I guess my own advice would be to other single parents, divorced or not, is just make the most of your time with your kid(s) as like other married parents – it all goes by too fast regardless of your marital status!

    Reply
  3. lee

    I have done it alone for years as a military spouse. Now I am a divorced single mom of three under the age of 7. He has no part in their lives, but at least provides financially what is required by the divorce. I agree completely with little joys and quirks. I went to work today and shared a picture of all the kids and my dog piled in bed with me from the storm last night because I had no one else to share that special moment with. My son quit boy scouts even though he was awesome and won awards, because I wasn’t his dad. Talk about disappointing. And at night sometimes it just hits the feeling of being alone, but not in a physical sense. So I go grab one of my kids and carry them to bed with me so I don’t sleep alone. I am not sure what else to do. Dating really isn’t an option right now… how do other single moms find time for that? Not at the daycare… lol

    Reply
  4. Kris Vividor

    I’ve been divorced for 4 years, we have two kids age 17 (4 months from 18) and 12. My ex and I are doing good at communicating and co-parenting. We share custody 50/50 with our son (12) our daughter (17) lives with me because she has never forgiven her father for his infidelity. We are both okay on our own financially. However this year with the cost of senior year and getting ready to pay for college it would be helpful if we had help. My ex proposed moving in with me as a roommate to 1. Help financially for both he and I 2. Try a get a little closer to our daughter before she goes off to college. On paper this situation would help both my ex and I, not just financially but I also travel a lot for work and work a lot of late nights. He would be there when I am not. But in reality would this be a good idea? Would this help or hurt this kids? Neither one of us has any romantic fantasies about the other I do not feel it would get us back together. It would be more of a co-parenting/roommate arrangement. Has anyone ever done this? Is this crazy?

    Reply
  5. Christine

    So I’ve been reading these messages. I’m a single mom of three. My eldest is severely disabled and the kids are 5,3, and 1. We broke up when I was pregnant with our third. I felt that the divorce broke me in a way that I didn’t even think possible. I was scared and alone. But looking back on our relationship I was so unhappy I felt broken. I was a stranger in the mirror and felt trapped in a loveless marriage. I can’t say even in this amount of time that I’m fully healed but I can say I found an old friend that I’ve missed in myself. I’m in the military and I move and travel a lot. At first I thought I would die being away from my kids but being able to share the children has given me the love and memories that make a family strong while giving me a break to focus on me at the same time. When I was married I wasn’t balanced. I overworked my self for the family and I forgot that I was apart of that equation too. My health suffered and I didn’t feel good in my own skin. I’ll always love my ex husband even though there is still pain there. I like to look at him like he’s just family now. A cousin or a brother in law. I trust him for he most part with the kids. I may not like the people he brings into his life but we keep our personal lives totally seperate from one another and I found out that I like him as a person again. Well worth the divorce where all I was doing was learning how to hate him and fill myself with resentment. No one needs to suffer and the fighting hurts everyone in the family not just mom and dad. Sometimes you need to learn to let go so everyone involved can be better because of it. ❤️❤️❤️ Happy to be single #lovedating #lovemyfriends. Let the adventure begin 😊

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  6. lyndsay

    i am now becoming a single divorced mom. Im scared to death about what the future holds for me and my son. I have learned so far that i will never give one person (husband) so much of me ever again. When your left with nothing but a car and a baby the reality of being alone is overwhelming. As im reading all of these blogs and comments from other single moms its inspiring. And giving me hope, which is something i havent felt in a really long time. I love my ex husband but i hated our marriage. I always feared being a single mom or a divorcee. All the judgements you get from people. I know im guilty of that judgement myself but i see now something completely different. Why would i want to teach my son that marriage is about fighting, yelling, hating. I would much rather teach my son how to be free, and loving, or happy alone. Im disappointed that our life turned out this way but continuing to read these blogs are so comforting, so thank you for that. Power to all the single moms!

    Reply
  7. Jessica

    I am a single mom of two, having been married for almost 16 years… I was mainly the one responsible for everything dealing with the kids anyway. I think one of the hardest thing is letting go of the entire responsibility when it is not “my week” and hoping he is responsible enough to make it to practice and games and to pick them up on time… It is extremely difficult however knowing that I have no one to fall back on if it were ever to be necessary (say when we are running late for the bus in the morning and I am going to be late for work). Completely contradicting but, that is my reality.

    Reply
  8. wana

    You are sooo right about having no one to share the quirky happy joys of parenthood. I try to include my family and friends but I feel like I’m bragging or oversharing. And the full time responsibility is sometimes overwhelming! That being said, I would much rather laugh alone and fall asleep from exhaustion on the couch then smile occasionally at my then husband, then run to the bedroom to sleep in fear…

    Reply
  9. Tricia

    Just my own observation as a once married mom, now single: married moms and single moms do not have the same struggles. Single moms are doing it all, alone.

    Reply

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