In all honesty, being a solo parent is so much harder than I thought it would be. After my husband left us, raising two 7-year-olds, a 2-year old, and a baby was definitely not a pretty picture for me. But with the help of my parents and my sisters, we were able to live through each day. I remember having chit chat with my single mom friends during my first months of handling single parenthood. My friend, Mommy Jo, told us something that stuck with me:
“Yung ‘single mom’, they're two words that describe a single person in two different roles. You find what you need and make things work para magampanan lahat ng responsibilities ng parehong nanay at tatay.”
~ Mommy Jo
Whatever the reason is as to why you’re single parenting, being a solo parent is a big change in your life, and it’s completely exhausting. It’s different than just being exhausted from studying for exams or being tired from work. It’s the kind of exhaustion that would sometimes make you forget that you can breathe from all of it too.
So, if you’re scared – and that’s okay, you’re human – I want to help you out with a few things I’ve learned myself:
For a solo parent, this is the biggest struggle we have to deal with at first, and sometimes even until our child grows up. We were supposed to share this load with someone, so, the first question that always comes to mind is: “How can I support myself and my baby?”, especially if you chose to no longer include your partner in the picture. But a lot of single moms like you and me are making it happen. Do not feel guilty if you feel like you’re not providing enough for your child. You’re working hard and doing your best for your baby. That’s what’s important.
“Mga laruan, damit, childcare, tuition, and medical fees – the cost of parenting, that's all in the background. You are facing them alone. But eventually, you’ll manage to give your children a great childhood that's full of magic, wonder, and adventure.”
~ Mommy Jo
The feeling of not having your old social life back, the fatigue from not having time for yourself, the desire to blame someone for the responsibility that has immobilized you in your house and your job, and the guilt for thinking that your baby’s a burden. If your situation is a result of a decision you sometimes regret, learn from it and move on at your own pace. Focus your energy on living a wonderful life with your child. Have faith and you’ll get through this each day.
Single parenting can wear you down, especially when it comes to decision making. At first, you may think it’s a good thing because you can just make the decision you want to make. But you’ll realize later that some decisions are hard to figure out on your own and be able to make the right one for your kid. It won’t hurt to seek help from your family or your other single mom friends who’d understand.
This applies not just to us single parents but even to our baby. People judge too quickly without even understanding the reason why we’re in this situation. Even in this time and age, we’d still experience the disapproving look of the oldies, gossiping of coworkers, and the “I feel sorry for you” look when they see your child. But what you always need to remember is that no matter what the reason was, you’re a brave woman. You decided to raise your child and even though you’ll be doing it alone.
“I-expect mo nang may judgers talaga sa paligid, kahit pa na alam nila yung sitwasyon mo at ng anak mo. Pero narealize ko rin na hindi ko sila kailangan i-please. Ang importante, nasusustentuhan ko anak ko at sarili ko. Ang importante, masaya kami ng anak ko kahit sa mga simpleng bagay lang.”
~ Mommy Maine
As if it wasn’t hard before, yes, it’s harder now. A lot of people would have a hard time continuing to date you after they find out that you already have a baby. And if ever you’re lucky enough to find someone, you may have trouble with your in-laws in the future. However, just remember that what’s important is you and your child’s happiness.
This may also include dealing with your ex (if that’s the situation you’re in). This may be one of the most heartbreaking things you’ll ever have to talk about with your child. Questions such as “Where’s daddy?” or “Why don’t I have a dad like other kids?” or “When can I meet him?” will surely be brought up by your child. And I’ll tell you that as early as now, you’ll need to be honest about it. Don’t think of “I’ll save my child from the heartache and lie for now (or forever).” The sooner your child understands that his/her father is not (and may never be) part of the picture, the better you can both accept the situation.
But, don’t worry, because there are always two sides to everything! Despite these struggles, there’s a brighter side to look forward to.
A lot of people feel sorry for us solo parents, thinking that we have a lonely life. But single parenting is not something for others to take pity on or feel sorry for. So, here’s a glimpse of the brighter side.
Being a solo parent also means you’re the boss of the house. Yes, it’s tiring and draining. But, let’s look at the good points too:
You’ll feel frustrated with the responsibility at first, or whenever challenges are too overwhelming to handle. And that’s normal. But you can take these challenges as a way for you to become a stronger, independent person who owns the responsibility to take care of a family. Later on, you’ll realize the accomplishments you’ve made with your kid.
“Mas naging strong ‘yung desire ko to achieve my goals. Siyempre hindi naging madali, especially kasi I had to finish college and find a job while mayroon akong baby na inaalagaan. Sobrang struggle sa time management, pero at the end of the day, napakafulfilling yung nakakaya ko lahat ‘yun, not just for me but also for my son.”
~ Mommy AJ
You and your child will learn from your mistakes. They know that they won’t need to rush into relationships. They won’t look for happiness or support in another person because they know they can have that with themselves and from you. However, be careful of stopping your child from discovering things for themselves as well. Caution is important, but you have to realize that just because it happened to you, doesn’t mean it will happen to them. And if they do get hurt, do not start with the “I told you so” or “You should have learned from me” talk. Just be there for them.
Single parenting allows us to dedicate more time for bonding. If you’re staying at home with your kid, you’d discover activities to do and create a deeper connection. If you’re a working single mom, you’ll be able to bond with them after work with undivided attention.
Society believes that children being raised by a solo parent is bad for a child, but it’s not. Single motherhood is not a joke, and yes, your kid may face challenges during the early stages of his/her life. But the beauty in that is they become strong and independent earlier than the kids their age. They learn the value of money early on and they become more flexible with approaching pressure and daily stresses of life. And do you know what’s even cooler? Your child will always look up to you. As he or she experiences his/her challenges, they’ll better appreciate the sacrifices you did for your family.
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard a lot of advice from people by now, so I just want to emphasize three:
Decisions to make and actions to take will eventually come, so don’t pressure yourself to know everything already. Unexpected things will happen, and all you can do is brace yourself as you live through one day at a time.
Again, the guilt, the blame, the pressure of responsibility, all of these can consume you. But be kind to yourself and never forget to acknowledge your accomplishments, may it be big or small.
There would be times when you won’t be able to change the situation anymore, but you can choose how you’ll react and your next course of action. Own up to your choices. You want to keep being beautiful and healthy? Choose to care for yourself. You want to have positive vibes, surround yourself with supportive people. You know as well as I do that those small choices will make big differences to our lives.
Here are inspiring words from our fellow single moms:
“The battles you face, the triumphs you earn, they are testimonies to your incredible strength of character. Regardless of your situation, you are still a wonderful mom!”
~ Mommy Jo
“Okay lang umiyak. Okay lang hindi maging strong palagi. As much as ayaw mong umiyak at makita ng anak mo, kasi dapat ikaw yung malakas sa inyong dalawa, minsan ang sarap rin sa pakiramdam na ihahug ka niya, kahit ‘di niya naiintindihan kung bakit ka nagkakaganun. Kasi nareremind ka na hindi ka mag isa, na kasama mo rin siya sa lahat ng ‘to.”
~ Mommy AJ
“Okay lang kahit hindi mo laging gusto. Super mom ka, solo parent ka pa, pero tao ka lang rin. It’s overwhelming to deal with the challenges every single day. And minsan napapaisip na lang ako. ‘Di na ba matatapos to?’ Pero pagdating ng anak ko galing school, tapos aakap siya sa’ken pagkatapos magmano… Sobrang sulit yung pagod.”
~ Mommy Jenn
So, just hold on there! Think of all the things you and your child have been blessed with so far, and not just with the material things. Being a solo parent is hard – physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially. But dreaming for your kid and his/her future makes it a little bit easier every day. It will always motivate you to push yourself and keep moving forward during the trying times. Because you know that by the end of the day, all of these things are worth it.