Dear Newly-Single Mom,
Hi there. First, here's a hug. I'm so sorry that you're going through this. This stinks.
It has been almost 3 years since I first became suddenly single with 2 little babies. Let me tell you, it was rough. I cried. A lot. Questioned everything I ever believed. A lot. I'm writing this letter to you because when I felt really alone, one of the places to which I turned for solidarity was the internet. If you've found me, I hope you find some comfort from this.
Here's what I want to tell you:
- You're not alone. I promise. My situation that landed me here was pretty "out there", but with a little online digging I found a lot of people who had been through very similar experiences. No matter what it is that you're going through, I'm betting that you can find someone who has been there and can help put words to what you're feeling and experiencing. You may not be ready for advice yet, but having someone else express what you can't even fathom yet can be life-changing.
- You need real-life groupies. The internet is a great way to find people who can relate to your specific situation, no matter how obscure, but it is not the place to find the practical help you need right now. If you can, make it a priority to get you and your family as close to close family and/or friends as possible. If that's not an option, reach out to local people any way you can. You could try local churches (whether you share their faith or not), charities and social work organizations, or any sort of social group you belong to- gyms, book clubs, mom groups, whatever. Tell them what's going on and tell them exactly the kind of emotional and practical support you want. If you are too overwhelmed to even know what kind of support you need (that was me!), just keep being honest about where you are. Allow yourself to lean on them, and allow them to support you.
- Use your single mom card. Now. This is not the time to try to prove that you can do it all. Three years in and I have no shame using my "single mom card" to get help or as an excuse. Someone wants to get together for drinks and all you want to do is see your kids after being gone at work? "That's so nice, but I've been away from my kids a lot this week- I want to have some family time tonight". Someone wants to get together for drinks and you want to go but you don't have child care? "That sounds so awesome but I don't have anyone to watch the kids... (insert meaningful glance here)". Feeling overwhelmed? "Hey, can you come help me with dinner and bedtime?". I have learned that people want to help but they also don't want to be constantly asking or seem condescending. They will be happy you spoke up.
- You can do this. You may not know where you're going to live, how you're going to support your family, or even how you're going to survive, but you will because you have to. Moms have this built-in drive and you'll find that when you think something is impossible, you will figure out a way to make it happen.
- Start writing. You've got way too many feelings and to-do lists to keep them in your head without exploding. Find a place to journal, and a system to write down to-do's and calendars. It could be digital or paper, but you need to get it out of your head and store it somewhere else.
Note from the author: I have started writing this post at least 20 times and it has taken me this long to finally write something I feel comfortable posting. If you know someone who is in this situation, I hope you will share this with them and offer them your support. Single parenting is not easy and should never be attempted alone!