You GET IT DONE, mama!
We all know, being a single parent is hard! There's rarely a break and the weight of the world falls squarely on your shoulders.
When I had my baby as a single mom by choice (meaning I used a sperm donor to proactively get pregnant alone), I got a ride home from the hospital from some friends, three days post C-Section birth. They dropped me off and said they were going to a movie! And there I was, new baby in arms, two 70-pound dogs at my feet and a very painful incision from my birth.
It was GO time!
After making it through that first night alone, I was totally empowered and knew from that moment on that I could do ANYTHING! Now my son is 2-years old, and I can safely say that I feel super human almost every day.
About a week ago, I was at a café, struggling to put a lid on my coffee, and carry my food order, wallet, car keys and my son all out the door at the same time back to my car. With not enough hands to go around, a woman in the coffee shop overheard me muttering to my son, "Let’s see if we can do this."
And she said, "Girlfriend, of course you can do it — you’re a mom, right? That’s what we do, Mama. Get it done!"
"Damn straight," I responded, maybe a little too enthusiastically, as I fumbled to set down my coffee and pastry so I could give her a high-five with my son balanced on my hip.
Of course, juggling coffee and my kid is one thing, but that moment made me reflect on the enormity of what I have on my plate: running our own business, writing a book, owning and maintaining my own home, caring for two huge dogs, raising my 2-year old son, managing tenants — the list goes on. As I reflected on what I handle each day, images of so many badass mamas flooded my mind. Images of tired but resilient single moms who just hang in there, day after day, and figure it out (often with so little recognition).
So, this article is my shout out to them. Here is my list of seven reasons single moms (as exhausted as we are) are true bad asses:
1. We're used to going it alone.
Single moms are responsible for all of it — bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan — childcare, maintaining a household and providing, both emotionally and financially. There isn’t anyone to call on for back up. We just buckle down, figure it out and get it done. That means being resourceful, flexible, and tenacious. But more importantly, it takes believing that we can get it done.
2. We don’t get disappointed in others.
Since there’s often no one else to call upon to do the essentials, there’s no time wasted wondering whether someone else will step in. We know if we want something done, we're on deck to do it ourselves. The upside is that we don’t spend time feeling disappointed in another person for not doing things our way or on our timeline. But the downside is, well, we have to do it all!
3. We know when to ask for help.
Single moms need help and we aren’t afraid to ask for it (or at least, we shouldn't be afraid to ask for help). For some that may mean asking family and friends for assistance. For others, that means figuring out who to call upon in their friend circle for help. I know I sleep better when I have a list of reliable service providers that can help take care of things for me. My handyman has saved my sanity on more than one occasion!
4. "Endurance" is our middle name.
There is literally no time off for a single mom and as a result it’s been proven that we are the most sleep deprived demographic of people.
I know, this is hardly a surprise to us single moms. You know the feeling of dragging yourself out of bed each day to conquer a never-ending to do list. And after your kids go to bed, you probably tell yourself to go to bed right away.
But now’s your chance to do some laundry, empty the dishwasher, check email, have some time alone in the bathroom without a toddler hanging on you (or interrupting you) or to simply have a few glorious moments to zone out on the couch (hopefully with a glass of wine in hand). Before you know it, you can’t see straight and you realize you should have been in bed hours ago.
Ironically though, according to the same study, even though single moms regularly lack sufficient sleep, they're actually less likely (than people without kids) to take sleeping medication. It’s no surprise to me that this is the case. A single mom doesn’t have the luxury of falling deeply asleep since she is the sole caregiver of her children. The prospect of falling asleep and not being able to wake up easily or waking up groggy during an emergency likely terrifies most single moms. And let’s face it, it's amazing and hardcore that we can do so much on almost no sleep. (Roar!)
5. We're not afraid of hard work.
Single moms work our butts off! Just over 76 percent of single mothers are gainfully employed. Yet, that income-earning job is only one of many "jobs" we hold. We still have to do homework, cook dinner, keep the kitchen stocked and the laundry done, etc.
The bottom line is that single moms are like small business owners with our ninja-like abilities to multitask, create, manage and operate within a budget and problem solve. Our work is rarely done.
6. We don’t sweat the small stuff.
Single moms don’t have a lot of time for drama. And, maybe we're just too darn tired to get worked up over small, petty things. We keep our eye on the important stuff. Get it done and move on. Efficiency is the name of the game, sister!
7. We're incredibly devoted to their kids.
Single moms are incredibly devoted to our kids (maybe sometimes at the cost of other relationships in our lives). Maybe we feel like we must compensate for the absence of another parent, or our child is simply the light of our life. But ask any single mom out there what's the best decision she ever made, and she'll tell you: It was having her children.
We know what’s important in life and that purpose acts as a shining beacon to keep us on track.
So, all of you single mamas, remember what a badass you are.
You're a true superhero ... on the days when you get out the door with coffee, kid and keys in hand AND on the more challenging days, when stress really mounts and you shine like a bright light anyway.
Sarah Kowalski is a fertility doula, family building coach, Single Mom, and an expert in guiding women along the spiritual, emotional and logistical road to motherhood. After conceiving her own son via both egg and sperm donor, she started the Choice Mama Baby Project to help others realize their dream of parenthood no matter what it takes. You can follow her on Twitter @ChoiceMamaBaby or on Facebook @choicemamababyproject.