This post is brought to you by Angel Soft in partnership with The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.
National Single Parent’s Day, on March 21, is an important holiday for me. Not only was I raised by a single mom, but up until just a few months ago, I was a single mom myself. I know exactly what it’s like to be the one and only for your children; to be solely responsible for everything from keeping a roof over their heads and food on the table to making sure they are happy and well-adjusted. The stakes are so high and failure just isn’t an option. There are no sick days and no vacation time. Every waking moment (and more than half of your sleeping moments) are dedicated solely to making sure you can pull it off. Even if you surround yourself with a great support system, in the end, it’s all on you.
As terrifying as single parenting has been at times, it’s also incredibly rewarding. I’ve learned some valuable life lessons from my 8+ years as a single mom. These lessons have made me who I am today. I can’t say I wouldn’t change a thing, as there have been moments where I was sure I’d fail miserably and we’d end up homeless, but even those moments have shaped not just me as a parent, but me as an entire person. In honor of National Single Parents Day, I want to share a few of those lessons with you.
Incredible Life Lessons I Learned as a Single Parent
I’m having such a hard time starting this list because I’ve learned so much, yet none of it falls under neat little subheadings. It’s kind of hard to cram your entire life into bite-size bits of data, but I’ll try.
You can (and often do!) pull off the impossible
The most important lesson I’ve learned as a single parent is that I can pull off the impossible. I remember a few years ago when I was inches away from homelessness. I was way behind in rent and even my understand landlord was running thin on patience. I had just weeks to come up with more money than I was making in half a year at that point. And I did. I worked 18 hours a day between writing and my job managing the Santa photo set. In the end, I managed to come up with enough money to keep us in a home. Then I kept working (and working, and working) so I could make sure that never happened to us again.
You’ll grow up fast!
I’d like to tell you that when I became a single mom at age 33-ish, I was already a pretty put-together grownup. I’d be lying, though. I was far from put-together, far from a grownup. I got a little too used to having multiple safety nets. I had a husband. I had a mom who let us live practically rent-free in her basement apartment while I worked on figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. If worse came to worse, I had grandparents who would help me out. It sounds like I was a spoiled brat, and maybe the spoiled part is true (I haven’t been a brat since at least my teen years!), but that was my life.
Then it wasn’t. My husband and I split up. My mom lost her job and her savings ran out. Somewhere along the line, I went from living with her to having her live with me. My grandparents passed away. Every one of my safety nets vanished in the blink of an eye, and I had no choice but to grow up. So I did. I don’t think any of us are really grown up until we are responsible for another life. We might think we are, but the moment you become the one and only to a tiny person, you realize that you still have a lot of growing to do.
You’re not alone, even if it feels like you are
Did you know that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 12 million single parents in the United States? Even knowing that there are millions upon millions of others in your shoes, the feelings of loneliness can be overwhelming at times. While you may be alone when it comes to things like finances, even if you have no support system in place locally, you’re never completely alone. There will always be someone out there who can at least act as a sounding board, whether it’s another single mom friend you met online, a forum for single parents or even your therapist. You just have to reach out. Plus, if you think about it, you’re quite literally never alone! Just when the world seems bleak and sad, your kid doesn’t something hilarious and you realize that you’re not so lonely after all.
You can’t take the place of the absent parent, and that’s okay.
I think as single parents, we try really hard to be both the best mom AND the best dad a kid could ever have. We spread ourselves super thin, overcompensate, send mixed signals to our kids and end up feeling like we have split personalities at times. Here’s the thing: you’re never going to take the place of the absent parent, and that’s okay. I know it hurts when you spend every waking moment caring for your child and he still says things like “dad is cooler than you.” Kids tend to romanticize the absent parent when they’re really young. For kids who rarely hear from the other parent (I saw my dad maybe once every other year, and didn’t hear from him at all for years once), when the absent parent does show attention, it’s like they walk on water and can do no wrong.
You won’t get credit for any of it for a long time
Young kids aren’t going to give you credit for everything you do for them. As they get older, they’ll start to appreciate you more, but for a long time, you’ll go completely credit-free. They’re not going to look at you and say “wow, you’re doing so much to make sure I have a place to live!” Single parents don’t do it for the credit, but sometimes it’s nice to know our efforts are appreciated. You learn to look for other signs of appreciation. The thrilled look on your kids’ face when you give him that new game he’s been begging for, the A on a test that you spent all night studying for with him, a great parent/teacher conference where the teacher tells you that your child is a delight in class. Don’t worry, as your kids get older, you’ll start to hear more “thank yous.” Until then, YOU know that you’re the wizard behind the curtain making all the magic happen, and that has to be enough.
Angel Soft Celebrates Single Parents Everywhere
To celebrate National Single Parent Day on March 21, Georgia-Pacific’s Angel Soft toilet paper brand will launch a poignant video celebrating and recognizing the joys and challenges of being a single parent. The video shares the stories of three single parents who have overcome incredible odds. It ends with a granted wish that will help make their lives easier! Check out that heartwarming video and share it with others in support of single parents everywhere. You will also find it on the Angel Soft Facebook page and on their website.
The National Single Parent Day video is the latest in Angel Soft’s “Be Soft. Be Strong” initiative highlighting the strengths of all different types of families across all walks of life. It’s a fabulous initiative!
Parenting is definitely the hardest job in the world, and single parenting is even harder. Fortunately, the rewards far outweigh the trials and tribulations of raising a child alone.
What are some lessons you’ve learned either as a single parent or from knowing one? Share in the comments!