When I found out I was pregnant, I knew I would be a single mom because my ex and I weren’t planning on being together. However, it all happened so first, I didn’t have time to prepare myself for having a baby as a single mom. Single motherhood has been the hardest thing I have had to do. It has challenged so many aspects of me: my thoughts, mentality, work ethic, and determination.
Even though I don’t believe you can be fully prepared for what single-motherhood has to offer you, there is so much I wish I knew that would have better prepared me for this new journey. In this post, I hope to share with you 10 things I wish I knew before becoming a single mom in hopes that this will allow you to be better prepared as you go into this journey.
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What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming A Single Mom
1 – Coparenting is hard
If your ex decides to be in your kid’s life, then you will have to co-parent with him. I never knew how hard co-parenting would be. Now granted, I have had my kids 100% of the time, but in the instances where they have had to go and be with their father, it has been hard. Even more, I know that I will have to share them with him as time progresses and that is so hard to fathom.
What makes co-parenting hard is the fact that you have to share your kids with someone else. In a household where you all live together, sharing kids is not hard because they are in the same household, you can see them at any time or control their environment. But as a single mom, your child has to go to another household you don’t have control over and you don’t have access to which is hard because you don’t know what happens there; you don’t know if they are happy or treated right. That’s where trust comes in, but it is still pretty hard to let go.
Furthermore, co-parenting becomes even harder when you have to share your kids with someone who is not doing as much as you do but still demands the same rights. The truth is that the man will never do more than you. You carried the babies, you’ve had to make sacrifices that he hasn’t so there is no comparison. But when that same man doesn’t see his kids like he should or refuses to support them yet demands the same rights, it can be infuriating.
It can be even harder to co-parent when you two don’t have a good relationship. So I would advise you to try and work on your relationship with your ex for the good of your child. Let go of any negative emotions you may have towards each other; forgive any wrongs; set aside your pride and do what is best for your child. Ultimately, the best thing for your child is to have two parents who love them, can work together despite their differences, and are doing their best to provide the child with the best life possible.
2 – You May Have to Raise Your Kids Yourself
Even with a partner, you may find that you have to do most of the raising. Going into this, I had a different perspective, I thought that my ex and I were going to be close and we were going to work well together but that hasn’t been the case.
I wasn’t expecting us to be together but I thought that we would have a good partnership. Throughout the pregnancy, I kept him informed on everything that was going on and we seemed to have a good relationship then so it wasn’t unusual for me to expect that to continue. However, once the babies arrived, things were different. It’s almost like we don’t have the same interest for our kids and so there are arguments over issues we shouldn’t argue about and it sucks.
Throughout this, I have always wanted the best interest for our kids and I continue to strive for that. This is the reason I still make an effort to have a good relationship with their father despite the hardship.
3 – You Will Gain Strength You Never Knew You Had
I never planned on being a single mom. I never planned on bearing the majority of the responsibility in raising our kids but that has been the case so far. Despite the challenges that I have faced, I have gained so much strength and resilience from being a single mom. From the first day I came home from the hospital and had to heal from my c-section while I cared for them to now, I have grown as a person and I am forever grateful to my kids for bringing this out of me.
Caring for twins is hard, it’s even harder when you have to do it alone but believe me, you have what it takes to overcome the difficulties and face the challenges ahead. You will have to be creative in how you do things, wipe your own tears away, pat yourself on the back when you accomplish something, and gain strength you never knew you had.
4 – The Buck Stops At You
My pregnancy was unplanned and unexpected so I didn’t have enough time to fully prepare myself financially. One advice I would give you if you are venturing into this journey is to have your finances right. Once you find out you’re pregnant, start saving money for expenses because you will need as much money as possible.
5 – I would need a lot of Help
As a new mom, you don’t realize how much help you actually need. And sometimes, you want to live as though you don’t need help because you don’t want to inconvenience others or seem too wanting in that area. For me, it was pride that stopped me from asking for help and also that I didn’t want people to think I couldn’t handle this on my own.
When I delivered my babies, I was at the hospital by myself most of the days recovering from my c-section. At night my babies would cry and I was so stubborn, I didn’t want any of the nurses to assist me. It was partly that I didn’t want to be away from them and also that I wanted it to seem like I didn’t need their help.
‘Nope. I can handle two screaming newborns at 4 am the day after my c-section. I don’t need you!’
I have since learned to accept the help offered and embraced the fact that it makes me stronger to have the help so I can focus on other things and REST.
6 – Self-care is Important
I thought that being a single mom or a mom, in general, meant that it’s all about your kids now and you don’t matter. But I am learning that for my kids to be good, I have to be good. Prioritizing self-care is truly important and will help you to be the best version of yourself.
Establish a self-care routine and activities that you want to do each week. Schedule this time and commit to it. Find new friends, discover new hobbies, take care of yourself. These things will help you be the best mom possible to your kids. Just because you are a single mom doesn’t mean that you can’t look good and be happy. You will be a better mom if and when you start to put you first.
7 – Enjoy Your Pregnancy
I did not enjoy my pregnancy. I never took any maternity pictures and was close to not having a baby shower until a friend of mine hosted one for me. During my pregnancy, I spent too much time chastising myself and wishing I hadn’t allowed myself to be in this position. I was so stuck on feeling shame, worry, and care for what others thought, that I didn’t believe I deserved to enjoy my pregnancy.
The fact that I come from a Christian, African family didn’t help the situation. As an African and Christian, I was raised believing that I needed to be in marriage before having kids and having one outside of marriage was a taboo. So when I found out, I was embarrassed and hid my pregnancy from my family and friends.
It took some time for me to realize that I wasn’t enjoying my pregnancy because I was punishing myself for making a mistake. And I had to learn to forgive my misconceptions and thoughts towards my pregnancy. As the pregnancy progressed and I started to embrace it, I stopped worrying about what others thought and started enjoying it but it was a little late.
Plus, when I told my mom and she accepted me with open arms, it made it easy for me to relax about the preconceived notions I had. I started to share my hopes with her and share the progress as the babies grew.
If you are ashamed of your pregnancy or feel like you shouldn’t enjoy it because of how it came about, I want to ask you to reconsider your thoughts about yourself and the babies you are carrying. Don’t be embarrassed or feel shame, instead, enjoy your pregnancy; take lots of pictures, share the good news with your friends and family. If they don’t respond positively, that’s ok. You can still enjoy it despite their response.
8 – You Sacrifice More Than Sleep
I am learning that sacrifice is synonymous with Single motherhood or just motherhood in general. I mean as a mom or parent, you have to sacrifice, but being a single mom, you may have to sacrifice more than the average parent.
I’m most cases, you have to be creative on how you will make ends meet because it’s not just you anymore. You have babies that you need to consider when making decisions. You can’t pick up that extra shift unless you have babysitting, you may have to quit your job and opt for a lower-paying one like I did so that you can avoid daycare costs and be home with your kids while you work.
You may have to work unseemingly hours so you can get “free” babysitting from family and friends. For example, I work overnight during the weekends to bring in more income and that allows my mom to be with my kids at night.
You will probably have to sacrifice certain friendships because you’re on a different level now. And it may be harder to connect with other moms because you’re a single mom. These are just some of the sacrifices you will need to make.
9 – Single Motherhood Can Be Lonely
As a single mom, you may not have much of a circle you can confide in so it can get pretty lonely at times. You can’t call your ex to talk bout the struggles you had that day with the kids if you’re relationship isn’t good, you may not have that many friends who would understand the struggles you go through every day.
There is no one to share the responsibility when you have other things you need to do and it can feel like you are doing everything by yourself (which you are). But take heart. Find ways to connect with other single moms and do things you enjoy so you don’t feel consumed by your role as a mother.
10 – You Can’t Make Plans like You Used To
If you happen to have your kids most of the time, you won’t be able to make plans like you used to before. You have to consider who will watch your kids when you are out doing the activities you hope to do. You have to plan your life around your kids’ schedule. If you cannot afford daycare and have to rely on your family, as I do, then you have to work with their schedules too.
You Can Do This
Being a single mom is hard. It’s even harder when you don’t have much support, but you can do it. Nothing in this world is impossible. It may be hard, it may require that you sacrifice, that you lose sleep but rest assured that you will overcome all the challenges you face.
No matter how hard things have gotten, I wouldn’t trade this for anything. I love my kids and making sacrifices for them makes me happy.
There you have it! Those are some of the things I wish I knew before becoming a single mom. I hope this gave you some preparation for this new journey you are about to embark on.
Did you know these truths when you went into your single-motherhood journey? Let me know in the comments!
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