I believe being a single mom comes with many hardships and obstacles, but it also comes with a multitude of unappreciated blessings. I must preface this with the fact that I am no longer a single mother. However, being recently married and recently having a son with my new husband, I have a different perspective on the ten years I spent alone with my daughter, Gabby. No, not alone, simply with Gabby.
At 22, a pregnancy on my own was easy on the body, but rough on the soul. I had no one to hold my hand at the ultra-sound, no one to take me to doctor appointments, and no one to tell me it was going to be alright. As my husband and I prepared for our new son, Jackson, he insisted on being at every appointment, every ultra-sound, every everything. I appreciated this, but, ironically, I missed that peaceful time alone with my swelling belly. I’ve come to believe that being a single mom wasn’t so tragic.
As a single mother, I also had no one to consult when it came to the day-to-day operations of childcare. There was a lot of trial and error, heavy on the error, but it was the trial and error that made it all worthwhile. Sure it’s easy for me to say this ten years later, but it’s honestly the truth. I never had to discuss parenting options, structured or on-demand schedules, when to potty train, or which sport to enroll her in. Gabby was mine and mine alone. I got to enjoy every first, every new experience, every look of awe on her face when she accomplished a new task. I dressed her as I wanted. Put her on my sleep schedule. I spoiled her rotten. I often joked for my ten years of single-motherhood that I wasn’t sure who was taking care of whom, but now I know it’s not a joke at all. She and I were best friends, roommates, wrestling partners, and Saturday nights sure date. I miss that connection with my daughter now that I have a husband.
People also treated me differently when they found that I was a single mother. Some showed distaste, others showed pity, and many showed respect. My good friend, Heidi, always called me her hero because I was a single mom and made it through both undergraduate and graduate school. But Gabby was the reason I made it through at all. As I pounded away at the computer once she had fallen asleep, I dreamt of a better life for the two of us. She’s the reason I made it; she’s my hero. I miss that sense of purpose and determination she once inspired in me.
I love my husband and wouldn’t change our lives for anything, but compromise is tough and marriage is work. With this new perspective, I now treasure those ten years where I was searching for something that I already had – the love of my life.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.