Looking around our world, we are shown images of an expectation of living life as a couple. Disney movies show a damsel in distress being rescued by a prince. Hallmark movies create dreams of a perfect man suddenly appearing in a woman’s life, and they live happily ever after. The Hollywood idea of a hero saving the woman usually isn’t the reality and isn’t something we should teach our children to expect.
We often have hopes of living our lives with a partner forever, but that’s not always the plan God has for us. Many people become single, and they never intended to enter the single world again. Whether it’s the loss of a spouse, especially a young spouse, or the surprising end of a marriage, there’s a transition that comes with accepting and being happy single, especially as a parent.
After spending years or decades in a relationship, it’s a strange feeling to be single again.
Entering the single world again means a fresh start. It’s an opportunity to redefine who you are, your wants, your goals, your hopes, and to learn from past mistakes.
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When I was single in my 20s, life was a lot different than it is now as a single mother in my 40s with two young children. Being single in my 20s meant I only worried about myself. My body was young, my heart wasn’t as jaded, my skin was healthier, my hair wasn’t gray, and my wardrobe had a lot more sex appeal.
As a single woman in my 40s, I look in the mirror and see the wrinkles on my face, the gray hairs on my head, the breasts that fed my children and now hang down toward my toes like flabby pancakes, and my jeans remind me to stop eating carbs while my leggings remind me they’ll still hold everything in.
I’m physically not the same woman I was decades ago when I was single. My body has changed in ways I’m proud of and in ways I wish it hadn’t. My mind and heart have changed for the better despite the hurt and pain. I’m wiser in my choices and have learned from my experiences.
Being a mother is my top priority as a single woman.
There’s a joy and contentment that has come from being a single mother. My children see in my words and in my actions that they are the first thing I think of in the morning, the last thoughts as I go to sleep, and are comforted by my presence as we cuddle during the night.
I’m not annoyed by another adult in my bed snoring loudly or making a mess in the house. I don’t consult a man about what’s for dinner, what color of bedding to get, or how to set up the family room furniture. I’m not so distracted by a man’s life that I forget to focus on my own healing or what’s best for my children. I don’t feel guilty if I leave dishes in the sink or if the laundry is piling up.
There’s a peace that comes with knowing I can do this on my own.
Eating brunch alone at a restaurant, not having to share the blankets, or pretend to care about what someone else wants to watch on TV gives me more time to heal myself and spend quality time with my children.
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My kids and I are a team, and we have an incredible bond from being in a consistent, stable relationship with one another. We enjoy our adventures together, relaxing days in our pajamas, sleepovers in my bed watching movies, falling asleep praying together, or telling stories.
We come and go as we please, knowing we are happy together and don’t need a man in our lives to define us as a family. My kids don’t care if I haven’t shaved my legs, don’t wear makeup, or what I’m wearing. They aren’t competing with a man for my attention. They know that day or night, they are my top priority, and I’m here whenever they need me.
Being content single means I’ve accepted I don’t need a man to complete me.
There are days I longed for a man’s chest to rest my head on and sob like a young child, desperately wanting strong arms to wrap around me to comfort me and help me fix the problems in my life. Now, the comfort I appreciate is with my family, close friends, my faith, or extra-long hugs from my children.
The decision to date again, if or when, means putting my sons’ best interests and my own interests together. We are a package deal.
There’s no shame in unexpectedly being single or becoming a happy single mother.