I have been a new mom, single mom, stepmom, and multiples mom. I have had my life upended and had to put it back together. I have had to find myself, time and time again, as I travel through this beautiful and terrifying journey of motherhood. I have had to give grace and kindness to people who have not shown me the same. I have had to balance being a mother, while also being myself, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend.
I got married for the first time in 2011. I became a mother to my oldest son in 2012 at the age of 26. My second son was born three years later in 2015. In April of 2017, I came downstairs one Saturday morning to find my then-husband and biological father to my two oldest sons dead on the bathroom floor. I had no idea what happened, called 911, began following the voice on the other end of the phone to do compressions on his chest. What transpired next is really a whirlwind as I look back, but basically over the next few days, weeks, and months, my life as I knew it completely unraveled.
The man to whom I was married was a complete stranger of a person. After arriving in the emergency room, I was told by the attending ER physician that barbiturates, opiates, and marijuana were found in his toxicology screening. I’m sorry, what? This was news to me and, as you can imagine, rather shocking. Four days later, he was removed from life support while in the ICU, after all of his body systems began shutting down and the ECG revealed there was absolutely no brain activity. He died due to a drug overdose.
During all of this chaos, my mothering didn’t and couldn’t stop.
My kids needed me more than ever, and I had to balance what I was feeling and going through with being able to still love and care for them.
In the days and weeks following, I began digging for answers. The more answers I found, the more questions I had. The hardest part was not being able to confront him, not being able to say and ask what I wanted to. Scratch that, the hardest part was telling my kids their father died, explaining what death was, and that he was never coming back (they were 4 and 1 at the time).
Through my investigation, I began to learn all kinds of things about his behaviors, relationships, and activities. It was not easy. For the privacy of my family, I won’t go into details. I will say that looking back, it was a very unhealthy marriage. Can that all be blamed on him? Probably not. But living with someone who is hiding drug abuse, and basically, their entire personal life does not make for a healthy relationship, let alone marriage. At the age of 30, I found myself a widowed single mom with two small children.
It is important to note that I had incredible family support from my parents, siblings, and family. In May of 2017, my younger brother and recent college grad moved in with me. This phase of my motherhood journey is called single mom.
Being a single mom is not for the faint of heart ya’ll. Even with my family’s support, it was TOUGH.
As a single mom, you are responsible for everything–finances, insurance, meals, clothes, activities, and EVERY SINGLE DECISION. In some ways, it was liberating. It felt good to know I was making all the choices and I didn’t have to explain myself to anyone. For me, the tough part about being a single mom was feeling like I couldn’t give enough. Could I really fill the role of both a mom and a dad? I coached my son’s T-ball league in the spring of 2018. I didn’t know the first thing about baseball (I am NOT a sports fan you guys) but I showed up for my kid. I was determined to prove I could fill both parental roles for my sons.
There were weeks we had breakfast for dinner three nights in a row. There were mornings I felt like I was going to lose my marbles just to get out of the house and get myself to work, barely on time. I remember one morning I backed my minivan out of the garage and didn’t realize one of the sliding doors was still open. The edge of the door caught on the garage wall and dismantled the door. We literally drove to my parents’ house at 7 a.m. with the minivan door stuck open. These are not my proudest mom moments.
But they are part of my motherhood journey, they helped shape the mom I am, and most importantly, they were obstacles on my single mom path that I made it through.
As moms, we want the BEST for our kids. From the first moment they are placed into our arms at the hospital, we want the best swaddles, diapers, pacifiers, bottles, baby gear, etc. As they grow, we want the best preschools, the best playdates, the best brain-developing toys, the best organic foods, and on and on and on.
I had to accept that I simply could not give my sons the cookie-cutter, traditional nuclear family–and that was OK. I had to let myself be OK with that. Eventually, I realized this didn’t mean I wasn’t giving them the best. I was absolutely doing my best! Maybe their childhood or family looked different than other kids (and different from my own), but they were going to grow to be happy, thriving, amazing people.
I encourage you to take a look at your own motherhood journey. When you are struggling, ready to send everyone to bed at 5:30 p.m., remember it is OK. You are OK. You are enough. You are doing enough. I mentioned earlier that my younger brother moved in with me during this phase. He would often say to me “head down, one foot in front of the other.” This became my mantra. No matter what phase of motherhood you find yourself in today friend, stay focused on yourself and your babies and just. keep. moving. forward.
Originally published on the author’s blog