There are many great articles on what to do when you are suddenly faced with a divorce. But there are not a lot about what to know at the other end of your journey. In July 1999 I suddenly found myself a single mother 4 weeks after my second child was born. Seems my husband had other plans with his girlfriend which did not include me, my 4-week-old daughter or my 4-year-old son.
Let’s see…we were in the middle of remodeling our home and I just had a baby. All the above were left for me to complete. So many friends asked if I wanted to go out and get a glass of wine. You know… to unwind and relax.
My response? I can’t afford to start drinking now; I will never stop.
Then I went to a counselor who told me I wasn’t sleeping enough and that I should take sleeping pills to help me. Ummm… did she miss the 4-week-old baby part? I guess I could set her bottle in the bassinette and hope she takes a swig when she’s hungry. Good grief!
Fast forward 20 years later. I am here to tell you that you can survive despite the well-wishers who are …let’s face it…clueless to your new world. You learn to accept the cards you got dealt with.
You kinda have no choice. You learn to make the best “Gosh Darn” Lemonade you can with the week-old lemons that have fallen from the tree that was hit by lightning.
You sacrifice; you persevere, and best of all YOU WIN! Here are some ways I found to take those steps forward.
Insights From a Veteran Single Mom
1. Find Your Purpose
“As long as you have breath, someone needs what you have.”
I have found this to be a strange comfort to me. I guess I have found this to be a reason to keep on keeping on. I do have people who need what I have. But it seems that they need the very energy I need to be able to deliver what they think I have. Hmmm that’s a lot to unpack. Let’s try that again. It seems that “they” need the very energy that “I” need to be able to deliver to “them” what “they” think that “I” have. Well, that is still a mouthful. Work that one out if you can.
My purpose has morphed into many phases that I would never have known of myself before. When I found myself suddenly alone and facing the daunting task of raising a family by myself, building a house that was abandoned by my husband and left to do it all by myself, and all the while working a full-time job and going through a divorce…I had no idea what my purpose was. It changed by the hour. By the day. By the month. Heck, by the minute.
I had an infant so that was the measure of how much growth occurred each month. Literally a transforming child and a transforming mother right before my eyes. But I had a purpose. That purpose, though changing all the time was my navigation to keep moving forward. Step by step. Breath by breath. And at the end of each day, I would literally look at my babies asleep in the room they shared, and say, “Well Karen…you were a good mom today.”
2. Reaching Out for Help
“Most Holy Apostle St. Jude Thaddeus, friend of Jesus, I place myself in your care at this difficult time. Help me know that I need not face my troubles alone. Please join me in my need.”
Prayer to St. Jude
Oh, how hard it is for me to ask for help. It is probably my earliest memory as a child. Needing help. I had a twin sister who was wicked smart. She had no trouble with any subject. I failed math miserably. But for some reason, I guess in the 70’s they just didn’t think to offer a kid struggling any help, by that I mean teachers. Schools.
My mom had gone back to school herself and she had no time for this. So, I suffered. Sadly, I learned how to function well in suffering. I learned how to make it all look easy and not be phased by any of it. I normalized what felt like abnormal. I could not have known what purpose that would serve me later in my life.
But now I have come to see that it was a prophecy of some kind. It was a divinely engineered skill that was necessary when I needed it most. How to function as normal and light to the outside world; to the children you are raising alone; to the friends and family who look at you like you are Rock Star simply because you still smile and laugh while dealing with circumstances, they could never imagine for themselves.
So, in order to avoid bursting their bubbles and shaking the images I have created, I seek help in a Spiritual way. To the beings that know me best and who I feel have stood by me all these years. I seek help from those that I know will not judge me and who I know have felt every ounce of my nerves through these years. They have never let me down, but I do need to always remember to show my grati