There’s nothing scarier to a new mom than going it alone.
While separating from your baby’s dad may come as a relief from mental and/or physical anguish, it will leave you face to face with the fear of caring for a small child all by yourself – there goes any personal time you thought you may have had. And the thought of becoming dependent on family members, friends, or social services is absolutely paralyzing.
When you get so overwhelmed that you don’t know what to do first and you put things off indefinitely, it’s time to break them down into smaller steps. Simply take on your #1 need first. Then the next… Of course, your individual needs may dictate a shift in the priorities below that I listed, so feel free to edit as needed. For me, the first concern I had to figure out was…
- Child care. Obviously, if your parents are close and available to help you, that would be a no-brainer. But, many of us don’t have that option for a variety of reasons.As child care assistance can deplete much of your paycheck. In many cases you may find that you’ll be better off financially by accepting temporary, state assistance than you will grinding out 40 hours/week just to turn it over to your child care provider. Each state offers a degree of assistance based upon your need and income. To find out what is available for you in your state, simply Google: Child Care Subsidy Program, (your state).After resolving your child care situation moving forward, I’d suggest next getting your relationship with your estranged ex in check…
- Lack of child support. This is as common as divorce itself when you add in the number of deadbeat dads that never married their baby’s mother in the first place. This is probably the issue that causes single moms the most anguish and it’s largely due to our own expectations: I’M doing all the work. YOU knocked me up. YOU made the promises that you can’t keep… and so on.While many of these accusations may be true, many are due to our own expectations being idealized. Many dads are not, and will never be, good providers. Many are simply bitter and resentful. The bottom line is, let’s keep our sanity and our happiness by managing our expectations – that’s the one thing we do have control over. Let the courts deal with the legalities of it.When I came to expect that raising my child would be MY full time responsibility, it became easier for me to manage (believe it or not). Which brought me to my next priority:
- Working… a lot! We all have different lots in life. Some of us work two jobs to make ends meet. Some of us work one really demanding job to do so. Many of us receive a little assistance on the side. The important thing is to live within our means and save everything we can for the most important things in life that rear their ugly heads at inopportune times.The rest of our time – our nights and weekends – are preoccupied with being fully engaged with our little ones. While this time can be exhausting in its own way, it is important to use it as a time to recharge for our work days as it’s usually much more pleasant.
- Anxiety/self-doubt/depression. Most of us mere mortals will battle these emotions. We’ll have continuous anxiety about our futures and our child’s future. We’ll continuously doubt ourselves for finding ourselves in this position and having to make life-changing decisions on our own. All of this easily leads to bouts of depression. It is your duty to recognize this for the sake of your baby.All of these perfectly natural emotions can be tamed by forming alliances with other moms in and around your neighborhood. A regular visit to the park will provide the introductions, as well as a little extra time conversing with moms at child care. You can get reinforcement from single moms as well as married moms. Both know the anxieties and the catharsis is invaluable.
A final word…
The hardest of these years is behind me now. I made it. I would have done a few things differently, but I have no regrets about moving forward as a single mom all those years ago.
You’ll make it too. You’ll do it on the back of good advice and friendships. You’ll take your lumps and adjust accordingly. And when you come out the other side, proud of the child that you raised, I hope that you take some time now and then to humbly share what you’ve learned with up and coming mothers searching for guidance.
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