My husband walked out when I was three months pregnant with my first child. After wallowing in my grief and demolishing many a tub of Ben & Jerrys ice cream, I picked myself up, got my shit together and put on my single mommy game face.
The first few months were difficult, but I eventually learned to hold my own hair back when I had morning sickness and massage my own swollen feet after a 9-to-5 day at 8 months pregnant. (I seriously recommend investing in a $5 inflatable pool mattress with the middle hollowed out.)
And sure, sometimes you yearn for that partnership — a united outlook validating that you are not ruining your child’s life before it has even begun by making the wrong call about vaccination or circumcision or the yellow clothes that fill his or her wardrobe.
And yet, despite all the uncertainty and overwhelming responsibility, I have only one regret about my pregnancy journey — I withdrew to prevent the embarrassment of sharing my poor little story with anyone and everyone. Don’t make this mistake. Your pregnancy is one of the most exciting and beautiful experiences of your life. It should be cherished and celebrated. The people in your life are there to support you — lean on them. When you look like a circle with eyelashes — you could use some weight distribution every now and then.
But even with family and friends around you, you wonder how the hell you are going to do this. With no wine or cigarette or any other vice to take the edge off. This is all you, Mama. Just the raw you.
And then, in one perfect moment when you see your beautiful baby’s face for the first time, you are filled with manna. You are suddenly rich with the most powerful currency — the love for your little one. And that is all the incentive you need. It is what keeps you going when you are shushing baby at 3 a.m., knowing you start your second job shift in three hours. Or when you drop your baby at day care and have to sidestep the conversation of “Where’s Daddy?”
But, despite all of this, persevere. The first giggle, reach for you and call for “Mama” will simultaneously recharge you and leave you weak as you realize that you are this little human’s whole world. Their first role model, friend, and superhero. Act accordingly.
And if you do, the most amazing thing will happen. Those around you will come to you for advice and look to you for direction when it comes to decisions regarding their own children. The uncertainty of earlier judgments fade far in your rear view mirror as your peers admire your sole discretion.
Being a single mom is challenging but equally fulfilling. At the end of the day, I want my child to be proud of me and that’s the yardstick I utilize in all my decision making. Thus, being a single mother has not only made me stronger, but also better. Single Mamas-to-be and those already walking this path — you have a greater capacity than you realize, use it so your baby looks up to you and is confident that Mommy’s got this.