I Never Expected To Be A Single Mom, Let Alone A Solo Mom

I Never Expected To Be A Single Mom, Let Alone A Solo Mom

Baby taking first steps toward mother with arms outstretched
Malte Mueller/Getty

Let me begin by being perfectly honest. I’m not a woman who expected to raise a child with a partner by my side. That’s because I never expected to raise a child.

Growing up, when I played, I held a brush in my hand and pretended it was a mic. Sometimes I was a rock star. Other times I was a news reporter, or a successful author giving an inspiring speech to an auditorium. I didn’t play with dolls or imagine myself as a mom. I didn’t even take part in pretend weddings on the school playground (a big thing in 5th grade). Nope, none of that stuff appealed to me.

My son was a surprise. A beautiful, magical, incredible surprise. I’m so thankful my life didn’t go according to my personal plan. The universe knew I needed my son. I’m a better person for knowing him, and I stand in constant amazement that I have been entrusted with his whimsical soul.

It doesn’t change the fact that because I didn’t envision this role for myself, I have zero idea what I’m doing. Maybe none of us really do. Imagine how much easier parenting would be if babies arrived with a book of instructions.

To make matters even more difficult, I’m a solo mom, not a single mom. This means there are no weekends off for me. Nobody to step in and help when I’m struggling with discipline, or just need a break because I’ve had a rough day. I’m truly fortunate to have my mom with us, but it’s not the same as having a partner who’s equally invested.

My son’s co-creator is Irish. He lives in Dublin. We fell in love while I was backpacking through Europe. I call him a co-creator because he’s certainly not a father. That’s an earned title, not one that’s pre-determined by sperm. When we found out I was pregnant and he decided not to be involved, the only title he earned was coward.

Being a solo mom can be brutal. Put all the obvious reasons aside, such as finances, responsibilities, and the emotional repercussions. For me, it’s being around non-solo or non-single moms (I see single moms as my soul sisters).

Whether it’s something like swimming lessons or walking into a school function by myself, I must constantly face the co-parenting couples. Two people who are hand-in-hand, proudly supporting their child. Together.

I don’t know together. It’s always just been me. Alone. Nobody to lean on. Nobody to help cheer on my child. Just me.

I look at women who have someone standing beside them, just as excited about their child as they are. It floors me. I might as well be watching aliens spawn. That’s how normal it feels.

Then, I remind myself. My idea of what those relationships are like is probably about as realistic as a pro wrestling match.

In my mind, they’re best friends who have amazing sex each night, and then spend hours talking about their day until they fall asleep in one another’s arms. In reality, they’re probably more like roommates who have scheduled sex, rarely have deep conversations, and fall asleep with their backs to one another.

Regardless, having someone with whom to share in my son’s joys and triumphs would be a welcome relief. Having someone to lean on, to share with, to lay my head next to, and to experience all of it with, would be a gift. I’ve never known what any of that is like.

That doesn’t mean anyone should feel sorry for me, though. I enjoy being self-reliant and autonomous. I’ve never been someone who needs to be in a relationship. I don’t need a man to make me feel valued or important. I’m too strong to expect someone else to fulfill me or support me, financially, emotionally, or otherwise. That’s never been who I am.

That’s not to say that I’m bitter or pessimistic. Love is a beautiful thing if you’re with your person. Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to find that person.

For me, finding your person doesn’t have to be romantic. My person is my son. No other role I’ve ever played has made me feel as valued and special, as that of being my son’s mom. It’s a role nobody can ever take from me. I’m his mom forever and always.

Recently, my son heard someone say to me, “I don’t know how you do it on your own.”

It must’ve stayed on his mind because later that night he asked me, “Mom, aren’t you glad you’re a single mom?”

I asked him what he meant by that. He said, “Well, if you were just like other moms who were married, and if I were just like other kids who had a dad living with them, we wouldn’t get to spend so much time together. He’d probably feel left out because I like having it be just the two of us.”

He was right. Nobody talks about the benefits that come with being a solo mom. I alone get to make the decisions about what we do and where we go. I get to fully experience every moment with my child. I never miss a holiday or a weekend. He runs into my arms when he’s hurt or afraid. He asks me for advice when he needs it. He tells me all about his day.

It might sound selfish, but there’s such beauty to be found in the dynamic of being a duo. A team. A pair. I get to be my child’s number one and he gets to be mine.

In the wise words of a meme I recently saw floating around, “Any woman can be a mother, but it takes a badass woman to be a father, too.”