The wild ride as a solo mom

I’m a single mom. Not intentionally, but still by choice. If that makes any sense. 

I was in a relationship with toxic dynamics, one with manipulation, substance abuse and without a sense of safety, emotional or otherwise. I took on the role of ‘rescuer’ far too often (not to mention being a pleaser), while he embraced the ‘victim’ role. I lost myself completely in that relationship. I ended up leaving together with my little boy when he was barely one year old (and I was 17 weeks pregnant with my daughter). 

A lone parent, but not alone

And I’ve been a single mom, a lone parent, ever since. But I think that sounds so negative, so I prefer to use the term ‘solo parent’. After all, I’m not alone; I have fantastic friends and family who are very supportive.

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So, I’m embracing ‘solo’ motherhood. It’s been a wild ride. And an incredibly dynamic one. I’ve noticed that how I feel about solo motherhood depends enormously on which phase both the children and I are going through.

Solo mom to a toddler and newborn

The first phase – during and directly after the divorce – was the most difficult one: solo mothering both a newborn and 18-month-old toddler. This period of time was all about grieving the loss of the family unit, getting used to solo motherhood, physically recovering from giving birth, having two mini people who are completely dependent on me (continuously having to divide my attention between the two and not having enough hands), not to mention taking care of all the practical matters (writing a parenting plan, finding a place to live, working, keeping my mental health in check, etc.).

It was overwhelming. It was a matter of survival. It was stressful and above all, a very lonely time. I’ll never forget how raw it all felt. Like an open wound that healed painfully slowly. I often wanted the children to be older. This bothers me sometimes, the inability to enjoy that time in their lives.

A new phase began

But then a new phase started. I took my ‘healing journey’ seriously, took care of all practical matters and the kids did in fact grow older. Everything got a lot easier. There was light at the end of the tunnel. Right now, I no longer consider solo motherhood to be equally as difficult, but can enjoy it and enjoy it together with my children.

I am now fully aware that there are also wonderful sides to being a solo mum. The strength of the bond with my children is undeniable. It takes only a quick glance to see exactly how they’re feeling. In fact, I can feel what they’re feeling. It’s truly a ‘heart connection’. When they’re not with me, I literally feel like part of my heart is outside my body. It’s as beautiful as it is frightening. 

What I also like about solo motherhood is that I get to make all the daily parenting arrangements and decisions. That gives peace of mind – to both me and them.

The children don’t know any different

The ‘advantage’ of our situation is that the children don’t know any better. During the divorce, Ivy was still in my belly and Wilder had just turned one. So, I’ve never (yet) noticed that they find it difficult that mum and dad are not together or that this is even an issue for them. They may have questions when they’re older, but this ‘situation’ will always be their starting point. And that gives me peace of mind.

The children are with their father every other weekend. Fortunately, it’s going very well, which is great for everyone involved. The best part for me is that I can focus on myself during those weekends and get a break from taking care of the children.

Grown on a personal level

I’ve never grown so fast personally as right after the divorce. I do new things now and challenge myself more. By joining women’s clubs, I’ve had the opportunity to practice (in a safe environment) being vulnerable (again) and therapy has taught me to understand and address my own patterns and triggers. Weight training and cold water swimming let me push my boundaries and make me stronger, both physically and mentally.

I believe my children also benefit from this, not only because their mother is in better balance now, but also because they learn how important it is to take good care of yourself. That it’s okay to do what is right for your own mental and physical health. I would not have been able to show them this had I stayed in such an unhealthy relationship, which is something I am proud of. 

A conclusion to an intense period

That’s why I did a ‘motherhood photo shoot’ last year. It was a symbolic conclusion to an intense period of grieving, healing and moving forward toward a new life. It was really a turning point for me. From that time on, I have looked ahead, not back. And I wanted to immortalise that milestone.

Foto’s door

I wanted to do ‘something’ with my story and experiences with divorce, solo motherhood and my healing journey. Based on a personal need to connect with like-minded individuals, I started sharing my story on Instagram. Apart from the sense of connection and recognition this has created, writing helps me to process, put things into perspective, compartmentalise and grow. And I think that’s priceless. 

We may be flying solo, but never alone.

Lindy, mother of 2.

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