A Cup of Comfort for Single Mothers; a Book You’ll Want on Your Nightstand!

By Melissa Chapman

cup-of-comfortWhether you’re a newly single Mom or you’re been doing your single Mom strut for several years, A Cup of Comfort for Single Mothers is a compilation of poignant, funny and authentic universal truths that will resonate with you.
“Not a day goes by when a single mother couldn’t use a little comfort,” says editor and single Mom Colleen Sell, who feels single Moms don’t get nearly enough “atta-girls” and “You-can-do-its” and “You-and-your-kids-are-going-to-be-okays. “This book pays homage to all single mothers and basically says, “You’re not alone. We understand and honor you. You rock!”
According to Sell, the book’s 49 stories celebrate all the unique aspects of being or growing up with a single mother. One of Sell’s favorites is “Altars of Sacrifice,” by Amy Hudock which is the quintessential lament of single mothers everywhere and gives voice to the many sacrifices most single mothers make,being stretched so thin — physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually, mentally –that virtually nothing is left for themselves. Then, in the middle of yet another sleepless night for this single Mom, comes an aha moment.
This beleaguered woman — who yearns for pleasure, peace, and partnership,but for years has been unable to envision, much less take a single step toward, those desires — realizes that, while she has been riding the tide of responsibility and worry, she has become an observer of her own life, rather than its captain and champion.And she decides, literally and figuratively, to get back in the saddle again.
As Amy eloquently writes in her story: “Maybe I haven’t been ready, and I needed the time to sit and watch. But the fact that I am even wondering about why I am still sitting here suggests that I am no longer content being an observer. I need to dust off my saddle and find my boots. Jumping a horse is the closest thing to flying I have ever known. Perhaps if I remember how to fly, I will remember how to sleep—and once I’m able to sleep again, maybe I can allow myself to dream.
Another theme reflected in the book illustrates the often tenuous feelings single Mothers harbor towards their ex especially insofar as it relates, directly or indirectly, to the kids, and is eloquently relayed in “A Single Mother’s Wish List,” by Cathy Craig. Craig says one of the “hard” lessons she learned was “dropping my daddy envy.”
Any single mom with a “Disneyland Daddy” for an ex will relate to this story. How do you compete with an ex who showers your kids with cool stuff and experiences you can’t afford?
Well, you don’t. Instead, you be the best mom you can be, and you allow your kids to enjoy their father’s attention and gifts, guilt- and angst-free. But that’s not the only lesson this story imparts: Cathy also learned the wisdom of not dissing her ex, the benefit of complimenting him to her children, and the importance of her children feeling good about loving both of their parents.
Of course, not all exes are willing and able co parents, which presents a different set of challenges for single moms and their kids. A few stories in A Cup of Comfort for Single Mothers address this challenge.
In “The Ties that Heal,” Samantha Waltz gives a candid look at a contentious relationship with her fault-finding ex, which comes to a head after an accident crushes their son’s spine and legs. Of course, the ex blames Samantha for the accident, which causes her to question herself. Worse, because of her own injuries from the accident, she is unable to care for her son when he is released from the hospital. He recuperates for several months at his father’s home, where his dad and his stay-at-home stepmother can look after him. Sam is forced to visit her son under the critical eye of her ex.
This story is packed with lessons—among them, to trust yourself and that being from a broken home really is better than living in one. But with regard to dealing with an ex, the most important messages to “get” from this story are that your ex’s opinion of you doesn’t mean a thing unless you allow it to; that, even though you must sometimes suck it up and work together with your ex on your child’s behalf, you don’t have to be on the same page with your ex and you can take a very different parenting approach than he does and still raise healthy, happy kids; and that your and your ex’s lives really are separate now, which is a good thing, sometimes a very good thing.
A few stories deal with being the single mother of a fatherless child, the mothers are also widows. The lessons in these stories translate well to the lives of all single mothers: letting go (of the past, of expectations) and learning as you go (when you know better, you do better), sticking together as a family.
In “What Goes Around,” Tammy Goodsell Friese tells the story of a woman who solo-parents a “high-maintenance” child, first while married to an at-home but hands-off father and then as a divorced woman. These excerpts provide a glimpse into the key lessons this single mother learned through her experiences:
“She got through the marriage the same way she had survived colic: alone and one moment at a time. She couldn’t help it; she sobbed out her biggest fear. “I don’t know if I can do it alone.” “Mom,” he said, “you’ve always done it before.” … It is a universal truth that sometimes life just isn’t fair. There will always be those who take from others and get away with it, but there will also be those who know what true wealth really is. Annie has only to look at her son to know that sometimes things really do work out for the best.”
Juggling family/work/friends/self-care/life is an enormous challenge even for working mothers with partners who actually share the load. It’s many times more challenging for single mothers. Single motherhoood is one giant, never-ending balancing act.

So you find ways to lighten the load — a “village” of supporters; “good-enough” housekeeping; hired help, if you can afford it; compromises at work and at home. You get creative, and you get less downtime. You sacrifice.

 

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