Advice on Single Motherhood
By Anna Wahlgren
There was a time when women who wanted a child more than anything had to accept a loveless marriage to fulfill their dreams. Other women had to accept remaining childless their whole lives because they never got married. Today, those problems have faded.
Single mothers are not only accepted, they are socially respectable. Their children are not condemned and are given the same opportunities as other children. Children no longer have to suffer at school because they are fatherless. Nor do unmarried mothers have to suffer society’s scorn – which is no mean accomplishment considering the not too distant past.
If you have a child of your own and are raising it alone, don’t allow yourself to be discouraged. Your child will come into this world and she, or he, will come to you. With your child you will forge a bond far deeper that anything you long for or have agonized over.
There are some very practical things you can do to make your life as a single mom easier. I offer my advice to you in the hope that you will read these tips and realize that all of us who share motherhood are not perfect. We never can be. So don’t beat yourself up about things not always coming out exactly as you planned.
Tips for Single Motherhood
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It truly takes a village to raise a child. Have a network of people – family and friends – that you trust and can turn to for help.
- Make friends with other single parents. Having other single parent who are friends and truly understand the problems and you can vent with, is the best therapy in the world.
- As a single parent, everything takes twice as long. Learn to be organized and think ahead as much as possible. Give yourself enough time to get things done so you are not rushing around and frazzled. For example, prepare meals ahead of time so that you are not spending a long time cooking. Plan meals for the week ahead of time.
- Be present with your child for as many things as possible.
- Try to make even the mundane routines fun by having your child take an active role in some of your every day routines. Ask them to pack your snack bag while you are making their lunch box. He or she will like being a big helper.
- Don’t forget to make time for yourself. It’s easy to neglect yourself and put yourself in last place. Before you know it, you will be running on fumes.
On a personal note, what I found difficult was not being alone with the responsibility. What really hurt was being alone with the happiness. Having no one beside me to hear my child say her first words, to watch her take her first wobbly steps, to see her stretch out her little arms for her first hug, that was when loneliness cut the deepest. I ached not only for myself, but also for my child. I couldn’t turn to anyone and say, “Did you see that? Did you hear that? Look what she can do!”
You may miss out on the kind of happiness that’s shared, but being a single mother also makes you strong.
A profound and humble strength is born in anyone who must raise a child alone.
Anna Wahlgren is a renowned Swedish author and journalist. She is the mother of nine children and grandmother to sixteen. Hundreds of thousands of parents have relied on her books, For The Love of Children and A Good Night’s Sleep. They are among Europe’s best read guides to raising children.
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