A No-Frills Look Into Life as a Single Mom

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Plus 4 reasons to embrace motherhood during divorce.

Single Mom Life

Being a mom is tough noogies.

In my early 20s, I remember observing a mom at a campsite sitting disheveled and catatonic in a lawn chair as her children circled her, running like mad men. At 3:30pm yesterday, I felt her pain. I sat on my sofa with both boys propped on my lap wondering how it was that 3 days had not passed since 7am that morning.

Some background information: On Saturday I took my oldest son to urgent care for asthma-like symptoms, spent at least an hour trying to secure his medications, and then struggled to hang onto my sanity as both boys lost it in the backseat over a dropped gum ball. This came on the heels of very little sleep Thursday night, and a sick kid at home all day Friday when I usually would have been exercising, writing, and preparing for a weekend with the boys.

Enter Sunday morning. “The owl is green!”

I roll out of bed with a slight, optimistic spring in my step. I offer up pancakes, cinnamon toast, strawberries, frozen yogurt, cereal and/or smoothies for breakfast. My oldest son refuses them all. My youngest son demands them all.

My now healthy older son is rolling off the top of the sofa insisting that we go somewhere. I hold him off long enough for me to squeeze in 30 minutes on the elliptical, take a quick shower, and practically force-feed him a smoothie.

We skip church to ward off concerns over his lingering cough. We go to Target instead in search of art supplies and a digital voice recorder for an interview I plan to do Monday morning. Glue, paintbrushes, tape, and a down alternative mattress topper make it into the cart. Let’s face it, mommy needs a little extra comfort these days and the free mattress from 2 years ago isn’t cutting it lately.

Next is the grocery store, and oh lord, I’d rather not recall that. Balloons, high ceilings…enough said. Somehow I remember that digital voice recorder I meant to purchase. Tough noogies.

We come home for a lunch pitstop and then pile into the car for our long-promised weekend beach trip.

Minnow Fishing

Minnow fishing on Sunday afternoon

It’s a festival weekend, which means way too many cars and bodies are crowding our Jacksonville Beach streets. It takes 30 minutes to find our lucky parking spot, and 15 minutes later we drop our belongings on the sand. I spend the next 90 minutes wrapped in a towel (it’s chilly) and serve as the official minnow catcher for a group of 6 kids. “Me first!” “Oh no, mine got away!” “I want the net!” “No you do it.”

Time to go.

It takes us 40 minutes to walk back to our car. I ask my 5 year old to carry one thing. Just one thing. He whines and moves 0.5 miles per hour until the very end, at which point he bursts into a sprint and crashes into a grand finale on the sidewalk, earning a skinned knee and ankle. He can no longer walk. He absolutely cannot take a bath due to the potential pain.

No frontal lobes. I have to remember they basically have no frontal lobes until they’re 7 or 8. My oldest turns 6 this month. Only 1 – 2 more years to go?

I’ll spare you the 3.5 hours more until 7pm. The kids are freshly bathed, fed, and watching a show. Inspiration for a Monday morning post finally strikes, and I’m in the flow.


Out of nowhere my 3 year old catapults himself from the love seat to the end table and shatters my full glass of wine to the ground. I survey my stained sofa and wonder if this is why white wine exists.

At bed time I apologize for being grumpy and remind them that mommy loves them even when they make bad choices. By some miracle, something hits me as I read the “I Love You So” book to them in their bunkbed: I love those little gremlins no matter how crazy life gets.

It’s easy to blame my stress on being a single mom. But in truth, my boys keep me going through all of life’s ups and downs. Despite the tough noogies, I would venture to say that you’re lucky if you have kids because:

1. Kids make you get out of bed. There was one time in the first week after leaving my husband that I laid down in my mother’s guest bedroom in broad daylight and cried. It lasted 15 minutes. The next week I moved into my own condo. It was go time. My boys get up at 7am every morning, and so do I. Most days we don’t stop until 8pm. There is no time for pity parties, which is a blessing and a curse, but mostly a blessing.

2. Kids give excellent cuddles. With young children in the house, sometimes you get to the end of the day and don’t want to be touched by another living human being ever. But as a single mom, I’m usually down for whatever cuddles my boys offer up for the day. Human touch is essential. I’m thankful to have it at my beckon call. (Confession: Let’s keep it real by acknowledging that I didn’t want to breastfeed as a long as I did as a married mom and sometimes I stay standing for the sole purpose of avoiding my boys fighting over my lap.)

3. Kids allow you to keep your identity as a mother. My life has changed radically in the past couple years. I divorced my husband, moved to Florida, and reluctantly resigned from an 8+ year job. Through it all, I’m still a mom to my beautiful boys. The struggles and joys of motherhood are very much an anchor for my identity, and I’m thankful for that.

4. Kids are your forever family. When I’m feeling down it’s easy to think of me and my boys as half a family. But in truth, my boys are the truest family I’ll ever know. They are mine, and I am theirs, and nothing can change that.

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