Although becoming a single-parent at 19 set me on the path of developing me into the woman I am today, it is not the path I wanted my children to take. My son and my daughter are wonderful parents, I am over the moon in love with my grandchildren, and I am incredibly proud of how they care for their children. However, it is all of the "stuff" that comes with being a single parent that changes you.
What is the "stuff"? Depression, guilt, hopelessness, brokenness, poverty, and anger, to name a few. I wasn't prepared to be a parent at 19, some days I question if I am still prepared. It took years for me to work through all of my stuff; it takes even more effort not to dwell on the what-ifs. What if I waited to have children? What if I finished medical school? What if I never achieve my dreams? I was angry because I knew better, mad because I felt as if I failed my babies. I felt angry for having to figure everything out on my own. Distraught because I was broke and on public assistance. I was depressed because of the conditions that fueled my anger. I felt the guilt and shame of disappointing my parents. Some days I felt plain old hopeless. Anger, depression, guilt, and hopelessness ruled my world for a while. My coping mechanisms were counterproductive; I knew I had to pull it together as I am now the mother of two beautiful baby boys. These are the feelings I never wanted my children to experience.
I am so proud of how my children. It is not the life I envisioned for them, but they are great parents. I help them in any way that I can. I remember all too well, what it's like to be a responsibly unprepared single-parent. I speak words of encouragement, listen intently to what they are not saying, and I savor every moment of our parent support sessions. When my children ask for parenting advice, it's a gentle reminder of how I must've done something right.
If your child is a single parent, be kind, gentle, and loving. This is the time when our babies need the safe space of their mama's loving arms, gentle words, and forehead kisses. If your path is similar to mine, share your experience. Sharing my journey with my daughter made me human, I saw her eyes melt as we talked. I'd love to think, in her mind, I transitioned from her dad's wife into the woman in which she can call a confidant. Contrary to popular belief, being a single parent is not the end of the world. We made it, didn't we?