When I was pregnant, I had many opinions and ideas about what life would be like after I had children -- how I was going to be as a parent, how my child would be and how I would raise my child in a warm, loving, two-parent home. Well, not everything in life goes as planned.
Though their fathers remained actively involved in my children's lives, I was left essentially on my own with the kids. The mother I thought I would be -- who would live on the floor to play with her son and still be able to completely maintain herself, image, career and household -- very quickly turned into a mother dropping to the floor to play trains more so from exhaustion than to play. The woman who had her ideas of herself set before her very quickly put them at the bottom of her list. The image I thought I would have or maintain very quickly turned into one featuring unbrushed hair and little makeup, because I simply forgot about myself in my effort to make sure my children were always looking 100%. Lack of sleep made me the definition of a walking dumpster. Coffee became a lifeline -- if I could have it in an IV, I probably would have considered it, no joke. My free-spirited life turned into one focused on laundry and cooking (I was never very good at it, and to this day, if something is not burnt, it blows my 7-year-old's mind that I cooked it); soccer coaching and chauffering; escorting kids to and from school and preschool; paying bills; bathing kids; refereeing fights; hugging; managing tantrums; kissing boo boos and cleaning toilets (with two boys, this is a part time job in itself) and all the other things that go with parenting by yourself. There were times I felt like a caged bird, especially with my first son.
Believe me, it is totally natural for any woman to feel this way. Questioning, where did I go wrong? I was looking at everyone who remained in their relationships with the father of their child or children, feeling sad that I could not be one of "the lucky ones." After 7:30 p.m. I couldn't even get up and run to the store because I had sleeping children. I felt restricted, yet there is not a single thing I would have done differently. It never took long at all for me to look at the whole picture with my babies in it and understand why I felt like somewhat of a caged bird and how worth it it all truly was. The eyes of those children, they were able to speak more to me about love, freedom and myself than anything else in this world ever could. I didn't just trade my free-spirited life and woman in for things that were hard and time-consuming. I had traded them in for lessons and love: to learn unconditional, undying love, how to prioritize, to learn how to cook, to learn selflessness, to understand a child's mind, to hear the smallest high pitched voices yell "Mom!". I learned how to sneak in and watch someone sleep and gently kiss them, whispering, "I love you," for them to respond half-asleep "I love you, Mommy." I traded my childless woman in for the best hugs on earth and the sweetest cheeks to smooch, little toes that get bigger and bigger, hands that fit perfectly in my own. Understanding what proud really feels like as you listen to them speak or receive a compliment about your child that makes you tear up, because you are really so unbelievably proud and overwhelmed by new emotions every day.
Life rarely goes as planned. We can have our ideas as much as we want and have goals, as they are very important, but we cannot confuse failure and reality. The reality being I was not a failure, I am not a failure; I am Mom. I was dedicated, am dedicated and traded one experience in for another -- an absolutely amazing one. This is a single mother's truth.