As a single parent, you're solely responsible for modeling what love looks like: If you choose to remain single, you teach your kids that you don't need a romantic partner to feel complete or loved. If you move on with someone new, you get a whole new chance to model what a happy, healthy relationship looks like.
With that in mind, and to mark Mother’s Day, we asked HuffPost bloggers and readers to reflect on one thing their single or divorced mothers taught them about love, relationships, heartbreak or forging a life of their own. Read their inspiring responses below:
Don't look for someone to complete you.
Photo courtesy of Mary Katherine Backstrom
"My parents divorced when I was young and I went on to live with my mom. Her first year as a single mother, I watched as she landed a job, completed her education and became involved in our new church. I was amazed by a woman who refused to lose her identity to a broken relationship, no matter how heartbroken she felt. Later, my mom would explain that a woman is only ready for love when she is no longer in need of it. 'Honey,' she said. 'Don't look for somebody to complete you. Look for somebody who loves you completely.' Today, I'm a mother and have been happily married for 10 years. My husband is my best friend, the love my life, and my partner in crime...but he isn't 'my other half.' He is another whole. My mother taught me to recognize that." -Mary Katherine Backstrom
There's still value in marriage, even if it doesn't work out.
"Being raised by a single mother taught me practical lessons as well as emotional ones. We're both handy with a paintbrush and a hammer. We're both women who don't shy away from getting dirty. When I opened my first hair salon it was me, my mother and my aunt who painted it from top to bottom. Emotionally, we are all strong and bold women. Through mom's example, I also learned a whole lot about marriage. She's actually been married three times so as a young person I shied away from the idea of getting married myself. I felt like love wasn't everlasting and marriage vows were just empty promises. As I've grown, I've become keen to marry but I still believe love rarely lasts. I've just accepted that love -- and the moments you share with someone -- are still worth celebrating." -ReeRee Rockette
Grief and heartbreak take many forms.
Photo courtesy of Nile Cappello
"When it came to relationships, it was sometimes hard to be my mother’s daughter –- she is fiercely independent, often to a fault and has a strict no-bullshit policy. I, on the other hand, am not quite as independent or tough-skinned and have put up with far more bullshit than I would like to admit. When I went through my first real adult heartbreak, I was torn: I wanted so badly to lean on my mom for support but also didn’t want her to be disappointed that the daughter she’d raised to be a warrior was, well, not one. I did, of course, go to my mom –- and am forever grateful I did. She let me experience this heartbreak in the way I needed to and she made sure I knew that it was OK. By giving me permission to grieve in my own way -– which involved a lot of TLC marathons and tears –- she told me that we all experience life and react to it in different ways but that each and every one is legitimate. She didn’t shame me or make me feel less strong and independent than she is –- in fact, she reassured me that allowing myself to grieve the way I felt I needed to was strong in and of itself. " -Nile Cappello
Forgive and let go of your bitterness.
"My parents divorced when I was young and my father wasn't around. My mother had to take the role of mother and father. She was my hero. She raised two kids while attending nursing school and worked 50 hours a week. She had a rough marriage but she didn't let it turn her into a bitter person. From her example, I learned that you can't let your past define who you are or your future. She taught me that complaining makes the problem worse and puts you in the wrong mental state. She taught me that life is short and time is precious. You can waste time or learn how to live fully in the present. Thanks for that, mom. I love you so much." -Kimanzi Constable
Don't allow adversity to harden your spirit.
Photo courtesy of Jeaiza M. Quinones
"My mother instilled in me and my siblings a level of strength I was unaware I had until I reached my twenties. I realize now that when I face adversity, I have a sense of focus and drive that was passed down from her. At the same time, I have learned to be a nurturer and to never allow the weight of the world and the adversity I face to weather me or turn me away from people. This mindset has gotten me through depression, struggles in school, as well as my own heartbreak. My mother has seen her share of heartbreak and struggle and she's still as spiritual and gentle as they come." -Jeaiza M. Quinones
Love is not for the faint of heart.
"Through my mother's example, I leaned that love requires us to be strong enough to love when people are at their most unlovable. It requires the strength to put your needs aside to love someone who needs you, as she did as a single mom, and it requires the strength to put yourself first occasionally, too. She taught me that love is often messy and imperfect just like people. Because of her, my expectations are not for love to be a fairy tale. Love requires the strength to forgive each day -- forgive our children, our spouse, our ex-spouse, our parents -- to be truly healthy and whole. Thanks to my mom, I am strong enough to love and strong enough to know I am worth loving." -Krista Barth
Stand up for yourself -- and for others.
Photo courtesy of Drew-Shane Daniels
"At an early age, my mother taught me that when you can speak and stand up for yourself, you are, in effect, saying to yourself and the world that you matter. My mother exudes confidence; seeing her navigate life raising three children as a single mother assured me that I could advocate for myself and others around me. She also reminded me that I didn’t have to tear down others to make myself feel better. She never judged, regardless of class, race or sexuality. In not having a father around, I gained a mother who became the woman she needed to become."-Drew-Shane Daniels