I have learned a lot about myself in the last few months.  Some of it good.  Some of it not so good.  Some of it downright ugly.  I have been a single mom for about 5 months now.  Just to let you know, I survived Thanksgiving intact.  And I survived my son’s 8th birthday intact (the first birthday party I’ve thrown alone.)

The best way to describe the past few months is that I have good days and bad days – just like before “the thing” (as my kids call it).  But the difference is that my good days are better than good.  They are euphoric.  I feel on top of the world.  I feel invincible and that I can do anything.  The bad days though are pretty awful.  I am filled with anxiety and fear about the future.  Debilitating fear.  I question whether I can do it on my own with 3 boys.  I worry that I have damaged my kids forever.

I know that the one thing you can always count on is that life always changes.  Nothing stays the same.  I also know that no matter how bad you think you’ve got it, there are always people out there who are suffering worse than you.  Everyone has problems.

One comment sent in response to my last post really stuck with me.  One woman wrote that she secretly resented me because she thought I had a perfect life. After I stopped laughing, I had to admit to myself that sometimes I think that way about other people.  But I can honestly say that I have never met anyone who has a perfect life. And how un-interesting would it be to be perfect?

My favourite people are those who have the ability to laugh at their imperfections.  And that stems from confidence.  Nothing is more attractive than confidence. 

As I forge ahead in this new chapter of life, I’d like to share some of the things that I have discovered about myself in the past 5 months.

The Good
I love to run.  I realize now the importance of a positive psyche.  Emotional health is as important as physical health and the two things are intertwined.  Running for me has always been about time alone.  It’s when I re-charge my batteries.

I have a wicked sense of humour.  Thank goodness.  Now if I can just convince my kids that I can be a fun parent too, like their other one…

I finally get that I am solely responsible for my own happiness.  This is huge.

The Bad
I can be a martyr.  And that’s not a good thing.  I am learning how to ask for help and how to accept support. 

I have guilt.  It is difficult sometimes to take enough time for myself.  Why?

The Ugly
I am mortal.  I expect an awful lot from myself.  Too much.  I can’t accomplish as much as before.  I just don’t have enough time to do all of the things I want to do.  I need to accept my new normal and alter my expectations.

The Answer
Schedule fun.  Whatever happened to those times when you’d laugh so hard you’d pee your pants?  Since I have been on my own, everything feels so serious.  When did life get so hard?  I miss those days of carefree, spontaneous fun. Just as we schedule time to exercise, why can’t we schedule some time for fun?

I am a personal trainer.  But first and foremost, I am a mom.  As scary as it is right now, I have hope that the future will be brighter for the four of us. And hopefully the good days will start to outnumber the bad ones. 

Be good to yourselves.

The way to optimal health is to combine good sensible nutrition with consistent strength training and cardiovascular exercise.  Consult with a physician before embarking on a new exercise plan.  Stop immediately if you feel any pain while doing these exercises.

  • Amy

    Your outlook is amazing – just the fact that you are aware of not just your limits, but your strengths is fantastic. I just want to say though, that first and foremost, you are you and you can’t let that disappear. As a mum myself, I often have to remind myself that I was me long before I became a mum and that I am not defined only by that title. I agree it is the biggest and most important responsibility I have, but it’s not all that I am. Try and remember that and hopefully, the fun will become more of the norm than something you have to schedule.

  • Laelar

    Three years in as single mom and still there are days of greatness and days of not so much. There are the days of kicking myself for being a ‘bad mom'(the rushed mornings which have resulted in yelling) but then my kids make me laugh and all is forgiven. In the painful moments I remember how I got to this place and think about what life would have been like if I hadn’t been proactive. I now understand that I became a good mom when I left a bad situation. We’re each others best support and best shoulders. It’s amazing the friends that come out of the woodwork and the ones that disappear. Let me assure you though, pretty soon, the good days out number the bad.
    Thinking of you and sending you strength.

  • Ellen

    Hi Susan, I’ve been separated/divorced for 4 1/2 years and it gets better. My kids are at least as happy and well adjusted as their friends in 2 parent households. (There are many couples who are together who would be better off apart.) I often get comments from their teachers about what great kids they are. I find single parenting easier most of the time because there is one set of rules and I am raising my kids the way I believe they should be raised. My ex and I have worked hard to stay amicable(it’s not always easy) and this has contributed to their well-being. My friends’ support has been key during my times of fear and insecurity. Go easy on yourself and good luck.

  • elizabeth

    I am not a single mom and I feel almost exactly the same about everything. Lately I have been muttering a rotating mantra of “this too shall pass” and “it’s November, it’s November.” Right now I just keep hoping that my good days will catch up to my bad.

  • Angela

    Wow…reading this made me think. I am a single Mom and have been since the day my son was born. His Dad left when I was pregnant. Since then, he’s off and on tried to come back into his life, but he doesn’t take it seriously…he thinks that it’s game. He doesn’t take feeding, bathing, napping, etc. seriously, which makes me over compensate and make it the be all and end all. I was just thinking the other day and wondering when I became such a prude and so “boring”. Reading this I realized that it’s the situation and it’s not necessarily me, being busy has made me forget to have fun. Being a single mom is hard and anyone who has a partner helping them can’t understand how difficult it is. Anyone who has a partner doesn’t understand the pure joy you get from being able to jump in the shower alone and not worry about where your toddler is. It’s the little things that I wish I had some help with. The thing that bothers me the most is at night when I am rocking my son to sleep and he wants a drink, if there was someone there it would be no big deal for them to grab something, but instead I have to put him down and leave to get him a drink, which ends up waking him up. Good luck with being a single Mom. I’ve been doing for a year and a half and it gets easier all the time…

  • cheri grogan

    Hi Susan,
    Just read your article – very well articulated. You pretty much nailed how we feel! Looking forward to our X-mas drink!

  • Jen

    Thank you, Susan. No matter what is going on in anyone’s life your approach is refreshing and applicable. I admire your candor and your ability to put it all in perspective. Because of this, you will be much more than fine.

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