The power of acceptance is something every mom needs, but I have to think it is especially valuable to single mothers who learn to accept and even embrace their new reality after long-held expectations come tumbling down. I am lucky enough to know some strong and settled single moms who are doing a wonderful job raising their children alone even though their current life isn’t one they ever imagined they would be living. They have moved beyond surviving to thriving. One of these moms was generous enough to take time out from her busy work and family schedule to share her insights with our community. These are her words to the mothers who find themselves in the boat of single motherhood but have not yet learned to sail.
1. You are 100 percent responsible for your own happiness. You always have been; you always will be. You get to decide how you feel about this journey. If you donʼt like how you feel, you can instantly change your mind. Weʼre women. Itʼs our prerogative. Change it for the better.
2. Help is on the way. There will be challenges and struggles to make things work as a single parent. Tap into all the resources that are available to you. Family, friends, counselors and congregations are all ready to help you meet the gaps that have been created. Your life will be different as a single mother. You wonʼt have everything you want right now, but you can have everything that you need.
3. These are the basics: A roof over your head, food on the table, clothes on your back. There may be some wonderful years when that is all you have. There are beautiful things that happen when life becomes simple. True needs are rediscovered. True friends rise out of the dust. True paths reveal themselves.
4. Now is your time to dream and become. Time is an asset of innumerable value. With simplicity comes an abundance of time; learn to fill it with value. Spend it deepening your relationships with your children and rediscovering who YOU are; the person you have always been. What are your talents? What are your aspirations? Now is the time to lay the groundwork for establishing a career. You can reinvent yourself using your God-given talents. Make a plan to increase your education in areas that will help you realize your most awesome inward vision of yourself. It is exciting to make steps towards a dream. Recognize each mile marker towards your vision.
5. My parting advice is to enjoy being single. When I was a young girl I would watch “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Mary was a single woman making it in the world. I once had a divorced friend say to me, “Itʼs fun to be the Mary Tyler Moore of your community.” Hopefully, there is a loving, healthy marriage in your future and mine, but for the time being, why not make the most of being single? Think about it: You can sleep diagonally in your bed, your clothes hang nicely in a closet shared with no one, and you can make decisions that work for you without having to consult another adult. Basically, you are the master of your domain. Grab hold of the conductor’s baton and play your life at the tempo that feels good to you.
Jennifer Stott Madsen – Survivor of a 30 year marriage sentence and now thriving as a single mother of four children.