How Being a Single Mother Saved My Life


A mom kisses the forehead of her son.I never planned to be a single mother. But that was the unexpected path into motherhood that I walked. Sometimes, that’s just how life happens.

One of my favorite societal trends is the acceptance and support of the single-parent family. Even more so, the evolution of what it means to be a family.

Think about your own family. Think about the myriad of family types in your circle.

You’re likely to know single-parent families, blended families, and multigenerational families. You know transracial families, same-sex parent families, and domestic-partnership families. You know families with adopted children, foster children, IVF children, and no children.

Families bonded by blood, by law, and by love. All families, all beautiful.

The stigmas once held against any of these untraditional family types are getting weaker. Our societal sense of community has become stronger for it. I personally feel the positive shift, raising my child as a single mother in a multigenerational home.

Becoming a Single Mother

Single motherhood comes upon us all differently.

Maybe you were in a romantic relationship with your child’s father. Married or not married, you created a sweet little family: mother, father, baby. But circumstances evolve and your traditional family falls apart. It happens to the best of us.

>> RELATED READ :: What I Learned During Year One of Being a Single Mom <<

Maybe you became pregnant unintentionally or by surprise, and you’re left without a second parent-figure to help you and baby. Or perhaps you started your one-parent family intentionally, either by biological means, adoption, or fostering. From the beginning, your journey was mother and child — a team of two.

I wish I had had the courage and independence to say that was my journey. It wasn’t. In the beginning, I wanted a traditional family, and then mid-pregnancy I changed my mind.

Making Priority Changes

Why would I suddenly decide to be a single mother, knowing that I might be choosing a more difficult family type for myself and my child? The best answer I can give you is: It was a shift in my priorities. 

Becoming a mother does weird things to your priorities, in particular when you are carrying your child. Self-care becomes paramount. Everyone knows the big sacrifices of no alcohol and no tobacco, but you might not anticipate how your mental health is an important priority, too, when caring for another life inside you.

When I became pregnant, I was in an emotionally abusive relationship. I knew it was bad, but I suffered through it anyway. And even though it was toxic and terrible, I wanted a traditional family, just like the one I had growing up.

>> LISTEN :: How to Parent After Surviving Abuse :: Momfessions Podcast :: Episode 24 <<

But the relationship issues didn’t get better. In fact, they got worse. He remained toxic as my self-care priorities changed. It wasn’t just me anymore. Now there was two of us suffering because of him. I started to become very conscious of the stress I was under in the relationship, hoping my child wasn’t being affected, or worse, that I would miscarry.

So, with priority changes comes hard decisions. You start putting your child first by making sure you are taking care of your body and mind. Though it may upheave your plans in life, those plans become secondary to the care of your child and of yourself.

At five months gestation, I made the final call. It was time for our family of three to become a family of two.

Accepting the Village

We’ve all heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. As a child in a traditional family, I never fully understood the sentiment. I had no aunts, uncles, or grandparents nearby. I felt like the only people raising me were my mother and father.

Family outside the church on Easter Sunday

Accepting the help of others to rear my child was foreign and a little scary at first, but it has been a welcome change.

My child has better relationships with his grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins than I ever had. The bonds between us and our family friends are strong. I entrust, yet require, more from my son’s teachers. My son and I have a heightened sense of community in our extended family, friendships, and peer groups.

Personal Growth

Sometimes the unfair and outdated stigmas associated with being a single mother emerge. But why? We all have our family story. Some may be just like mine.

>> RELATED READ :: Raising Strong Girls as a Single Woman <<

I didn’t anticipate the amount of growth I would experience as a single mother, and also as a woman. The joy and satisfaction I felt when I started putting myself second for a beautiful baby, instead of an abusive partner, gave me strength. My attitude began to shift from being ashamed and depressed to being personable and content.

Having a baby as a single mother was the best family decision I’ve ever made. It saved my life.


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