Recently, I got a chance to collaborate with fellow blogger mama Shannon Doss; creator of MyMommyHood. We decided to produce point and counterpoint blog entries detailing our married vs. single motherhood experiences thus far. Shannon has been married for two years and is the mama of a seven-month-old son and expecting her second! I am a newly single mama of a one-and-a-half-year-old son and I’m trying to master the art of co-parenting. Our experiences have been vastly different but when it comes down to the love of our family, we share a common bond. Here is my story. Check out Confessions of A Married Mama to read Shannon’s!
I never planned on being a single mom. I’m not sure if many people do. When I became pregnant with my son, I had already been in a relationship with his father for two and a half years. We talked about marriage all the time. He officially proposed when I was five months pregnant and we pretty much began planning our wedding right away. We decided that we wanted to wait to get married until after the baby was born. We set the date, secured the venue and was thisclose to picking a caterer before things fell apart.
Long story short, I never made it down the aisle. I wish I could say that I was devastated about the break up, but that part really didn’t upset me as much as I thought it would. More than anything, I was just disappointed that my son wouldn’t get to experience that traditional sense of what a “family” meant. I wanted him to be raised in a two-parent household with a stable environment and not become another statistic of a broken home. A part of me feels like I failed him in that aspect, but deep down I know that I made the best decision for us because the relationship that I had with his dad was very toxic. My son is only a year and a half so I’m still learning things as I go; but for now, this is my truth.
Discipline: Raising a black son as a single mom is very complex. At times, I find myself overcompensating because I don’t want him to feel slighted in any way. I also don’t want him to grow up feeling entitled or like the world owes him something. I’m trying my best to find a balance and produce a well-rounded young man. It is important to me that he is independent, responsible and mentally strong; but I also want him to be gentle, compassionate and comfortable expressing his feelings. He’s at the age where tantrums are coming out in full force. I try my best to see things from a 19-month-old’s perspective. I know that a lot of it is just frustration manifesting itself because he isn’t fully able to communicate what it is that he wants or needs.
Discipling a toddler is tricky. I believe in timeouts but honestly, they’re kind of pointless because he’s one and really doesn’t understand the concept. I’ve also tried taking his favorite toy away but usually, that just results in him crying for a few minutes and then completely forgetting about it and moving on to something else. I will admit that when it comes to discipline, my son responds better to his father than he does to me. All his dad has to do is give him a firm look and he’ll straighten up immediately. Whenever I try to do the same, he usually just laughs at me. I guess I’m just a sucker when it comes to my baby. I know that as he gets older, things will become easier but for now, I’m trying my best to toughen up.
Even though we are no longer together, I am grateful that his dad is still a part of his life. I know that my son respects me, but his father provides a sense of structure and authority that I believe can only come from a man.
Routines: It’s important to me that my son has a set schedule. He spends every other weekend with his dad, but besides that, his time is split between my mom and myself. I work from home and he goes to my mother for daycare. My mother is a huge help to me and I’m 1000% sure that I couldn’t do this without her. He’s very comfortable in his environment, so it makes it a lot easier for him to stick to his routine. My son is a morning person and is up everyday before 7am. His bedtime is between 8:30-9pm, but I will admit that some nights are easier than others. He’s gotten in the habit of brushing his teeth every morning and bathing and reading a story every night. He’s very independent, so I allow him to feed and “dress” himself. Usually that just consists of putting his socks on but hey, it’s a start! My son has a blood disorder and has to get his treatments intravenously three times a week. I give them to him myself around the same time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. I’ve noticed that whenever he has a doctor’s appointment or anything that may push things back or throw off his schedule he becomes very irritable. So I try my best to remain consistent and to keep things as “normal” for him as possible.
Self-Care: I’m a huge advocate of self-care. Motherhood can be overwhelming and it’s important to not drown in it. I try to take some time out for myself daily, but that isn’t always possible. The weekends that he spends with his dad help me out a lot because I’m able to get things done for myself and for my business without having to chase after a toddler. Sometimes I wish that his father would get him every weekend instead of every other weekend, but that’s a conversation for another day. For now, I’m just grateful for the free time that I do have, and I take full advantage of it. Self-care comes in many forms and often, peace and quiet is the best kind. I also enjoy doing things like getting my hair done, cleaning and writing. I’m my best self when my mind is clear so I’m constantly doing constructive activities to maintain free flowing thoughts.
One of my favorite quotes is “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” I’ve always wanted to be a mother but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that this would be my journey. Being a single mama wasn’t a part of my plan, but it is a part of my story. Sometimes it can be difficult, but through God all things are possible. I’m determined to set a good example for my son and I’m forever grateful to be his mama.