Being a single parent while accomplishing your dreams is the burden that we don’t discuss openly enough as moms. While it’s not spoken out loud because you don’t want to come across as selfish, the fear of not making your dreams come true rings in your head just as much as the insecurities about raising a child on your own. You also don’t speak about it because before you can even get the words out of your mouth, people will audaciously tell you that you can forget it. Your life isn’t about you anymore, and you should now focus on living for your child.
This same unwanted advice was offered to me by people when I became a single parent. I even had some friends show their disapproval when I told them about my pregnancy. While it hurt, I knew they were coming from a place of concern because they knew all of the things I wanted to accomplish in life. They figured my baby would shut all those aspirations down. They tried to prepare me for my new life by telling me I wouldn’t have time for anything else but her.
But I’ve always been a watch-me-work type woman, and I knew that I could rise above any challenge in front of me, regardless of how daunting it seemed. While I was pregnant, I made a promise to myself that I would start writing professionally again after a brief hiatus of three years. I instinctively knew that if I didn’t write while tackling the task of being a single parent, I would be miserable. I also knew that same misery would translate into being a terrible mother. Sure, your child deserves the world, but as the parent, you have to be personally fulfilled to be able to give them that love and security.
For me, writing is like breathing. If I go extended periods of time without doing it, I feel like I’m spiraling downward into a monotonous stream of life. I miss it as if you would miss a dear friend that has moved away. It’s a continuous love affair, and it’s something that will always be in my life in one way or another.
While some people view their child as a hindrance, I decided to use that fuel to be everything I could be to show my baby girl that she could do anything she wanted. I wanted to be the example. How could I look her in her eyes and tell her to go out into the world and be bold if I wasn’t going to be?
But my situation was as dire as they come. I was pregnant, and my child’s father left me. Around the same time, my engine blew out in my car. My parents had already passed on, so it wasn’t like I could call them for help. I was on the bus traveling back and forth to work and walking long distances from the bus stop to get home.
Since my daughter was sitting on my bladder, I could just think about a drink and have to use the bathroom. During my daily walk home, I’d have to go into a restaurant and pretend I wanted to buy something in order to relieve myself. I faced constant humiliation. But it was just me and this life growing inside of me. I had to make a choice to be happy instead of focusing on all of the bad things and the “what-ifs.” Sure, some days felt like my world was crumbling around me, but a little voice inside of me kept telling me to hold on, and I’m so glad I did.
When my baby was two months old, I started writing again. I would get up, get us ready and push a stroller up two hills to daycare every day. Then I would get on a bus to work, come home, tend to her and then write treatments for reality shows. I recently bought a new car, and while that helps, it still isn’t easy writing treatments, writing freelance, working full-time and taking care of her by myself.
But I want you to know it’s doable. Whatever it is you want to do, DO IT! The only real limitation is you and your mindset. Get focused and use your child as inspiration to create a better life for you and yours. Organization is key. Create a system that works for you and your child and stick to it. I work a demanding job in advertising then come home and try to be the best mommy I can be. It takes discipline: I cook all of our meals for the week on Sundays, do laundry, chores, errands and organize. Either you’re willing to focus or you’re not – there is no in between.
When I look back on everything I’ve been through and how far I’ve come, I’m filled with gratitude. I’ve been able to see out my dreams and still be able to see my daughter’s beautiful smile, knowing that we are both fulfilled and thriving.
To all the single parents out there, your dreams are waiting on you, and it’s up to you to see them to fruition.