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It Took Me Longer Than I Thought To Embrace The Single Mom Life

Two things that I heard repeatedly during my divorce were: “time will heal you,” and “it will get better.” And on most days, I really clung to those words. I went through the motions of life and had faith that one day, I’d feel amazing again. And I did — eventually. It took longer than I anticipated. But it wasn’t mourning my old way of life that slowed me down. It was accepting my new one.

As someone who was raised by a single mom, I was determined to never be one. It was a hard pill to swallow when I found myself in the same position when my now-ex moved out, when my kid was four months old. I’d actually never seen a truly happy single mom and I just didn’t want to accept that fate. Single motherhood is often depicted as a struggle, whether it was on TV, in my neighborhood, or even watching my own mother.

After all, I had already started getting flashbacks on the days I was irritable from no sleep, and remembering my mom being cold and distant for seemingly no reason. A few months into motherhood, and I was already acting like her, and honestly, I get why. This new insight made me realize that her motherhood was self-sacrifice, and even at her happiest, it was still a life spent mostly in survival mode. It didn’t help that I was in the newborn trenches at the time, adjusting to parenthood in general.

I couldn’t accept that. I wanted my son to look at me and see true peace and joy, not someone who was giving the illusion of it. And so, for a long time, I felt like a failure. I felt like the plot twist I was handed automatically put me on a trajectory to repeat the same cycle as my mother.

But I was wrong; I may be in the same position, but I don’t have to be a victim to my situation. I can still be the woman my mother hoped me to be when she raised me. I could still be all the things she couldn’t be herself.

Once I got through year one, when I could recover from severe sleep deprivation and the demands of breastfeeding, I realized that there wasn’t a cheat sheet to this. I was going to have to create the version of a single mom I wanted to be. I was going to be the mother that didn’t get anxiety whenever it was my turn to parent. I was going to be a mother that would consider her own joys, like writing, painting, and traveling, and share them with my son. I was going to be a mom that was fully supported, so I could do it on my own without feeling alone.

This took an incredible amount of self-healing. No one wants to see their own darkness (10/10 do not recommend). But once I could accept it all, and accept myself, I was able to let it all go, and make room for all the new parts of me.

Perhaps most importantly of all: I stopped asking for permission.

Even though I’d like to think I was always a strong independent woman, I had not realized all the ways I was unconsciously asking for permission in my life. I’d often think things like,

When my ex-husband and I get better at co-parenting, I will have the ability to prioritize myself more.

When my son hits a certain age I can choose me more.

When I meet someone new I can do all the fun things couples do.

I stopped revolving my life around my son, and shaped a life that made space for us both. I started living life on my terms.

I gave up on waiting for my co-parent to agree with me, and just shifted to parallel parenting. I found my people, who will do the “couple” things with me and support me more than I could ever imagine. I made time for hobbies, two of which sprouted into paid income for me.

It took me four years to get to a place where I could look back and be absolutely enchanted at the life I’ve created. If you’re new to being a single mom, I can understand how terrifying that sounds. However, I can promise you that it’s possible.

If my own story isn’t enough to convince you, I would hope that the countless women who’ve decided they don’t need to wait for a partner to have children do.

We’re built differently now. A life better than the one you imagined for yourself is waiting.

Krystal Martinez is a millennial mom, a fish parent, and a Love Island connoisseur. When I’m not freelance writing, I’m crafting! I’m the owner of Better Than Your BF, a greeting card and stationery company with emotionally available (and sometimes sassy) sentiments. You can find her at or follow her business @betterthanyourbfnotes.

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