Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Single Mother

Motherhood. That job that just about every mother you know says is the hardest, yet most rewarding job on the planet. Before embarking on this journey, you may think to yourself: Is it really that hard? It seems like it’s mostly rewarding! Can’t I just read baby books that’ll tell me what to do?  I definitely want a kid or two by the time I’m 30! I’ve been taking care of my nieces and nephews for years. I can do this!

Yeah. These are the same thoughts that ran through my mind before I “accidentally” became a mother. I had always thought that mothering was such a beautiful job and that, as women, we would just know what to do once we have that baby staring into our eyes.I mean really? We’ve been being subconsciously prepped our entire lives to be a mother! Christmas age 4: a baby doll. Christmas age 5: A crib and stroller for said baby doll. Christmas age 7: Barbie’s dream house complete with unrealistically molded husband Ken and a little baby.

You get the picture. We’ve kind of been programmed to be mothers without our permission.

Grant it. That’s the society that we live in. Please believe that gender roles, subtle or not, DO still exist. If they didn’t, the boys’ toy aisle would be full of play cleaning supplies, miniature kitchens and little Micheal’s action figure would come with a baby with bottle in hand. It’s just not the world that we live in. So, naturally,we women would think that we know exactly what to expect when we have a real baby of our own. WRONG. Soooooooo wrong. I, for one, learned the hard way.

Motherhood in and of itself is hard. But throw in a missing father and maybe even a couple more screaming children and welcome to SINGLE motherhood.We can talk about the expectations vs. reality of motherhood period, but when considering SINGLE motherhood, it honestly is a whole different ball game. And the very unfortunate thing about this is that you never really know if or when you might become a single mother. I DAMN sure wasn’t sitting in my sophomore English Lit class in college thinking, “You know what? I think I want to have a baby right now and raise it all by myself.” That statement might be fair game for someone who can’t find a reliable partner later in life and decides to take life by the horns, be a bad ass, and go after what she wants. But me? I was NOT in ANY position to be anyone’s mother, let alone doing it all on my own. Not exactly the life I had planned.

So what is it that we are truly oblivious to when becoming a mother for the first time? Let me tell you. It’s a lot. Low-key, its EVERYTHING! Name any aspect of mothering and I can point out a woman who was utterly unprepared for it’s reality.

This post is NOT to complain, or to denounce motherhood or to convince anyone to not become a mom. This is strictly to let you know that you are not alone in wishing that you knew more details before committing to such a lifelong job. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be prepared and wanting to know what you are getting yourself into! Of course, life is unpredictable and no matter how prepped you are for the future, something will always show up, punch you in the neck and put your plans to shame.

But, sometimes its okay to wonder… “What decisions would I or wouldn’t I have made if I knew the whole story???

I wish I would’ve known…

That my freedom would be so limited…

Ever taken for granted being able to go to the restroom, alone, in silence, with no time constraint? Or waking up at 3am craving Dorito’s and running to the store to get some? I mean who even thinks about NOT being able to enjoy these mere, semi-insignificant, moment of freedom? Mothers. That’s who. You can’t sit on the throne for however long you would like because: 1, There is probably a child sitting at the door or on the floor at your feet. 2. Said child might be screaming, hungry, need a change, or need food. OR 3. You want to hurry because the kids (s) are sleep and you want as much relaxation/sleep time that you can get for yourself.

Enough said.

That this mothering thing never stops…

Never. Yes, it is a blessing to be able to bare children, to raise them and to provide for them. So many children have to be handed over to the state, do not have food, or do not have the bare necessities to stay clean and healthy. It is a true blessing to be able to do this for your child.

BUT, it is sometimes disheartening to accept that this is your life now! This has suddenly become a MAJOR part of who you are. So much so that you have literally split into two people. It is never just you anymore at the store, mall, nail shop, gas station, home, etc. It’s “US” at said places. And it will continue to be that way unless you have a sitter or the child is old enough to stay home alone.

Let that soak in. Welcome to single motherhood.

That the attachment would be so strong…

You literally just spit a person out of your body. An entire person who grew inside of you and came out completely dependent on you. Please believe me when I say that you just expelled your heart from your body. The attachment is that strong. You will probably never love another person as much as you love this little person.

Therefore, when anything happens to this kid, you will rightfully lose your mind. Emotions will get scattered, your sanity may be questioned, and you may yourself feel unstable for wanting to cause physical harm to anyone who hurts your baby. Its an attachment I was not ready for. But, it is one of the most wonderful things about motherhood that I don’t think is  talked about enough. It is truly an emotional roller coaster.

That sometimes I would not know what to do…

There is no rule book. There is no baby book that spells out the true reality of the situation. There are unique things that will happen with your child that you can’t find on Google search. Your mother, sister and aunts will not always know what to tell you. Sometimes you will feel so clueless, like you are screwing up your child’s life, and are a horrible mother. You might not know what to say, how to react, how to tell your child to react, how to teach them certain things, how to give advice, etc. That list can go on and on. This is when you have to rely on your own instincts, trust yourself, and decide for yourself. Because there will not always be someone to tell you exactly what methods to take or how to raise your kid. It’s all on you. Choose wisely.

That finding love would be even harder…

Suddenly, given you are not with the father of your child, finding love becomes just a little bit harder. Only, a little bit actually means A LOT! Men have it easy when it comes to this. 9 times out of 10, they are not the custodial parent of any children born out of wedlock and said children are immediately legally and physically handed to us after birth to nurse, care for and raise (i.e. the toy aisle full of play babies, strollers and kitchen ware).

Therefore, when most men go to find love, they don’t have to find sitters every time they go on a date. They can have overnight guests at a whim without permission. They don’t have to “sneak” around with a partner because a child lives in the home. Usually, this is single mother territory. If we have any concern for our children, we don’t want multiple men prowling the home throughout our kids’ childhood. We must be careful who we bring in, introduce to them and present as a prospective father-figure in their lives. Dating with kids is a big topic. And it deserves a whole new post on a different day.

The extent to which my priorities would change…

At first sight, it seems that everything about your life has to change because of this baby. Life is no longer about you. It is all about your child. We tend to lose sight of what truly made us US, and we dedicate that time instead to the child, bettering the child, loving the child, taking care of the child. We do this also because of the countless women in our families who convince us that this is our reality now. That our lives are not our own anymore and every decision we make from here on out is about the child.

Yes, most of our decisions will effect our children now, but they are still YOUR decisions for YOUR life.

Okay, so we at Fab, Fine and Free are huge believers that your life and dreams are not dead once you give birth. Life is still about you also, not just your child. Fight us if you want. But, that’s what we believe. How are you supposed to take care of someone else if you are not taken care of first!? Sanity is needed to take care of other people

So, with that in mind, some priorities should change once you are a single mother, and some SHOULDN’T!!! It may take a few years to realize this once your child is here, but we are telling you now so that you know. You are still important. Your life still matters. Your dreams still matter. Your education still matters. Your happiness still matters. #SingleMothersLivesMatter. I’m just sayin’.

Hopefully you read this and feel a little more informed about what single motherhood really entails. Though it is a wonderful journey that will change your life forever, it is a hard pill to swallow and it should not be taken lightly. As free-thinking women, we deserve the right to know what we are signing up for. This is no more than a conversation about some things we might overlook before embarking on single motherhood.

If you are doing it alone, this is your reality. And maybe if you would’ve known some things, you would’ve raised your kid different, paid more attention to yourself in the process, or maybe even not had sex outside of marriage at all. All tips we could pass on to younger women so that they can think straight when they must make such a huge decision.

We can’t go back in life, just make the best of what it is now and make it better in the future. But it doesn’t hurt to process our feelings and maybe help the next woman along the way.

What do you wish YOU knew before taking on such a demanding job? Let us know in the comments! 🙂

This job is INDEED rewarding. But let me tell you: It ain’t made for the weak. That is, if you desire to do it right.


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Maya is the founder of and Fab Fine & Free GLAM Services. She is a mother, pizza-eater and a lover of life. She currently resides in St. Louis, MO.

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