Single mothers often struggle with loneliness. Holidays and special occasions amplify the feeling of loneliness. Holidays are synonymous with family time. That is why at such times, single mothers feel their aloneness more. At such times, it is easy to forget why you live alone. You may even indulge in what-ifs about a broken relationship. You may begin to fantasize about your ex. You may forget that someone put your heart through the wringer which is inexcusable. At such times it is also possible to slip into a regular pattern of self-destructive habits. The good news is you are not deranged. Your thinking is only partly skewed. You are human. The circumstances of your life are not as you would wish them. It is only natural that your sense of aloneness should intensify during the holidays.
Single motherhood is not for the faint of heart. The loneliness weighs you down like a ton of bricks. You crave human contact like your life depends on it. To an extent it does! All the ugly things that happened in your past pale in comparison to the longing you feel. Think about the most horrific thing a person can do to you. None of that matters because you are vulnerable. You would take your ex back in a heartbeat even if you were sure he would break your heart a million more times! All the things you thought were deal breakers become non-issues. Often it is easy to disregard all your pre- single motherhood values.
The biggest hurt of all is knowing that your children long for their father. Their pain cuts deep because you cannot make it better for them. It is so easy then, to forget to process your grief, watching theirs! Yet your grief is as valid as anyone else’s and you must remember this. All the things you long for and cannot have now are valid. You long for a helper, partner, provider, a second head, the third eye. You need a wall off which to bounce your ideas, an emotional anchor. All these are valid. The things you miss with a passion matter as much as those your children need. Do not overlook them. Confront them. Learn to master and control your longings instead of suppressing them. What you feel is normal. Allow yourself to feel the emotions without becoming the emotion. Reminisce, go starry-eyed over a love song, get on the phone, and talk about it till everyone’s eyes glaze over. Yet guard against falling into a regular pattern of self-destruction. In case you do, take a long look at the woman in the mirror. Ask, “Is anyone worth this much emotion? Is he?’ Do not allow the past to define your present and ruin your future. Instead, learn from the past. You will discover an inner strength you did not know you had. You will uncover a fortitude which lay stifled. When you choose to live, you discover there’s life beyond the loss of a soulmate.
A New Normal
Covid19 has exacerbated the challenges of lone mothers a hundredfold. You have opportunities for Group gatherings. You cannot go out on a razzle. Your movement is all but curtailed. You had to scale down your list of options for celebratory occasions have. This not only rocks the boat of your life but that of your entire family. Children are restless, claustrophobic. They crave the excitement of crowds and open space. You have run out of options for keeping them contained and entertained. You too are at the end of your wits. You crave adult company, companionship, conversation, but this holiday season is different. There is a pandemic. First, understand and accept the situation you find yourself in. Accept that it is beyond your control. The circumstances your family finds itself in are not your fault. Do not feel guilty because of your limited options. The pandemic will not go away soon. We all must learn to navigate around it. We must find ways to best holiday experience possible for our families. Keep busy but do not overdo it. Get creative and host virtual watch parties and get-togethers. Try to establish a sense of normalcy by upholding established non-costly traditions. Decorate your house. Be more flexible about screen time for the children. Go for walks together to beat the claustrophobia of staying indoors.
The Battle Against Loneliness
Loneliness is often the biggest problem single mother faces. It is natural to long for the warm companionship and intimacies of marriage. Sexual urges can be extraordinarily strong, but you can control them. When a thought comes into your mind, try not to dwell on it, hard as this may be. If you were fasting, would you read magazines featuring pictures of delicious foods? Would you associate with people who talked about food? Hardly! The same is true about sexual desires. Dwelling on this can prove torturous. It may cause you to forget your values or lose focus and end up with the wrong partner. Being with the wrong partner is worse for you and your children than being alone. Feelings of loneliness will surface from time to time. Remember that no one has a perfect lot in life. Indeed, this year, the entire world is suffering in one way or another. Avoid dwelling on the past. Take stock of the advantages that you enjoy. Above all, stay focused and maintain your integrity. Be kind and true to yourself.
Guard Against ‘Otherism’
‘Otherism’ is the exclusion of a person based on perceived diversions from an accepted norm. It is the story single mothers face daily. Society has for long ostracized women based on their marital status. For whatever reason you are single, do not allow societal stigma to define your course. Maintain a realistic view of yourself. Do not compare yourself to others. Acknowledge your failings and that other people are strong in areas where you are weak. Do not assume that all people have the same flaws. Never draw negative conclusions about yourself for falling short of your expectations. Accept that you cannot do everything on your own. Accept that sometimes life spirals out of control. There are occurrences that you cannot stem and reverse and that is okay. You take a beating now and then. That does not mean you have failed. Like the proverbial sphinx, you can rise from the ashes bigger and better than before.
Single mothers often express the desire for the kind of support only a loyal mate can provide. In the absence of one, we can try to adapt well to our situations. This is easier said than done. How do you adapt and succeed in our demanding roles? How do you do so with joy and contentment this holiday season? The holidays can be a harbinger of stress. Stressors include hosting many house guests, excessive cooking, and gifting your household members. The pressure can overwhelm you when you do not have enough hands-on board or financial backing. This season, considering the pandemic situation might come with double the pressure. Look for support from trusted relatives and friends. Is there anyone you can call on for help? Do you need help with childcare, transportation, home maintenance, or emotional support? Make a list of names of people you can count on to come through for you. Keep the list current. Can the noncustodial parent help? Has the father legal access to the children? Is he responsible and willing to help? Share some of the load with him. He needs to be as responsible for his children as you are. On days such as Christmas day, make sure that you are part of the fun you plan. Distribute chores among children and delegating some duties to visitors. Do not spend the entire day in the kitchen. If you host visitors delegate duties so that you do not overwork yourself. This way you get to work and enjoy and be part of the merrymaking. Train your children to help. Give your children age-appropriate tasks. This way you help both yourself and them. Work teaches children to be responsible. A good work ethic will be invaluable later in life.
Being available for your children despite the fatigue you feel is challenging. Strive to create and sustain an environment of open communication. Set the example to help your children open to you. Also, encourage them to communicate with one another and never to go to bed angry with a sibling. Do not tolerate ‘the silent treatment’—their refusing to talk to one another. Open communication helps ease some of the loneliness you all feel. Active communication fills out the time you would spend alone in silence.
A Holiday Budget
Avoid overindulging and overspending during the holidays. You have a list of fancy foods and items you dreamed of during the year. Remember all those luxuries cost money. Set aside the amount you want to spend on food and drinks. Ensure it does not throw you off once the holiday comes to an end.
The holidays are a time when people get together to share meals and make memories. Still, you do not have to be the one to host or send invitations to everyone. With the pandemic looming overhead, host your nuclear family only. This will allow for adequate social distancing. Where possible let other family members or friends host you. This will give you a chance to rest and enjoy the holiday like everybody else.
Food and Gift Sales
Look out for shops that are clearing their stock. Avoid overspending on expensive gifts that are likely to throw off your budget come the new year. Shop for school items before the holidays end. They are usually cheaper as the focus is on holiday items.
You are the captain directing the sails during the holiday season. That is no reason to fail to enjoy the season like everyone else. Before the holidays end at least purpose to do one good thing for yourself. You could buy yourself something you craved all year. You could where possible, go for dinner at your favorite restaurant. Regardless of the financial commitments you have, do something nice simple for yourself. In honoring the tradition of giving gifts, do not forget yourself. Make this holiday season worth your while.
Create a Mental Vault. A vault is a room you create in your mind. The concept may seem abstract at first but has worked for many people. In the vault, the rules of humanity do not exist. It is a hospital you go to when your soul is sick. It is the place you take yourself out to for much needed TLC. It is a place where the authentic you resides, free of the constraints of life. It is your haven. Creating a vault in your mind resonates with Rahti Gohin’s idea of a mental haven. The life coach and health psychologist explains the steps in creating a safe place in your mind. Find her ideas here :3 Ways to Create a Safe Place in Your Mind – wikiHow
Deal with Your Grief
You may be young and new at single motherhood. You may still be navigating life’s pathways, spinning like a reed in a storm. You have mellowed with age and matured with loss. Whatever the circumstances that led you to single motherhood, you lost something. Often you feel anger, sadness, pain when relations end. Rarely do we identify our emotions as markers of grief. Grief? Yes, because you must grieve any loss. In the Grief world, it is called ambiguous grief. Ambiguous grief is the kind of grief that is harder to see. The loss is not as tangible as when someone dies, and yet it’s as real as any other grief we would feel. Allow yourself to feel the emotions when the waves come. Swim with the tide but do not let it sweep you away. Hold your head above the water. Walk the journey of grief with strength and dignity. Understand that at its end there is healing and doors to life’s opportunities. Understand too that you must deal with all the hurt to emerge stronger. You must confront the past to be ready to take on another relationship. Talk to someone who will listen to your thoughts. Talking about it is painful. Still, it unburdens you of so much pent up emotion. Whatever you do, do not shut your mind to new possibilities. Everywhere, life is full of opportunities.
Unlearn Some Rules:
Life has so many rules for women. You cannot be this. Instead, be this. Some are good and make life’s path easier to navigate. Yet, some are manipulative. The truth is you cannot please everyone so work at pleasing yourself, selfish as that may sound. As a single mother, how often do you get to indulge in a little selfishness? Shake off the burden of expectations and rule-following and be yourself this season. Life will get easier. It will be less complicated. Difficult, heart-breaking but easier to navigate. You do not have to follow tradition. You do not have to follow certain aspects of grooming. You do not have to cook and clean for Christmas because the world does. Do what feels true to you. Do what you think is right. Try your best, not someone else’s best.
Give Spirituality a Place in the Family
If you are religious, then you hold an unshakeable belief in supreme intelligence. In many lands, people worship a supreme intelligence that orders the universe. Many call him God. Whatever you conceive Him to be, present your concerns to him. In many religious faiths, the family is God’s idea. He created the first family. No doubt he wants every family to succeed. Whatever your circumstances, you can approach God in prayer about your concerns. Petition him for help and support in meeting the challenges you face. He wants you to feel secure and loved. He will provide support and care. He will be your comfort in the absence of a partner causes. Teach your children to love God. Teach them to value what God says about the family. Teach them their roles in the family setting. This season is a suitable time to discuss spiritual matters with the children.
“….a little fall of rain now and again will only cause you to bloom.“
Every dusk must herald a new dawn. In life, it is never too late to start all over. Doors will slam and remain shut only if you allow them. Be kind and gentle to yourself. Love yourself. Make time for your rest, hard as this may often prove to be. Make plans but within manageable timelines. Always remember that you are strong. That you can endure, and you have worth. Be optimistic. Look to the future with hope and anticipation.
The worst thing that could have happened to you already did. Yet here you are. In the words of the old Timex advertisement, “you’ve taken a beating and you’re still ticking”. Always remember that the darkness will keep returning, but it will NOT overwhelm that dazzling light within you. A little fall of rain now and again will only cause you to bloom.
Published By Lorraine L. Kavedza.
Images courtesy of Free stock photos · Pexels