This month is my 12-year anniversary of single parenthood, and I want to share 10 reasons I would not exchange this experience for anything in the world. From time to time, both married and single parents look at the other side of the fence and think the grass looks greener. All I know is the grass includes dry patches, weeds and thorns on both sides.
1) The bond I share with my child is deeper than I believe it may be had I not been single.
2) A personality trait I have is thriving best with one-on-one interactions. Exactly why I enjoyed tutoring ESL and left a special education master’s degree program only when I got to student teaching and responsibility for an entire classroom. For me to pour vigilant attention and love into more than one human at a time is a huge challenge and difficulty. I see too much depth in each person to handle more. (Though my love for Humanity as a single heart whole is unstoppable).
3) I let go of attachment to the illusion of romantic love. Being a late bloomer by midlife, it took many trials and errors and years of “meets” (first dates), but I did it and feel free. I recognized how much suffering I was causing myself by attaching hope of a success-full life to romantic love.
4) I learned to trust myself.
5) I learned to take responsibility for my own happiness, regardless of whether that means I do things unconventionally (like walk solo marathons just because I want to).
6) My kid is awesome, despite being a teen. We have a pattern of communicating in debating style and we catch ourselves laughing at it. She has to say the sky is green and I will argue it’s blue.
7) I learned to embrace solitude and be at peace.
8) I learned I am reliable for the big things (keeping a roof overhead, paying bills, child’s medical care), and small (signing endless school permission slips and forms, being present for games and events).
9) I enjoy being able to do things one-on-one in my free time with my child.
10) I learned I need more freedom and solitude than a committed adult relationship requires, and I would not trade that self-understanding for anything in the world.
Despite my rosy list above, I especially appreciate the commentary and questions in the BlogHer post below about challenges of single parenthood and motherhood in general. Even though I chose to be a single parent by leaving my marriage, I have had to rely on state aid and food banks from time to time and struggled with many of the questions the author asks: