We become single mums in a variety of ways. Divorce is the most common. We may choose the divorce, or it may be handed to us; however it happens we end up flying solo, and although every divorce is different, there are common parts of the process that you’ll probably relate to. By being aware of these and having a few tips to manage them, you can rest easy that while you’re going through something that may feel lonely at times, you are definitely not alone….
1. You must juggle different roles on your own
Your child’s father may be in the picture somewhere, but if you’re divorced, you’re still flying solo most of the time. If you’re not receiving enough financial support to stay home with your kiddos you must also work on top of an already packed schedule as a single mum. Raising children and creating income often use different sides of the brain. Often those two sides run counter to one another. The first, being with your child as s/he grows is a present moment activity. There are many tangible needs to fill as well as the ever-present “attention” need. Those are best done by being present in the present. Creating income on the other hand requires you to be assertive and future oriented. Nothing is ever guaranteed as we know, but if you are the sole support for you and your children you most likely feel a lot of pressure to be “on” in order to get it all done in the hopes of creating a secure future. Recognising that these two different approaches are being required of you will help. Do your best and be gentle with yourself as you figure it out. As much as you may be convinced otherwise, the world will not end if you take some “me’ time.
2. You’re consumed with your thoughts
Have you ever been with your children in body but not in spirit? You’re fixing dinner, or walking to the playground, and your little one is tugging at your shirt sleeve, “Look Mummy, look at me.” The tugging continues because you’re not engaged and your child knows it. You’re deep in thought about a past conversation or future worry. You finally realise there is a little person pulling at you and you engage. You are either relieved or upset to be torn from your thoughts. If you are still processing your divorce those thoughts will continue to sap your energy and you won’t be as available for your children. Overactive thinking is usually a sign that we don’t have enough support. Reach out to friends who will listen while you talk and maybe even help you carve out some time for a walk without children so you can think things through to resolve.
3. Stuffing your emotions
Many people want to move on from their divorce so badly that they do their best to ignore their feelings and stuff them away. Cast into the dark they become the invisible rudder that guides (or stymies) future action. The danger is that pent up anger and blame can become the lens through which we view life. “All men are jerks” has become the mantra of many a woman. Grief stuffed away is always looking for an outlet. It shows up when you are least prepared for it, like at the job interview or on a date. You deserve better. You deserve to be free of all past baggage in order to be present for yourself and your children. Remember that what you resist persists. Do your best to feel your feelings and not stuff them away. The only way out is through.
4. The transition stages
Change is the way we move through life. Life cycles. Everything ends and when they do we are thrown into a transition period that can only be described as chaotic. We find ourselves longing for the good ole days when life made sense. It’s not all bad news though. This time of upheaval is also a deeply creative and potentially empowering time. When your life is floating in pieces around you, this is the time that you get to pick and choose what you want to take to your new future, and leave the rest behind. How cool is that?
5. Time Constraints
As a single mum the time constraints you face may not allow you the luxury of putting your life back together as quickly as you would like. I remember when I realised that I didn’t have to live my whole life at once. That is what time is for. What you are doing in this moment is the most important. Focus on the one thing you can do next.
About the Author
Jeannine Lee, ACC, CPCC, GRC, is a certified life, relationship, and grief recovery coach working with singles and couples in all stages of relationship re-design including conscious divorce, effective reconciliations, successful singleness, purposeful partnerships, and life design to use the divorce experience as a powerful transformational tool.
Jeannine Lee is an author and speaker. She was a founding member of Talking Divorce radio, and has been on both Talking Divorce, and Dealing with Divorce radio programs as an emotional health expert. Her award-winning book, Beyond Divorce: Stop the Pain, Rekindle Your Happiness, And Put Purpose Back in Your Life is available at: http://beyonddivorce.com/book/, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. You can reach Jeannine by email via her website.