and I am a single mom. It took three months and A LOT of counseling before I could finally state that sentence without breaking down or feeling like a total failure. Now that it has been almost eight months, I think that I have gotten the hang of being a proud single mom.
That is not to say that it has gotten any easier.
Of all the women who are single moms, I believe that most of us do not plan for it. I know that I didn’t. A year ago, I thought that at this moment I would be happily married and soon to be celebrating my son’s second birthday. That’s just not how things turned out. After withstanding abuse while I was pregnant and only returning to my son’s father after he received a lot of counseling and dried out considerably, he relapsed with a vengeance shortly after my son turned a year old. I remember calling my mom, after going to class, and telling her that I couldn’t do it anymore. I needed a way out. I could not do it myself; I needed help. One day, I’ll be able to talk more about the ins and outs of the abuse that I went through. I feel like I will need to, but not today. Its not because I want attention or pity, but because enough is enough. There are so many women who will settle for less than they deserve or put up with dangerous situations for the stupidest reason in the world:
The expectations that society has for them, the expectations that they place on themselves because of those around them. I know, beyond a doubt, that there are two key reasons that I stayed in a harmful relationship for much longer than I needed to: shame and fear. What would people think if I were a single mom and no longer were with my baby’s father? Could I even provide or survive on my own with a one year old? The day I left these two thoughts or other very similar ones were on repeat. I didn’t think that I could face the world alone, much less with a one-year-old child. To make matters worse, abuse has this horrible side effect called pretending. It leads you to pretend that everything is fine or that your family is happy and whole. When you decide to leave, that illusion is shattered. Everyone will know that it was a lie.
This is the biggest problem and its definitely what needs to be communicated to the world: abuse thrives off secrecy. And shame. And fear.
All of these really horrible things are what abuse needs in order for the cycle to continue. The best thing that I have ever done and will ever do is shout everything from the rooftops. Total honesty. The scariest thing for anyone, and I really suspect it is something that most people don’t want to hear.
So, yes. I was abused. And yes, I felt shame.
And that alone is horrible enough on its own. But the saddest thing is that this shame carried into my relationship with God. I thought that I was not good enough to be a Christian anymore because I had simply done too much. I had made too many mistakes because I was an unwed mother who, gasp, was now a single mother. Every single time I would try to pray or read my Bible, I stopped because I thought that I wasn’t good enough. This seems so stupid to me now because, let’s be honest, who is good enough? Is there anyone who is good enough to deserve God? Whether you’ve done 500 sins or 1, you can never be good enough for God. We don’t deserve salvation, it is a gift. Not only is it a gift, but its open to everyone regardless of how horrible our life decisions have been or how much we have decided to step outside of God’s will. I think that God’s love is enough to cover you no matter who you are or what you’ve done. I hope that everyone, single, married, with children or not can accept the truth of God’s forgiveness.
Once I woke up to the realization that I was forgiven no matter what, I felt free.
Free to be a proud single mom who could love her child and not feel ashamed of my circumstances. There is a power in being able to own your mistakes instead of hiding them. Not only that, I actually think that it was God’s plan for me to be a single mom. Maybe even an unwed Mom. I know that is totally shocking and will probably make some people uncomfortable, but its what I truly believe. Think about it: is there anything that we do that God doesn’t know? I don’t think its ideal, but everything that happens to us is for a reason. I firmly believe that if one woman is free from abuse because of the horrible things that happened to me or if I am able to show the power of God’s grace and forgiveness to one person who feels unworthy, than everything was worth it. All of the abuse, all of the struggle, and the loneliness and frustration that occasionally comes with parenting a toddler alone is totally worth it if only one person finds the acceptance that they need.
Besides, contrary to popular belief (and the opinions of those who like to pity or criticize single moms), there are definite benefits to being a single mom that include being able to have an entire bed to myself, being able to shop in Ikea without having someone ask me why I’ve been looking at two sets of curtains for fifteen minutes, or not having to deal with violence and arguments every night. Like it or not, I am a proud single mom who has only done what was best for her son and will always continue to do whatever I believe that is. I’m sorry that this is a seriously heavy first post, but I think its ground that has to be covered if anything else that I write is to be understood. Life as a single mom is hard, especially with a 21 month old boy! But you know what’s harder? Keeping secrets and staying in an abusive relationship that is harmful to both me and my son. And now, whether it is socially acceptable or not, we live a pretty awesome life that is blessed by God even though we are all on our own.
So, basically we have a lot of shenanigans that happen every day and somehow we end up happy. No matter what, we are blessed with a lot of laughter and happiness because have each other and the unconditional love of God. Not to mention, we tend to be some very silly, happy go lucky people anyway. I hope that you can find some inspiration and humor here because, even if things seem to be going horrible for you, God has a plan for your life. And if I can say that, anyone can because this is a woman who has at least 15 crazy, unpredictable, awful things happen a day and is still smiling, believing that somehow God has a plan underneath all of this craziness. As the Bible says in Jeremiah 29: 11: “For I know the plans I have for you’- this is the Lord’s declaration- ‘plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” I hope that gives you something to think about until next time.
Until then, don’t forget that you are loved and awesome! God loves you and has a plan for you, no matter what anyone else says.