The Lessons I Learned In My First Year Of Going It Alone

by Cara

The Mama Grind

 

 

Never Did I Ever… The lessons I learned in my first year of going it alone.

Recently, It dawned on me I’ve been doing this Mama thing alone for over 18 months now…

I started to recall all of the milestones in my head…The year of “firsts” had come and gone  and I almost hadn’t had time to really acknowledge the huge, ongoing changes in our lives. Its been a revolving door of chaos, but I think I have grown in every sense, more than any other year of my life.

 

 

Never Did I ever…Think I could become MORE efficient.

You know how it goes, the never ending to do list that still continues to grow and linger regardless of the multitasking all day every day. I remember being in that hazy initial shock period of realising that I was going to be doing it all alone, no back up- if I forgot to top up the nappies…too bad; because I could no longer nip out in the evening anymore just to pick up some more.

We were a duo now..I had to be on it! (This is also highly life changing when the comfort chocolate cravings kick in and you consider ordering a Deliveroo for the sole purpose of getting your fix.) I’ve found I have become more organised than ever before. When there are so many plates to juggle and it all lies with you to do it, there is no stronger motivation than your kids to get it done.

 

Never Did I Ever…Acknowledge the Importance of self care, until now.

I’ve always been the one running around after everyone else… Living with chronic illness teaches you how vital it is to look after yourself, however I have never quite got the hang of pacing myself. Parenting solo means I HAVE to be ok 24/7. I have to be well enough to look after my girl, even on a bad day. I am the only one responsible for the night wakes, the unexpected fevers..the lot!

Which means prioritising my health and having a break, both mentally and physically.  Finding small pockets of time each day, even if it is just for five or ten minutes here or there, can really see you through. If you have support around you ASK FOR HELP. Its okay not to be okay all the time!

Chances are, there are so many people around you who want to help but don’t know how…so ask, tell them what you need and allow yourself a break.

 

Never Did I Ever…Imagine how rapidly my friendship circle would strengthen.

Its amazing isn’t it. When chaos hits, your eyes are opened and you instantly find out who will be there to pick you up when you fall or even just sit alongside you. I never liked to burden my friends with my problems, but life suddenly changed and I found I had no choice but to lean on others for support.

It’s made me value my friendships more than ever. Solo parenting can be a lonely place to be at times. Not having someone else around to bounce your thoughts off, to share the load- both the highs and lows…The difference it makes to have people around you, that you can trust wholeheartedly and talk to, whether its to moan about how utterly exhausting it all can be, or celebrate something amazing your little one is doing…those special people are the ones to hold on to.

I think we always expect others will do for us as we would do for them. You learn the hard way that’s not always the case. Appreciate those who hold your hand on that first Christmas alone, who drop everything to be on the other end of the phone when your little one is in hospital… those who just know you need support. Whether it be one month in or one year in…the grind doesn’t halt and often people forget you are still very much in the thick of it.

Support is vital. Find your forever tribe- your cheer squad, and remember its always about quality not quantity!

 

Never Did I ever…Think my bond could grow stronger with my child.

We are a team.

I’m sure there will be a day in the future that she will be slamming her bedroom door on me and screaming that I’m ruining her life- I guess I will need to work through that when it happens, playing good cop and bad cop at the same time will no doubt take some practice! But for now, the bond is so strong and unbreakable. I’ve become so in tune with her needs that I feel I know her better than I know myself half the time. We have the best time together and I know that the closeness we share now will carry us through.

We really are fine, the two of us…no “just” included.

 

Never Did I ever..Expect to be bombarded with opinions and judgement so often.

Trust yourself and your gut.

People will always have their own opinion on your situation. I have found that even harder to take when you are not parenting as a team with someone else in your corner. Your job is to zone out. They haven’t lived it. They are not walking your path. It is vital to keep in the forefront of your mind…that YOU are the only one walking that road. Your gut will guide you. When everything falls apart, it can often be the catalyst to a new you. We definitely grow in times of pain and vulnerability.

No one knows your child and your situation better than you. I guess it applies to all of us parents- single or not, there is no real “art” to mothering is there? We all have our own thoughts and ideas. We do what we do to get through the day. Not every day is as challenging as the one before, but if an iPad and a beige plate is in your survival pack…you use it and you keep in mind that they will grow up just fine regardless. Some days will just be about surviving and that’s ok…

Prioritise what is most important to get you out the other side.

 

Never Did I ever expect to end up here…I still have lots to learn and I think we are slowly finding our feet.

If you are starting out and filled with fear about what is coming next…Keep in mind that although doing it alone has it’s challenges to overcome, there are so many positives to come from it too…On the days you are overwhelmed with all of the stuff..standing in a kitchen with the dishes stacked high, playdoh trailed through your carpet, beds to change, the never ending washing pile that you just can’t face putting away, bills to pay, all amongst what feels like a week long toddler tantrum…

YOU WILL BE FINE, more than fine.. you will most likely become the strongest version of yourself and be unstoppable.

 

Cara x

 

 

 

 

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