Single parenting is not the same though. Alone takes on a very different meaning. You can be lonely in a room full of people or lonely sitting on the couch in an empty room. You can only be truly, physically alone in one of those situations.
I have to admit I have definitely been lonely even with a full-time job and two small children who counted on me for everything. Three full-time jobs: two of those walked and talked and had opinions and needs that had to be met. Right now, I am thinking about it again. My Dad passed two years ago. My grandmother, who was a really big part of my life, passed last year. My brother lives up north. My sister lives on the Eastern seaboard. Easter has just passed, and that usually means family but mine are not here. So I feel lonely. And I know that many young moms feel lonely, even when surrounded with friends and family.
Sitting looking at a beautiful child that you carried into this world is amazing – Scary, daunting, absolutely terrifying, and lonely. Maybe not on day one or day 481 but I’ve been there and many, many mothers and fathers have been there. Some of you don’t have fond memories of family, bouncing from foster home to foster home. Some came from dysfunction, abuse, addictions and mental health issues. Feeling alone may have been something you struggled with at an early age, so you learned to self-soothe and learned from others how to cope. These are not always the best ways, but you do what you’ve got to do. Be resourceful. So, now staring into those beautiful baby eyes, you see yourself. You take stock of your strengths and weaknesses. You realize what you have to pass on, what you want to pass on, and what you want to leave behind in your past, so it doesn’t show up in your child. And that’s really hard to do.
It’s lonely work taking stock of your life. It’s hard when you’re almost 40 and you know yourself and have family and grounding and friends and an education and life experiences. But, when your 18? How do you do it then? Who do you lean on? It’s adult work and yet having a child pretty much elevates the expectation that a mom is automatically an adult with adult responsibilities making adult decisions. But you aren’t; you are teenagers and young adults, young parents. Often you have more life experience than three 40 year olds together. But it can be lonely learning about yourself while raising another person.
Finding unconditional support is often saved for family, but what if they aren’t the ones that you can go to? What if they are the ones that you feel alone with even in their company? Who is the guide that is there to say you’re doing a great job? Who is there when your child is sick and you need to go to school and they can’t go to the sitters? Who will you lean on when life gets too big for you to handle? Even if you are not alone it can really feel lonely.
So I want to say to all young moms, you are doing an amazing job. You are doing the hardest job in the world. You are raising yourself and raising your child. You are doing the best you can with what you’ve got. You are not alone. I know that you will feel lonely, and I promise that it will pass. Know that there are people around you that want you to succeed. They want your baby to grow up into a capable kid and you to grow up into an amazing parent and adult. So when your tank is empty and you feel lonely, know that your child loves you for all the sacrifices that you have made for them even though they don’t know it yet. Know that there are people in your family, in your circle of friends, in your community that think that you are doing a great job. And some of us, most of us have been there too, and lonely isn’t a destination, it’s a time, a space, a place you travel though.
The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program