The Single Parent Family: A Unique Perspective From a Single Mom

Submitted by: Big Little Wolf

zzzzLoveHandI’m on the other side of the shore, long past my separation and divorce. In fact, that period in my life is a bit of a blur. And just as well. Those were stormy times, and they’re behind me; there have been plenty of incredible, unexpected adventures since. And I see my present with great clarity, with its rich store of experiences that make me smile. Presumably, more pleasurable days lie ahead.

If you’re going through divorce right now, or you’re newly divorced, I’ll come right out and say it. THIS IS A PEP TALK. Oh, not one of those everything-will-be-perfect-when-it’s-over kind of talks. That’s just not the case. Everything will be different when it’s over, and then you figure it out from there.

If you’re fortunate, you have friends and family to support you. Lean on them if you can. Disassembling a marriage is painful, and there’s no way around that. But it will get better. I know what you’re thinking – when will it get better? There’s no easy answer on that one. Everyone’s timetable is different – some depends on you, and some is beyond your control. You know – “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

For myself, I have found that joy wins out – even with personal losses, job losses, and financial losses – and I’ve experienced them all. My sons and I have been rebuilding for awhile, and what we have may not be perfect, but it’s strong, solid, and we’ve been doing it together. Which brings me to my next point, if you have children.

Many will tell you “put yourself first,” using the oxygen-mask-in-the-airplane analogy. Bad analogy. Try this instead. NEWS FLASH: “Child knocked unconscious on the soccer field, after collision with team mate.”

Isn’t that really more like it, when parents announce divorce to kids? So I say: put your children first, and I know many single moms and dads who agree. Pick your kids up off the ground, and help them heal. Ideally, two parents will do so, but it isn’t always the case. All the more reason that someone has to parent with focus and commitment, and that someone may very well be you.

Don’t think I have everything figured out. I don’t. It’s been trial and error, taking cues from my kids, great days and crappy days. But overall, I’ve known tremendous joy as I’ve parented, guided, and learned from my children. One is now in college, and the other in high school. I’m beginning to imagine wilder futures for myself. But putting their interests first these past 8 years was definitely the right choice, for us. Seeing them happy, grounded, and taking ownership of their own lives is as good as it gets.

Was I giving up myself through all this? I believe I was giving of myself where I was most needed. And life hasn’t left me unstirred; I’ve known my share of sparkling moments – romantically, sexually, and professionally.

I didn’t choose single parenthood. And I wouldn’t have. I wanted what we all want – to be loved, to love in return, to build and share a family. But it didn’t happen that way. In retaking ownership of myself as a single woman – which has been a process – I have been able to continue to learn, explore, and still raise my children well. Parts of the past may be a blur, but the clarity of the present is all about life, and the future is unknown – as it always is. But I look forward to it with curiosity, an open mind, and my scales tipping towards joy.

© Big Little Wolf / D. A. Wolf

BigLittleWolfThese days, Big Little Wolf (”Ms. Big”) reflects on life and her Daily Plate of Crazy, where she writes essays on everything – sometimes serious, sometimes fun – whatever strikes her on a given day as interesting, unusual, entertaining, or of concern.

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Dating After Divorce: An Indecent, Freaky Or Attractive Proposition?


  1. 1


    What a bulls eye BLW! Once you hear and listen to enough single parents often I feel like saying ” sorry, you’re breaking up, I can’t hear you!” Whine, whine, complain, complain, me, me ,me, life sucks, I am broke, my ex is a snake,I can’t handle the stress, blah, blah ,blah…. oops, my kids are within earshot and they now want to jump out of a window!

    Oh, don’t get me wrong, I can commiserate with the best of them :). But, I am 100% with you. It is very tough to sacrifice all for your kids. It can get lonely and it can get depressing.

    But then a beautiful thing happens. Years later, you take a look, and your kids have grown into terrific human beings. All the stuff (or some anyway) you have been trying to teach, starts to bare fruit. Then you pause, and realize that even though your bank account says zero (or less), your professional life is in ruins, you have clothes that have a button moved to fit,your transmission still needs to be fixed, and quite possibly the last wild sex ended because your alarm clock woke you up ;)…with this rosy picture, you are a wonderful success story. Your success does not have the same measuring stick of others. The last years you successfully raised confident,loving , contributing members of society, and you would not have traded that in for anything else in the world.

    Now, it is your time. Take a deep breath, have some fun, and maybe just set the alarm clock to go off a bit later ;)

  2. 2

    Wendy says

    I simply loved your article. I guess in life we tend to always look at others achievements and tend to not acknowledge our own. We are so hard on ourselves and yet we have managed to hold onto everything just perfectly. You have done well with the kids, you managed to keep a roof over your head and yes I’m sure the were hard or even tough times, we somehow manage to get through it all. So you deserve a pat on the shoulder because you have done good by your standards and not someone else’s!!

    Now put your feet up and have a glass of wine and plan that trip around the world for when the kids are out of the house!!!


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