Like many, many young mothers, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes as a parent. Being a parent is a learning experience, especially when you’re young & unstable. You spend time trying to gather information from books, online articles, magazines, other parents & try to cook up your own version of “parenting”. Until you discover there is no such thing as the perfect mother or father, mistakes are inevitable. These are three of the biggest mistakes I made as a single Mom:
1. Dating Men Who Weren’t Ready
My first mistake, that I will never forget making, is when I allowed myself to enter relationships with men who had no love for my daughter. After I became a single mom, I only stayed single for a few months before deciding to date again. I had dated 4 men in a span of 2 years with the longest relationship barely lasting 1 year. All of these relationships were with men who were not fathers, who hadn’t been in long term relationships before, and who hadn’t previously dated a woman with a child from another man.
So, what usually happens when you’re in a new relationship? You usually want to go out on dates with each other, alone. Well you could imagine that like most single parents, my schedule didn’t really allow for much of that. My responses were always the same “I can’t, I have my daughter.” Sooner or later that phrase would become a major turn off for these men. I could sense their frustration and readiness to walk. I felt so limited & blamed being a parent for not having a thriving love life. Can I just say, that if any of my readers ever find themselves feeling this way, run as fast as you can, away from those men who aren’t ready.
So I decided that if these men wanted to be with me, they shouldn’t have a problem being around my child. It’s a package deal, not an a la carte menu. They eventually agreed, and just when I would think “this might work out after all.” I soon noticed that these men were merely putting up with my daughter. None of them every really cared for her, or attempted to bond with her. Some would even go as far as to ignore her. My first mistake, was staying in relationships like this. It wasn’t until I met my fiancé that I knew how my daughter deserved to be treated. Find yourself a man that asks you if it’s okay to call your child his child too. A man who doesn’t want to replace their father but wants to be there for them 100%.
2. Not Accepting Help
Growing up, accepting help like food stamps, county housing or anything like that was frowned upon. I was raised this way and the opinion of my family was embedded into my brain. Because of this way of thinking, I also decided that I wasn’t going to accept child support because I “didn’t need her fathers money to raise MY child.” Ew, you can just hear the arrogance in that sentence? This is my way of thinking for a while, until the family that raised me this way, kicked me & my daughter of their house.
I had no where else to go and no choice but to get whatever help I could. Let. Me. Tell. You! The programs they have available for needy families saved me. At the time I had a job that didn’t even pay me $10/hr & I had lots of bills to pay on my own. I used whatever programs were available to me until I got to where I am now. I will never make the mistake of being too proud to seek help, especially when I need it most.
3. Finding a therapist, a little too late
Transitioning into a single parent left me severely depressed, heartbroken, and miserable. A horrible mix for someone like me, with PTSD. I had lost 40-50 pounds and I didn’t even notice until one of my family members pointed it out to me. I would lash out a lot, especially to my daughter’s father. I endured horrible episodes filled with rage & sometimes I tried to cover that up with being too drunk. Which is obviously still not a good enough excuse for being a shitty person. I didn’t seek professional help until 2015. My daughter was already 4 years old by then, and you can imagine the trauma she probably went through. All because of my untreated issues.
Soon it will be three years since I’ve found my therapists. My anger, flashbacks, and triggers are much easier to live with now & I’ve learned how to cope with them. I say “live with” & “cope with” because I’m not fully convinced that these will ever permanently disappear. I just wish I had done it sooner. I can never erase the things I did in front of my daughter, but I can make up for it by showing her how to improve your quality of life and relationships with therapy, meditation & practice.
My mistakes were necessary, I had to go through them to learn. But that’s the thing, as long as you learn from them, why regret them?