Many of you will relate to Dawn, who is next in the series of single mom stories of hope and encouragement. Dawn explains how we have a support system all around us if we are just willing to reach out. Read her interview below for further encouragement.
Interview with Dawn
Q: What age were you and your children when you became a single mom?
A: I was 27 and my son was 2.
Q: What was/is the hardest part for you being a single parent?
A: Feeling like I had to be rock solid at all times. I had to play both roles, the soft mom that my son could go to when he hurt AND the disciplinarian that didn’t give in when pushed. Sometimes it was just so hard to be strong.
Q: How did you overcome your biggest hurdles of being a newly single parent?
A: I took one day at a time.
Life was just so overwhelming at times. First, I sat down and assessed my situation with honesty and absolutely no shame. I set the long-term goals that I need to work towards then broke them down into small, manageable, time-based goals. Anytime I felt like there was just too much on my plate, I would break down my day into the key tasks that had to be addressed and I would tackle them one by one. Hour by hour, day to day I would simply focus on the one most important task. I would tackle that one goal and then move on to the next. No looking forward or backward, just focus on the task at hand.
If I stopped to absorb the enormity of my situation (caring for a son that had special needs, going back to school because I had no career and needed a pathway to make money, relying so much on friends and family, super long commute, etc.) I would become overwhelmed, emotional and unproductive. That wasn’t helpful for anyone.
I also made sure I had my support system for times that I just needed to vent and feel all the emotions. I gave myself a little time for that as needed, we all need to tap into how we are doing and accept that we feel angry, scared, stressed, exhausted, frustrated, sad, etc. But then I would refocus and continue on with my one important task and just keep making forward progress.
Q: What is the best thing about being a single parent?
A: I don’t answer to anyone. I get to decide what I think is best for my son and how I will raise him. I love that I have a very special relationship with him and he is more aware of life’s ups and downs and empathetic because of our unique situation.
Q: Who was/is your support system?
A: Everyone. Don’t hesitate to build your tribe and reach out for help when you need it. I have reached out to family and friends, but I have found that complete strangers can become sudden pillars of support that you will forever be grateful for. My son was having an outrageous tantrum when we were on vacation once. I was trying so hard to hold it together. A woman walked up to me and, without saying a word, gave me a huge hug. With just that small show of support, I lost it and started crying on her shoulder. She told me I had this and I was a wonderful mom, held me tight, and then walked on. I’ll never forget how much her hug helped me on that day. This one moment has not been unique. I have come across kindness that I never expected, from random strangers, my esthetician, or the genius technician at the Apple Store. If you are willing to open up and be vulnerable, you’ll find that you most certainly are not alone.
Q: What advice would you give to a brand new single mom?
A: Take it one day at a time and be true and kind to yourself. Take time for yourself because if you aren’t happy and healthy, you can’t be the best parent you can be. Mistakes happen, but those are learning opportunities to continue growing and being an amazing mom. Be financially responsible and plan ahead. Worrying about money is often the reality but that stress doesn’t have to transfer to your child(ren).
Q: What is the most surprising thing you have learned about yourself as a result of being a single parent?
A: That I am strong and I can do anything I put my mind to.
I didn’t start out this way but being a single mom certainly made me this way. Day in and day out I did what needed to be done. Then one day I realized just how far I had come.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with newly single parents?
A: It can feel so lonely sometimes and it’s hard to see the positives. For a while, I focused on how this just wasn’t the life I signed up for or the way I wanted to raise my child. But my son and I are who we are now because of our experience. And this is NOT a bad thing. I am so proud of both of us. We are strong and appreciative and we value the people we have in our lives and the accomplishments we have made. I wouldn’t change a thing.
More About Dawn
You can find Dawn over at FI & Wine where she writes about financial independence and goal setting without giving up your wine!