Personal Story

How Making the Decision to Be a Single Mom Broke Me and Built Me

single mom by choice"
single mom by choice
Source: Elevae Visuals
Source: Elevae Visuals

When I decided to have a baby, I may have jumped to the decision rather quickly, but I was intentional. My daughter was planned. My partner and I were madly in love, and as with any serious relationship, we expected—or hoped—to be together forever. If you had told me eight years ago, when we met, that we wouldn’t be together today, I probably would’ve said you were crazy and didn’t know how solid our bond was. I never thought we would be where we are now. Sifting through resentments, navigating co-parenting, and struggling to get along. The adjustment to being a single mom has been… there are no adequate words. 

I think it is so easy for us mothers to talk ourselves out of difficult decisions when the decision puts us first. Especially because we’ve been taught to be martyrs. To sacrifice what we want for the family collective. That we are asking for too much. We are embedded with a mom guilt that weaves itself into our minds to make us second-guess our wants and needs. But when is enough enough? Here’s how I came to the decision that being a single mom was best for me. 

When is enough enough in a relationship?

I had been unhappy for some time, and I know my unhappiness had made him and our home feel unhappy. But the hope that things would get better and promises to work on our relationship kept us together way longer than we should’ve been. Beyond that, when you’re with someone for that long, oftentimes you become codependent, and I struggled with the delusion that I wouldn’t be able to do it alone. 

I felt like a failure, I felt ashamed, and like somehow I was letting my daughter down because I couldn’t make the relationship with her dad work. It crippled me emotionally. I was torn between doing what was best for me and staying in a relationship because I thought it was best for everyone else. But the reality is, if something isn’t best for you, you can never be your best self for those around you.

Hitting my breaking point

My breaking point happened when life became a dimly lit fog of resentments and deeply rooted hurt, laced with words said to each other out of anger that will always break my heart. No matter how much I loved my daughter with every fiber of my being, I started to regret ever meeting him. That was my ‘had enough’ moment: When things were so bad that the beautiful memories and gratitude started to fade away. 

For a long time, I was the most broken version of myself, but because I was still living up to my responsibilities as a mother and full-time college student, I thought that made me strong. At the time, I accepted there was just something that would always be a little unhappy inside of me. What I didn’t realize was that a lot of my outside circumstances were contributing to my anxiety and sadness, and I didn’t have to just swallow it and push through. No one was going to make me happy—that was an inside job and mine alone to do. I stopped quieting the voice inside me, telling me what I knew in my heart. That we weren’t meant to be together. 

Worrying about my daughter’s wellbeing

I wasn’t only broken in the current state of our relationship but also in the circular thought of how I was burning my life to the ground and was now faced with the daunting idea of rebuilding everything after eight years. Plus, knowing how hard this would be for my daughter and wondering how I would help her through this while pieces of me were shattering on the floor around us filled me with anxiety. I didn’t have a dollar to my name. We had 30 days to move out of the place where we’d lived for six years—where we’d watched our daughter grow up. And we were fighting more and more the closer the end neared. 

The number of emotions I was feeling at once chipped away at my sanity. I was drowning in the idea that by choosing to do this, I was a bad mom. The shame and blame I continued to put on myself played on in a loop in my head, louder than the voice that was telling me I deserved to be happy. It’s hard to explain the sadness that comes from being torn over something that will alter not just the trajectory of your own life but the lives of those you love deeply. You’re venturing into the unknown. 

Working through the discomfort

As much as this broke me, it also made me feel brave. At some point, I knew that nothing could be harder than slowly dying inside. I didn’t want to wake up in five years filled with resentment, unhappiness, and feeling like I had settled for a life I knew I didn’t want. And I don’t say this to imply that my partner was horrible, but at some point, our relationship became toxic. I became a person I didn’t recognize: I was sad, anxious, easily irritated, and angry the majority of the time.

Source: Elevae Visuals

Realizing what was best for me, was best for my family

Being a single parent isn’t easy. I was so beaten down emotionally that there were parts of me that thought I couldn’t do it. There were also parts of me that knew we would significantly downsize our lives and the lifestyle we were accustomed to. But I had been sacrificing more than that already, and a period of discomfort was worth a future of happiness. And without happiness, I would never be the best mom I could be. 

Society often tells us staying together for your children trumps everything, even if the relationship isn’t healthy. I decided to break generational curses, that if I was strong enough to push through everything that was happening in my life while also going to school full-time and working, I was strong enough to leave. It wasn’t easy. It still isn’t easy. 

I’m still adjusting to being a single mom, but I know I made the right decision.

Mourning an eight-year relationship. Starting over in many ways. Realizing I had no idea who I was outside of my roles as a mother and partner. Not seeing my daughter every single day like I had for almost the entirety of her life. Figuring out co-parenting and not having control over what her life was like when she wasn’t with me. Letting go. It’s still an adjustment. But every day, I realize that it was the best decision for all of us. I would’ve never found the peace and optimism about life that I have now otherwise.

Being a single mom wasn’t something I ever imagined for myself, but now it’s one of the things I love most about me. There’s pride in doing something you never thought you could.

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