When I was younger and thinking of my life ahead I would have never imagined myself becoming a single-mom.
In June 2016 I became a single-mom to 2 small children. My marriage ended on a Saturday morning over text message and I was at home for the day with my kids and I had to keep myself together. I would break down and cry in the bathroom, but would quickly wipe away the tears when I heard little footsteps coming down the hall. My once organized life had become chaotic in a matter of minutes.
If I was able to formulate a plan, I knew I would be ok; my house was placed on the market within days and I purchased my own house for my children and myself. There was so much I didn’t know how to do–I had to learn how to use a lawn mower, how to manage finances and how to take care of an entire house alone. It was intimidating, what if I failed, would my kids be ashamed?
To be honest, the first year was the hardest. I was ashamed to be a single-mom, it was embarrassing for me to deal with. I was forced to be away from my kids when up until that point they were always with me. I was forced to shared them on holidays, I knew it was important they spend time with their dad but that didn’t make it any easier on me.
My fear was that now my kids were different, a situation that they didn’t ask for set them apart from other students. What if someone made fun of them? What if they felt embarrassed or ashamed of their family situation?
Regardless of my thoughts or how lonely I felt at times, I was always there for them. I attended every school event, every school trip, every activity they wanted to do and supported them throughout the separation.
But while attending all of these events, I was embarrassed that I was a single mom. What did that mean? Did it mean that I was unwanted, undesirable or not good enough for someone? I was constantly questioning myself as to why I was in this situation, how can some people be in happy relationships and here I was in a situation I never asked for. I would sit at the kids events and look around at all the families and here I was alone. I was so self-conscious to be out with them alone; would someone know that I was divorced? Were people judging me?
Dating as a single mom is a whole new ball game–when you haven’t been single for 13 years a lot had changed. Dating in my 30’s seemed hard enough, add the fact I have kids to think of it becomes more challenging. On top of that I did not like my body physically, I had 2 children, I had both a vaginal birth as well as a c-section so my body was not in it’s best condition. I would go on dates and hoped someone liked me; I had no love for myself at all.
I spent so much time wondering what was wrong with me, when I should have been looking forward to my future.
I’d like to tell you that the self-conscious feelings went away on their own, however they did not. Those feelings actually contributed greatly to my unhealthy lifestyle and weight gain. It was not until I started my weight loss transformation that I felt more comfortable in my role as their mother. As single moms we put everything before ourselves—children, house chores, cooking, career; that is naturally what all mom’s do. Professionally my life was excelling, I had achieved more dreams since my divorce than ever before. I was solely working on and achieving goals and it felt amazing and no one could take that away from me.
When I started at the gym, I felt bad that I was taking time for myself. That time could be put towards cleaning, cooking or taking the kids somewhere–how selfish of me to force them to sit in a gym for me. I took some negative opinions from some people saying that the kids did not want to be there and I was forcing them. And yeah sometimes they did not want to go, but they also don’t want to go to school but I make them go there. My children have had a front row seat to my transformation, although my kids were shocked the other day to hear that I lost weight. My kids have had the opportunity to watch me struggle. push through, step outside my comfort zone and set and achieve goals. They have seen me as a happier and more positive person; they get to experience a mom who can outrun them and keep up without getting tired.
I have been very mindful of my words around my daughter specifically. Regardless of my internal thoughts, I never called myself fat out-loud, never criticized my physical appearance and never referenced a diet. I wanted to create a positive and healthy lifestyle for them and myself.
So, if you are a single mom and you are struggling with the guilt of making time for yourself, think of it this way, if you don’t make the time now for your health you will be forced to do it later through illness. Your kids want you to be happy, they are only as happy as their mother. Don’t worry about what other people say, your kids will thank you for taking that time and being a healthier person.
The one thing that keeps me going is my kids–my kids go to school and tell everyone that I box, I can lift heavy things and that I have completed a 5 km Tough Mudder. They are proud of me and they want to make me proud as well. My daughter did her first cross country meet earlier this year, willingly. Her fear was what would happen if she lost, I told her there is no losing. No matter how slow she ran or what place she finished in, she was further ahead than she was that morning.
We all tell our kids to push themselves, never give up and persevere however you can give them the opportunity to show them those values; I do every day when I make healthy choices in and out of the gym.