Life as a Single Parent… 1 Year Later

It’s crazy to think about how quickly things can change, but I think 2020 has been a true indication of just that.

It’s crazy to think that the last time I saw certain people, was truly the last time I would see them for months, maybe even a year.

This time last year I was sitting in conflict. I was trying to listen to my brain and my heart, but I continued to ignore what they said… “Happiness isn’t here anymore. It will never be here again”.

I’ve always tried to do right by others and do right by myself. I always wanted to do the right thing, be the right person, be the right role model, be the right daughter, mother, teacher, friend, employee, etc. I wanted to be perfect.

In my mind, perfection was as little turbulence as possible, but what I forgot was, this is me we’re talking about!

I have come to understand that my life, like most peoples, will always be turbulent. It has to be because I am here to help others. I have the ability and strength to be vulnerable and transparent so others can learn from my mistakes, not feel so alone in this very large world, have a friend and confidant they can openly talk to, and also so others can realize that perfect doesn’t exist.

So, now it’s been a year of ending my marriage, being a single mother, being the only parent in my child’s life, going through a pandemic as a single parent, and understanding that my sweet baby girl is also moderately to severely autistic…

Let’s Rewind…

There have been two moments in my life where making a decision was easier than eating french fries, which is abnormally easy for me…

  1. Getting pregnant
  2. Ending my marriage

These two decisions were no brainers for me. I knew that I had to be a mom because I knew whatever was going to come next was absolutely meant to be, and that couldn’t be more true.

I know within every fiber of my being, I was meant to have Shay and we were meant to go through life together just the two of us. That alone is the most comforting thought I’ve had within this past year of being a single mom.

I remember about 14 months ago just watching my marriage crumble piece by piece. I was tired, I was frustrated, and I was honestly so over it. I was over trying, I was over caring, and I was over trying to be everything for everyone.

I was tired of not being anything to myself. I had lost myself so deeply in my roles of mother and wife, that I honestly had no idea who the fuck I was outside of those two roles.

I knew that if I continued to force the relationship with my ex that our daughter would grow up with a very distorted view of what a healthy relationship looked like, and I knew the tension and anxiety would affect her.

I was going back and forth on when to have this talk, how to have this talk, and what to say. I didn’t want to throw in the towel if I heard the words I was so desperate to hear… “Let’s genuinely work on this and put in the effort together”, but those words never came.

I was getting ready to go to rehearsal with some beautiful souls that filled my cup for the first time in who knows how long and I had had enough of the bullshit.

I decided right then and there that this was the time. I was going to be dancing for the next four hours, creating and enjoying my life again, and when I came home after being in that mental space, I wanted it to continue. I didn’t want to come home to the tension, the loveless marriage, the constant bickering.

I asked one simple question and when I didn’t get the answer I deserved I said, “I’m not doing this anymore, we’re done”.

There were no tears, there were no regrets, there was nothing but a weight lifted off my shoulders. I hadn’t realized how much of a burden my marriage had become. It was heavy.

I remember I went to rehearsal, had the best time I’ve had in years, and came home to peace and calmness.

Now, I will admit, I was scared shitless to be a single mom to a 10-month-old, but I knew I could handle it and my big girl panties were already on and fitting great that day.

single mom lifePIN IT

The First 6 Months…

The first 6 months of being a single parent were tough. Not because I was sad, I wasn’t, but because I had a new world to navigate alone.

I had become so reliant on my relationship to distract me from paying attention to myself that I had a very difficult time understanding my wants and needs out of life in addition to the pressure society would silently place on me.

  • What did I genuinely want to do?
  • What can I do now that I’m a single parent?
  • Why are people looking at my ring finger while I’m out with my kid?
  • Why do people ask if I’m the nanny?
  • Why are my tattoos an indicator for older generations that I’m ill-equipped to be a single parent that is stable?
  • Why do people feel at liberty to now ask me if my daughter was planned?
  • Why are people assuming he left me?
  • Why is being a single mom a pass for men to now speak to me with less respect?
  • What the actual fuck is Bumble?

Luckily for me, dance started to heavily present itself in my life again. I was performing, creating, teaching, and just expressing myself through the art form that has always been there for me through my darkest days.

It was bringing the right people back into my life at the right time and I was happy for the first time in a very long time.

I was slowly starting to answer those bullet point questions above although Bumble still makes no sense to me. Dating apps are weird AF…

But, life wasn’t going to stop testing me just because I didn’t have a life partner.

The Next 6 Months…

Life has a funny way of just shaking shit up when it doesn’t need to be, am I right?

I had gotten to a point where I was dancing almost every day. I hadn’t been able to say that in 10 years. It was amazing. I was working, I was being a badass single mom, I was tending to my emotional needs and I was doing the work in understanding what went wrong in my marriage, what issues I ignored prior to getting married, and what the biggest takeaways were.

I was in a really good mental space.

If you pay attention, life will always show you small signs leading up to the storm. If you are intuitive and aware, the signs are always there.

Jobs were falling through, teaching was becoming difficult, and things were just not feeling right. I was losing those joys I had found and I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just find my place in this world and focus on it for good.

It was about 8 months after ending my marriage that the signs finally hit me in the face like a ton of bricks… I think my daughter has autism.

No, I didn’t think, knew.

Shay was diagnosed with moderate-severe autism at 18-months-old. You can read all about our Autism Journey here, but long story short, the signs were all there and I took the necessary steps to make sure she got all the support and resources available to her.

The pandemic was already very much a thing so seeing anyone, including her dad became something that wasn’t an option for the sake of everyone’s health.

At this point, I had to quit my remote and virtual jobs due to her increasing appointments for virtual therapy. It seemed like each week brought on new challenges as she continued to grow, yet her mental development couldn’t follow suit.

Without diving into all the details, I was the only parent present which would become a habit, and then a reality. All communication was cut off from the other end and I moved forward in the mindset that I will always be a “Girl Mom” and “Girl Dad”.

For those 8 months, there was also no sleep. She would sleep 3-4 hours a night for 8 months and I had to be up with her when she would wake up. I think I averaged about 10 nights of 6-8 hours sleep in those 8 months and it took a major toll on me.

One thing always remained clear to me though, I would rather face the insane hardships of being a single parent to a child with special needs, then be in a committed relationship that made life harder.

single mom lifePIN IT

Reflection…

If there is one thing I had to say to sum up this past year, it would be that every challenge and hardship that is presented to you, is a testament to your strength.

There have been days where I felt like I would implode and the world was going to end… Oh, wait…It already is… JK, but I honestly thought that I couldn’t handle it anymore.

I didn’t want to handle it anymore. I was resentful, angry, pissed, and straight-up mad as fuck, but regardless I had a child who needed me to continue to grow and mature at an accelerated rate and Petty Betty needed to sit her ass down.

So in true form, I want to reflect on the things I’ve learned, realized, and have appreciated over the course of this past year…

  1. I have some incredible friends who have shown how ride-or-die they are for my daughter and me and I thank you. You know who you are… Especially, you Mr. Gabe Barillas.
  2. Love is not a solution to conflict, but it can be the outcome of conflict.
  3. When people show you who they are, believe them and accept it. Words can not and will not ever be an indicator of someone’s true colors.
  4. You are as strong as you allow yourself to be, and superhuman strength is a possibility for all of us if we decide for it to be.
  5. Being alone is bliss when you use that time to truly learn about yourself.
  6. Every part of your life’s story is for a reason and for a deeper cause.
  7. Marriage and kids is not an accomplishment to try to “hit”. It is a gift and should be cherished and seen as one. Do not chase for either one, let them happen organically in their own time.
  8. Every decision, action, and mindset comes from a decision. You decide to be strong or weak. You decide to persevere or give up, you decide to see the beauty in the pain.
  9. No one person can give you happiness but yourself.
  10. You have to be the best version of yourself before bringing someone into your world. It is only right.

The list could go on and on but at the end of the day, I have realized that my relationship brought me a lot of insecurities and anxiety. Since being alone after 7.5 years of being thoroughly attached to someone, I can genuinely say I know who I am, what I am capable of, and what I need to continue to work on.

But at the end of the day, I love me and my life’s journey.

When people ask me how I feel going through the endless struggle of trying to get my divorce finalized, my answer has always been the same, I feel great.

So, to anyone who needs to hear this… Life can be hard and a fucking pain in the ass, but even when life gets rough, you can still feel amazing and have great days and be happy. If you haven’t felt that way in a while, something needs to change, and it needs to change fast.

Thanks for supporting my journey and for all the support on this blog, my happy place on the internet.

Here’s to another year of adventure.