Beginning My Journey
There are so many things I wish I knew about motherhood, especially since as a society we don’t talk about it enough. I was actually at work when I was overcome with nausea that just wouldn’t quit. Soon thereafter, I discovered my life would change forever and that I would be on the motherhood journey solo.
Being a single mother has its unique challenges in and of itself. As I am mothering, I am discovering the many layers of trauma that were dormant until they were triggered by my daughter. It is actually why I don’t identify with those who label me, “Superwoman.”
Asking for help is foreign because childhood abuse and dysfunctional cultural norms tend to make the experience difficult. In realizing the lack of support and how foreign it feels to ask for help, parenting becomes a different experience. I had to work in therapy to understand why asking for help felt so foreign.
Breaking Generational Parenting Rules
From a cultural perspective, I am breaking all the rules. However, in recent years, the makeup of the family unit has significantly shifted. There is even a designated National Single Parent Day on March 21.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “Nearly 25% of all Latino children in the U.S. are raised by single moms.”
Understand, please, that you are doing an amazing job, you are doing what is best for your child(ren), you know your children best. You can absolutely address your trauma while you are parenting your child.
The following is a list of information I wish I had known and that is just good to know that can perhaps bring a sigh of relief knowing that you are not alone. This is by no means a complete list. There are so many intricacies to our own personal experiences with Motherhood. My goal is to continue this conversation and to continue to be transparent when talking about all of the challenges of motherhood. We are all thinking the same thing.
The importance of therapy
Here I am realizing that as my child grows, I grow right alongside her, identifying and making peace with my childhood trauma. It is excruciating when you have to acknowledge your trauma and understand the “why’s” and “how’s” you respond to, when you are triggered. Having anyone other than me take care of her is a huge step for me.
As a single mother, it is required for my daughter to attend daycare because I have no supplemental income (no child support) and I must work in order to take care of us. Maintaining a full-time job was next to impossible for me because of the frequency in which she has been sick with various illnesses. This consisted of endless pediatrician appointments that had us in his office literally every other week. She would get over one thing just to come home with another health issue the next day. This is the reality of childcare, and it lasts for years. Finding solutions has been challenging to navigate without the proper support systems.
My daughter was born with eczema along with dairy food allergies. It began when she was allergic to her formula after I couldn’t produce enough milk for her. She struggled until I changed her formula for a fourth time. From then, it was discovered that she had eczema and it was the reason for her reaction to the formula. From blood work, bleach baths, steroids, endless brands and types of creams, and so many tears of desperation from us both, this has been an extremely traumatizing ordeal. As a result, we have had to work slowly on eliminating her fear of bathing due to her skin having open sores and infection due to her constant scratching.
The sleep part is difficult. No one told me that parents do not sleep anymore and drastic changes in sleep patterns result. We have to learn an entirely new way of sleeping, which is typically in small intervals of time. Even at almost three years old, my daughter has not slept through the night but for maybe at best, a handful of times.
Yes. They happen. There is nothing we can do about them until the toddler has their moment with their emotions, however erratic, loud, and dramatic it may be. We pray that we aren’t at the grocery store while they happen, too. Stay as calm as you can, mama. And if you don’t, it’s ok! Stop punishing yourself for trying to be perfect. This is all a learning process.
Learning to let go
Learning to let go is a process of learning to train your brain. During a therapy session, one of the most invaluable pieces of information I was given actually had to do with statistics and data. The likelihood that my child will be abused as I was, is highly unlikely. This was so important for me in order to let go of my fear-based thinking. For example, in two years, I had only hired a babysitter once. ONCE! This is unrealistic when it comes to self-care and balance. You are allowed to have a break and you are allowed to feel peace and happiness when you take that break instead of guilt and fear.
Sharing our stories is what allows us to understand we are not alone and that we have similar experiences. If you have anything you would like to share about your journey through motherhood, whether you are a single parent or not, please comment below. We are here to support one another and to uplift each other to explore potential solutions and/or to simply listen.
Anyone affected by sexual assault and/or abuse, whether it happened to you or someone you care about, can find support from online.rainn.org. You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with someone over the phone who can help.