Being a mom is hard, right? But being a single mom I can only imagine, can be really hard. Mama Megan opens up about her motherhood journey and that includes a raw look at divorce, and the new road she is walking down by herself.
Read her journey in her words:
It’s crazy to me that I’ve already been a mom for five years .On one hand, it seems like just yesterday I was cradling my first born and in awe of his tiny, perfect body. And on the other hand, there are days where I almost literally can’t remember my life before I had these two little people running around.
Motherhood has brought me my greatest joys and also my deepest sorrows. I have felt lightness and joy that I had never before experienced. I have also cried tears of pain and fear that had never been a part of my emotional vocabulary. I was always one of “those” girls who knew they would eventually be a mom and I love, love, LOVE the job. But it has challenged me in ways I never knew possible and has forced me to really look at who I am as Megan, not just “Mommy.”
Our gorgeous little guy, Parker, was born June 7, 2010. I had always wanted to be surprised in the delivery room as to what flavor baby I’d been cooking up, and the moment did not disappoint. Unfortunately, our bliss was short-lived. Parker had the world’s worst colic and it was I hate to say, a pivotal moment in our lives. We really, REALLY struggled with the constant crying and it eventually took its toll on us, on our marriage, and our living environment.
I threw myself into “Super Mom” mode. I spent the next year and a half doing as many mommy-and-me activities as possible; went to weekly mom’s groups, baby music class, Stroller Strides, and generally keeping myself as busy as possible. I didn’t realize at the time what I was doing was avoiding dealing with insanely difficult emotions and conversations that I was too scared to have.
We decided somewhere in this hazy mist to have another child. We wanted Parker to have a sibling close to his age and the timing felt right. Once again, we had success the very first attempt and I remember being kind of shocked the day that I found out I was expecting our second child. It was a complete 180 degree different reaction from the day I had found out the first time. This time there was a sense of excitement but also an underlying sense of feeling overwhelmed. I think I knew in my gut that the marriage was not working well, despite our bi-weekly therapy appointments. I was happy for Parker to have a sibling and knew I would love this child with every fiber of my being, but there was something about the whole situation that just felt slightly unnerving.
Makena Rose was born on May 21, 2012, two weeks early. She had been due on her brother’s second birthday so I was happy to get a tiny bit of space away from his bday. From the moment she was born, she was the happiest, easiest baby that ever lived. She barely cried, could be passed to anyone, napped and slept like a dream, you name it. Parker was instantly in love with her from the day she came home and has been the epitome of a loving, protective older brother ever since. I used to joke that we had paid our dues with our first infant, so the universe was granting us an “easy” baby that we could just kind of take anywhere and she’d just smile.
Although I was blessed to be able to take two full years off teaching following Makena’s birth, being a stay-at-home mom and the wife of a fireman took its toll on me. I loved being able to go to the playdates, groups, classes, etc but I also started to feel like Megan was gone. I was mom, wife, housekeeper. My entire life revolved around caring for the 3 of them and I neglected myself completely. My husband and I were very poor communicators and we became roommates, caring for two common children. It was a heartbreaking, slow-motion train wreck that I feel like I watched in an out-of-body experience.
The conversation about ending our marriage is one that I don’t like to remember but it’s seared into my memory. It was another pivotal moment. Sitting across the mediator’s table with a list of all the holidays in a year and splitting them up with my ex was truly the most painful day of my life. Discussing how to split/share birthdays, agreeing for all sorts of financial costs associated with kids, looking at calendars and figuring out what percentage of time they were spending at our respective homes – these are conversations that I wish on NOBODY. They literally tear your heart out in a way that I cannot fully describe.
I’m not going to lie – being a single mom is HARD. Crazy hard. Stressful. Scary. Sad. But also empowering. Fun. Freeing. I have pity parties sometimes that “nobody understands. I’m lonely. I want a partner.”
But at the end of the day, I have to trust that the universe is just getting me ready for my next adventure. The universe is getting my future love ready for me. And it’s none of my business if and when that person shows up in my life. That’s up to my Higher Power. I just have to continue to be the best mom, teacher, and woman I can be each day. I focus on the little conversations Parker wants to have about his Lego village, I stop washing dishes to watch Makena sing and dance her heart out to the Little Mermaid, and I try to catch myself in the mirror sporadically and say, “You’re doing all right, Meg. You’re going to be fine.”
Having a colic baby can be very hard, how did you cope?
Sometimes I just cried along with him!! In all honesty, it was the hardest six months of my entire life. I would sometimes strap him into his swing and just take five minutes to walk the perimeter of my backyard, repeating to myself, “This too shall pass.” I would sometimes do a little yoga and try to calm my breathing. Mostly, I would just try to focus on the good moments of quiet and try to keep those in the forefront of my mind when he was screaming uncontrollably. In retrospect, I wish I had asked for more help. I wonder if I had worn him more, like I did with my second child, if we would have had the same issues. I’ve wondered if he truly was colicky or if it was actually a low milk supply or maybe he was just a very sensitive baby and I didn’t hold him enough. Motherhood has a terrible way of making you second guess yourself sometimes.
I found it very strange how it got harder and easier at the same time. The laundry becomes immediately out of control; the clutter in the house is astronomical, yet I had a sense of confidence that I didn’t have the first time. I found it easier to do the day to day things with a newborn – nursing, laying her down while still kind of awake, getting her in and out of the Ergo, etc. But I remember when my second was about a month old that I called my mom crying pretty hard and saying, “You have to come take Parker for the day. My baby is a month old and I feel like I haven’t had ten minutes alone with her to just stare at her little face. I don’t KNOW her like I knew Parker.” It’s crazy how different your experience is with each child. They have their own personalities, temperments, and you react to them in different ways. The hardest thing for me was trying to find little quiet moments of quality time with them independently.
To be brutally honest, I started to cope with my post-partum depression that I had with my second child through alcohol. It started as wine on Bachelor Mondays and then eventually became a bigger habit. It helped me ease the pain of my depression, loneliness, and anxiety. When I realized it was no longer a “fun” outlet for me and had actually become a crutch, I sought help. It was the best decision I’ve ever made and completely changed my life forever.
This is the scariest question you could have asked me. I’m terrified to hear what will come out of their mouths some day if someone asks them this question. In all honesty, I’m not really sure. For the most part I’m confident that they’re doing really well. They pack their tiny suitcases with their teddies and blankies when they go to their dad’s house, and they have framed pictures of me in their bedrooms at his house (and vice versa). When we split up, my ex had been working crazy amounts of overtime for months on end, so they really truly didn’t seem to notice when he moved out. They had a hard transition period when they began sleeping at his house overnight but now, a year and a half later, we all seem to be in a groove. Our marriage counselor told us when we were separating that parents who divorce before their children are about 7 years old seem to have the easiest transitions because around that age, children begin to have a very firm sense of what their family “is.” To rock their boat at that age or beyond is pretty devastating, whereas before that age they are apparently more flexible. The fact of the matter is, my children will never know anything other than having two separate, loving, safe homes. That’s their reality and it’s okay.
Yikes! I truly believe motherhood is insanely challenging for any mother in any situation. But being a single mom is pretty rough. If I have a splitting headache or am sick as a dog, I still have to do the dinner/bath/bed routine. I don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of and all of the chores and daily responsibilities fall squarely on my shoulders. There is a lot of financial stress, anxiety about if they’re “okay,” and definitely a deep sense of loneliness. I don’t have any divorced friends so I have to admit that there’s a sense of being completely, truly alone. I don’t have anyone to talk to about what it’s like to try to date as a single mom of two little kids, or to ask how they managed a difficult situation with their ex husband. My biggest challenge is staying upbeat while they’re gone from me. They spend two nights at their dad’s house and on the first night, I’m cool. I catch up on chores, finish schoolwork, have some down time. On the second night, I can barely walk past their bedrooms. I blow them kisses and send them little prayers that I hope they sleep tight… and all I want to do is just be able to kiss their beautiful little sleepy faces.
Where do you see your self in 5 years?
I hope my kids are still healthy and happy and engaged in school/activities. I imagine I’ll still be teaching and possibly working on a Master’s degree. I hope to not be single! LOL. I’m not actively looking for a man, but I am also very much a “relationship” girl. I want my son especially to have a strong male role model to look up to, and I am patient enough to wait for the right man to come along. I’ll be 40 in 5 years so my secret wish is to be celebrating that milestone birthday on some fabulous trip out of the country. =) In all honesty, I see myself happily raising these two gorgeous kids. The rest will fill itself out…
Now that you have told the Mother Effin Truth, who do you want to nominate to tell their story as a mother? And why?
My friend that I am nominating and is happily awaiting your email is Chelsea Rockhold. She is a mom of 5 kids – 3 boys, one with autism, and twin girls. All under the age of 7 I believe…. I can’t wait to read her story!!