Go ahead. Take a look back at your early twenties when you could go out with friends, stay up all night, go on a midnight run to the grocery store for ice cream… ahhh, wasn’t that nice? I didn’t have that. I was one of those girls that got pregnant at 19 years old. I remember all of the comments from friends and family regarding my options. As a hot political topic, I’m not going there. I’ll just tell you that I was a mom by 20 years old. I went through pregnancy like a “champ” meaning- I was throwing up the entire time. My son came into this world swinging. He was so tiny, jaundice and other things kept him in the ICU for 2 weeks. I sat there by his side alone, with few visitors to check on us. He came home with what some moms know as “cholic” and I only know as the end of sleep as I knew it. I thought I was going to completely lose my mind. I called a “mommy” neighbor at one point just begging her to get him to stop crying. His father went POOF!
Let’s walk a few years down the road, a few random jobs later, and WOW! Meet my new dream-come-true. What a perfect guy! He’ll be a great father to my son. I can’t even tell you how many times I heard “Oops, I did it again” in my head those first few months of hanging my head over the toilet or nearest trash can. Don’t get me wrong, this guy really tried. But let’s be honest, not many guys in their early twenties want a ready-made family.
I packed what I could fit in my car, and drove 5 states over to my mom. I needed help. She was the one that took me to the hospital when I went into labor a month early. She was the one that carried my sleeping son out of the delivery room as I brought my sweet little girl into the world. My daughter is the fighter in this family. She wasn’t even 5 lbs when I brought her home. Just to brag, I drove myself home from the hospital and picked up my son from school on the way.
From then on, I truly recognized that I was a single mom of two children. I had to get my act together! My mom helped when she could, but I was back to finding my career as soon as my daughter was old enough for child care. So I did. I went from the bottom of the totem pole to bursting at the seams with creativity. I had a house, a career, a car with a nice crack in the windshield… I did it. I was doing what every single mom could hope for, right up to the day that I realized those random headaches I was having decided to stick around.
Within 3 months of seeing a neurologist to my pre-operation MRI, my brain tumor had doubled in size. I had to update my Last Will and Testament, make plans for my children if I landed in that worst case scenario, and take time to write letters to my young children. There’s something in writing a letter to your own child that can either rip you to shreds… or make you leave that hospital as soon as possible. So, I went with the second option. To the astonishment of friends and family, and complete strangers for that matter, I left the hospital after having a tumor removed from the center of my head after only 3 days. My mom drove me home that day. That was 8 months ago. I didn’t tell my kids why I was having surgery and that it wasn’t that serious. “Mommy will be just fine.” My sisters were all there for me during that crucial time, older themselves, taking on the responsibilities of parenting my kids.
I have faced some pretty serious situations over the last 11 years. I’m 31 years old now, with an 11 year old son and 6 year old daughter! I thought I had this down pat. I can handle anything thrown my way! That all ended the moment my dear son asked me the words I never thought I’d hear. “Mommy, why don’t I have a real dad? Why can’t I have a dad?” WHAM! Instantaneous migraine with a huge side of heartache.
How do you respond to questions like that? I could play the jealous card with, “Aren’t I enough?” or I could play the “Maybe one of these days…” I could have even said, “There are so many other kids without dads, and you’ll be just fine.” Silence. I sat there on my bed with my son staring at me with questioning hazel eyes and I couldn’t spit out one word that could even begin to comfort him in the way he could understand or deserved for that matter.
Since I heard those questions, and after a long hug to tell him goodnight, I have done nothing but reach out to other moms for advice. I have come full circle with the knowledge that I don’t know a single person that has a child without a father or father figure. I know they exist, but I just don’t know one.
I am now the single mom that can’t fix everything. I don’t have the answer, or even a smart comeback, to everything. So, here are two questions for you to contemplate on for a while:
- What would you tell an 11 year old boy after he asks for a dad?
- When your children are grown and on their own, and you end up married to a wonderful husband, will you still consider yourself as a single mom?