We’re living in the 21st century and our world is forever changing. Dating and family structures have evolved and look many different ways. Everything is up for interpretation which has helped to alleviate some of the pressures that several people outside of the “ideal” tend to feel. However even with society’s acceptance and tolerance of some social statuses which were generally considered highly taboo in past generations, we’re still humans with feelings, the world isn’t perfect, and neither are we.

There are plenty of women who would never have in a million years thought they’d end up being someone’s baby mama aka single and parenting but hey, life happens. I’m one of them. The how and why may look different from person to person but I know I’m not alone. I wasn’t in a relationship when my daughter was conceived (although this may be the scenario for someone else). No, it wasn’t a case of thinking we’d be together forever or maybe having his baby would keep him around but in efforts to be completely transparent I will admit that the thought what if we ended up together did cross my mind. I think that’s totally normal for any female in my circumstances (like a reflex really). All in all at the end of the day it came down to, “Oh damn. That went from 0-100 real quick!” I had to ask myself, “How are you going to handle this?” Three simple words: LIKE A BOSS.

Believe me. After initially discovering I was pregnant and deciding what I was not going to do, things did not get easier. If anything my world somewhat spiraled downhill from there based on the ideal picture of endless possibilities I had painted in my mind (in all areas of my life). Having had such a smooth experience initially I would have never expected some of what followed.  I’d love to delve into that part of my story but I feel like readers would focus too much on the tea and not enough on the overall message. I’ll tell you one thing though, I believe everyone is here for a reason and I wasn’t going to downplay my daughter’s worth. I wanted her to enter this world feeling confident and secure in my love for her no matter what anyone thought.  

O.K. So although this post is entitled Baby Mama it’s less about the drama (there will be some) and more about what lies beneath. What’s the story behind actually being that infamous two word phrase (along with Baby Daddy) that so many of us single parents try to avoid using as a label but never fully do because it’s so damn catchy? What are some of the feelings that come with raising a child voluntarily or inadvertently on your own? What does it take?

Along my journey I’ve come across many people with similar and completely different stories that are equally both draining and inspiring. As the popular saying goes, “He who feels it knows it.” It’s not until you yourself join a culture (group with a commonality) that you really experience the fullness of certain feelings that uniquely accompany that group. Even the most empathetic person will have limits. In saying this I will endorse the idea that as rewarding as being a parent can be (single or not) it’s definitely not always easy. Motherhood period is a huge responsibility. As a matter of fact, in having observed some two parent homes/ situationships I’ve drawn my own conclusion that many women period are the G.O.A.T.s (heads over to Urban Dictionary), holding down the forts for their families with that nurturing approach we’re designed to have. So imagine such a large responsibility without the companionship of a partner! And for anyone familiar with the struggles that can come with being single, imagine dealing with those emotions while raising a child from scratch!

You see that’s the thing about being a single mother.  Above all the issues that we may encounter from struggling financially, to figuring out ways to co-parent or even raise a child completely by ourselves, I would say that the loneliness and emotional battle takes the cake. Some days you will feel heavy amounts of lonely. Not that you won’t also have days where you feel super empowered and independent (those days rock) but when you’re responsible for the wellbeing of not just yourself but your child(ren) as well it really is beneficial to have a partner who will act as your support and take care of you for a change.  Trust me, I’ve been absolutely blessed to have a phenomenal support system but that could never replace that of which only a significant other can fulfill. Even the most independent person can admit that. Not to mention that your accountabilities don’t exactly allow you to have a flexible dating schedule. Stella can get her groove back but it’s not going to be an overnight job!

And speaking on my support system, it really does take a village to raise a child. Finding your tribe is specifically an essential part of surviving parental singledom. Moments to just breathe are a necessity. Having friends or family around is great for your child(ren) because they get completely showered with love. I know I’ve personally enjoyed how my daughter interacts with those present in our life. This doesn’t dismiss the large responsibilities of being a parent but the support will offset those feelings of being overwhelmed. Even though you will sometimes have to deal with unsolicited opinions disguised as advice that you never asked for more than the norm (maybe people feel like since you’re single you’re more obligated to take their guidance or maybe it just feels that way) having people that have a genuine interest for the welfare of your offspring is definitely to your advantage.

My papa has always said, “You live and you learn and then you learn to live.” Life is an experiment. It’s very similar to following the scientific method. Each of us have expectations and we sometimes try so hard to create a specific outcome not realizing that we may have not got the end result we originally intended but what we did get is just as good or even better. The best inventors didn’t give up on the first try. Life is no different; you use what you’ve learned to enhance your experience. It’s not always easy to find light in our circumstances but the option is always there. You’re allowed to have your moments but you’re not allowed to throw in the towel. It’s also important to remember that you’re not alone on this journey even when it feels like it. Try not to waste your energy and precious time wishing things were different or analyzing what you could have done differently to get a different result because life always unfolds as it should!

Embrace the beauty of everything that you have gained from your experience, especially your child(ren). They are the future. I guarantee the pros will tremendously outweigh the cons when you dig deep enough! The goal is to find ways to facilitate and inspire your child(ren)’s dreams and this starts by believing in you. You are more than capable. Constantly remind yourself and be around others that will foster this belief. Let your kid(s) see you in your best light even in your struggles. This is where they will learn how to be just as resilient as life happens to and through them.

Experience has taught me that the more you own your life the more others will honor your lifestyle, no matter what it looks like. There has always been something undoubtedly attractive about anyone that lives unapologetically.  Of course we can’t prevent all opinions and biases from formulating but hey, at least we get to choose what’s worth us giving AF about (answers will vary).  And you know what’s so alluring about anyone owning their life? Their lack of shame and their abundance of pride. Realistically, how many people are really getting through life without any setbacks (which are really set ups in disguise for the positive thinkers)? Exactly… barely anyone. And the occasional few that do (at least in the public’s eye) are potentially the ones that never took any risks or deep down envy anyone that was brave enough to taste the chaos. Or they’re just happy, because I believe in that too.

So to all the single mothers out there putting up a good fight to raise outstanding children and your own vibrations I salute you. I celebrate you. I am proud of you. I am you. Your family isn’t broken or inferior. Ditch that idea completely. Finding balance and rediscovering yourself may be more of a challenge but it’s not impossible and you’ll be a better person for sticking with it. It’s the same recipe for living a happy life but now you just have more mouths to feed so… Keep your chin up, wake up, show up, and continue to put your best foot forward even when you’re running on E. Look into the face(s) of your child(ren) as a reminder that they are depending on you. Your life isn’t just a message to them but to all the single mothers out there currently and to come. I believe in me and I believe in you too.