Everything was going according to plan – or so I thought.
At a pretty young age I decided I wanted to get married and have my own family. In fact, by the time I graduated in elementary school, I already had a timeline on when these things should happen. A year before I graduate in college, I decided I should already be looking into a potential partner in life. Right after college, we’d get married. We’d have kids right away, a boy and a girl. We will then proceed to happily ever after.
I like to plan things way ahead of time and tick off my little boxes one by one until my goal is achieved. Slowly but surely, I was fulfilling each task to attain my dream of being a great mother. Of course, I also wanted the perfect husband and wife relationship to go with it. So when the little box for having a baby girl was ticked off, I felt so happy and content. I asked myself, “what could go wrong?” A few months later, I got the answer.
At the age of 27 years old, just a few years after we got married, my husband was murdered by our next-door neighbor. I was left widowed with a barely one and a half-year-old baby boy and a 5-month-old baby girl. My dream was completely shattered into a million little pieces. I felt like God abandoned me all of a sudden and I felt really angry and bitter for quite some time. To say that the struggle was real is a complete understatement. There were nights when I was scared to sleep because my nightmares were so intense. There were days when I refused to get up because I didn’t want to face my responsibilities, preferring to wallow in self-pity. It took all of five months for me to decide I wasn’t going to psychologically drift away from what remained of my family. I had to be strong for my young kids. So, I started looking for a job. I achieved a semblance of normalcy and sought out to do the best I can to make ends meet on my own.
Quietly, my folks started to go about their own lives until I found myself no longer being coddled or fussed over. They realized I was a strong and independent woman who hated being unproductive. So they let me be when I decided I wasn’t going to go through therapy. I told them there was no time to be perfectly alright. My kids needed their mom to be 100%, sure. But I refused to allow myself to break down. I accepted that it will be difficult. Nonetheless, I kept telling myself that I can and will do this.
The first few years of being a single mom were agonizing. I didn’t know what to do half the time. I had supportive co-workers and friends who treated me with respect and gave me space to deal with my inner demons. When I was ready to socialize, they were always there for me. I don’t know what I would have done without them. Still, I knew this was something I needed to take full responsibility for. My health, my well-being, and my kids’ upbringing rested solely on my shoulders. A lot of people told me to slow down and give myself time. I didn’t listen. They didn’t get me! I needed to be busy. I needed to immerse myself in overtime work and extracurricular activities. I needed to load my calendar with things to do and errands to run. I didn’t want to stop for a minute lest the thought of giving up enter my mind. I am both mother and father to my kids now and that daunting task was my number one priority. We all have our own ways of mourning. I chose not to dwell on my emotions. I chose to take action and stay productive. It worked for me because thank God I am still in one piece. I am not saying everything is perfect. Far from it! But seeing the beautiful progress my kids are making and how they have adapted to our family life makes me think that I probably am not half-bad at being a cool mom.
The odds are against us and statistically speaking, single parent households don’t do so well. There are a lot of external factors as well as internal ones that can contribute to a dysfunctional family life which will then produce “bad kids” who grow up to be “bad citizens” of society. But why let that get to your head? Why dwell on what may not work when you can focus on what can? I reached out to different support groups and consulted with trustworthy elders who imparted their valuable advice without hesitation. Lastly, although I was pigheaded for a while, I renewed my relationship with God. I went to confession and poured my heart out, letting go of all the bitterness and letting God lead the way. I must admit that I still stumble and act like a spoiled child every now and then in my spiritual life. However, I ALWAYS get back up and try again.
The road ahead will not be easy and my kids are growing up into young adults. I continue to have fears of inadequacy like any normal mother. Nevertheless, my faith in the Lord is strong and my relationship with my kids is solid. I am confident that we will be alright because in parenting, let’s face it, failure is just not an option.