I never expected to be a mom so young. When I found out I was pregnant, I was scared – but when I realized I would be raising my child alone, I was heartbroken. I always knew I wanted to be a mom, but the beginning of motherhood didn’t look or feel like I had dreamed it would. These were supposed to be the happiest days of my life, everything I had ever wanted. Instead, I felt like I was in mourning, moving through the highest highs and the lowest lows, all while feeling like I was floating in purgatory. Not ready to let go of the old me, not ready to let go of my dreams and expectations for the family I wanted for my daughter and me. I wasn’t ready to grieve it all and, honestly, there wasn’t time to.
The world we live in has a way of making all of this more difficult by adding unnecessary pressures, like the idea that every mother needs a partner, often making single mothers feel like they are victims or worse, like they’re not enough. If they disagree, they might be labeled by some as selfish for not giving their child a father. Being a single mother of two daughters made this even worse because of the stigma around how girls who grow up with an absent father will inevitably have “daddy issues.” It seemed like everyone was focused on when I would find a partner for me and my kids. These kinds of people in society are focused on how single mothers can be better, but if they were really that concerned, they would instead ask themselves how they can better support single mothers. But I’m not doing this for those people, not anymore.
I’ve realized I cared too much about people’s opinions that didn’t matter – people who ultimately didn’t truly care. All that matters is what my daughters see and feel, and that is not a lack of anything. I want them to grow up to be strong, independent, kind, resilient humans. I want them to know that for some of us that journey doesn’t have to involve a partner and that they will always be enough, independent of who they do or do not move through life with. I knew I had to grieve and heal for not only myself but for them. After I got past that made-up narrative about single mothers needing to struggle and single mothers needing a partner to survive is when I finally felt liberated as my truest, strongest self.
Now, I want all the single mothers and parents out there to know that they don’t have to struggle and that it’s not weak to ask for help. Sometimes it’s easier to believe that struggling in silence is the only way because it is not easy to ask for help, but asking for help is actually one of the bravest things you can do. While we all deserve to automatically have a community, a family, a village of people at the ready to support us, unfortunately that isn’t the world that we live in. That being said, we can make our own village by asking for help from the people we know will come through. It’s not easy, but it is beyond worth it. The connections I have with my friends who not only show up for me but also my children are the most profound, beautiful relationships in my life. They show up for children they didn’t make the decision to have, many of them with no children of their own. They don’t have to show up but they do over and over again, that is the purest most unconditional love I have ever experienced and my children get to feel that too. The life I have created as a single mom and the village I have created that surrounds me and my children is beyond my wildest dreams.
I want all the other single mothers out there to know that if they are in a place where they have to let go and grieve over a dream or expectation they once had, it’s probably because the universe has something even better in store for them. And above all else, if you’re reading this, I want you to know you are enough.
Harley Fernandez (she/her) is a single mother to two daughters, ages 3 and 4. She had two home births 10 months apart. After experiencing high levels of trauma throughout her pregnancies and postpartum, she was motivated to become a Mama Glow birth and postpartum doula. As she works on also becoming a death doula, Harley is on a mission to heal and support people through their many transitions in life. She hopes to one day offer retreats that center healing through the many passions that have helped in her own journey, including nature, movement medicine, nutritious foods, plant medicine, and facilitating safe places where people can be vulnerable and open to healing.