Being a widowed mom is one of the hardest things I have ever done. No one prepares you to be a solo parent. There’s no one coming to take your child so you can have a break. No one to help with homework. No one to help make decisions. No one to help you decide the rules and consequences. You are alone. You are solo. The whole weight of parenting is strictly on you.
I’ve often thought if I could survive holding my husband as he took his last breath and telling our young son that daddy had gone to heaven and was never coming home, I can survive anything. But there have been days as a widowed solo mom where I have thought I can’t do this. I just can’t. Between working full-time, getting my child to school, helping with homework, getting him to all his afterschool activities, and still managing to keep my household running, I am exhausted. And there are days I just want to throw in the towel and say I quit. And I only have one child. I don’t know how widowed moms with multiple children get through the day.
People say “you’re so strong.” I don’t think I’m strong. I didn’t have any other choice but to get up and keep going. No one was coming to rescue me. No one was coming to care for my child. No one was going to pay my bills. I had to get up, go to work, and be a mom. So no, I don’t think I’m strong. I think I’m a survivor.
For me, I often feel like I’m letting my dead husband down. Questioning if he would approve of the decisions I’m making now. Wondering if he were here what would he say. It doesn’t matter that our lives, our circumstances have changed, I still have to make the decisions alone. I just have to hope and pray I’m doing the right thing. That the decisions I make today won’t screw up my child too badly tomorrow.
Homework was the one thing My late husband always did with our son. And one night, about a year after my husband died, my son was sitting at the table doing his math homework and sobbing. Matha always come easy to him so I was surprised to see him struggling so much. I offered to help and he said you’re not my dad. I offered to call other male friends to get one of them to help and I got a similar response, he’s not my dad. For me that is the toughest part of being a widowed mom. He’s right. I’m not his dad. And I’m never going to be. Yet, I have to be both mom and dad. There is no one else. And I hate that, for both of us.
When you are a widowed, solo mom you get very little downtime. Very little time to yourself. Everything revolves around taking care of your child and household because there is no one else to do it. The only time you get to yourself is after your kids go to bed or before they get up in the morning. And you learn to value that time. That downtime. When you can just be you. You don’t have to be mom. You can just be with your grief.
As a widowed mom, I still have dreams. Goals. Wishes. I plan to travel, see the world, make new memories. I want my child to be happy. I want him to look back and think my mom did a great job. I want to get through each day, each month, each year. Be happy. Figure out who I am because the person I was died 5 years ago. And yes, I was lucky enough to find love again. But I am still a widowed mom parenting a grieving child. That will never change.
As a widowed mom, I rely heavily on my own mother, my friends. They are always willing to pitch in. To help me out. I don’t know how I would have made it without their help and support. And yet, I still felt lonely. My friends had their spouses, boyfriends, their families, their own lives and I spent the nights alone. Sometimes even in a room full of people, I still feel alone. Lost. I don’t think that will every change. But I am so very grateful for the amazing support system I have. Not every widowed mom is so fortunate.
As a widowed mom, I needed support from other widows with children. People who knew how hard it was to parent a grieving child. People who knew that I often had to ignore my grief so that I could parent my grieving child. That watching my child grieve would break my heart but I would hold him and be strong for him. And then would go cry in my bathroom. I found my support. I found my tribe. And I couldn’t do this widowed mom thing without them.
As a widow mom:
I am exhausted.
I am certain I’m screwing it up.
I am worried I am letting my dead husband down.
I am terrified that death at such a young age will forever change my child.
I am trying to live life to the fullest because I know tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.
I am grateful for my mom, my friends, and my widow tribe for helping me through the hardest days.
I am still scared and lonely sometimes.
I am doing my best.
Being a widowed mom is HARD. There is no play book. I am totally winging it. And I pray I’m doing it right and not scarring my kid for life.
Here’s to widowed moms everywhere…YOU ROCK!