Not too long ago, I had to take my daughter to the hospital. At almost 4 years old, she had been complaining about neck pain for a week. I brushed it off, mostly because she would complain and then run away two seconds later to play. It didn’t seem serious, so I wasn’t concerned.
That was until the night she collapsed on the ground screaming out in pain. Her neck hurt. Her head hurt. Her eyes hurt. The light was too bright. Her legs hurt. She couldn’t walk.
I panicked. And then, I took I deep breath and I pulled myself together. I picked my little girl up, I buckled her into her car seat, and I drove us to the hospital, where we spent the next six hours in the emergency room, and the next two days at various appointments. It turned out, she had viral meningitis.
That experience was hard and scary. And I was by my daughter’s side alone the entire time. You see, I’m a single mom, and there’s no other parenting figure in this equation.
I’ve got this and so do you, single moms and dads
When I talk about single parents, I do so from experience. I know what it’s like to have to make split-second decisions by yourself, without another parenting partner there to consult. I know what it’s like to live with that fear that something may be wrong, and to not have anyone who is equally invested in your child’s life to lean on. I know what it is to worry about bills, or having enough time for your little one, or feeling like you might not be enough.
I know firsthand how much love and work and heart goes into being a single parent. So when I call you a superhero for doing it, and for doing it well, I’m not tooting my own horn. The truth is, I chose this. I adopted my little girl on my own, and I entered into this parenting role by myself from the start. I knew what I was getting into, and at almost 30 years old and in an established career, I felt ready for it. I wanted it. I still do.
The hardest thing you’ve ever loved
Of course, there are times it’s hard. Harder than I thought it would be. Times when I find myself wishing I had found love first, a partner to share this parenting gig with. Times when I yearn for someone else for my daughter as much as for myself.
But for the most part, I’ve got this. And I don’t have much to complain about, because I chose it, and being a mom really does fill me with more love and joy than anything else in my entire life ever has.
Which isn’t to discount the efforts of the other single moms by choice that I know (they’re all pretty much rock stars). But our journey is different from the one single parents who didn’t choose this role take.
The ones who entered parenthood believing they would have a parenting partner by their side, but who lost that along the way, either through abandonment or loss.
I’m in awe when I look at single parents who never wanted to be single parents at all. I see them pushing through anyway, jumping over the hurdles and doing what it takes to give their children everything they would have had with two parents in their lives.
Honestly, none of this is easy. Let’s be honest, parenting isn’t easy. It’s wonderful, yes, but it’s also terrifying, and exhausting. It’s overwhelming in a million different ways we can never actually prepare for. Parenting is hard. Parenting on one’s own is harder. And parenting on your own when you had believed you would have that partner by your side to hold your hand along this journey?
That might just be the hardest thing of all.
I see you …
So for the moms and dads who get up every day and do it on their own, working to pay all the bills, to make it to the school and sporting events, to shower their kids with love, I see you. And I think you’re amazing. A superhero, really.
You may not feel like you’re doing enough, but you are. You sacrifice sleep and personal desires to ensure your kids have everything they need. You do the work of two, all by yourself and with little recognition for your efforts.
You pour your heart into your kids, without someone to curl in bed next to at night and lament about it all to. You sometimes feel alone, and isolated, and like you’ll never have a life of your own again. You look in the mirror and almost don’t recognize the tired face looking back at you. You grieve. You struggle. You don’t always do everything right.
But you are there. Every day, doing it all. For your kids, for yourself, for your family, all on your own.
Single moms and dads, you are superheroes. Even if your kids don’t know it yet, they will someday. They’ll recognize all the love and effort you put into your family. The love and effort you put into them.
Just in case you haven’t heard it recently, though, I’ll say it again: I see you. I see all you do. I see how hard you work. I see how much you sacrifice. I see the love that drives you. And I see the struggles you push through. I see you. And I think you’re amazing.
Your kids do too, whether they’ll admit to it or not!
What are some essential resources for single parents making medical decisions on their own?
From a medical perspective, having a good, evidence-based book on children’s illnesses would be very helpful in making healthcare decisions on your own. “My Child is Sick!” by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, FAAP, is one that is popular. “The Big Book of Symptoms: A-Z Guide to Your Child’s Health” is another.— Karen Gill, MD Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.