Early this year, I traveled to India to finalize the adoption of my daughter. The process that was supposed to take 4-6 weeks took over 6 months. My husband had to leave us there and return home to work. I was alone with our daughter traveling from one hotel room to the next for months on end and I never knew how long we would actually be there. Once stuff went crazy, it went really crazy.
I had to adjust my approach to almost everything I did. Running to the store was no longer a quick trip because I had a child to prep. Making phone calls was a real nightmare because I had to ensure she was occupied enough not to notice, all within a tiny hotel room. When I needed to do something for work, I either had to focus through a tantrum or wait for bedtime. On top of all that, I also had to keep my brain sharp to get us out of the legal mess we were in so that we could eventually get home. It was an insane amount of energy just to get through each day.
Most of my friends back home were, unfortunately, very unhelpful. I realized that if I wanted true understanding, I had to find community in the small group of other moms who had done what I was doing. A fellow adoption mom, who had adopted as a single mom, told me something that touched me deeply: “Choosing to be a single mom is so different from being forced to do it alone.”
I realized that I needed to give myself grace and the space to admit that I am not cut out to do this alone, and that’s okay.
And in realizing that, I realized something about my clients: you never intended to do this alone, either.
And yet, when you get divorced or otherwise separate from the other parent of your children, you have no choice. While I did not know how long it would take, I knew that eventually I would get home to my husband and we would parent together. When you get divorced, it is the exact opposite. I gained a new level of empathy for each of you.
Now I know what it’s like to be the only one who matters to a child. I know how it feels to go to court time and time again and leave with no answers, no plan, and no hope. I know the surrender of giving a boatload of money to a lawyer with no idea whether they will actually come through and help me. And I know what it’s like to do all this on my own, with no one else there to pick up the slack or give me a moment of time alone to breathe.
Here’s the lesson I can share that does have truth for both of us: My best was good enough, and so is yours. If you do everything you can to be the best version of yourself that you can be, you will also be the best mom you can be. And even if temporary circumstance makes your best self less than what it may otherwise be, it is precisely what you and your children both need in that very moment.
Although my experience of being a single parent was short-lived, the impact on me is there to stay. It will make me a better lawyer, friend, coach, partner, and parent.
So here’s to all the single moms out there. You’re taking care of yourself and also another life, and that is no small feat. I see you, I feel you, and when you need help, I am here for you.
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