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Mum’s the Word: Four Ways to be a Joyful Single Parent

Friday, June 12, 2015

 

“We’re not lost. We’re exploring,” I told my daughter as we wandered through winding paths on a nature walk.

“We’re not lost. We’re exploring,” I told my daughter as we wandered through winding paths on a nature walk.  

The ten-minute walk I had told her we’d go on had turned into thirty. I really did not know how to find our way back home, but I was enjoying the rareness of a sunny day in Portland. 

Lia sighed and let out a low growl… because she’s a savage. I’ve been unsuccessful in teaching her to act human. 

Eventually though, her annoyance gave way to interest as she found stones, sticks, and other treasures to take back home. Now, every sunny evening, what does Lia want to do? She wants to make “wrong” turns to discover new things.

When I have rough days as a single parent, I sometimes spend a little too much time thinking about what would have happened if I had have chose a different path in the fall of 2010. Would I already have my doctorate? Would I be living in a brownstone in New York City? Or maybe I would have had time to start that Barry Mannilow cover band I’ve secretly always want to lead.

Other times, the negative feelings are inspired when I read statistics about how single parents are consistently more depressed that other types of parents.

Yet just when I’m about to fall into the slippery pit of  “what ifs” and “why mes,” Lia does something hilarious or simply adorable. Her wonderful personality puts a smile on my face and a joy in my heart. 

Just like I took the path to become a mother in 2010, I can also take the path to become a joyful mother. I can choose joy no matter what my circumstances.  I don’t have to listen to the demons of the past or the statistics. 

In her article,  “All Joy and No Fun: Why Parents Hate Parenting,” Jennifer Senior noted the struggles and the many  (some of them negative) emotions that all parents often feel. Parenting is hard work in any circumstance, after all. Yet in the end, Senior partially quotes Daniel Gilbert. She wrote, “‘so you have to think about which kind of happiness you’ll be consuming most often. Do you want to maximize the one you experience almost all the time’—moment-to-moment happiness—‘or the one you experience rarely?’”

Yes, I may have given up the ability to “instantly” gratify my desires, dreams, or passions by becoming a single parent. However, I now experience a greater joy when I do achieve the things I want to achieve because I know how hard I had to work for them. Most importantly, I also have a little cheerleader to share my joyful moments with.

Joy isn’t found just by flipping a switch in the brain though. I do have to consciously make choices to think in certain ways or do certain things.  So since I know I’m not alone in this, here are my four ways to stay joyful while single parenting.

SEE SLIDESHOW BELOW

 

Related Slideshow: Mum’s the Word: Four Ways to be a Joyful Single Parent

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1. Have Perspective.

View yourself through the eyes of people who love you instead of through people who don’t even know you.  Most of the time when we feel bad about ourselves it’s only because of what someone else said or did to us. It’s hardly ever because we genuinely think that we suck.  It’s difficult, but try not to focus on the people, statistics, or even the media that tries and dictates how we should feel. 

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2. Cherish.

Take advantage of the one on one time you get to have with your daughter or son. Yes, you might end up in a Ms. Bates and Norman Bates situation…but let’s be optimistic here. More than likely, you will experience a strong bond that may have not existed had your home life been different. Cherish that.

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3. Connect.

Even if you don’t have a significant other, appreciate the connections that you do have. I don’t have a spouse, but I do have a great best friend who is willing to travel with me on family vacation just so I don’t have to travel alone with a four-year-old. I also have a great group of siblings who are willing to come over when I need them to and hug me through the tough times.

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4. Dream Big!

Do the same things you would have done if you hadn’t have become a single parent. Your goals may take longer to achieve, but you are still able to pursue them as long as you have the right attitude. 

 
 

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