My girl recently got a scholarship to study medicine at Harvard. I don’t have the words to describe the pure, unadulterated happiness I felt the moment we got the letter. In the moments after, I held her close in my arms, our tears of joy mingling together. In the days and weeks that followed, there were many celebrations with our family and friends. And in time, the immediate exuberance gave way to a feeling of quiet contentment. The day my daughter gets onto that flight to Harvard, I know I can look myself in the mirror and tell myself, without a shadow of doubt, that I’d made it.
I’d made it as a single mom.
Let’s start from the very beginning. I was happily married to a travel blogger. We were in a relationship for 4 years before getting married. The first year of our marriage went by like a dream. Everything was perfect – almost like a fairytale!
Well, everything was perfect up until he developed a drug addiction, somewhere along the way.
A drug addiction I learnt about a little too late, and which made him intolerable to live with.
So a few months later, I filed for divorce. To his credit, he didn’t make much of a fuss about it, and it went through quickly enough.
I still remember that fine morning when he walked out that door and never came back. I felt both relieved and triumphant.
I felt that way till I discovered that I was pregnant.
Naturally, this put me into quite a fix. How would I be able to raise my child without a man? Would my child be okay without a father? In one of my darkest moments, I even briefly considered trying to get back together with my junkie ex, until good sense prevailed!
Eventually, I decided that I wasn’t going to give my life to any man. I was going to raise my little girl (by that point I knew it was going to be a girl) all by myself.
My pregnancy was thus a lone struggle. Lone except for a dear friend who helped me out, jokingly telling me that for her it was ‘training’ for her own pregnancy!
The months flew by and soon, my baby girl was born.
Recommended Read: What You Can Do to Help a Single Parent
The divorce settlement wasn’t exactly generous (my junkie ex having blown most of his savings servicing his addiction), but it was just about enough to last me and my baby a year or so. After that, I would need to find myself a career to earn a living.
That decision proved to be surprisingly easy. I’d already studied writing before I’d gotten married, and cooking had long been a hobby. So, the day I named my girl, I also started my own cooking blog.
For the first few months, I divided my time between taking care of my girl, researching the best child-care practises online, and working on my blog.
On her first birthday, I invited all my friends for a party. The friend who’d helped me through my ordeal had come and she’d brought her mom along. Her mom took my baby in her arms and declared that she’d be her ‘grandmother’. With my friend already the baby’s ‘godmother’, I was choked by emotion, realizing that even without a father, my baby would still have a ‘family’.
My friend and her mom helped me out quite a bit after that. They often babysat my girl, which gave me the opportunity to work at a nearby grocery store. My evenings were spent hard at work on the blog.
Between the blog and the job I made a decent enough living. But I knew it wouldn’t be nearly enough – not if I wanted the best for my girl. Fortunately, around the time she started school, I made some progress in both my ‘careers’. I was promoted to manager at the store. And after reading an article about a website providing advice to young moms, I decided to start a new blog about childcare. A blog that went on to do a lot better than my cooking blog ever did!
Life wasn’t exactly a bed of roses after that, but things were going good, for the most part. My daughter and I developed a close relationship – the closest mother-daughter relationship they’d ever seen, all my friends, neighbors and relatives said to me. I did my best to ensure that she never felt the absence of a father.
Recommended Read: Effective Tips and Grants for a Single Mom
But it was only natural that she should be curious about her father, especially after seeing her friends with their dads. I tried to ignore the the subject as long as I could. Until the day she came running to me, crying, with one of my personal diaries in her hands. I realized that she’d read about her father. She asked me if what I’d written about him was true, and I said it was. She hugged me and tearfully told me “I’ll never date a boy who does drugs”. In spite of myself, I couldn’t but help burst into laughter upon hearing that. She smiled and laughed along.
The years rolled on. She did great at school. She participated and won at international science Olympiads. In the meantime, my blog was making me quite a bit of money, and I’d made quite a few good investments. For the first time since my divorce, I truly felt financially secure. While she was in high school, my daughter asked me why I didn’t get myself a car. My reply was “Nothing doing, kiddo! Every cent is going into your college fund.” To which her response was “Don’t worry, mom. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to get that scholarship”.
And she did.
As I sit here writing this, looking back at the last 18 years of our lives, I can’t but help feel that in the end, we’re all a bit like ships on a voyage in unpredictable seas. Some of us find ourselves in rough weather, and are forced to rapidly adapt to the ebbs and flows of the waves. But, given time and perseverance, we can emerge from the bad weather and master the seas. That’s what I feel my daughter and I have been able to do.
Today is a rather special day for both of us. My daughter’s going to be formally introducing me to her boyfriend. From what little I’ve heard of him, he sounds like he’s the total opposite of my ex-husband. It seems that my final triumph as a single mom has been teaching my daughter to be a better judge of character than I was. In the years to come, I’m sure that will be what I end up being most proud of!