Live and learn, but mostly live

There are certain topics I feel are off limits to this blog because I wouldn’t want my children to be embarrassed by them and I also fear the judgement of people we know. (At least I don’t care so much about the people we don’t know…that’s something, right?) On the other hand, I feel like why write a blog at all if I’m holding back and not being 100% honest about what my “adventures in single mommyhood” really look like.

Because while much of what I write is about learning lessons and trying to teach them to my children; about trying to be the very best version of myself that I can be and how I want to live life in a certain way: consciously, kindly, happily, with forgiveness and with humility, and pass those values on to my kids; the truth is our life together is messy. And our lesson-learning skills are a little shaky and often resemble this:


I do regularly attempt to shake off my mistakes and failures and try, try again because ultimately that is what I am trying to teach my kids. Except at some point I feel like taking that leap becomes futile. Isn’t there a point where we need to just accept our limitations?

I don’t want to destroy my kids’ belief that they can do or have or achieve anything they want in this world as long as they work hard and believe in themselves and do their best. Yet, while passion and ambition and fortitude and persistence and faith are all fine characteristics, they don’t actually ensure that you’re going to get what you want. And though that is a hard, cold reality, it is, in fact, reality.

I feel like I am caught between the young, idealistic girl with this poster on her wall:

hang in there

And the adult who feels that this is more apt for the majority of the situations in her life:


The cross I bear is knowing that the boys are looking to me to show them how to deal with the ups and downs that life brings them. How to be both a gracious winner AND loser. How to know when to hang on and when to let go. How to let our struggles help to shape us, but not define us.

And knowing that most of the time I’m just faking it.

I’m a complete fraud.

OK. Maybe that is a little harsh. I’m not a total fraud. But I have found myself lately trying to “teach” my sons lessons that I haven’t fully learned myself. Things that I know are right in my head and yet I can’t seem to put them into practice.

I want my children to be gentle with themselves. To try hard, but not become such perfectionists that they can’t bear to make a mistake. To forgive themselves when they do make mistakes. To know that they can try again if they want or move on to something else if they don’t. To follow their hearts and not allow the voices of others influence that direction. To know that sometimes they aren’t going to get what they want, even if they deserve it. Even when they show up and try their best and believe. And that’s OK. To know that sometimes people are going to disappoint them, but that it is important to love them anyway.

I guess we’ll have to work on these together as we go.

It seems that the biggest “adventure” in single mommyhood hasn’t been solely taking on the double diaper duty or making financial ends meet or figuring out how to get some alone time or trusting someone to come into our lives and love us. Rather it is what I think every parent undertakes, whether they have a companion or not: confidently leading the way down an unfamiliar path knowing that you only have a finite amount of time to prepare your children to strike out on their own, wanting to make it as easy as possible, but not so easy that they can’t handle the unseen detours ahead, and always making sure that you are learning and growing and preparing yourself for what lies ahead when they are gone. Making sure that in being a parent, we don’t lose our other identities. And making sure our children are equipped with the proper tools to fashion their own. And realizing that life is a hopefully long series of adventures that will afford us many chances to get it right.


4 thoughts on “Live and learn, but mostly live

  1. From one single mom to another, great post. I find as my kids have gotten older (they’re 19, 18 and 13) the consistently hardest thing I’ve had to do is allow them to make mistakes. I still struggle with it. But I did find my biggest mistake of all was helping them through every difficulty when they were younger.
    It ain’t easy, but if this is anything to go on, you’re on the right track. Just do your best. They’ll appreciate it. 🙂


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