Being pregnant and abandoned opened my eyes to a world had not known before, and I am beginning Single Mom Smiling with an understanding of the world I could not have had before becoming a single parent.
I was five months pregnant with our fifth little boy when my husband suddenly announced he was leaving and moved out only a week later. Being pregnant and abandoned suddenly and becoming a single parent was a painful, shocking experience for me, and it is an experience I would not wish on anyone. It opened my eyes to things I had not experienced on such a level before: fear, injustice, humiliation, insecurity, exhaustion, and unspeakable pain.
Becoming a single parent also opened my eyes to things I needed to be responsible for, to poor choices I had made, to how I had accepted mistreatment, and to how deeply my decisions affect my children’s lives and the lives of those around me. These choices were by no means limited to the relationship I had with my husband.
More than anything though, this experience opened my eyes to my own value and to the incredible capacity of those around me to love me when I needed them most whether I deserved it or not. There are no words to express the gratitude I carry in my heart every day for so many who have touched our lives. I mean to keep my promise to pay it forward.
As a survivor of child abuse and, possibly stemming from the insecurities, the worthlessness, the confusion, the questions about my value and where I get my value from that stemmed from that abuse, I had engaged in a series of destructive relationships. I hadn’t realized that through the choices I was making, I was asking the wrong people to come into my life.
I had thought my husband was the one right choice I had made in my life. When he left so suddenly, my world crashed down around me. I had happily given up a career to put my husband and children first. When he left, I knew I had lost the job that meant the most to me. I had been fired as a wife while at the same time losing the person I had thought of as my best friend and my protector.
I cannot count the number of times I asked myself, “What is wrong with me?” “Why am I unlovable?” and “Who the hell am I now?” I was coming up with no good answers, and I am sure that, through that experience, God offered me a glimpse of hell. It is not a place I ever want to see again. Then it hit me. It was no longer about who I had been, but about who I want to be. And that is a whole different question.
But I had no answers there either.
Mom? Single Mom? Friend? Daughter? Teacher? Citizen? Child of God? I really struggled with the question of who I was. There are some days that I still wonder what my Father can possibly see in me.
Two and a half years later, I have discovered I am many things, but still don’t know all that I am or all that I want to be. I am a puzzle with many missing pieces.
I am a work in progress, but I do now know a piece of the puzzle that is me and who I want to be.
I want to be the woman smiling.
Even on my toughest days, I am now more than that hurting child or that woman who was pregnant and abandoned. I am now the one smiling to outshine the tears, giving strength to others and loving that they strengthen me too, the one smiling to cover the nervousness I still feel sometimes, to bring comfort to my children, to my friends and to myself when I need it, or (God forgive me) just smiling to hide the fact that I want to reach out and slap some idiot (Yes I still have moments like that. I sometimes need reminding that we are ALL children of God).
And someday, I want my smile to be the greatest smile of all. The peace-filled smile. Peace with my surroundings. Peace with those around me. Peace with my children. Peace with God. Peace with myself.
That is what I want, the only thing I am sure of, although I am not always sure of how to get it. I want peace and the serene smile that goes along with it. I want to be the Single Mom at Peace, the Single Mom Smiling, and I want that for others hurt by abandonment, abuse, neglect, or the breakdown of the family too.
Thank you for joining me on my first post as Single Mom Smiling (SMS). With five boys and an amazing group of people around me, my life is rarely dull. I hope you will share our laughter and our tears, our triumphs and our setbacks and that together we can make this a positive experience, helping others know they are never alone, that life can again be funny and challenging, thrilling and momentous, that they can laugh out loud and later reflect with a peace-filled smile.
That we can all be peace-filled Single Moms Smiling.
For I well know the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope.
Jeremiah 29: 11