Relationships

Parenting alone: When a good man is hard to find

Set up your support network early, and don't succumb to the temptation to take "any" man when the job feels extra hard

Dear Katrina,

How do you do it alone? I’m expecting my first child in four months and I’m a little panicky. My boyfriend and I broke up and we are not getting back together. That’s not what I want so please don’t suggest it. He wasn’t a good man.

I’m just writing because I’m really nervous about raising a child alone and would like some encouragement. I doubt I can do this all by myself.  

Anxiously Expectant

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Dear Anxiously Expectant,

I won’t suggest you get back with your boyfriend because I don’t know the circumstances behind your breakup and I am going to assume you know what’s best for your child. I’m a single mom who left an unhealthy marriage because of what was best for my child, so I am not going to pass judgement, or recommend reconciling since you say he wasn’t a good man. Children need fathers, but not all men make good fathers.

I want to let you know I was exactly where you were about 10 years ago. I was going through a divorce and wondering how in the world I would manage all on my own. How would I balance work and family, would there be enough time and money; would my son suffer; was I doing the right thing? The doubts were overwhelming and I could have let them cripple me but I had a job to do — that of mothering.

You’ll be surprised at the strength and courage you’ll find in yourself as a mother. You’ll also be amazed to realize that you aren’t alone. Not being married or in a relationship doesn’t automatically make you all alone in this world.  

I’ve been asked before how I do it alone and I simply admit in all honesty that I don’t. I’m not alone. I have a strong network of friends and family. I have other mothers and I have my Church. I have my son’s teachers, coaches, scout leaders, and a small group of priests and seminarians who look out for him. I have worked hard to initiate and cultivate these relationships because I recognize the importance of good male role models in my son’s life.

More to read: Celebrating Father’s Day as a Single Mom

I’m not going to lie, it takes work. Hard work. But I have no doubt you can do it. You have to get rid of this notion that you’re going to be raising your child alone. Unless you’re giving birth on a deserted island, that just simply isn’t the case. That mentality that you’re shouldering the burden of raising a child all by yourself can prevent you from asking for help when you’ll need it. And oh, you’ll need it.

I would recommend working on building this outward network of support now, before your baby is born. Sit down with your family and be honest with them. Express your concerns and ask for help if they can give it. Do the same with your friends. Talk to members of your church, moms in the parish mom’s groups, and your priest. It’s OK to admit you’re nervous and unsure and would like and to welcome the help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak.

Children can transform your life. You’ll be amazed at the perseverance, strength, and determination you’ll develop once your little one gets here. Don’t let the devil of doubt prevent you from enjoying your time in preparation of your baby’s arrival.

Also, don’t let the devil tempt you, out of desperation, to try and find a replacement father for your child. When you’re exhausted from lack of sleep, broke from paying rent and daycare, you will be tempted to think how much easier your life would be if there were another adult in your life to share all this with. You said your child’s father isn’t a good man. You won’t need to add to your already packed plate the drama that comes with having a bad man in your life. Remember that in your most desperate tired moments.

More to read: Single Parents have been saints, and have raised saints, too

This is when you’ll need to rely on your friends and family to fight that loneliness. If you do, you’re less likely to make bad dating choices in your future. You most certainly do not need to try to find another boyfriend right now or right after your child is born. Personally, I don’t think single parents should be dating at all, but that is my very unpopular opinion only. I just say this because, by your own admission, you don’t make the best choices in men. So I would recommend avoid getting involved at all. Your child needs you. All of you.

With your own strength, the help of family and friends, and going to God when you’re weary I have no doubt you’ll do just fine. A good patron saint whose intercession to seek is St. Margaret of Cortona, the patroness of single mothers. I wish you the best.  

 

sexygirl

Katrina Fernandez

Katrina Fernandez  has a PhD in being single, and a master’s in single parenting with a concentration in Catholic guilt. She’s been writing about these and other life-survival topics for more than a decade. Submit all questions to katrinafixesitforyou@gmail.com