I stood in the master bedroom with my best friend as I awaited the moment my girls’ father was going to be served with divorce papers. I told myself not to watch because I didn’t want that moment etched into my memory, but my heart desperately needed to see justice served. The previous months were flooded with uncovering the awful things he was doing behind my back. All hope had been lost for saving our marriage.
With my heart beating out of my chest, I peered through the window, seeing just a glimpse of what I knew was the beginning of the end of a covenant I made to the man I thought would love and protect me, as he vowed on our wedding day. As soon as those papers were placed in his hands it was just the beginning of me raising our two daughters on my own. He didn’t want the responsibility of being a father, so it was up to me; it was up to me to be strong, level-headed, courageous, and brave as I was given the new title of “single mom”.
“According to the 2016/2017 US Census Bureau, statistics show that: "Today 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 — a total of about 17.2 million — are being raised without a father."
"During the 1960-2016 period, the percentage of children living with only their mother nearly tripled from 8 to 23 percent."
I’m a dreamer — yet I never dreamed this would be my story or that my daughters would be forced to be part of those statistics. As I’ve navigated these new waters, I’ve learned the importance of being surrounded by good people, getting emotional help, and pushing myself to not live in isolation.
I like to call these important lessons, “the three C’s.”
The morning after I found out about my ex-husband’s affair, I loaded my girls into the car, eyes bloodshot from crying all night long, and drove to church. I don’t know why I decided to go, other than I knew that at that moment, I needed Jesus. I didn’t care if I talked to anyone, I just needed to be in the presence of the One who wasn’t surprised by this turn of events.
Having a church family to lean on through the divorce process and becoming a single parent is key. Allow the church to be the covering you need and the hands and feet of Jesus; especially in practical ways like bringing you meals, offering to babysit the children, and giving you gift cards. I know it sounds scary, allowing people (often strange people) into your mess, but that’s what church is for…to help take care of you and your family when you’re in crisis mode.
Even though it may be hard to get yourself to church, engaging your faith and saying, “God, I trust You” even when you don’t necessarily “feel” it, is powerful. As you sit in service and let His truths wash over you, He will move and He will heal — even if you don’t feel it, He is always faithful. As you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you - His Word is truth and His promises are always true. It’s also a great place for your children to learn and grow in their faith as they are also walking through a very hard life transition.
Now, you might be thinking, “How are church and community different?” Well, let me tell you! Community is defined by Webster Dictionary as: “a unified body of individuals” …in other words, your people, your tribe. “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1.
These are the people who have walked life with you and know the ins and outs of your story; your family, the friends you can be yourself around (and share the brokenness of your heart, honestly with), the tribe that will help hold you up and take care of you and your children as you learn to parent alone. Even if it’s just a few friends that you trust with everything in you, that’s going to be your community that you want to surround yourself with as you transition from one life season to another.
It’s also natural and healthy to have your “go-to” person, your best friend, the one person who you can tell anything to. It’s important to have that one person you can count on to answer every call and text, who encourages you to keep going, who has a good listening ear, and wisdom for when you feel like you are going to lose it.
Give yourself a bit of grace, but when you’re ready, find a tribe of fellow single moms. They are truly the ones who know exactly what it’s like raising children on your own. Your backgrounds and stories may be completely different, but you can relate in ways that other parents will not be able to. Find a support group for single moms through a local church and know that it’s okay being the initiator to develop these specific relationships.
I know, I know. This “c” word is not a favorite for a lot of people. However, I was once told by a pastor that, “counseling is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of maturity.” Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
I, personally, have been in weekly counseling since the week my girls’ father took off and it’s been the best decision I’ve made. I needed that professional to guide me through my grief and my questions, who had a similar story of being a single mom, who could impart wisdom to me, and who could be that safe place to vent, weep, cuss, and be completely vulnerable.
Sometimes it takes time to find the right counselor for yourself and it’s okay to test a few out; you want to make sure you feel secure with your counselor before you open your heart up, but don’t use the excuse that it is hard to be vulnerable to keep you from opening up. It is hard, but it is worth it. I promise.
Counseling will help you dig deep into the parts of your heart that need healing so that you can then be a better, more whole, loving, and non-bitter mother to your children.
Transitioning into single motherhood is hard and no one can truly understand what it’s like until you’re in the midst of it. But know this — you are not alone. Many women have trailed this path before us and have succeeded. I have some incredible examples of women I look up to who have made it on the other side of their singleness. They have made it through the valley and are now filled with more peace and joy then they thought possible. These women give me hope for my own story.
More importantly than that, you have a Savior who wasn’t and isn’t surprised by your new life. He will take you by the hand, if you allow Him to, and woo you into His loving arms; for His arms are the only ones who can truly satisfy. He will lead you, guide you, and fill you with peace, one day, one moment at a time.
One last thing: cling to hope.
Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold fast the confession of our HOPE without wavering, for He who promised IS faithful.”
Autumn Rae is a recently divorced single mom of two beautiful little girls, Avonlea Darling and Journey Wonder. She’s a born and raised California girl who now resides west of the Rockies in Colorado Springs where she spends her days exercising her photography skills, writing, and playing with baby dolls and everything princess. Autumn has tasted and seen the faithfulness of the Lord throughout her 29 years and is hopeful for all the things the Lord has in store for her and her daughter’s futures. Autumn Rae’s writing has also been featured in Mila Magazine.
Connect with Autumn:
Online @ autumnraewrites.com