Coping as a Single Mom
How do you cope as a single mom?
Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: My husband and I split up when our son was 2 1/2 years old, and I felt like everything just went downhill from there. Aside from dealing with my new single status, and mentally readjusting to living life without a partner and someone to back me up, I was also dealing with one of the most notorious ages in childhood (you know you’re up against a challenge when the person you’re dealing with has an age that shares a name with Ivan the Terrible). I went through tremendous amounts of self doubt, not knowing what to do, pure mental and physical exhaustion, and worries that I’m doing everything wrong. But the most important thing I learned was to take it easy on myself, to ask for and accept help, and know that this too shall pass.
The one specific thing I can give to the readers who are newly single is that it takes about one year for us to get used to doing things; our mind works in wonderful ways – if we did something that caused a lot of physical discomfort, our brain somehow subconsciously remembers to do it differently next time. I remember the time when I couldn’t find where I parked my car (I live in a busy city where I park in the street), and I needed to get to a wedding ceremony with my toddler son; I learned to never take my son by myself on vacation for more than 4 days straight after I had a meltdown 4 days into a one-week, planned multi-family vacation (planned before my ex and I split); I learned to always come back from vacation 1 day early to recharge for work; I learned to never set an after-school play date in stone because my son usually needed to go home to decompress after a long day at school.
After the first year of being a single mom, everything just gets so much easier to the point where you could actually say, “Hey! I can do this!”
—Cheryl Wu, MD, a mom of a four-year-old son, a pediatrician at LaGuardia Place Pediatrics in New York City, and a pediatric emergency department physician at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital of Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey