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Parent: Singular Past Present Progressive

Holistic Parenting Magazine


I had once been one of “those moms,” baking whole wheat muffins and serving 100% organic juice in reusable BPA free cups for the playgroup I hosted in my simple yet way too proud of home. In my former life, I practiced yoga, shopped organic and drove a decent car. My life was full of family and friends, party invites on the fridge and fear. Always, fear. From the outside looking in, it was way past perfect.

Fast forward, blip, blip, blip, whir. After separations, shared responsibilities and successful co-parenting, the bottom simply fell out. When her father told our thirteen year old she wasn’t a priority, I screamed into my pillow, when he failed to pick the kids up for a planned outing I defended him once again to my seven year old. Then as I watched my three year old splash in mud puddles and she begged to take a picture for Daddy, fat tears fell. Who would reject these precious children? I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. My heart ached for my kids who insisted on texting, emailing and calling their dad who would no longer pick up or reply. I went from hating the word “single parent” because really, my children had a great All American Hero father who loved them very much (at least that had been my-put-on-a-brave- face story and I was sticking to it) to laying on the floor of my shower crying because when the ink dried there was no way around it, I was now The Single Parent.

I’ve always been a color outside the lines kind of girl but now I rejoined the community of my hometown carrying my three kids piggyback, looking for refuge, familiarity and support. I felt like Lady Gaga on Sunday morning in the sanctuary of a Baptist Church. (No offense to Gaga or the Baptists.) It seemed like an attack/inquisition/public stoning welcome home. There is a stigma that goes with the stereotype of Single Mom that no matter how fast paced I am, I can’t seem to outrun. 

A popular zinger is, “You didn’t try hard enough, a marriage takes work.”

This is a broad one which includes, “did you keep yourself attractive, give him enough oral sex, and wear cute underwear.” “Maybe it’s the economy you should be more forgiving, he’s under stress.” Strangers and acquaintances alike love this line of reasoning. And how the faith based books on how to be a better wife poured forth. Apparently a good woman can work her way out of a bad situation and not make her husband angry and abusive.  

Then there is “You choose this and now you have messed up your children for life, look what you’ve done you horrible woman!  “You brought this on yourself,” is a hard beating to take.  This tended to come from the friends and family I tried to protect from the gory details of it all.  Of course I take full responsibility for not handling the situation well.  Next time I’ll make packets of photos and emails to hand out in response instead of keeping things private and respectful.  I am a mother and in the end, I finally decided to take my children and get out for their safety and mine.  I may be a horrible woman but I’m a kickass mom and like the tide and the pull of the moon the desire to protect our young is not something we can ignore. 

And then there is the pity.

I’ve been guilty of this myself, in my previous life.“You’re raising three kids all by yourself? Wow! I don’t know how you do it. I could never do it. And you homeschool? And they have special needs? I’d just shoot myself! You poor thing, bless your heart.” Pray for us, lift us up with encouragement, offer to help but pity is not productive, neither are endless cycles of worry. 

…Finally the discouragement.

I have been told, “You can’t do this,” to which I smile and nod. “It’s too hard.” Yes. “It’s just not possible.” Okay. “The world is not made for single parents.” Very true. “You’ll never find a man with all those kids.” Or, “Don’t date, anyone dating a single mom is a molester.” All so hurtful and yes discouraging from people I thought loved and believed in me. My response is to breathe. Just because they couldn’t do it, doesn’t mean I can’t. I can and I am, every day.   

Yes it is difficult to homeschool, especially when the mom next to you at the park goes on and on about how hard it is to be a Single Mom when her husband travels on business for a week every six months. It’s humiliating when every time it’s your turn to do snacks you bring bananas or oranges because that’s all you can afford.  It’s hard to get up early and work then focus on school until the little kids are in bed, then switch gears to Latin and Physics with a teen before working until you just can’t any longer. There is no time for homemade bread anymore and that’s okay, but to love your children on your terms, to nurture and live in love and joy, that is totally doable.

One night I get a sitter (rare and elusive) for a mom’s night out and I’m uplifted by the love the traditional mothers show me. No pity here. They offer to bring meals and drive my kids to activities while my Dad is in the hospital. When I open myself and see the goodness of spirit around me I weep. No longer from anger or bitterness but because I am overwhelmed with kindness and the connection of motherhood and the fellowship of women coming together in a way I thought I might have lost forever.   

I can’t speak for others nurturing their children alone, but for myself it has been the acceptance that has been healing. The once strangers, now friends, who have opened their hearts to embrace me even when I wasn’t very lovable who have restored my banged up tarnished spirit. The ones who said, “I don’t know what you are going through but I respect your experience.” The friends who have held my hands quietly and rubbed circles on my back. The ones who whisper softly, “you can do this.”

I’m trying hard not to look at how far we have to go, but how far we’ve come.

The nightmares are better bit by bit for us all. We’ve made our little apartment into a home and we’ve fallen in love with our new neighbors and friends. We smile and laugh and there are no eggshells on the floor for the first time in years.

When it comes down to it, we mothers are not that different. Our kids make us laugh and cry. We snuggle with them and worry over them when they are sick.  I’m still the tattooed mom with the pierced nose,  the one who makes inappropriate remarks and has nudie art on the walls, it’s just who I am but this new layer of brokenness has left me exposed in ways I never imagined and allows me a different perspective, open to experience a walk of true compassion I’ve never known before. It’s not the journey I would have chosen but it’s made me the woman and mother I’ve become. I’ve progressed more than I thought possible in this lifetime and I will continue to give thanks for the ways it has left me tender. 

About the Author
Amy Saxon Bosworth
Author: Amy Saxon Bosworth
Amy Saxon Bosworth is the mother of four. She plays and works from her home in the Texas Hill Country. She is a late deafened adult who practices advocacy, child led learning and speaking her mind at times simultaneously from her bouncy blue yoga ball.

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