BY ANA P. SANTOS
MANILA, Philippines – Never in my life did I imagine my fairytale to end up with me quickly trading in my horse-drawn pumpkin carriage for a pushed-by-me-or-Yaya baby carriage; or having to say goodbye to my delicate glass slippers for much more sensible flats.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be living in the only country where there is no divorce and my grief would be compounded by the legal process, the technicalities and the sheer agony of going through an annulment.
In the beginning, I was single-mindedly focused on the welfare of my daughter and “making it work” that everything else was secondary.
Now, looking back on those last 11 years, I can say that I also never imagined how much I enjoy being a solo mom and the lessons it has taught me about relationships, family and, most of all, what it made me realize about myself.
You try harder — at everything
The break-up of a marriage is the death of a once simple dream of having children and growing old with someone; I nagged myself, almost on a daily basis asking, “How now?”
You try harder — at everything else — that’s how.
I may have been in competition only with myself, but I tried harder at my career, my relationship with my daughter, and even doing “man things” around the house. I kid you not, but not being able to figure out how to work a DVD player connected to a stereo surround system was one of the things that made me feel inadequate and like I needed a “man of the house” to help. I quickly learned that there is Google and countless forums with a bunch of people willing to offer technical advice.
I found direction in the higher road of self-reliance — but I’m not above asking my daughter how to install a new app for me.
You have a better relationship with your child
I once wrote that one of the best things about solo parenting is, for the most part, there is just the two of us.
Since we mostly have each other to count on, we are compelled to mature faster and be more responsible about ourselves and for one another. This fosters a relationship of mutual trust and respect, as I grow into my role of being both a parent and a friend, and so does my daughter.
(I’m sure those who know us will tell you that, sometimes, they can’t tell who’s taking the parent role.)
You have a better relationship with yourself
Once you get over the barrage of questions, unsolicited advice and unwarranted comments (watch for my article, “Things solo moms are told”), you will learn that sardonic humor is the best material for a suit of armor. When you can let things slide off your back and stop feeling sorry for yourself, you take away other’s people implicit license to do so. After all, it’s not the breakup of a marriage or relationship that makes you a failure, it’s what you make of yourself after it that does.
Solo motherhood, for me, is a life of content punctuated with realizations made during the most mundane of moments. Like when my daughter and I we were quietly sitting beside each other and I said, “I love the life we have together” more to myself, thinking out loud than to anyone else.
“I do, too, Mom.” and a hand squeeze was her simple but definitive reply.
There were no “and’s, if’s or but’s” because I guess we both know that in a life where we have found a way to be happy even after, everything else is just a bonus.
Pancake in the shape of a necktie on plate photo from Shutterstock
In 2011, Ana wrote and published “Happy Even After: A Solo Mom’s Journal” (www.happyevenafter.com).Both storybook and diary, “Happy Even After” hopes to be a solo mom’s ally in writing a true-to-her-own-life fairytale.
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