This week is really special to me because it's written by the most beautiful, loving mother I know, my sister Kaileen (don't worry mom, you are beautiful and loving, too)! Kaileen has always been a natural writer and asking her to be featured on the blog is a real treat because I get to share what I love most about her and her motherhood: honesty and bravery. I know it hasn't always been easy Kaileen but you really do put everything into being a mom. One day that little girl will be so thankful. So - without further ado, here is the third installment in the Motherhood Musing series, enjoy!
This year when my daughter started preschool we took the traditional first-day-of-school picture but I also had her hold up a piece of paper that said: "when I grow up I want to be a...."
To my surprise, Kennedy said "firefighter."
When I was little, my answers varied from writer, to reporter, pediatrician...I even carried around a whistle for awhile and claimed I'd work for the FBI (And, to keep you reading this post I will end with revealing what the young Mrs. O'Hora dreamed of growing up to be...and she's gonna want to kill me for including this.)
As children we are told to dream to be whatever we want, if Kennedy wants to be a firefighter she can be. And, if she wants to be a ballerina that's great too. But if I am being honest there is one thing I wouldn't want her to be, one thing I myself never paraded around dreaming to be, a single mom.
Single parenting is one of those tricky topics in my opinion, similar to how divorce was in the nineties. People don't always know the right questions to ask, conversation can get awkward, and typically I find myself getting defensive and over explaining or justifying my situation. I'm confounded...how to explain to someone what life feels like as a single mom?
For the a long time I did not feel comfortable identifying myself as a single mom. I did not feel I fit the role or perhaps could not fit the role. For example, my daughter has both her loving parents in her life equally, so in my mind, I could not, would not be a single mom. When I grew up I was going to work full time and focus on my career, a single mom can't do that, I definitely was not a single mom.
The list went on and on as to why I was merely just a mom who happened to be single. And, when I had to move back home two years ago because it was the best decision for me and Kennedy a light bulb went off in my head. By saying "mom that is single" I sound like an online dating profile, not an identity that my daughter, family, and friends can understand and respect.
So I said to myself, switch the order of those words and embrace it. I am a single mom.
So here's what happens when you embrace your single mom-hood.
1. You start to cherish every moment -- instead of wasting time trying to change your situation with things that don't matter.
2. You gain perspective on what really matters -- spending time with your family, building a strong support group, and planning your future with your child.
3. You start to dream bigger than your young self ever would have thought to grow up to be; because dreams that include your four year old best friend are much better than those selfish lonely dreams.
So, young Kaileen, when you grow up you will cuddle with your daughter all the time. You will feed her lots of Reese cups because she always splits the pack with you. You will love watching her amazing aunts and uncles spoil her. You will realize how unconditionally loving her grandparents are. You will embrace being independent and fearless for your daughter -- even when you don't want to be.
Lastly, you will want to teach her and yourself to continue to dream big about what you want to be when you grow up. That your dreams and goals will change and get bigger and better. That we are never finished turning into who we want to be. Oh, and you will be a single mom, and it will be great.
PS -- Three year old Kendra Ann O'Hora wanted to be a cow. A real live farm living, grass eating cow. Dream big everyone!
That last part hurts deep... I don't exactly know WHY I wanted to be a cow but perhaps Chick-fil-a has an job opening?
Anyway, Kaileen, you write beautifully. I am so proud of who you are and how you have grown stronger and stronger to give Kennedy an amazing life. You are a single mom. We love it. We love you. Thank you for sharing this process, for being open to how your journey in mom-hood, as you called it, has shaped you. I'm grateful that this post will be shared with mothers who are struggling with their identity but also for those single moms out there. Your message is a powerful one. Thank you.
If you would like to contact Kaileen to process her journey or your journey, please comment or email me and I can put you in touch. *Pictures by Madison Webb Photography
Until next time,