Stephanie is mom to three very lively girls ages 6, 10, and 12. The girls are involved in many activities like tumbling, theater, and youth groups. “My youngest is the dramatic one, definitely a diva, and the baby of the family for sure. She loves all things ‘girly’,” Stephanie says. “My 10-year-old is the most like me. She’s intuitive, sensitive and caring, but she has a hard time expressing how much she cares sometimes.” Stephanie says her oldest daughter likes being the oldest sister and a little mom. “She has the biggest heart.”
Stephanie first became a single parent after her relationship ended with the father of her older girls. After an absence of him in their lives, he’s recently come back into the picture, “so co-parenting with him is a new thing.” She’s found herself in unfamiliar territory as she navigates how to best introduce him back into the girls’ lives.
She “had a serious relationship that lasted several years” with the father of her youngest daughter. “We were even engaged,” she says. The relationship faced many challenges and ended two years ago.
Being a single parent “has been very challenging, and there are multiple layers to the challenges,” she says. In addition to the unique dynamics she navigates regarding the relationship with her children’s fathers, Stephanie has no family near-by. There is no time where she does not have her kids. With the responsibilities of being full-time mom and sole provider at her feet, Stephanie decided to get her degree a few years ago. She worked two jobs while going to school to become a paralegal.
It is important to Stephanie that her kids be active, “which takes a lot of time and money. On top of paying bills and all the other things that need to get done on a regular basis, simply getting the kids to and from activities can take a toll.” She says they often only have one night a week with nothing scheduled. She adds, “But, I try to make time for them, even when I am tired because it is really important to me that they have those opportunities to be involved.”
Despite the hard work and sacrifice, Stephanie says one of her biggest joys is to watch her girls perform. “Their big smiles make it all worth it,” she says. “Maybe they will never know how much blood, sweat, and tears it cost so they could be in dance, and all the other activities, but for those couple of minutes they are up on stage and I see them progressing and finding out who they are as people, and see them blossoming; that is more of a reward than anything.”
The best advice she can offer to other single parents is, “You have got to live for the joy that is on the other side of the struggles,” she says. “Don’t focus on the struggles, because they will always be there.” Stephanie tries to focus on hope instead. “Just think about how much more joy there is when your kids learn to persevere because they see you. They will look back and the sacrifices, hard work, and love that you put in to it and what you went through.”
Stephanie adds, “Don’t settle. People think if they are a single parent, they can only give their kids half of a life; that they can’t give them everything because they are only half a couple. But I don’t think that is true. You have to decide what kind of life you want to give your kids and work for that, then you will.”
For self-care, Stephanie loves to be outside and go hiking with the girls. When she gets rare moments to hike alone, Stephanie takes her blue-tooth headphones and phone, brings the dog, and goes to a trail to just walk through the woods. She has found places to sit along the way that have become ‘her’ areas, where she can just sit, listen to music, look at the sky, and get in touch with peace. “That’s where I feel centered and closer to God,” she says. Stephanie also finds a lot of life through her church on Sundays and the Single Moms Group she attends on Tuesdays. “They are both a source of support and love.”
When she thinks of Single Parent Provision, Stephanie says, “SPP just screams love all around!” She says, “I realize how empowering it is for single parents. The Single Moms Group is so supportive. You don’t have to explain yourself. You can just show up, sit in the chair, and everyone knows the struggles that you have and can understand on some level.”
Stephanie, we are so glad to know you! Thank you for sharing part of your journey with us. We look forward to seeing the next chapter of your beautiful life unfold.
Published March 2020