I’ve been told that the first year as a single mom is the hardest but that it really takes two to start being able to breathe again — two cycles of birthdays, holidays, and special occasions that aren’t so special anymore.

Depending on where you start counting, I am either almost to the end of year one or a third of the way into year two. I am definitely not an expert on single parenting or on being a single mom. I know we have readers who could teach me a thing or two, but I have managed to learn a few things in the last year:

  1. I am stronger and more capable than I ever believed.
  2. The sun comes up every day whether you feel like it or not, and the kids will come jump on you if you don’t get out of bed fast enough.
  3. Having small people need you in the middle of the night is a blessing.
  4. I don’t multi-task well. (I kind of already knew this one.)
  5. It’s okay not to get everything done.
  6. “Mommy, you’re beautiful,” followed by a hug from my child is worth more than being told so by anyone else in the world.
  7. It’s okay to have dreams. It’s even okay to try to make them happen.
  8. It’s good to have plans and to know what you want, but be prepared to have God tell you “no” and “not now” and “not yet” and “wait.”
  9. I am not a patient girl, and waiting makes me grumpy.
  10. The “conversation” is going to happen more than once and will often need to happen when I least want to answer the questions … again.
  11. Children need to believe both their parents are awesome people, even if they aren’t. (And let’s face it; none of us is awesome all the time.)
  12. Children need to feel safe, loved, and protected even when the person responsible for that job is holding herself together with shoestrings and tape.
  13. Forgiveness is a good thing.
  14. Asking for help is still really hard, but everyone needs to do it sometimes, including me.
  15. Friends make life better.
  16. Filling my spiritual cup at church and getting alone time with God are essential to my ability to parent well … and not yell at people.
  17. Grown-up time is essential to my ability to parent well … and not yell at people.
  18. Married couple friends make great dates. So do other single moms.
  19. It’s okay to eat chocolate cake for breakfast on your birthday. And have ice cream sundaes for dinner once in awhile.
  20. Potty training a boy will not kill me, although it may require me to use stronger detergent.
  21. I am loved by an awesome and amazing God who thinks I am pretty special. (Sometimes other people think so, too.)

I know we have single mom readers because you have written to me asking why I don’t write more and to please share more of my story. Do you remember the first year? Are you there now? What did you learn about yourself? What can you share with me to make year two a little better?