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No man required: How single parenting made me more ambitious

Stepping into life as the sole breadwinner for my family was terrifying. It was also the most empowering decision of my life.

Before my divorce, I spent years trying to salvage a relationship that didn’t want to be salvaged. Then, in 2013, I was faced with a stark reality. I had just quit a full-time job to pursue my dream of writing when layer upon layer of marital betrayal surfaced. As a result of the betrayals, I was on the verge of losing my house. I had no full-time job. I had no family living nearby. I had a 2-year-old daughter, and clearly no husband to count on.

To say I was terrified is an understatement. Resilience and empowerment don’t feel very good when you’re living them. What I discovered in those darkest days, however, is that I am stronger than I imagined, braver than I had ever hoped and more capable than I had ever given myself credit for. From the rubble, my daughter and I emerged as happier and more stable than we were when we were in survival mode.

Within the 18 months it took for me to make it through the divorce, I bought another house and became a landlord. I created a career as a writer and contract mental health professional. I enrolled in a doctoral program. I don’t mention these successes to make much of myself because I’m the same person I always have been. However, there is no way that I would have taken on these endeavors if I wasn’t a single parent. When you’re the only one you can rely on, the spirit within has a way of taking over and creating something beautiful.

To my brave sisters in single motherhood: Ours is a challenging vocation. We are the ones who breathe life into dying places. We not only breathe life into those places that feel like death, we encourage and grow the lives of the next generation through our grit, our overcoming and our determined love. We — in those most terrifying, powerless moments — gain our strength. Our vocation is a challenging one. But in the words of violinist Itzhak Perlman, we can say, “This has been my vocation, my lifelong mission, to make music out of what remains.”

Single mothers, we are the makers of music. And we don’t need a man for that.

More about single motherhood

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How to travel alone with your kids without going nuts
How to get more sleep as a single mom

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