On Being A Single Mom.

First, I’m not trying to compare my situation to anyone else or to say it is easier, harder or anything like that.  Just wanting to share what is in my heart about this whole matter.  In our world today single parenting is becoming more and more common. I would love for us to build each other up and share what we have learned and the struggles along the way.  I get a lot of emails from newly single moms and so I thought I would share my opinions, what works for me and EVERY situation on the planet is different from one another so yeah… take my thoughts with a grain of salt.

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I like talking in bullet point format because it helps me to get out all of my random thoughts so here goes.

*The amount of guilt that I feel as a single mom takes over my head and heart some days.  I am most definitely not able to give Brooke the life that I had as a kid with siblings all around to play with, a mom that was beyond amazing and a dad that drove me to school/took me on daddy-daughter dates and ate dinner every single night with us at the dinner table.  There are afternoons that Brooke has to do quiet time followed by tv time for a few hours because I have a deadline which means I am behind the computer screen when she wants to play with me.  She sees me cry more than I care to admit.  We live in an apartment when I wish I could give her a home with a yard.  We eat out a lot.  I feel guilt every.single.time I leave and go on a date because my brain tells me that I should just still be married and be at home doing family things rather than dating.  I struggle with loneliness a lot and yep, cry again.  Feeling like I am doing it all wrong hits me hard at times and wishing I had someone to work with to raise Brooke is constant.  Guilt/unworthiness feelings are a part of life (especially for women I think) and sometimes they just pop in our heads without warning BUT the key is… what do we do with these thoughts once they enter our brains?  Do we dwell on them and entertain the thoughts that we are not enough OR do we focus on the things that we ARE doing.  The older I get the better I am with this but it is a conscious decision for me to stop thinking about what I am not doing right as a mom.  I try to replace the unworthiness feelings with ideas of changes I can make that are IN MY CONTROL and to remind myself that I am trying my best to give Brooke the best life that I can.

When the guilt feelings come I think—>  She is loved.  So ridiculously loved.  And she feels that she is loved.  That is what matters the most.  And on those days that I feel the guilt take over I remind myself that it is okay that our ‘normal’ is a lot different than the normal I grew up with or what I thought our life would be.  I love our normal.  And this quote always helps me:

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*Both my ex and I work extremely hard to treat each other with complete respect. Like any divorce, there are a LOT of hurt feelings in the beginning but we both made it a point to avoid any sort of situation that would hurt Brooke in the long run.  We are actually on great terms now… he even helps me with blog problems and we are able to easily discuss parenting over the phone etc.  We are both very accommodating with schedules/visits/phone calls.  It took more self-restrain (for both parties!) than I could ever imagine but I made the decision in the very beginning to think how my reactions/relationships/words would affect Brooke.  During the year that it took for the divorce I had code names for when I needed to talk about him with my family if we ever needed to discuss anything legal etc in front of Brooke because she will always only hear me talk positively about him.  Starting from the very start of the divorce to be kind to each other has made our lives a heck of a lot easier/less dramatic too (although, I went the avoidance route for awhile and had everything go through attorneys… until I was able to be nice I just didn’t say anything at all).  The marriage was done.  There was no point in trying to hurt one another.  We will always be Brooke’s parents and to move forward in the best way possible is going to make everyone’s life involved easier.  Both he and I try very hard to encourage Brooke’s relationship with the other person because that is the absolute best thing for Brooke.

*As far as other people involved now in Brooke’s life and in the future I just repeat to myself 4,000 times in a row when it gets hard (which to be honest, is a lot), “the more people that love her, the better.”  The more people that are excited to see her, hug her, comfort her, play with her… the better.  I will be her mom and have a special place in her heart no matter who else is in her life so the more the merrier.

*Let go.  As a single parent you just have to learn to let go.  Whether it be legal matters, parenting time, money etc.  Staying up all night worrying (easier said than done for me;) will not solve anything.  Control what you can but there will be A LOT that is probably out of your control.

*The treadmill will be your best friend.

*If social media drives you crazy as a single parent, say goodbye to it.  When I was going to therapy after my divorce my therapist told me that I wasn’t allowed to get on social media after 7 pm.  I was always the most sad at night and getting on social media in the evening when I was alone was killing me inside.  Scrolling through and seeing ‘perfect families (even though there is no such thing as perfect)’ hurt because it was what I wanted so badly and couldn’t have.  I’m at a place now that it doesn’t affect me but believe me, getting off of social media (and giving it to God and going to bed at night) helped me a lot.   I really hope that I don’t come off like life is perfect on my social media channels because it is far from it.  I try to show you the highlights each day but know that there is hard stuff in between just like it is for everyone else out there.  Parenting is hard work (no matter what your situation is) but I do love sharing the brightness/joy she brings me each and every day.

*Not really about single parenting but just my feelings on my being a mom—>  Motherhood is my world.  There is no bigger blessing in my life.  I feel strongly that it is the most important thing I will ever do and I hold my ‘position’ as Brooke’s mom as my most sacred calling.  Whether I am single, married, struggling, strong, tired, weak, happy or sad…. I will do whatever it takes to be there for Brooke, to teach her, to help her and most importantly to love her.

*I am very lucky in the sense that this is the only life Brooke knows.  She was so young when I left that she sees it as normal for her to be living with mom and then have her dad come here to visit or we fly to California to visit him.  If you have tips for helping the adjustment after divorce for older kids please share them in the comments for other readers needing guidance with that situation.

*Identity.  Identity.  Identity.  I think this was by far one of the hardest things for me during this transition from married with a child to single with a child that was now gone for some weekends/holidays/birthdays.  Those first weekends away from Brooke absolutely devastated me.  There were a few weekends when she was gone that the only thing I got out of bed to do was to run, get the remote and to the Kneaders drive-thru.  I felt completely lost when I was not only no longer a wife but I also didn’t have my little mini to take care of.  I really didn’t know who I was during those times alone.  It has taken YEARS to get to the place where I miss her like crazy while she is away but I am happy on my own too.  I take the time to do selfish things, to sleep, to get more work in, to read, to figure out who I am and what my personal goals are.  The time away helps me to be a better mom too because it allows me to rejuvenate.  Take the time to figure yourself out.  Enjoy the process.  Find yourself again.

*Parenting (whether single or not) is an interesting thing.  There will always be judging/shaming/people telling you that you are doing it wrong etc.  For me, I have learned that all that matters is what God thinks of me and that I know in my heart that I am trying my hardest.  No one else’s opinions matter besides God and my personal relationship with Brooke and that I am doing everything I can to be the best mom for her.

*Celebrate.  Pinterest parenting personally stresses me out because my idea of a craft is gluing some marshmallows together and calling it a snow man but I DO try my hardest to celebrate with Brooke.  Traditions, special occasions, dance parties in the car, little accomplishments, picnics on the living room floor, a new skill learned, a sunny day… anything at all.  There is a lot to be happy about and to focus on.  Being a single parent can be hard at times but there is so much good to focus on that it makes those hard times so ridiculously worth it.  Plus, the hardest things in life bring the biggest amount of joy.

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Would love to hear your thoughts on parenting/life/single parenting/divorce/life/things that you’ve been thinking about a lot lately/reasons to celebrate/the good in your day today/a quote that has been helping you out lately… anything at all.  Fire away!

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170 comments

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I think guilt is part of being a parent regardless. I’m married, but, I feel all the time that my kids deserve things from me that I can’t give for whatever reason. I try to do the same as you and focus on what I CAN offer them and the things I can control. It’s just not simple, ever, every family has their own flaws and strengths. There’s so much you’re giving Brooke that other families with two parents just couldn’t! I relate to the guilt though and it’s hard not to let it cloud my perspective sometimes.

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This was such a special post. I love how you’re always so open and honest with your readers, so that we can understand you. I’m hoping that this is an experience that I don’t have to go through, so having you explain it and all the emotions that go along with it and your thought process on everything help me to understand better what you’re going through. I think you’ve been SO smart and mature through the entire divorce process and I don’t think you get enough credit for that. So many people nowadays drag their exes on the internet or let their dirty laundry out and I love how you haven’t done that at all. Thanks for sharing this post <3

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I’m not a parent, and I’ve never been married, but I must say that I have so much respect for your strength and your encouragement to others. You are definitely doing a wonderful job, and Brooke is so lucky to have you as her mom! :)

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Just do you. Be the best you can be and everything will come together. And remember if someone tries to hurt you or put you down, turn away. Ignorant people will only drag you down to their level and then beat you with their experience.

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I don’t have kids and I already worry about it. What would I do if they get sick or hurt or cry or or or or. There’s a million and one factors and I just have to let it go. I know I’m going to worry even more when there is a little person here to actually worry about! It is so good that you and Brooke’s dad have a great relationship, that will benefit her so much in the long run and you’re exactly right, she doesn’t remember anything different, so this is her normal. I think all of us want that perfect relationship, parenting, family, etc. and there is just no such thing. It is hard to let that go and just be you!

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Lots of hugs to you Janae! I am so proud of the way you’ve handled this all along the way. You are an incredible role model for Brooke and are dong an amazing job. Good for you for sharing this for other single moms. Also, LOVE the idea of no social media after 7 pm. That’s good advice for everyone and I follow the same thing. Nothing good ever comes from it!

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My parents divorced when I was two (I don’t remember them ever being together) so I lived with my mom and visited my dad every other weekend throughout my childhood. I never felt like I was missing out on anything because that’s the only life I knew. And looking back, I wouldn’t change any of it. I’m sure Brooke will feel the same when she’s older. You’re doing a great job!

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You’re so mature and classy in how you handle your divorce and single parenthood. I admire so much that you’re both open annd honest and also keep your head held high. No matter what anyone is dealing with, you nailed it: letting go is essential. As always I’m wishing the best to you and Brooke!

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I think the part of parenting that surprised me the most is the worry! It is one thing to worry about them getting sick/falling, etc. but the idea that they could be hurting emotionally can cause such overwhelming fears in my mind. I think your second bullet is the most important. No one is a perfect parent, and even if you are, every child is different and has different needs. The most important thing you can do is truly love your child and make sure they *hear and feel* that they are loved and cherished.

I come from a broken home but I truly have great memories of my parents because they never spoke negatively of each other and respected each other. I can’t imagine how hard it was to keep that all shielded from us kids but now with my own kid I think my Mom was superwoman for what she did and how she handled it)!!

Thank you for such an honest and real post, I really enjoyed it and I’m enjoying the comments thus far!

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My boyfriend (of almost 2 years) was recently divorced when we met. He has two girls who were 9 and 11 when he divorced. I didn’t meet them for 6 months and even then it was only a short visit here and there for another 3 months. But an amazing friendship has been created ans I feel so lucky. and I so agree with your statement “there can never be too much love”. They have gained a lot of love and reciprocate which is such an amazing blessing to me too. I am always so impressed with how well their parents handle everything. I think that divorced families can be amazingly functional. Honesty and respect and putting the kids first is the golden rule. When my boyfriend divorced he felt so guilty but he is a better parent now. He has one on one time with the girls that he never had.

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I know we can get wrapped up in what we think things “should” be like – but I think the most important thing for any child is to know they are loved, and Brooke is so incredibly loved. You are an amazing mother, no matter the hard moments you two go through.

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You truly are an amazing woman and mom. Your self awareness – both with the good and bad, is so respectable. You know you are a great mom and you do all you can to let Brooke know how loved she is. Yet you are honest in that you have doubts and struggles just like the rest of us. I know none of us truly know you but you can learn about someone’s character by what the share on a daily basis. From an outsiders perspective you are a fantastic mom and you are raising an amazing little girl who will grow into a great woman herself. Be proud of all you are doing and how far you have come!

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I would echo what someone else said above about guilt — “I feel all the time that my kids deserve things from me that I can’t give for whatever reason.” Guilt (for me, at least!) seems to go hand-in-hand with parenting. So you’re not alone! I also wanted to say, you’re making a beautiful life with Brooke and not only is she a blessed and happy girl now, when she gets to be all grown up she’s going to look back with much admiration on how hard you worked and all you’ve done for her. What a role model you are! And it’s really wonderful that you and her dad are able to have such a constructive relationship with each other and with her — she’ll also be so grateful for that when she’s old enough to understand it. You’re doing such an amazing job!

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Being a single mom is hard. It is a struggle to stay strong, focused and stable. Being your absolute best when you mentally are having a hard time just functioning due to outside stressors. Being a single mom is always amazing. The little things that kids do that make life that much better! :) My divorce was hard for my kids, the holidays were harder. There is hurt and pain and misunderstandings. Outside sources that don’t help with the situation and those that do. Fortunately, things will always turn out the way they should be as long as you let God steer you in the direction you need to go. Prayer is powerful. And as much as I miss have a “family”…I still have one. It isn’t what I grew up picturing but its mine and its amazing!!! Just like Brookes and yours. Focusing on what makes you two amazing will bring out the best in everyone for her…and you. :)

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Thanks so much for sharing Janae! You are such a great mom and it clearly shows!!

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Thank you so much for pouring your heart out into such an honest post. I’m not a parent or am I in this stage of life, but honesty impacts everyone in some way. It’s easy to look on the outside of someone’s life and see it as perfect, but everyone is always struggling with something. I’ve felt a lot of those emotions just being a woman even without a child. There’s always people criticizing something you’re doing and it’s also easy to feel guilt and shame when you feel like your priorities are out of balance.

I also can see how your sense of identity would feel lost after such a transition, but I think it’s wonderful that you find it in God and have also grown so much through a tough situation. I also want to encourage you not to feel guilt in dating because just think when Brooke is your age and how she would want you to have that so badly just so her mom can be happy and who knows- it could bring a wonderful man into her life too!

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Thank you for this post! I don’t have kids or have ever been married but your strength and insight in this situation can be carried over into so many other things! You are so very inspirational! :)

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I can’t imagine anything harder than being a single mom, and I think you are doing a great job!

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I think a lot of these challenges all mom’s face, single or married.
Training? I remember the days when I could get up at dawn to work, squeeze in a run before the heat of the day, and still have supper on the table before my husband got home. Now I get up two hours before dawn (04:45), so that I can run on the treadmill and stretch before my husband wakes and I go up to shower before our little man wakes. Then after getting him ready (with iPad time for breakfast and the 10 minutes I take to go upstairs and get ready) and dropped off at school (08:15) I work a full-day and pick him up to take him home (18:00) and hurriedly fix dinner and serve it to our mini-family (no siblings here either) to hit the rest of the schedule: 18:45 outside play 19:10 iPad time 19:30 shower/brush teeth/PJs/stories then 20:00 shut the door. I go downstairs to a movie cued up by my hubby and we usually watch half (45 minutes or an hour) before he goes to bed and I start the laundry and catch up on email. I try to get to bed before 23:00 so that I can wake up early and do it all over again. Being married does not necessarily mean you have someone to watch the kid while Uu do a long run on weekends, either. In my case it means one more person that desperately wants to spend time with me and disappointment when you don’t, hence my early morning runs so that I can get it all done before the family gets going. I trained for the Athens marathon last year all outside, but the majority of long runs were done completely in the dark (so that I could be home by 07:00 and not miss any family fun). Momma guilt is a real thing, and I think the best thing for me it to try and do it all, because I know my only regret would be thinking I didn’t do enough. I figure I can rest later.

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What an awesome comment. Love this. Great and different perspective. We get so caught up in ourselves and our own situations or what should be or guilt or woes and fail to remember there is NO perfect or no “what it should be.” I grew up with 2 parent but it was a dysfunctional, difficult, abusive household. Do the best you can with your own situation and be grateful.

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loooove this post. thanks for being SO open! I am not married or with kids yet but all these things are great to keep in mind. We are our own biggest critic and yes, we are 100% of the time doing better than we think we are!! <3 xoxoxo

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I was a single parent for seven years and it was not easy. However, it was the sweetest time of my life with my daughter. It was different for me because my ex-husband was an alcoholic and he left so he could drink. He walked away and has not connected as a father since that time. I have since remarried and I think it is tougher now than when I was a single mother. It is due to the horrible marriage my husband had and the baggage he still carries as a result. As a single mother, I was blessed with an awesome job where I worked from home and did the majority of my work at night. I homeschooled my daughter during the day and took her to activities so she had a lot of socialization. I often questioned myself a lot of the same questions but realized I was doing the best I could. And, God filled the gaps that I could not fill. Now my daughter is grown and she is amazing!! She is well adjusted, has an excellent sense of humor, and balanced. Brooke is amazing and when you look back, you will see God’s blessing intertwined throughout your life leading Broke to be what he calls her to be. Take care of yourself. It is the best gift we can give them. They learn so much from watching us. A worn out tired out cranky mom teaches them to be the same. Awesome job Janae!!

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Love you Janae!

I became a better mother the day how I thought it would look was taken from me at no choice of my own. It was then I had to surrender to God’s vision for me, and although there are tears sometimes mourning the loss of how I thought it would look, He has made me the mother I always dreamed in my heart I would be.

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While I don’t have children of my own, this is such a beautiful post Janae. You are such a strong individual and a great mom. Brooke is truly lucky to have such a loving parent in her life.

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In your first point, you were mentioning how you felt guilt over certain items because you want your daughter to have the best life… but I think that just the fact that you think and feel those things should be proof of how much you love and are invested in the well being of your little angel. You’re a wonderful, strong, and inspirational mom and woman. Thank you for taking the time to share so personally about your life!

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I write about this all of the time and have an ebook coming out on the subject of co parenting! I wrote just last week about letting go. It’s so important and not overly easy to do! I never wanted a divorced life for my son and totally feel guilty sometimes even though I did everything I could to save my marriage. But our kids are so loved and so okay! Trust me. They are resilient. More than us! I miss my house so much but then I remember, a house does not make a home. You are doing great, remember that! And it’s OK to go on dates! Remember, when we are married, we go out with our husbands and that’s ok so it’s ok for us to get out a bit too and live an adult life!!

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I am SO thankful that you shared this and I know it will help not only other single parents but ALL of us who are trying (and often struggling) to be the very best we can be for our kids. Please know that I’m in the group that loves you and that precious little girl!

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I don’t often comment here, but I just want to say this is a wonderful post. Keep it up, you’re doing great.

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I just have to say how amazing you are! This post is such a good reminder to focus on the good in life no matter what – thank you for sharing this with us. <3

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Thank you for sharing all of this. Coming from a family of divorce reading this made me think of how my parents felt at the time. I feel like I would always think of how it affected my sister and I, but I’m sure it affected my parents so much more. I know that all I wanted growing up (and still) was for my mom and dad to be happy and it broke my heart seeing them sad or hurt. I think you are so strong and the best mother to Brooke ever! This is such a special post and I love your honesty and openness.

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I am not a mum yet but thank you for sharing, I would definitely want to be a mum like you! <3

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Thank you for putting yourself out there, Janae and sharing your thought and feelings. I think an important thing to remember is that just because two parents stay together (often for the sake of the kid(s)) doesn’t mean it is better… for them and certainly the child! We often assume that just because the family is in tact, that all is well. This just cannot be assumed. You are a better mom for what you’ve been through and God has paved this path for you and Brooke for a reason! My husband was married and has a son. I came into his life when he was 1.5 (8 now). Our situation and shared custody is all he ever knew so its just normal for him now. Its not always easy but his life is better with still 2 (much happier) parents and SO many more people around him that love him.
You’re handling a difficult situation with such grace and I respect that tremendously. Brooke is a special little girl and she is lucky to have you as her mom!

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There are so many little kiddos that would be so lucky to have a mom like you!! All they really need is your love, and I think it goes without saying how obvious the strength of your love is for her. You are doing a tremendous job <3

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Let me preface this by saying that I am not a parent, but I am a K teacher, and personally, I think that you are doing such an amazing job! I see so many working parents- married, 2 parent families- who aren’t able to be with their kids as much as you are with Brooke. You are an inspiration to so many, including myself, and one day I hope to love a daughter the way that you love yours. I also think that it is great that Brooke had seen you cry and work through tough times. She learns that those feelings are normal and see gets to see a powerful woman work through them in a responsible and healthy way. We support you out here in the Internet land!

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this was so full of love and insight. it sounds like you’re doing a great job.

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I am neither a wife nor a mother and I took so much away from this post. It is so heartwarming to hear you and your ex put aside any negative feelings and focus on kindess toward one another. It shows such a great respect not only to one another and Brooke, but also to the life you both once shared. Brooke is going to grow into such an incredible young woman because of the type of parent you are and the positivity you surround yourself with.

When times get tough, I always remind myself “Everything will be ok in the end-if it’s not ok, it’s not the end.” This quote brings me alot of hope and faith and reminds me to keep moving forward.

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There is so much truth to this not only for single moms but for moms who are in a marriage as well! I struggle with a lot of the same things and I am married to my daughters dad. Keep your chin up remember you are the perfect person for Brooke. God specifically chose you to be her mama because he knew you would be able to handle it and everything that comes along with it!

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Wow, I really enjoyed this post. I love your honesty. You are such a GREAT mom! Brooke is very lucky. Thanks for sharing.

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You rock. That’s all :) You are a huge blessing not only to your daughter, but to lots of other Mamas and women.

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I’m 100% sure this has already been said by all of your readers, but I look up to you as a mother, single or not. I love that you and Brooke are best friends. And if someday you have more kids, I’m confident that you’ll treat them all the same. There have been days where I feel like I’m not being a good mom because I say no to too many things (the park, getting a treat, doing a craft etc..) but you’re so right about comparing and about it only matters what God thinks. I don’t know you personally, but from everything I have read about your divorce I can confidently say that you’re so much more mature and grown up about it than several older divorced people I know. It’s so good for you guys to respect each other. My in laws got divorced almost 10 years ago and still won’t be in the same room together. At all. Even for weddings and births and all the big events in life, the can’t keep it together long enough for a family picture at a wedding or anything like that. They are constantly playing the blame game. Brooke will always feel so loved by you and when she’s old enough to understand, she will be very thankful for the relationship you’ve worked to keep.

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This is one of my favorites posts. Thank you for being so honest. I admire the relationship that you and your ex have regarding Brooke. As hard as it is, you will never regret being cordial to each other for her benefit. “You are doing better than you think you are” is my new parenting mantra.

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Awesome post, Janae! I can tell you’re a wonderful mother; Brooke is super lucky <3

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You are such an amazing lovely mother, sweetheart! That’s all that matters and Brooke is SO loved! I love seeing her adorable smile in every post <3

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Thank you for this post. I am not a single mother but have recently gone through a horrible break up, so many of your points I could still relate to.

You are a great role model for me and many. Keep on keeping on! I read your blog every day as a source of inspiration and positivity. Your posts have truly helped me thrive though many painful days.

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I am a single mom to three kids for 8 years now. They were 5, 6 and 10 when my ex-husband and I split up. It was so, so hard at first. I had been a stay at home mom so had to find a way to support us, find a place to live and just juggle the logistics. I think the best advice I could give in retrospect is just do your best and let go of the rest. They will value the time you can give and not hold what you can’t against you. The same goes for material things. Kids are extremely resilient and forgiving. Be present when you’re present. And don’t let them become your whole identity. It’s a burden they can’t and shouldn’t bear. It’s important to have interests and activities outside of them. Don’t feel guilty for that. It’s healthiest for everyone. Above all – give yourself grace. ?

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I love your perspective. Thank you for sharing your experience and priceless advice!

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I grew up in a family with two awesome parents who were incredibly supportive and helped us pursue whatever we wanted, but I had sibling that made our lives awful Even now as a 30 something year old he still does horrible things to my parents and it just makes me angry. So my point is whether or not your single does not define the little person your nurturing. You can come from the best of families and turn out to be a rotten person like my brother who has not an ounce of care in his bones about hurting others.

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I just love your openness and honesty. I am so glad that you are in such a good place right now. We all have hard times and struggle and social media can certainly be deceiving. You are such a good mom and Brooke is extremely lucky to have you!

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You are doing a great job! Brooke is a beautiful little girl who is surrounded by love!

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My best friend of the last 18 years has never once said a bad thing about her ex. And she could…there was plenty. She said it was up to her kids to learn what he was like and to form their own relationship, she wasn’t going to damage them and her relationship with them because of it. They respect her so much for that and so do I. She’s amazing. I tell her she’s on my parent pedestal. Watching you go through this has been a similar experience. You have had a a great support system which clearly helps but you still have to go through it and you’ve handled it with grace. It shows in your relationship with him and with her.

My parents divorced after 27 years of marriage. It was not amicable and it was a rough few years. But after that they slowly remembered they had been madly in love at one time and had kids together and even though both remarried, eventually we all ended up celebrating the holidays together as huge families. These are my favorite memories before I lost my dad. You are doing a good thing. Doing life right.

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What a great post! Thank you for sharing.

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I’ve “known” you before Brooke and until now. Single parent or not, you are an outstanding mother. Brooke is incredilby lucky.

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Well, I don’t usually post to blogs and stuff, but this really resonates with me. But unlike most people on here – I’m the 22 year old only-child daughter of a single mom.
I guess I just wanted to tell you that even though you feel bad about the times that you can’t devote 100% to Brooke, you are going to be her best friend as she grows up. Since it’s just you and her, you get to strike a special balance between mom and daughter and best friends.
I have zero hard feelings towards my mom for the way that I was brought up and even though I’m across the country finishing up my last year of college, my mom is always there for me.
So moral of the story is: whatever you can do, even though you wish you could do more, is enough and Brooke will love you for it. And in 18 years you’ll get a best friend too :)

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As single moms, married moms, working moms, stay at home moms, we ALL feel guilty and like we could do better for our kids! You are doing great.

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Amen!

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I believe that both you and Brooke will be just fine. It’s not an easy world, and being a single parent can be tough (I know this firsthand.) You’ve adopted some wonderful philosophies focusing on respect, love, and faith. When you put your energy and your focus on the positive things, not the negative ones, you ensure that Brooke’s upbringing will be ‘normal’ even if isn’t what you considered ‘traditional’. I used to tell my kids that we’d always be a family, just a family that didn’t live together.

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Loved this post. Thanks so much for sharing!

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I love your attitude and your blog! As someone who was raised by a single mom I have to say that I wouldn’t change a thing, I am the womanI am because of my moms example and her hard work and even though we didn’t do any ” fun ” crafts or went on cool vacations I was so blessed by her example and hard work! I’m sure you are doing so much better than you think! Brooke is a lucky girl to have you as her mom!!

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You are clearly a dedicated, loving, and all around fantastic mom doing the absolute best she can to give her daughter a wonderful life. My parents are still married, but when my brother was born with Down syndrome, but dad completely shut down to him and never really came back around. I would argue that, in some cases, having two parents is not always as valuable as one amazing parent. Thank you for your brave and honest post!

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I love this post. Growing up a child of divorce in a faith where I was taught families are forever was confusing and hurtful at times. But the experience has taught me that families come in all shapes and sizes, that being part of a less traditional family doesn’t lessen my value, and I hope I judge less and love more. As I move towards empty next-door (Rylee just got engaged) it’s also a good reminder that I still have things to contribute even though my family circumstances are changing. Thanks for sharing.

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Janae, you are an amazing mother!

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I love this post!! While I’m not a single mom, I can relate to a lot of the conflicted feelings you have as a mom. It sounds like you are doing an amazing job by your daughter. You and your ex have shown a huge amount of growth in handling this the way you have. Thank you for sharing

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I appreciate your honesty and openness, and I am impressed by how you have worked through all your thoughts and how you handle things. And I wish my kiddos had the relationships with extended family that Brooke has!

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Oh Janae, this is so sweet. And a lot of what you said rings true with me too, even though I’m not a single mom. It’s true, this is the hardest/most rewarding relationship, and so therefore we’re bound to be emotional messes about it sometimes. But you’re doing a great job, and are such an example to others. Love reading your blog, and feel like we’re BFFs because I stalk you on the daily.

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What a blessed little girl Brooke is!!! This was a heartwarming post and if only more people chose to take the high road like you have. It had to be a difficult post to write but it makes me admire you even more.

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Beautiful post, Janae! I love your honesty and willingness to be real with us. I am in awe of how you handled everything (I have been reading from the beginning) and how you are such a good role model to little Brooke.

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Touching post. I just wanted to say that the strength you and your ex have shown in deciding not to say negative things about each other in your daughter’s presence is incredible and so important. My mom was like you after the divorce; she never said a bad thing about my dad. But my dad was another story. Every weekend I spent with him, he would constantly say horrible things about my mom. This continued from the divorce in third grade until I was almost done with college. I don’t know what his intentions were in behaving that way, but the result was that, to this day, I don’t respect him. I share this to reinforce your decision to be an adult in front of your daughter. You are such a strong person, and I commend your strength (because I am sure it’s not easy; divorces leave lots to be angry about)! It will benefit your daughter SO MUCH in the long run!

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Thanks for taking the time to share, Janae. I’ve been reading your blog for years now and I am so happy that you’ve come out of this trial a much stronger person. It’s interesting to read about how you struggled immediately after the divorce because it gives me some perspective on what my mom went through after she left my dad. I was 12 years old so it was a little bit different, but my mom and dad both went the same route as you and stayed friendly. To this day they are still friends and we even celebrate some holidays together now (along with Adam’s family).

I can tell you seeing my mom unafraid to leave a situation that was bad for her taught me so much. It let me know that it’s okay to leave when things aren’t right and to also be self-sufficient because you never know if/when you’re going to have to rely on yourself. Brooke is learning so many lessons about independence and being a strong woman from just watching you live your life. These are lessons I didn’t realize I was learning growing up but I can appreciate now.

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So good! I have a husband and 3 kids and the whispers of guilt on all still get to me but I pray them off. I keep hearing this theme amongst my friends about social media and “perfect families” just knowing no family is perfect period. We ALL struggle and so much in life we just don’t all post it lol…for me with anything is focusing on the glass half full rather than half empty and by doing that I volunteer and love reading inspiring biography books! Puts a LOT into perspective!
Thank you for this post!

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My mom committed suicide right after I turned 16 after about 3 years battling alcoholism. My parents divorced when I was 7 and it was acrimonious until the end (constant fighting, badmouthing, putting us in the middle). There was very little stability and so many things could have been done differently. But I always think of my mom fondly and I always felt incredibly close to her. She was a different mom before the divorce and a different mom post-divorce (most of my memories) and a different mom post-alcoholism. The one thing that was consistent is that I always felt incredibly loved by her.

After the divorce both of my parents struggled financially in the worst way, but my mom always turned things into an adventure and it never felt like we were missing out on anything. She wanted the world for my sisters and I, we were unstoppable and shouldn’t let anyone or anything stand in the way of our dreams. That’s what I remember about her.

I spent a lot of my life being angry at my dad for a million things. Now as an adult looking back, he was just trying to keep us safe and I can see how scared he was back then. When I channeled all of my anger towards him, he was patient and loved me through all of it.

Circling back to a point… It doesn’t matter how much money you have or where you live or whether you’re single or together or fighting or getting along. In the worst of the worst, both of my sisters and I turned out healthy and happy, we could have made a lot of bad choices and we didn’t. I have a few friends whose divorced parents are best friends, that was a crazy concept to me, but something I always admired (and would recommend).

But, despite that, we grew up with values, as many, if not more, positive memories than bad ones and a lot of love. In my experience, that’s all that matters. Everything else works itself out.

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Sam,
Your story has me crying. I am truly so sorry about what you have been through. But wow, you are amazing and you are so strong because of your story. You have helped me by sharing and I can’t thank you enough.

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I am so sorry to hear about your mom Sam and all that you have been through. Thank you for sharing your story with others, that is so brave of you. I am so glad that you have found happiness and have positive memories despite your experiences.

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You are such an awesome role model to Brooke, and to every girl/woman who visits this site. I’m not a mom yet nor am I married, but my current struggle is with a long distance relationship. Comparison is so tough on social media – I see friends going on dates with their significant others, spending time with them, moving forward, and I start to get frustrated with my current circumstances. I read this quote from John Piper and have been focusing on it a lot lately:

“Occasionally weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have. – John Piper”

We find so much joy when we focus on the good in our lives and simply “stay in our lane” or “run OUR OWN race”. God has given us each a unique and beautiful race to run, we can’t let comparison steal our joy.

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I was a single mom when my oldest was younger. I married my husband when he was 5 and now we have the life you describe. It’s not perfect but we have a house with a yard and dinner as a family. I found someone who is a wonderful father to him and the two children we added to our family. I’m confident that you will meet the right person too. You will be able to give Brooke the family life that you grew up with, just a little different.

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Not that I am a parent at all, but from the stories and pictures, it looks like Brooke has a wonderful life, you must be doing just fine!

And just for fun, you may find “Fuller House” (the Full House sequel, on netflix) right up your alley. It is hilarious, but deals with both Kimmy Gibler and DJ Tanner-Fuller being single parents.

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I think you’re so incredible. Everybody has different trials for whatever reason, and they suck but I think they make us SO much stronger! My dad left my family when I was a younger, and as sucky as it was at the time, I don’t feel like I missed out on having that “ideal” family. The most important thing is being surrounded by people who love you…and I think Brooke (and you) absolutely have that! xx

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My friend follows you and sent me this post. I am sitting in the dr office with tears streaming down my face. Thank you for sharing! I relate to every single thing you have said and find comfort in knowing that other girls go through these emotions and hard times and yet life still goes on so we are all still waking up everyday and doing our best. Keep up the great work and thank you.

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I’m not a single parent, but my mom was a single parent to my brother and I (twins!) for about 10 years and I can honestly say that I have the best memories of just the three of us together. We had so much fun and so many little traditions. We really were the Three Musketeers! I just had a baby this past year and although I’m not a single mom, I still experience the guilt and worry that you talk about in this post. I think it’s something that comes with the territory of creating this little person that you love more than life itself! You always want better and more for them, even when in reality everything you are giving them IS enough.

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Janae, this post is awesome! Thank you for sharing! You are a great mother! Being a parent in general is hard, whether single or married. I’m married, but I’m a stepmom. I’ve been in their lives since they were 7 & 11. They are now 10 & 14. The kids live with my husband and I full time. They haven’t seen bio mom for almost two years, though she is still around. What I find hardest in being their full time mom, is that I am not, in fact, their mom. I’m a step in. I’m a substitute. I try to do my best but am always comparing myself. I have a great relationship with both kids, but I know that it’s not as close as they had/have with their bio mom. And it hurts really bad sometimes, but that’s reality. That being said, I’m grateful for them and their dad in my life and that I get to raise them right now. However I cannot wait until I have kids of my own as well.

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Thank you for such an honest post. You handled your situation with class and dignity. You are a great mom. My childhood was a living nightmare of horrible abuse. I wanted to give my kids a happy childhood. I put my kids first because I grew up with selfish parents and have seen so many selfish parents. But I feel guilt every day because my kids missed so much because their dad put himself first. I am still married but my husband is not the person he pretended to be and I did not find out until it was too late. Brooke is lucky to have you and your family.

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You are an amazing mom and amazing person. I hope you always remember that. I know it took a lot of courage to share this, and I know it is going to help a lot of moms out there. Brooke is super lucky to have you and all the wonderful people you’ve brought into her life. Huge hug to you. xoxo

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This was such a thoughtful, honest post. Thank you!

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Single mom since my son was 6 months old (he’s 6 now) and I’ve been through the whole roller coaster of emotions about it about 10 times, BUT I don’t think I would be as strong or as confident or as successful as I am without being a single parent. Single women and single mothers specifically are reshaping our world’s demographics. More women are waiting much later in life to marry, or NOT to marry, and when they have kids, it’s later in life and most likely doesn’t require a husband! Yay us! Sorry to seem like I’m taking the romance all out of it, but I believe I’m a better person not married and my son isn’t missing out on anything. I’ve gotten past using my story to single-motherhood to invoke sympathy, but the details are no longer important. I’m in a long-term relationship to a great father figure for my son, but do I feel pressured to marry him, or heck, move in with him? Nope! I love my quiet evenings, my successful career, and the knowledge I can do “it all” myself. Good read opportunity: All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister

Keep doing you. You are wonderful as you are.

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Love this. You’re amazing!

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Hi Janae…I ususally don’t comment but I read every post and follow you on Instgram…I am a mom of two and just wanted to say I loved this post and your honesty. Thank you for being you…you are always such a positive, loving, honest person and you deserve so much. I know God loves you so so much and He has an amazing plan for you and Brooke. I know God will provide you with every emotional, financial, physical need and good things are on your way. He will not let you be able to handle and overcome this divorce/being a single mom thing like a champ if He didn’t think so. You are incredibly brave and I see your strength in this post. You have grown so much as a woman of God, as a person, and of course as a mom. You will and always be an incredible mom to your Brooke and more if you ever do have more. This whole process has been an overabundant muscle you have gained spiritually emotionally, in every way. Thank God for this as some people still have so much to grow in life. I am the same age as you and YOU inspire me so much. Thanks again and keep up the good work!

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I loved reading this post. I’m not yet a parent, but from person to person please trust that you are doing a fantastic job at life in general. I gain great insight for myself by reading your blog and I know many other readers do as well. You are strong and you possess the wonderful gift of being able to find the positive in any situation. Keep smiling. :)

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Way to go woman! Thanks for your very honest post. My parents divorced when I was 6 and this gave me some insight as to how they must have felt. I’m really impressed by your restraint in not bashing your ex-husband in front of your daughter. You’re giving her so much by doing that. My mother bitterly resented my father after the divorce and to this day talks badly about him. Every important event in my life from my graduations to my wedding has become overshadowed by her anger. On behalf of children of divorce, you rock!

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Jenae. Listen. I never reply to blogs or vlogs or anything like that. However, today, after reading this, I had to. I read your blog daily and you have no idea how much you inspire me and motivate me every day as an athlete, and really as a human being. As a trauma survivor, running is my outlet to run away from the demons that continue to chase me daily. There are days when I don’t feel like running, or when I cannot seem to find the self confidence to believe that I can actually run my 10 miles for the day. Then, I think of you and all that you do as an athlete, as a mother, as a blogger, as a woman. We are complete and utter strangers living across the United States from one another, yet you motivate people, just like me, on a daily basis. I cannot even BEGIN to imagine the mentor, the rock, and the amazing teacher you are to your little girl. Just by scrolling through old posts on your site or by looking at photos of you and your daughter, anyone can see that she is a happy, blessed, and LOVED little one. That is all because of you and the solid foundation of a family that you have provided for her. There are many more than I care to think about, children who are screaming for love and affection and guidance who come from a “perfect nuclear” family. The bottom line, is that it is not about being a single mom or a married mom, it is what you show and teach and how you love your daughter that counts. You know as an athlete that the training, the meticulous hours, the dedication, and the proper fueling of marathon prep can be a tough job. However, there is no greater challenge than that of a mother. Because, you do not get a 6 month or 12 month evaluation where someone sits in front of you and tells you what you have done well, and what you can improve upon, the review period comes when your little girl is all grown up and has to live and thrive on her own. At this time, she will use all of your guidance and your lessons and your love to be the person that she chooses to be. There is no doubt in my mind that she will turn out to be the passionate, happy, loving, gifted woman that you have taught her to be, because this is who you are. Life is all about paying it forward, and you, Jenae, you do this every day. You will never know how many lives that you touch and change for the better. One of those lives, for certain, is your daughter.

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Wonderful and inspiring post. Your perspective is so positive and I think you are so brave and giving of yourself to be so honest. You are mature beyond your years and more spiritually mature than many of us will ever be.

Thank you for all that you do, for Brooke, your friends and family, and for your readers. We appreciate you!

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I have been a single Mom for 9 years. I have two kids. When I got divorced my pediatrician gave me some great advice. He said that no one important in my life would care if my dishes weren’t always done or if my house was a bit messy but that my kids would remember me playing with them, spending quality time with them and loving them as much as possible. I don’t always do a great job of letting go of what I think I should be able to accomplish. Some days are harder than others and those are the days we get in pajamas and watch a movie on my bed.

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As someone who is on the verge of separating: thank you. You sound like a great mom and a really strong person.

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This was such a great post to read. My son is going through a very hurtful divorce and he has a little girl who is 8 months old. He is on the other side where he only gets to see her couple time a month as he lives in Provo and she lives in Tennessee. It is really hard to watch him go through the pain as he did not want the divorce. He gets to skype with her every day but the mom makes it difficult for him. It is good to hear as a grandparent and parent that we should probably speak more kindly of her even though we are not around the baby (in fact my husband has never seen her in person). But it would probably make it easier for our son if we are more positive. It is just hard because she is not nice to him and he is trying to be nice even though he has to grit his teeth sometimes to do it. I applaud you as a mom because we can tell that you cherish your daughter and are doing so well with your parenting. I am jealous of your parents because I wish my kids and grandkids lived closer!!

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I am not a mom but I can only imagine the struggle. You can see from Brooke’s face she is a happy and loved child.

All I can say is taking the high road in divorce is so important. My parents were done by the time I was born so never knew them as a couple but my mom made my dad’s life a living hell when he started dating (his wife now of 30 years). And the only one’s who wind up hurt are the children. It culminated in my a year long change of custody battle when I was 8 with letters to the judge, speaking in court, counseling sessions etc. and my mother’s continued poor behavior once my dad gained custody. I haven’t spoken to her since I was 14, but I found it in my heart to forgive her and make peace because it was a burden on me. Looking back I just shake my head at what she did. I was blessed with a step mom who became my mom (god bless her as well) because I am sure that made a world of difference.

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Awesome post! I’m a married mom and although my kids are older now I had – and still have a ton of guilt about all kinds of things – we as women are so hard on ourselves and sometimes people we don’t even know (or maybe we do) will judge and comment on our decisions and that can cause us to question ourselves even more.

Bravo for you for many, many things including creating a job that allows time with Brooke, modeling healthy behavior for her and of course working with your ex to show Brooke that you both love her and want the best for her! She is a lucky girl :)

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I do not have children and am not married – however I can tell you this – the most important part of my relationship with my parents is knowing that I am important to them, they are proud of me, and always believe in me. Also, that they love me. The daddy daughter dances we have pictures of, I don’t remember them very much. What I do remember is sitting at home watching movies and eating snacks (which we still do when I come home as an almost 24 year old) or sharing a blanket on the couch with my mom. My biggest moments was when I bought my new car and my parents came to visit and he said how proud of me he was – I think kids know and you are one incredible mom. If I ever have children – I hope to be half the mom you are and have my children look as happy as Brooke. You’re a rockstar Janae!

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There truly is nothing more important than surrounding your children and yourself with love. While the other details do matter, a loving environment can make up for so much! The love you share with your daughter is obvious.

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What an amazing post! Thank you for opening up and writing this. I’m sure it will help a lot of people.

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First I love reading your blog! Thank you for sharing this, I am watching my daughter be a single Mom with my 11 month old grand daughter, she didn’t divorce her husband he took his own life after serving in the Marine Corp. and having PTSD. Your openness to share helps me to help her :) She isn’t a runner, but I’ve told her about your blog, and how I think she would enjoy reading it because you are a single Mom and your little Brooke reminds me of my granddaughter…..they both have very expressive beautiful blue eyes!! Thanks again Janae, I think you rock it as a person who is authentic, and your a great Mom and an amazing roll model for Brooke to look up to :)

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Love you, sweet Janae! I’m so proud of your positivity and ability to keep your chin up. I know it’s harder to maintain than it seems. Sending big, big hugs! :-*

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As a single mom, when you go for runs outside, who watches your baby girl?
Do you push her in a stroller?
Thanks!
Lauranne

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As I read this, I am so happy to know that others can relate to how I have felt. I am three years into a very amicable co parenting relationship. The first two years of having them leave me every other week end was devastating. I sat on the couch and did nothing….it was paralyzing. Every person that ever told me that I should just enjoy the time alone, was lucky they didn’t get attacked. I hated hearing that because it was the farthest thing from enjoyable. I have chosen to fill the time with work and have very recently become comfortable with taking some time for myself and liking it. As time goes by, it just becomes a way of life. I still hate that moment of saying goodbye every other Friday. But, I do make the very best of every moment we have together.
Their father has a hard time transitioning when he starts dating someone else. I can tell in a moment, because it is as though all respect for me is lost. But I try to talk it out and remind him that we are parents for life and have to make every decision in the best interest of our children.
I know that my children know they are loved. And that is the best thing in life. ?

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Wow, this post brought me to tears! I have so much respect for you, Janae. You are beautiful inside and out and wise well beyond your years. Personally, I haven’t experienced the trauma of divorce. I can’t imagine how difficult is, especially while parenting mostly on your own. That said, I am a mother, and I felt I could relate to some of the issues you spoke to. That’s why I love your blog– you are honest and so inspiring in every way. You are doing an AMAZING job, don’t ever think twice about that!!

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I don’t know any mom, single or partnered, that doesn’t think she could be doing things better or differently.

My parents divorced when I was 10. Like you and your ex they were civil to each other and didn’t speak badly about one another in front of us. My brother and I were never in a tug of war between them either, which made life much easier all around. We were assured they loved us and that the split had nothing to do with us. That’s important too. My mom had primary custody and my father visited us regularly.
Extended family helped and I know they gave my mother a break when she needed one.

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This post = amazing. Even though I don’t have kids (I’m divorced and just recently happily remarried)–so many things from this post touched my heart and rang true to me.

Guilt is a beast. Good for you for handling such difficult things with poise and being the best mom you can for Brooke. That’s an incredibly worthy battle.

Thank you for being so honest and real.

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This is great post.

On your guilt – I grew up in a home with two parents. I have a horrible relationship with my mom, and don’t speak to her now. Having two parents in the home to experience things with did me NO good, and I’m working through that now. Just keep doing what you’re doing. That matters.

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Thanks for sharing this. Just wanted to say that I think it’s amazing how well you and Brooke’s dad are doing. I have a friend who is a single mom and she and her son’s dad are not even close to civil, so well done. That will make a huge difference for Brooke.

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Gosh. It breaks my heart to know that you have times when you think you aren’t doing a good enough job. Although I came to your blog for running, and I don’t have kids of my own, part of why I love your blog is seeing the amazing relationship you have and are building every day with Brooke! Your blog has kind of been a show of what I want to be like as a mom, whenever/if that day comes!

Keep up the fantastic work, know YOU’RE loved/respected/celebrated/admired by so many people, and continue to #choosejoy !

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Janae, it’s Barb. From OH, husband suicide, 2 teen boys, remember? Listen (read) – you’re doing a great job!! Really. I could have written so many of your words myself. Your daughter is SOOOOOO loved. Believe in yourself. You’re doing great things for her! xoxo PS We are still going to run together sometime. Except I don’t run very far.

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What a heart-felt post. Thank you for sharing. And watching you and Brooke for so long, I can honestly say that you are doing a fantastic job. I hope you find joy. :)

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I know you share a lot on your blog, but, this is the most profound kind of sharing. We all have our struggles, no family is perfect and no child will have a completely perfect life. I’m not divorced, but I am a ft working mom and military wife, and I definitely can relate to feeling guilty about not being a perfect mom or family, especially when I’m just completely exhausted and on week three of my husband being gone. Stay strong, you’re obviously doing the best you can do and surrounding yourself with people to give Brooke tons of love. You’re a great mom!

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Thank you for sharing such a personal post with us. It sounds like Brooke is in good hands and is very loved by you and your ex. I’m married and a new stay at home mom, and there are times when I feel guilty for wanting some time alone. Sometimes I make excuses to run an errand or go to the store when my husband is home just so that I can get outside the house and be alone. I do guilty for feeling this way but I realize that I also need to learn how to take care of myself and wanting to be alone every once in a while doesn’t mean that I love my baby any less.

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Janae-
You are such an inspiration as a woman and a mother. Thank you for being real and opening up this discussion. You are doing a great job and that little girl is one lucky lady to have you to love her so very much!

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Oh my gosh, it is so sad to me that you feel this way. If only you could see yourself in the eyes of another. You are always doing so much to make Brooke happy and that makes you a such a great mom! I think the fact that you are so cordial with her dad and make sure that she has such a great relationship with him, speaks volumes of the type of person you are. I grew up with a single mom, and looking back now, I appreciate her so much! Providing for us and loving us despite her feelings and her trials, that makes an amazing woman. Seeing how happy Brooke is with you just shows how much she loves you. You are doing an amazing job! I don’t personally have kids of my own, but I hope to one day be as good of a mom as you are!!

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Janae. This post just made my heart ache for you and all that you have been through/are going through. It definitely hasn’t been easy and I can’t even begin to try and say I understand. But I can have empathy for you. At the same time, this post makes me happy because you can see how much this trial has changed you, made you grown and as a result you are such a strong person. I look up to you more than you realize. You are the best mom Brooke could ever have. You love and adore her the way SHE needs to be. No one else could love her that way. She doesn’t need a Pinterest mom (I am not that fun, craft doing, super fun activities all the time mom either) she needs someone she can talk to, be with, and know she is loved, heard and understood. You do that and then some! And while of course you want her to have a mom and a dad and this ‘ideal’ family, even those families don’t always have parents like that, you know? There are families where neither parents are involved in their child’s life. I still wish there was something I could do. After your text I just sat there and wracked my brain of how I could help. Please know that you ever need me to help you, listen to you, watch Brooke, bring lunch, anything, I would hope you would reach out and let me help you. Love you Janae!

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Janae, this might be my favorite post of yours. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences – you have some incredibly inspirational points. The “celebrate” paragraph is my favorite :) With little ones, we can make anything and everything a “special” occasion and Brooke is so very lucky to have you.

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My parents divorced when I was three years old and I literally have no memories of us together as a family. I’m sure those memories would be nice to have, however, I’m grateful every day that they did it when I was young enough to rebound and adjust. Because of this, and because of their unbelievably hard work every day, I never felt like it was my fault, or that I was unloved or unappreciated by either one of them. They’ve both been amazing parents to me all my life and been able to co-parent me amicably. When I was growing up, they spoke all of the time and neither one made a decision that affected me without talking to the other first. Often, I’d find out they’d consulted each other on something before I even knew about it. There was never any fighting or bad things said about either one and it made things so much better.

And as I became older and started having milestones in life (like big sporting events, first dance, prom, graduations, etc.), they were both always present and even together to cheer me on. I know so many people whose parents had to sit at opposite ends of the bleachers at sporting events, meanwhile, mine sat together and were visibly chatting the whole time! So much so, that sometimes I worried what they could be saying about me that I didn’t know about! And then after moving out, when I come home for birthdays, we can even have one big joint birthday celebration together – me, my parents, my step-parents, and my grandparents all celebrating together! We celebrated as one big group for graduations as well.

I remember growing up that my mom said some of the same things you said here – she felt bad about letting me see her cry sometimes and she always wanted to make sure I knew I was loved every second of the day. I know it was hard work for her and my dad, but they also made everything great for me every step of the way and I never felt left out. I only saw my dad every other weekends, and a lot of the time wasn’t 1 on 1 because I visited friends there too, but I never felt distant to him and I have an amazingly close relationship with my dad still. I don’t feel my relationship with him is any less than my friends who lived with their dads their whole lives, if anything, I may even appreciate my relationship with him more because we have to make the most of our limited times together.

Long way of saying that I was raised very much like Brooke is being raised and I’m super thankful for it and wouldn’t even change it if I could.

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I absolutely love this post and your honesty! I think just being you, staying close to Heavenly Father, and loving your child is key. :)

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Beautifully stated and good for all of us moms to remember. We are harder on ourselves than anyone, and as long as God knows how hard we are trying and our kids know how much we love them, that’s all we can ask.

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I’ve followed your blog since the very beginning. I do not know you personally but have always found you so refreshing and uplifting – in all stages of the blog. Thank you for being honest. I am not a single mom but I connected with so much of what you said. Your little girl is so lucky to have such a strong mom. She is learning from the very best. Have a great day!!

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I love your honesty and sharing a more realistic picture of life versus most people online and social media sharing just the highlights! That is good advice to not be on social media after 7pm! The nights are the hardest sometimes and seeing other people’s highlight reels when I am feeling down does not help! You are doing a GREAT job with Brooke! Just from the pictures, you can see how much she loves you and you love her! You two are the best!

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Loved this post. I think it is so common to compare ourselves to where we think we should be / or what we see others doing. I often think I never imagined my life like this at 30, 32 etc. It is easy to get caught up on our future but what is important is the day to day.

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Janae, you are doing such a good job! Please don’t ever feel guilty. I was a single mom from the time my daughter was 2, & I didn’t start dating again until she was 10. She didn’t have cousins nearby like Brooke does so it was just her & I. I experienced the same feelings of guilt & loneliness that you do, but now I look back on those times (she’s 16 now) w/ genuine fondness. I definitely miss those days sometimes. Look at it this way: how many kids get one parent’s undivided attention as much as she does? I’m serious – she is going to look back on this part of her childhood w/ such joy!
I also have a great relationship w/ my ex (he is one of my best friends). It isn’t always easy, but we made a conscious effort from Day 1 (like you & your ex did) to do what was best for our daughter, which meant never bad-mouthing the other one & being flexible w/ schedules & supportive of each other. I have also always shared your attitude that the more people who love my daughter, the better. I refuse to be jealous. I will always be her mom & will always have her love. She lucked out in the stepmom dept. It truly takes a village to raise a child & the more help, the better!
Keep doing things for yourself, too. It will also help Brooke to be more confident & mature as she interacts w/ others. You have a great support system there. Enjoy this time in your lives. No regrets! XO

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Thank you a million times over for sharing. Especially about the crying part.<3

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What a lovely post!! I’m not a mom to anyone (except my dog) but this was so nice to read!

A quote that I love and a reason to celebrate: “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” – Gotta love Oprah! :)

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I’m married, and we are still struggling with even starting a family. I did want to say that you are such an inspiration to me and you give me strength. Thank you for being real about your struggles. We are often so caught up in seeing that “perfect family” on social media that we forget that we are doing the best that we can with our situation given.

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I got divorced recently too (it was finalized in October last year) and it was my second marriage (9.5 years). He wasn’t my daughter’s biological dad but he raised her and treated her as his own (still does) and she only sees him as her “real dad”.

My first husband/daughter’s biological dad chose not to be involved. Which (and I know this will sound terrible but) was the best decision he ever made for both her safety and mine. Especially for mine.

During “round one” of being a single mom it was really hard and I struggled a lot. It was just her and I against the world. My family wasn’t close by, she ate a lot of vienna sausages and crackers, and lived in the day care from open to close because that’s the only way I could guarantee she had three meals and two snacks everyday. It was HARD. But you survive and do the best you can with what you can.

“Round two” has been hard but in a different way. She is older and very close with my ex. I love him but we weren’t good together and the unhappiness was affecting her. I didn’t want her to think it was normal to be lonely in your marriage. That what she was seeing as a young lady growing up was what she should expect in her future relationships. When I decided it was over I made the decision for myself and FOR her. Don’t ever “stay together for the kids”. It’s not worth it and you actually do more harm than good. Kids should see their parents happy.

I recently went on a date with a man that has completely swept me off my feet. I’m not ready to label the relationship yet and I don’t know where it will go, so I also won’t introduce him to my daughter until I know for sure it is going somewhere and I think she is ready. That will take a while and I’m not rushing it. You find a way to find the balance. Guilty feelings are not abnormal, but don’t let them overwhelm you.

I know I probably overshared :( but I hope you can tell from all these responses that you are not alone. We are rooting for you and Brooke and we should be rooting for each other. You are doing a GREAT job! and you are a GREAT mom!!!

LeAnne

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I agree LeAnne, sometimes staying together “for the kids” is actually damaging. Not in all cases, but many. Thanks for sharing and opening up.

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Janae = Winning at Mommyhood :)♥

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Janae….thank you for sharing and for being so honest. No matter what…life is not all rainbows and butterflies — although it may seem that way (especially in the social media world).

So many incredible mature, insightful thoughts on your part…letting go, not speaking bad of your ex in front of her, knowing that there is no ideal ‘one size fits all’ family.

I am not a mom (yet) and have been married to my man for a looooong time…so I can’t even begin to imagine what you have been through or the feelings you deal with.

What I can say with absolute certainty is that is is better that you got out of a relationship that was not optimal than to have that sweet angel of yours grow up thinking that a tumultuous relationship is ‘normal’.

I struggle with this…my husband’s parents are divorced (he was about 10 yo) and they get along better now than they did when they were together.
My parents are still married (50+ years) and do not have an ideal relationship. I am quite old now and it pains me to see them not get along. I would not want to have the marriage they have, which is a terrible thing for me to say and feel.

Just know that she is loved, you are giving the best of everything as you can.
The love she has for you is a reflection of the love she gets in life. And validation that you are the bet mommy to her!
Xoxoxo

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I love this post too! I’m not a mother yet or even married, but this resonated with me. I am only 26 and still I ask so many questions about if/when I have kids and wonder if I’m going to be a good mother if I have kids and still try to have career ambitions. I work in the mining industry, which is heavily male-dominated (I think I saw something about the workforce is approximately 95% male and 5% female) and as such, companies seem to make time demands on the employees in leadership and management positions (where I want to be eventually) as though they are primarily breadwinners and secondarily caretakers. (If that makes sense at all!) My point is that I’ve often wondered how to get that work-personal life balance if I have a family while still having a fulfilling career…

Please keep sharing stuff like this!! Your posts and the comments that follow it make me feel less alone in my doubts about life. :)

Also, Brooke looks so loved and cared for, and in my opinion, she knows it and feels it. You’re doing a great job!!

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You’re doing wonderfully. Moving forward and being an adult with your ex, and allowing your daughter to have a wide supporting network is something my mom never did. To this day, over 40 years later!!!, any mention of him, his other family, causes meltdowns that have led to months of no communication to punish me. And friendships with other women when i was young caused jealousy and cutting me off from them. Because in her mind love is limited and if you give it to one, there’s less for the other. By allowing Brooke so much love in her life you are showing every day how much love you have for her as a person, not as a possession or tool for revenge. Well done you.

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One of the many things I love about your blog is your honesty. I don’t know you personally, but it seems to me that you are an amazing mom and Brooke is clearly a very happy child. You are doing it right ?

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Thank you so much for sharing your feelings. It’s amazing how much I think a lot of
us single moms feel the exact same way. My therapist once said, ” just because she
won’t have the same childhood you did doesn’t mean she won’t be happy”. I had such
A wonderful childhood and I wanted to give my daughter the same. But right now I realize she already does! We live with my parents currently so the wonderful people who raised me are helping to raise her. Plus she has my sister too. She’s so happy and loves her family. She doesn’t see her father and that’s his choice and even though it makes me angry I still will never bad mouth him to her ever. He and I shared a great connection and together we made the most beautiful child. Divorce was never in my plan but this is the life we have. I’m very guilty of the social media comparing. Baby announcements crush me sometimes. But I know in my heart that I made the right decision for my daughter. And it’s nice to know that I’m not alone. I wish no one had to go through this but it helps to hear other stories and know we are all doing the best we can for our kids <3

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Where do I even begin girl. You know I absolutely think the world of you and the Brookester. I’m so lucky to have you two in my life. You are such an awesome example to me of pushing through hard times, and doing so in a way that involves serving others/laughing/looking at the positive/but still being realistic. You are such a good friend to me, and so many others…and most importantly to little Brookie. I know that she will cherish the relationship you two have forever because it is so unique and special. You are doing amazing at raising her. Thanks for being the best friend ever, and for giving me comic relief on the daily. #ourgrassisgreenest #fabfour #thelma&louise2.0 #icouldgoon …. love you to the moon girl. Times a million! xoxoxo

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You are awesome!! Thank you for putting yourself out there so that other people can find peace, empathy and comfort!

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I firmly believe it takes a village, and you and Brooke have an AMAZING village!

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What a wonderful heart felt post that I really enjoyed. Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt post and I know that you will be helping may women going through a similar thing to feel normal.

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Thank you so much for sharing. You are brave and inspirational. I think you would like this ted talk about shame and vulnerability. Brene Brown is great and so is her book. https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?language=en

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Being a single parent is soo hard! But also the most rewarding thing ever. Thanks for writing this and encouraging us.

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I don’t comment on here a lot, but dang I think you’re incredible. As a college student who is also a runner, your strength is so inspiring. I’ve seen families in “perfect” family situations who live under abuse, neglect, drugs… I think what you give your daughter on the “inside” is SO much more important than how your family looks on the outside. Anyway, thanks for another dose of positivity/honesty/inspiration- I look forward to it everyday :)

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Your perspective is so admirable, Janae. Your positivity shines bright, and Brooke is the luckiest little lady to have you as her loving, caring, oh-so-strong mother. Keep doing what you’re doing. (And also, adopt me?) Love you. <3

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I just wanted to let you know that you are doing a great job as a single parent and dealing with your ex properly. My parents divorced when I was Brooks age, and they always showed respect to each other and never spoke bad against one another. I didn’t even know that my mom cheated on my dad until I heard her speaking on the phone with a friend. I always had a lot of support and love from so many people, BUT divorce still affected me greatly. Step parents complicate things greatly. My advice to step parents, LOVE your step child as if they are your own and always treat them the same as your other children. IF you can’t do that do NOT become a step parent. Acknowledge the pain and hurt your child will feel because of divorce do not just assume that they are strong and will get through it, even if they do not vocalize it. I can’t tell you how many times I hear, children are strong they will get through it, divorce is common. What a slap in the face. I am strong yes, but don’t belittle my(or other children’s) hurt. I never had a full sibling from my parents, and so I have always felt some what of a disconnect/or different from my other siblings. Even though I consider them full and not half siblings, it is just different. Going back between families is difficult and it is an adjustment. I missed out on things on both sides. My mom missed out on 90% of my life, because she was in a different state. Holidays are still missed even while I’m grown because they are divided between three families instead of two. The list could go on and on, and I should probably write a book! Keep doing what your doing and taking advice from others, you will do great:)

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I found this post this morning, first time visiting. I’m new to being a single parent. I lost my husband to an intense cancer battle a few months ago. Switching to being both mom and dad to our two young kids while we are also working through our grief is intense. We are getting through, taking each day as it comes. It’s hard when you’re sick or have little sleep and still have to make sure they get to school on time. I’m very diligent to make sure they are healthy, well fed, clean, clothed, and know they are super loved. It’s not easy to try to take care of myself too on top, but I know I have to do it as well.

I love how you are handling your relationship with your Ex. I’ve seen so much needless drama, including in my husband’s side of the family from bad breakups, and it really has a long term effect.

I’ve been indulging in some social media at night, but I limit it to a couple platforms, and stay off of Facebook. I’ve thought about just disconnecting at night, giving it a curfew. Right now, finding someone else is the last thing on my mind (and honestly, my husband set that bar pretty high). It’s tough though being alone, but I love my kids and we are trying to move forward and make some new happy memories while enjoying the good ones we made with their father while we were privileged with his presence in our lives.

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Jillian, I am truly so so sorry about the loss of your husband. This breaks my heart and you are absolutely amazing for raising your two little ones while trying to grieve the loss. You and your children are in my thoughts and prayers.

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Love this post so much. My mum is a single parent and I know she’s always feeling guilty about doing things for herself, even though I’m 19! My dad lives in America and I live in England, it’s been that way for 5 years and ultimately you just learn to accept it and deal with it, even though that can be super hard at times. I can promise you, that you and Brooke will be best friends, because she’ll see all the things you’ve done for her. I couldn’t be more proud of how my mum handled her and my dad separating and I wouldn’t trade living back here with her for the world and she’s my best friend. I think you’re doing an amazing job and I’m sure Brooke thinks so too :) <3

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Thank you so much for this post. Even though I am not a mother yet – I can only hope to be half the mother you are. You are so inspiring!!

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the most important thing for me, was to never never speak badly of their father, even when they saw him spit in my face……still no bad words came out of my mouth, and I am proud cause it took real restraint sometimes….

Guilty still all the time, no matter what….but I know that I’ve raised two pretty incredible humans and I feel sad that their father does not know them

Keep on smiling!!!

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I think the greatest thing you can do is not talk bad about one another in front of her. The only bad thing I remember from my parents divorce was that – the badmouthing. Good for you for sharing these thoughts. Brooke is so lucky to have you!

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Beautiful post. I love that you shared all of this. You have an amazing heart and you are helping so many people through this platform of yours!!! Also, you are a GOOD mom. The best one for Brooke. :) Sending lots of love!

xo

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It makes me so happy to read your text. I’m happy that You are well and handling everything in such a mature way.

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I know exactly what you are going through as I have been there myself. My kids were 11, 9 and 6 when I got divorced. It was an ugly three year ordeal. I just wanted out and he fought it until he ran out of money to pay his lawyer. It is so great that the two of you are getting along for the sake of Brooke. Because in the end, that is what matters the most. It was very hard when the visitation started especially the holidays because I was always with them. Running them to soccer and softball practice, cross country meets and traveling for tournaments. I suddenly had free time on my hands that I never really had before and I didn’t know what to do with it. Of course I cried. It took me about six months to realize that the spare time I had needed to be used for me to become a better version of myself. That is what was going to help my kids get through this rough time in their lives as well as myself. I couldn’t be any good to them if I was not doing well myself. I had let my identity and being a wife and mother merge. I was a mother but I was also me and I forgot how to be me. So I decided to finish my degree. I was working full time, raising three kids on my own and decided to finish school while going through a divorce. It wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever had to do but I did it. I was still young and very driven. I’ve always been a strong willed person that did everything on my own and rarely asked anyone for help. It was a good decision because I went into the IT field making double the salary I was making as a manager. Over the years I earned two Masters degrees. As parents we all feel the guilt of spending time away from our children. It’s great that you are still running and taking care of yourself and teaching her healthy eating habits. That sets a great example for her. I know so many people that sacrifice that and use the excuse of not having time.

I eventually started dating a guy but still felt the loneliness and sadness you are experiencing. I knew deep down he wasn’t the one to help me raise my kids but he was the one I needed for me at the time. We had fun together, traveled together, took the kids all over the place. I think now the reason I stayed with him so long is because it became easier to raise them by myself because I wasn’t experiencing any interference from anyone else. We spent 16 years together, not married or living together. About six months after we broke up (3 years after the youngest left for college) I started dating an old friend that I had know for 30 years. I hadn’t seen him in about three years because he live in Central Florida and I lived in South Florida and we didn’t hang out much anymore. I was friends with his whole family and we all hung out together. We married 18 months later and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Definitely worth the wait.

Don’t ever be hard on yourself about the decisions you make for her. I’ve learned in the last few years that the things I thought were mistakes turned out to be the things that made them the great adults that they have become. Kids don’t come with manuals and everyone is different and needs to be treated differently. But after having my adult children call me and thank me for the discipline and structure that I gave them made everything worth it. My oldest is raising a daughter who is now 10 as a single mother. Her ex and her get along and share custody. She thanked me for not letting her get away with anything because her daughter is trying to do the same to her and she has the strength she needs to be able to handle it. My sons girlfriend has two cousins that are teenagers are disrespectful to their mother and totally out of control. He has had some problems with them while visiting his girlfriend at the house. He called me up one day and thanked me for never allowing him or his two sisters to act, talk or treat another person that way because he would have never turned out to be the person he is today.

He is ADHD and had some behavior issues when in elementary school. So between behavior therapy, eventually some meds for about 4 years and a few pops on the butt he turned out to be a very good teenager and now adult. It could have so went the other way.

So even though there are times when I have doubted the way I raised them or the decisions I made, it turned out I was doubting myself for no reason. They appreciated everything I did for them and they understand why. You seem like you are a great mom. So don’t worry about any other adults that might come into the picture unless you have a reason too. Having a village to help raise a child is a great thing. My granddaughter has a lot of people that love her and she absolutely adores her mother. To her there is no one better on earth. That could change in few years though. Lol.

Hang in there. It will get better.

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Hi Janae. THANK YOU for this amazingly open post. I am not a single mom, but I am the mother of an almost 2 year old girl and I identify with the things you’re saying so much. It can’t be easy broadcasting your struggles for everyone to read, but I really respect you for it. Sometimes it’s so easy to forget that a person’s online presence isn’t their whole life and begin comparisons. Being a mom is no joke, we all struggle with different aspects of it. It seems like you’re doing a great job, Brooke smiles SO much. I think you’re pretty amazing and so strong. Thanks for reminding us all that it’s okay to be human.

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Hi-
I was raised my a single mom (parents divorced when I was 4, I am 21 now) and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Sure I missed out on some of the typical family things but my relationship with my mom is so special now. Watching her make sacrifices for me and my brother taught me about the true value of family, no matter how it is structured. I am grateful every day for my mom. You are doing an amazing job with Brookie. Be gentle with yourself and remember that things don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.

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I just want you to know that it is very easy to look at pictures and think something other than what is going on. I look at your pictures and think, wow, I would love to have one tenth of the amount of friends you do. You also take Brooke a ton of places, and because I work during the day, I feel like my 2 year old spends every waking moment in the house, so I feel that guilt also. Everyone has guilt, and everyone has a different way of life. You are doing great!

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Single parenting is hard, no doubt. For me, parenting in a tumultuous marriage was harder. I remind myself that now there is more calmness, more safety, and more of me in a happy place. Of course I feel guilty about a lot of things-all parents have some sort of guilt over *something.* When I was married, I felt guilty that my kids were seeing negative and harmful ways for a man to treat a partner and children, and that my daughter was about to grow up seeing tolerance to erratic and mean behavior. In my heart I knew this was wrong. My children can enjoy their dad for dad time and come home to happy mom. It bugs me when parents judge other parents because we are all in this together to raise healthy and happy children-after all, they are the next generation and we have to show them well. Have a super day!

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Nothing but respect for you. *lifts hat*

I don’t have kids yet, but I know I’m probably going to be a single mom – I’ve always known I want kids no matter what my relationship status is, and that I’m not going to wait for a partner who may or may not come into my life – and I’m completely terrified that Judge-y People On The Internet are right and I’m going to completely mess up the kid. These will definitely be things I need to remember!

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Oh Janae, you are one tough momma and Brooke is one sweet little girl. I won’t even pretend to understand the trials of a single parent! I am a married with two little boys and I totally hear you on the mommy guilt. What’s up with that?! It’s like the second my son was born, guilt just attacked me – Am I doing this right? Should I try that? More quality time? Less freelance work?

Whew. You are right – it is a sacred calling given to us by the Lord! Praise Him for the honor of raising such precious little people :) I just finished reading “Hope Unfolding” by Becky Thompson and HIGHLY recommend it for encouragement in motherhood!

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