At this moment, I know quite a few mamas who are starting new chapters in their lives. Some of the previous chapters didn’t end so well. Some of their stories were not going at all the way they had hoped. But nevertheless, they pressed on. They woke up each morning with determination to show themselves and their babies that when things get tough, they are even tougher.
If you are a mama who is ready to begin a new part of your story, here are a few thoughts I want to share with love…
There is not just ONE version of your life that ends in happiness. Even if you feel like you are embarking on a part of your journey that seems unclear and scary and not anywhere near what you thought it was going to be, just keep going. You have not missed the boat. That man is not the ONE man who completes you. You can decide at any time what you are going to be and do. In the words of Rachel Wolchin, “People too often forget it is their choice how they want to spend the rest of their life.” (And if you need some short bursts of inspiration each day, you can find her on Twitter or Instagram at @RachelWolchin!) Forging a new path may seem daunting at first, but you never know what joy is waiting ahead of you.
You are a model of resilience and dignity. You have shown many people around you that love is never wasted. You can get through this time of painful growth without falling into the traps of blame or anger. (You may take a detour there, but you are not moving in!) Someday the little people who look up to you will have a different understanding of the things that are happening now, and they will remember that you carefully chose your words, hid your worst tears, and got out of bed on days when it seemed impossible.
You have been a caregiver, a provider, a tender listener to many others over the years. I know it can be difficult for you to accept that same help and support in return, but there is a network of people who want to offer it. Those who love you understand that when you are starting over, you may need a helping hand until you figure things out. You may find yourself watching YouTube videos to learn how to install a new garbage disposal. You may cry happy tears when a friend brings over a bottle of wine. You may need extra hands to help move into that new place. And all of that is OK! Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help when you need it. Be willing to accept help when people offer it. And we all know that you will pay that kindness forward when you are able.
Please be kind to yourself. When the dust has settled a bit, find time to relax in whatever way makes you feel best. Mamas are constantly giving to everybody else. If you let your well of love and encouragement run dry, you will have nothing left to offer those you care for. I wish that a 10-day cruise was already waiting for you behind Door Number Two, but if you need to budget a little more modestly, you can still treat yourself! Find some beautiful music and close your eyes for 10 minutes. Splurge on one delicious treat and don’t share it with anybody! Go for a walk and remind yourself of three things for which you are grateful. Just don’t leave yourself off of the list of things that need to be taken care of.
It would be unkind of me to make promises to you about a future that is uncertain to us both. I have learned over the years that as much as I wish I could tell you that everything from here on out is going to be sunshine and roses, it might not be. You may still have a connection to someone who continues to make your life difficult. You may have to work through a lot of emotions with your babies, even years after you have moved on to this new chapter. But you are the mama they were meant to have. You will always have enough love for the day. You are not alone, and you are enough.
Don’t rush yourself on to the next chapter. Give yourself plenty of time to settle into this new normal. It may seem strange to rediscover the things that you like, the ways you choose to spend your time and money without needing someone else’s opinion. It may even feel overwhelming to imagine being the one responsible for all. the. things. But you are growing every day. You are becoming a stronger, wiser version of yourself. And other chapters will come. When they do, you are going to be content and happy with yourself. You won’t NEED someone; you will choose to love someone when you are ready.
Dear Mama, you may be starting over, but we see you, we love you, and we are going to walk with you into this next chapter…and all of the ones after it.