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Life as a Single Mom: Starting A New Year with A New Attitude

The new calendars have been hung on the wall, the kids are back to school (can I get an amen?) and the daily grind is in full motion. Now that we are firmly entrenched into the new year, I have been asking myself a question. What will be different this year?

Now, we all know there will be plenty of uncertainty and change. The car may need a new radiator. One of my boys might get the flu. And I likely will get dumped on at work. But these are all things that happen TO me and are just a part of life.

Since they are all things that are out of my control, the best I can do is be prepared. For example, regular car maintenance checks decrease the likelihood of breakdowns, flu shots may ward off illness, and maybe just maybe, taking on new work challenges will put me in line for a promotion.

Being Prepared for the Things I Can Control

But what about things I can control? What about my reaction to the car repair bill, or needing to miss work to care for my sick child, or being tasked with extra work at the office? My standard MO has been to feel a bit put upon and stressed, so I decided to make this the year I stop, take a deep breath, and find a different way to cope.

Look, I know that owning a vehicle means there will be unexpected repairs. So why do my shoulders tense up every time I hear my van making an odd noise? For this new year, I’m going to instead remember that I have a tiny but still-in-existence car maintenance savings account and a mechanic I trust. Focusing on these facts helps me to stop dramatizing my situatioN. Instead, it teaches me to plan for the worst, hope for the best.

Of course, kids get sick, especially this time of year. It’s hard not to feel that twinge of guilt when calling in to work, saying I can’t come in. But let’s take a minute here and assess the situation: I’m a parent; my number one job is to care and love my children. If that interrupts a huge project at work, I always find a way to make it all okay.

Reassuring Myself

You have to trust and believe in yourself. You can’t do it all, remember, and your priority needs to be your sick child. I have plenty, I mean plenty of memories of getting the call at work from the school nurse, and sheepishly going in to my boss’s office (who had no children and didn’t really get it) to tell her I needed to leave for the day.

Now I can see how silly it was to worry over that situation. Did I ever get fired for that? Nope. Did I regret spending the sick day fussing over my feverish boy? No way. I work very hard at my job and my boss knows I will get everything done.

That should be enough reassurance I need to take a day off to be with my son. Won’t you join me in making this the year we vow to do our best to take care of both sides of the coin, without constantly feeling like we’re letting someone down? Let’s do our very best, apologize when necessary and always remember we can always “let it go.”

Renee Brown lives in Minneapolis with her two tall sons—Sam, 20, and Zachary, 18—and three obstinate felines. She is a senior account executive working in advertising and an avid reader, wine drinker, creative writer, and yoga enthusiast.

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