With the exception of my freshman year of college, I lived at home my first 25 years of life. I was always surrounded by family and any support I needed was just down the hall. Moving out of my parent’s house was probably the biggest step into adulthood I had ever taken. I was 4 months pregnant, working at a job that paid $13.50/hr, on top of already paying a phone bill, car note, and insurance, I decided to add rent and all the joys (utilities) that came with that. Part of the reason I moved out on my own was because I had been anxious to get from under my parent’s roof for a long time. The second part of the reason was because I let my son’s dad tell me he could not see us working towards marriage if I had never lived on my own first. SN: I realized later it had nothing to do with our relationship and everything to do with how he would be inconvenienced by me living 40 miles away at my parents while carrying our child because he does not have a car. But none the less, I let my desire to be “free” couple with some false hope of solid relationship and I ventured out on my own. Sot it was not easy for me now, 4 years later, to make the decision to move back home.
I struggled with the decision for several months before I decided not to renew my lease. I was paralyzed by a mixture of emotions including embarrassment, disappointment, shame and anxiety. The anxiety comes from a secret fear of major changes that are out of my control. I can count on one hand the amount of times my family moved when I was growing up. My parents worked hard to provide a stable home life for my brothers and I. I remember the consistency. And that’s why I subsequently felt ashamed, because over the past few years I hit several bumps in the road and have not been able to provide the same consistency to my child. It’s not easy for me to uproot my child’s life or remove him from a familiar environment but I have to do what I have to do. I have been feeling disappointed in myself because some of the reasons I am in my current situation are a result of my own choices. But also a result of being in a situation that is really single parenting, disguised as co-parenting in a lot of areas. Raising a child on your own, or even mostly on your own, is not easy. don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.
I mentioned I felt embarrassed, and that was probably the hardest part for me. Here I am, a soon to be 30 year old mother who has been living on my own and supporting my child for the last 4 years and now I have to move back in with my parents so that we don’t sink in to a hole deeper than the one we are already in. You see, in the age of social media, where people can depict themselves as living a certain kind of lifestyle or being able to provide certain luxuries for their children, it’s easy to get caught up in comparing your real life to the photo-shopped life someone puts on the internet. I fell for that trap. I felt embarrassed that I am now struggling to maintain my bills, plus childcare, and everything else that comes with being a parent on my own all while trying to dig out of a financial hole. I was embarrassed I can’t, at this point in my life, be the type of provider for my child that I would like to be. I was embarrassed to have to go back home.
It took some really supportive friends and family to help me see it is okay to have to go back home. Sometimes, as parents (especially single parents) we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to show the world we can make it, even if we aren’t living the “fairy tale” life society says we would have had if we did things differently. I am thankful that I have parents I can go back to for help with getting on my feet and raising my child. I know not everyone does. And my current situation may be inconvenient for me, but I am going to do everything I can to make sure my son does not miss a beat and knows he is constantly surrounded by love. I am going to make the most of it because I know that things don’t always go the way we planned but the journey equips us for the next place God is leading us to. And I am excited for that.
Moral of this story: Don’t let anyone (not even yourself) make you feel like you’re behind because you aren’t where they think you should be. Life sends us on all kinds of twists, turns and unexpected detours. Just enjoy the journey and take in as much of the learning experience as you can.
Grace and peace