It’s been said that “You can’t change a man.” But what about a woman? Can you ever really change a woman? I’ve wrestled with that question for the past four years and have gone on a journey of self-discovery; trying to figure out who I was, who I am and who I wanted to be. It’s been a helluva ride but I can honestly say that for the first time in my life, I am genuinely, honest-to-goodness, happy with the woman I am. It’s taken me 26 years to be able to say that. Just typing those words it feels as if a weight has been lifted off my chest. I’m not pretending that I have it all figured out, but I feel as if I have finally come into my own and everything that I’ve hoped for, motherhood, a career, true love, has finally fallen into place. That’s why this will be my last column as “Single 1.”
I started Single 1 as a way to navigate being a single mom in a small southern town. With the help of my family and friends and the support of an unbelievable boss who stood behind me no matter how many times the threat of a lawsuit loomed near, this column came to life. And in effect, so did I. It initially started as a way for me to vent, learn a thing or two and hopefully give some insight to those who had no idea what it was like for a working single mom to juggle motherhood and dating. But it turned into so much more than that. Single 1 became an extension of me; it is, has been, and will continue to be, something that saved me when I didn’t know how badly I was drowning. I was 22 years old when I got divorced and overnight, I was a single mom. My world turned upside down and the idea of balancing motherhood, dating, a career, a relationship with the father of my child, school plays, soccer games, slumber parties, bad dates, bad relationships and life in general was overwhelming, especially when I came to grips with the reality that I was facing all of it alone. But after four years, amazing friends and family, too much cheap wine, a little bit of Xanax, an emotional breakdown or two and a lot of praying, I feel as if I might have it all figured out. Well, almost.
I’m sure the fifty-year-old version of me is laughing with a mixture of bemusement and condescension, but it’s true. I don’t claim to have the answer to everything but for the first time in a long time, I feel as if everything in my life is falling into place. Motherhood, career and love…it’s all right in front of me, and it’s everything I dreamed it would be and more. My sweet Prinny is six years old and I swear sometimes she’s just a shorter version of me. Then she gives me a look, and in that instant, she is her father made over. Then there are moments when I look at her in amazement and wonder how in the world I gave birth to such an incredible child. She is so smart, online casino has a heart of gold and can tell a knock-knock joke that will bring tears to your eyes from laughing so hard because she’s just so dang cute when she thinks she’s being funny. She is my heart and my reason for being. I look at her now as she plays with her dolls, cuddling them, wrapping them in blankets and kissing them goodnight and hope that I live long enough to see her as a mommy. I want to see that joy on her face as she realizes that nothing compares to the love a mother has for her child. I want to know her as an adult, I want to be her friend. I want to share her hopes and dreams, cheer for her as she succeeds and support her when things don’t always work out like she had hoped. But more than anything, I want her to be happy. Because if I’ve learned anything these past four years, this last year in particular, being happy with who you are makes all the difference in the world.
There was a time not so long ago when I wasn’t sure if I would ever truly be happy again. Sure, I would laugh at funny movies or smile when someone told a bad joke but for a while, I lost my joy, that sense of peaceful happiness deep inside. My heart was broken and I felt as if in addition to splitting our belongings in half, my ex-husband got half of my heart as well. I was so lost in heartache and I didn’t think I would ever find my way out. I remember sitting in my lawyer’s office, signing the final set of divorce papers, tears streaming down my face, my body shaking with silent sobs, when he told me “One day you’ll look back and this will be the best thing that ever happened to you.” And in a way, he was right. My ex-husband and I loved each other, but we had no business being married. He loved planes and football and I loved politics and books. We had nothing in common but Prinny, and after our divorce, we struggled with how to co-parent. Even if you know in your heart of hearts that divorce is for the best, it is a deep and painful hurt that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Prinny’s father and I didn’t know how to be around each other because the hurt was still raw, and even though we tried to deny it, the pain was still there. Now, nearly five years later, he and I are finally beginning to establish a healthy relationship and are hopefully moving towards a friendship. While the memory of the heartache is still there, I have let go of the pain attached to it. By forgiving him, forgiving myself, he and I can move forward. And it’s the only way that I’ve finally been able to move on.
I have met and fallen in love with the most amazing man. He is kind and thoughtful, a wonderful father and my best friend. I can honestly say, I believe I’ve met the love of my life. I’ve hesitated in writing about him because of the way I’ve written about men in the past. Men would come and go and while there was one or two that I genuinely cared for, there was no real emotional attachment and certainly no love lost when the relationship was over. But it’s different this time. I didn’t want to cheapen what he and I have by making him just another guy in my column. He deserves more than that. Our relationship deserves more than that. This man, this relationship, is everything that I have been looking for and more. All of a sudden, I’ve turned into one of “those” women but y’all, I had no idea that love could be like this. I love him more than I ever thought possible; my heart flip flops when he walks into a room, I smile at the thought of him and get the “girlfriend voice” when we’re on the phone because he makes me so dang happy. And it scares the bejesus out of me. In past relationships, the second I got scared I would bolt. I would end it without a second thought, not daring the risk of being hurt agin. But with this man, this relationship, I tell him my fears and the look in his eyes as he holds my hand and tells me he loves me is worth the risk. He truly is my best friend and how I got so dang lucky is beyond me but I thank God every day for that man. I could definitely get used to this.
When I think about the recent turn my life has taken, I realize that maybe it’s not so recent after all. Where I am now is because of where I’ve been and the decisions I’ve made that led me here. Cliché? Absolutely. But it’s the truth. Writing about being a single mom has been the most incredible journey of self-discovery and being able to share it with all of you has made it even more special. To those of you who have laughed with me, cried with me, supported me, judged me and loved me, I can’t thank you enough. Because of you, because of Single 1, I have grown into a woman that I am proud to be. I don’t know if you can truly change a woman but I hope to grow and learn every day, continuing to evolve into a better woman, a better mother, a better partner and a better person. I don’t know here the road goes from here but I can’t wait to find out. Whether it is life, love or career, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me and my Prinny, for being single plus one.0