The Stressed Out Single Mom | Jennifer Maggio
Jennifer Maggio, speaker and author of Overwhelmed: The Life of a Single Mom
Single moms have one of the hardest jobs on the planet. They are soccer mom, family bread winner, disciplinarian, counselor, friend, student, teacher and more. They do the work of a small army! Is it any wonder that many find themselves overwhelmed, exhausted, and stressed?!
At this point in my career, I have personally counseled hundreds of single moms and worked with thousands across the country. There is not one who has come to me that has not at one point experienced stress beyond measure.
Maybe they are parenting alone because a spouse died very unexpectedly or maybe their husband left them to no fault of their own. They woke up one day and realized they would have to manage finances and had never even seen the family budget. Or maybe…..the stress of parenting a baby alone via an unplanned pregnancy is almost too much to bear. Whatever the case, most would agree that the single parenting journey can be a hard one.
But maybe I should back up a moment. What makes me an expert on de-stressing? What do I know on the subject? Unfortunately – a great deal!
Growing up, there was never a time in my life when I remember not having a certain level of stress. My mother was killed when I was 17 months old. My father used alcohol and women to mask the pain, so he married six times, and my home was a revolving door of misfits. I began being sexually abused at only three years old. I suffered through nine years of that abuse at the hands of several perpetrators. As if that was not enough, I went through physical beatings and malnourishment at the hands of various stepmothers. Yeah, as you can well imagine, I was a mess.
My childhood events led me to be a perfectionist and overachiever at school. I was a straight-A student who thrived on being picked as Class President or Homecoming Court. The constant need to be perfect weighed heavily on me. It exhausted and stressed me.
I could not control anything going on within the walls of my home, so I absolutely had to ensure that my school life was perfect. At 13, desperate for love and attention, I began having sex, jumping from one dead-end relationship to another. I graduated high school valedictorian with scholarships to go all over the country to college. I was slated to be successful at whatever future path I chose, but my secret lifestyle caught up with me. I found myself pregnant at 17.
To make matters worse, when I revealed my secret, my father’s words to me were “Have a nice life!” I was not permitted to even get my things from the family home, much less live there. I found myself a homeless, pregnant teenager with no hope or future. Talk about stressful!
How would I find a place to live? How would I provide for this baby that I would have to raise alone? Where would I get a job? I had never held a newborn and certainly could not imagine parenting one with no help.
I did the only thing I could at the time. I moved into government housing and obtained food stamps and welfare. I had my first baby and went to work for the first time, just ten days later. This beautiful brown-eyed baby had no one but me, so I did not have time to feel sorry for myself. I had to provide.
I worked full-time during the day and attended college full-time at night. The stress of a crying baby or financial hardships kept me up most nights. It wasn’t a glamorous life, but I was making it. And then, the unthinkable happened. I got pregnant again.
Let me put you in my life, at 19, for just a moment. How much more stressful could it get? I was working a dead-end job at a pizza place and in a dead-end relationship with a guy who did not care for his kids or me. I had no friends, no money, no family and no help. I had a baby that did not sleep, homework to do, diapers to purchase, and I was pregnant again. This was too much. It was simply too much.
Within a year, my life was crumbling down around me. I fell to my knees on my cold bathroom floor in my tiny, government-issued apartment and sobbed. I cried so hard that night that I was certain the tears would soak the apartment below me. It was my lowest place and I had a choice to make.
I picked myself up from the bathroom floor and began to make some major life changes. I became more determined than ever. I ended that dead-end relationship. I worked hard, landed a new job and eventually became an 11-time Circle of Excellence winner in Corporate America.
I raised my children alone for seven years, but eventually married and could not be happier. I left all the corporate successes behind to become a full-time author and speaker, who works directly with single mothers worldwide. I chose to use the events of my life, not to play the victim role, but rather to encourage those around me. You have that same choice.
Maybe you could relate to my story on many levels. Perhaps you have suffered through years of childhood abuse. Maybe you are a single parent, or maybe you cannot relate at all. Maybe you simply needed to read my story to appreciate that you have not walked through such tragedy and get perspective that your situation is not so bad. Maybe you needed to hear that your situation, albeit gloomy in the present, will surely work out for your good and there is a great lesson to be learned. Whatever the case, I pray that my story inspires you.
So, whether you stumbled upon this article as a single mom in her twenties or a married man in his fifties, I hope you can implement a few of the tricks I have learned on de-stressing your life.
1). Recognize that you need help. All of us need help. We are not equipped to do life alone. We need friends and family. We need relationships to edify our lives.
2). Enjoy your season. You may not have planned to be where you are today, but nonetheless you are here. Maybe you just lost your job or find yourself divorced and are over-the-top stressed. Understand that you are only in this situation for a season and there is surely something to be learned here.
3). Pray without ceasing. I am a firm believer that our prayer life dictates our fulfillment. It gives me great strength to endure a stressful time. It plants me firmly in the freedom that I am designed to live in. It grants me the peace that we all desperately want.
Author/Speaker Jennifer Maggio leaves audiences across the globe riveted. She is the critically-acclaimed author of Overwhelmed: The Life of a Single Mom, and The Church and the Single Mom. She has a passion to see single mothers live successful lives and has helped to launch single moms support groups around the world. For more info, visit the website below.
Are or were you a stressed out mom and/or a single mom? Share your thoughts in the comment form below.
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