From One Single Parent To Another

4 Min Read

When my husband announced that he was leaving when our child was only 18 months old, I was shocked, sad, ashamed, and (mostly) terrified. I had not been employed for two years and was not sure if I could feed my child, much less keep my house. This shame led me to believe that not only was it my fault (which my husband and his family would mention quite often), I also felt all alone, as if I were the only person that had this happen to her.

Instead of "baby on board," I felt like the sign on my car would say "single parent on board." To me, it seemed as if I was the only mom walking a stroller around the mall without a husband. Oh, and did I mention that by this point, my husband was already remarried and soon after, had a baby on the way? On my end, I had money problems, self-esteem problems, anger problems, and the "poor mevictim mode" was in full-swing. I am not even sure if I was able to look into my child's eyes at this time because I was too busy trying to survive.

Months later, as the pity party started to lift, I found myself wondering what do I want to teach my child about her dad leaving? This was probably my first sane moment.

Most single parents do not choose to be single parents; the job is usually thrust upon us. Therefore, we must choose the "job" of single parenting or we will not be very good at it. So, the first step we have to take is to stop looking over at your ex and his life and instead focus on laying the foundation of your new family and home life. In my case, after regaining that focus, I had to find a job and childcare right away, as well as prepare my child for preschool. My experience taught me that instead of worrying, I needed to switch gears and start doing something. This helps to walk through the fear one step at a time. As one seed takes root, strength and bravery can begin to grow.

I found courage through making my child and her needs my focus. I was shocked, because I had never done anything like this before. I was amazed at how resilient I had become, especially since I was "winging it" at this point. The best decision I made was the one to stop being in "victim mode" and choosing to step up to the plate and be a role model.

I was out with some single women one night and one of them, who I barely knew, blurted out "Who is going to want you with a young child?" I turned to her, glaring, and said, "Oh no, who is going to be lucky enough to be with me and my child?"

My confidence grew stronger in all the conscious decisions I had to make for myself and my child. I started having a life of my own. I was smart enough to not over-expose my child to people I dated. I also made sure to only date when my child was at her father's house. We had a joyous and stable home environment without people coming in and out of our lives at this time. My daughter lovingly calls those years as some of our best (she is now 30).

Some higher power had to be watching over me, because I started this journey totally clueless! For instance, I desperately needed a job. Back when I was in my master's program, I was working out of a boiler room selling insurance. It was with this experience that I offered to volunteer my time to help a non-profit do some fundraising. Thankfully, I was eventually offered a paid position there, which included a good salary and childcare. It was a miracle! When I was let go a year and a half later, it led me to take another leap of faith and start up my private practice (which is still thriving after over 30 years!).

Along the way, I've learned a few things.

  1. Try not to feel sorry for yourself, because your child will feel that and start feel sorry for themselves as well. This might be when you and your family want to seek professional help to prevent the pity party from taking over your lives.
  2. You need to be an authority figure with rules and consequences that are used consistently. If at all possible, create a co-parent plan with your ex-spouse so there can be consistency in both homes.
  3. Remember, you are your child's stability and safety. Self-care is mandatory. My daughter approached me around age 11 and asked, "Mom do you know what the best gift was that you've ever given to me?" I thought she was going to say it was her beloved Barbie dream house. Instead, my daughter responded with, "You, Mom, loving yourself."

My daughter and I, both therapists, have combined our personal and professional know how to write our new book. My Parents Are Getting a Divorce . . . I Wonder What Will Happen to Me is an interactive discussion book to provide a bridge of understanding between parents and their children. Our book creates a safe space for children to share their innermost thoughts and feelings, while also teaching healthy coping skills for children to empower themselves during a chaotic and confusing time in their lives. The goal is to take children out of the middle and provide them with a voice as well as the tools that will allow them to grow into healthy, balanced individuals.

5 Min Read

How Fitness Saved My Life and Became My Career

Sometimes it takes falling to rock bottom in order to be built back up again. I learned this many years ago when the life I'd carefully built for myself and my family suddenly changed. But in those times, you learn to lean on those who love you – a friend, family member or someone who can relate to what you've been through. I was lucky enough to have two incredible women help me through one of my lowest moments. They taught me to love myself and inspired me to pass on their lessons each da

If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today.

In 2010, I was a wife, a mother of three, and had filtered in and out of jobs depending on what my family needed from me. At different points in my career, I've worked in the corporate world, been a stay-at-home mom, and even started my own daycare center. Fitness has always been a part of my life, but at that point being a mom was my main priority. Then, life threw a curveball. My husband and I separated, leading to a very difficult divorce.

These were difficult times. I lost myself in the uncertainty of my future and the stress that comes with a divorce and found myself battling anorexia. Over a matter of months, I lost 40 lbs. and felt surrounded by darkness. I was no longer participating in my health and all efforts to stay active came to a halt. I didn't want to leave my home, I didn't' want to talk to people, and I really did not want to see men. Seeing my struggles, first my sister and then a friend, approached me and invited me to visit the gym.

After months of avoiding it, my sister started taking me to the gym right before closing when it wasn't too busy. We started slow, on the elliptical or the treadmill. This routine got me out of the house and slowly we worked to regain my strength and my self-esteem. When my sister moved away, my good friend and personal trainer started working out with me one-on-one early in the morning, taking time out of her busy schedule to keep me on track toward living a healthy life once again. Even when I didn't want to leave the house, she would encourage me to push myself and I knew I didn't want to let her down. She helped me every step of the way. My sister and my friend brought fitness back into my everyday routine. They saved my life.

I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again. My friend has since moved away, but, these two women made me feel loved, confident and strong with their empowerment and commitment to me. They made such an incredible impact on me; I knew I needed to pay it forward. I wanted to have the same impact on women in my community. I started by doing little things, like running with a woman who just had a baby to keep her inspired and let her know she's not alone. I made sure not to skip my regular runs, just in case there was a woman watching who needed the inspiration to keep going. These small steps of paying it forward helped me find purpose and belonging. This gave me a new mentality that put me on a path to the opportunity of a lifetime – opening a women's only kickboxing gym, 30 Minute Hit.

About four years ago, I was officially an empty nester. It was time to get myself out of the house too and find what I was truly passionate about, which is easier said than done. Sitting behind a desk, in a cubicle, simply didn't cut it. It was hard to go from an active and chaotic schedule to a very slow paced, uneventful work week. I felt sluggish. Even when I moved to another company where I got to plan events and travel, it was enjoyable, but not fulfilling. I wanted to be a source of comfort to those struggling, as my sister and dear friend had been to me. I wanted to impact others in a way that couldn't be done from behind a desk.

I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again.

When I heard about 30 Minute Hit, I was nervous to take the leap. But the more I learned about the concept, the more I knew it was the perfect fit for me. Opening my own gym where women can come to let go of their struggles, rely on one another and meet new people is the best way for me to pass on the lessons I learned during my darkest times.

Kickboxing is empowering in itself. Add to it a high energy, female-only environment, and you have yourself a powerhouse! The 30 Minute Hit concept is franchised all over North America, acting as a source of release for women who are just trying to get through their day. I see women of all ages come into my gym, kick the heck out of a punching bag and leave with a smile on their face, often times alongside a new friend. 30 Minute Hit offers a convenient schedule for all women, from busy moms to working women, to students and senior citizens. A schedule-free model allows members to come in whenever they have a free half hour to dedicate to themselves. Offering certified training in kickboxing and a safe environment to let go, 30 Minute Hit is the place for women empowerment and personal growth.

Through my journey, I have learned that everyone is going through something – everyone is on their own path. My motivating factor is knowing that I can touch people's lives everyday just by creating the space for encouragement and community. It's so easy to show people you care. That's the type of environment my team, clients and myself have worked hard to create at our 30 Minute Hit location.

Fitness saved my life. If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today. The perfect example of women empowering women – the foundation to invincibility.

This article was originally published September 12, 2019.