This article first appeared on The Montague Reporter,
under my monthly column called “The Life and Times of an Indie Mama”
I became a single mother when my child was 3 months old. And even though my child’s father and I have worked hard to transition to harmonious co-parenting, those first few months were hard. The safety I felt being part of a nuclear family dissipated, and I was left to navigate the world of single parenthood without much guidance.
It was around that time that I came across a passage from Meggan Watterson’s inspiring book Reveal: A Sacred Manual to Getting Spiritually Naked, where she wrote about her own transition into single motherhood and the one simple thing she did to empower herself. In her eyes, even calling herself a “single mother” felt somewhat depressing. These words combined evoked an image of a depleted woman in sweatpants. In that moment, she decided she would instead call herself an “indie mama”. Indie as independent and rocking it. These days, Meggan is a successful writer who travels the world following her heart and her work; a shining example of what is possible when we deliberately choose how we see ourselves (including the words we use to describe ourselves).
The idea of being an indie mama rubbed off on me. And though I stumbled through my first year of parenthood, disheveled, mostly in sweatpants, I savored the words “indie mama” and little by little began to define what that meant for me.
For starters, being willing to hustle is of key importance. Relying on myself has been both terrifying and empowering. With so much at stake, I am forced to step outside my comfort zones and think creatively and therefore, resourcefully. Over the summer, I became a full-time freelancer, and this leap has taught me to be discerning about who I work with, how I value myself, and most importantly, how to hold myself accountable so I am in integrity with my words and actions. I hit financial rock bottom several years ago, and that experience taught me for the first time in my adult life how to care for my money. And though I still live month-to-month, it feels good to know that I’ve made it this far with a toddler in tow.
Indie mamahood has also shown me how to be discerning. How I spend my time, who I spend it with. How I spend my money, how efficient I am with budgeting, and how resourceful these teach me to be. Things, people, and experiences either fill my cup or empty it. Being loved and appreciated is vital to my core relationships, and I make sure the free time I have goes to nourishing the relationships where I feel these the most.
And speaking of nourishment, I make sure to carve out some time every day for self care. When I fail to do so, it’s only a matter of time before the absolute worst sides of myself come out. Side effects include having less patience for everyone, especially my child. I feel blessed to have a co-parent who supports me in this (likely because of all people, he’s seen firsthand the terrifying woman I turn into when I haven’t had time for myself).
When all else seems to fail, and I start to sink down a slippery slope of hopelessness, I pray. I’ve learned how to be careful with the words I use when describing myself or others. How to bless all situations, even when they seem like a curse. How to bless all people, especially the ones that challenge me the most, remembering that everyone is my teacher. Whenever I engage in this way, I feel the connection I deeply yearn for, knowing that even in those most lonely of nights, I am ever co-creating with something far bigger than any of us.
Stumbling upon the term “indie mama” and the woman who coined it has given me the inspiration I sorely needed. It beckoned me to follow in her footsteps, to redefine single momhood, to light the path for others. We may not have it all right, but if we can wake up every morning feeling good about ourselves and owning our experience, there’s no way we can feel alone in this.
photo credit: Carlos Brigantes