Once, I had a dream. Of finding love, and getting married, and having a family. Of cooking meals in a kitchen full of children, and building traditions, and holding hands through the hard times. Of growing old together, and enjoying grandchildren, and kissing each other goodbye as we left this world for something better.
A dream that ended too soon.
So this is me now. And, I am a stereotype.
I had a dream of teaching Sunday school, and Bible studies, and leading the Women’s ministry. And though we once worked hand in hand, your eyes no longer meet mine in the hallways of the church I love. Because now, I am a stereotype.
I had a dream of reconnecting with my girlfriends as my children grew. Of time to slip away and go enjoy some down-time laughing, and reminiscing, and enjoying the company of other moms. And though I’m still the same person who stood by you when life threw you curve balls, you can’t relate to what I’m going through, and have slipped away as quietly as you can. Because now, I am a stereotype.
I had a dream of cookouts with our families. Of our children running through each other’s yards, and us bringing baked goods covered in plastic wrap to the table. Of swatting mosquitos, and mending scrapes, and all the things that neighbors do. But I see the way you move in now when I speak to your husband, even though we were all friends at one time. Because now, I am a stereotype.
I had a dream of cheering our children on at school events. Of being on the sidelines with you at field day. Of class parties, and field trips, and parent lunches with you and your children by my side. But, I’ve heard the comments you make about the problem children at school, and the way you turn from me and suggest under your breath that it’s simply because they are being raised by a single mom. Because now, I am a stereotype.
But you are wrong about me. You are wrong about all of us.
You see, I haven’t changed. Though the things in my life certainly have. My kind of tragedy is common, and expected, and unnoticed. My kind of pain is overlooked, and shooed away, and not even recognized. I should have seen it coming, after all. Because it is all a stereotype.
Now, I am a single mom. And I’m chasing my dreams anyway. I’m rebuilding my family. And my home. And my finances. And my self-esteem.
I’m connecting with new friends. And ministering to a different group than I ever thought I would be. I’m building a new idea of family. I’m giving my kids every ounce of me. And they are watching in real time what it looks like to fall to the very, very bottom in life.
And then, to overcome.
Because I refuse to be your stereotype. So,this is me. I am a Single Mom. But, I choose to live free.