Here Now

I’m writing this knowing my bank account is overdrawn, because I’m still waiting on four, unexpectedly late paychecks. I’m writing this from my couch, where my 19-month-old is sleepily nursing in my lap. I’m writing this two hours before I was supposed to meet friends for lunch, but had to cancel because of lack of funds. I’m writing this in between the tugs on my heart strings and knots in my stomach and angst of being alone.
Yesterday I went to bring my friend who’d just had a baby dinner. While I sat at her table, doing the familiar action that was holding a small baby while trying to eat, carefully picking food I’d dropped off of her incredibly new little frame, I started to seethe in jealousy and self-loathing.
My friend had a housecleaner. She had a mother-in-law staying with her. She had a husband at work who made enough to support the three of them and their house, two dogs, and two cats. She had a pile of boxes of things people had sent her, and a lot of things she’d planned to return because they ended up not needing them.
IMG_6450I looked over at my girls, playing so sweetly together, and thought of when Coraline was just born. I was completely on my own in an empty house just two days after I’d given birth. My cousin had stayed with us for a few days, and left us with a freezer full of pasta dishes, and some friends had brought us some food. Other than that, I was alone with a newborn who screamed if I put her down, and a rambunctious 7-year-old who, though I didn’t know it at the time, had hair completely full of lice.
Though Cora’s dad wasn’t there then, he’s here now. For the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen him almost every day. He got a full-time job and has committed to helping me pay for daycare costs while working with me on a schedule that gives him ample time with his daughter.
Mia’s had a hard time with this, of course, since she just returned from being with her dad for a week. Last night, after the visit to my friend’s house, Cora’s dad came to hang out with her for a couple of hours. I turned to Mia and asked her if she wanted to go to the store for cupcakes.
We live next to this ritzy hippie store, full of organic produce, but they also have baked goods that we can purchase with food stamps. On the way there, Mia skipped along next to me, holding my hand.
“Have I told you how much I love you lately?” she said.
I laughed and said not really.
“I love you so much, Mom,” she said. “You’re the best mom anybody could ever have.”
We ate our cupcakes, and I sat across the table from her while she talked about school, and mentioned one of her friends who was really really grumpy that day.
“Am I ever really really grumpy?” I said, knowing I was often.
“Yeah,” she said. “Like if I’m not listening and I know I’m not listening.”
“I feel like I’m kind of hard to live with sometimes,” I said.
“You’re a great mom,” she said. “You get grumpy, but you just had a baby by yourself. I know it’s hard.”
Lately it’s come to my attention that I’ve exhausted myself for a long time, and I’m beginning to feel the mental and physical toll. My hair’s about half as thick, and going gray. I don’t sleep for more than three or four hours. There are always about five things I need to be doing, not including taking a shower or going pee.
I’m looking for a therapist, though I’m not sure what it’ll do to help.
DSCN2248Despite all of this, I’ve already been published several times this year, and am putting the finishing touches on a book proposal that I hope to send out in the next week. My article through the Washington Post a couple of weeks ago made it to print in the newspaper. An essay featured in the Style section.
These last few months have been life-changing with Cora’s grandparents and father becoming a part of our little family. It comes with its own realizations of my own issues revolving around trusting others. In that sense, sometimes it’s easier to be alone.
All of my desires to find a suitable partner have faded. It might be from a mix of no longer having the ability to put energy into it, to wanting to focus on my family’s recent expansion and how that’s affecting everyone. I published a piece about it in the Washington Post the other day, ending with saying I’d try some sort of casual thing, but even that was too much.
I think it’ll be a long while before I can jump into anything like that.
But Coraline’s finally starting daycare two days a week. I don’t think I even need to say what a huge relief that is. It seems like things are always just on the brink of sailing smooth. Or sometimes they do for a while then dip back down to weekends like this where I have absolutely no money.
Darkest light’s before the dawn, you know.


117 replies
  1. sufficientgrace535
    sufficientgrace535 says:

    What a great post, so raw and so very authentic. There was a time in my life where I was financially hurting and a single mom, I felt like I couldn’t give my girls the necessities they needed let alone the things they wanted. Thank you for sharing – I could most certainly relate. I hope that things start looking up for you 🙂

  2. bexleykeegan
    bexleykeegan says:

    This made me cry. I’m going through a really hard time and sometimes I think that I’m the only person who’s struggling. You’re doing awesome. Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. PaulaB
    PaulaB says:

    So much of my sister (younger) in your story. I’ve never had children, but I’ve watched her as she took those first scary steps, after our Mom died. She has someone, and shes certainly not alone, but something of what you wrote reminds me alot of her for some reasons. Beautifully written, powerful.

  4. Mary O'Green
    Mary O'Green says:

    Thanks for sharing your parenting perspective! I love reading about other moms and how they handle life. I can totally and unfortunately relate to the lice situation. Best of luck to you and yours!

  5. Wake38
    Wake38 says:

    Let me tell you, this is coming from a single Mom of 3 girls it gets better. You sound like me and I am sure other single and yes, married Moms. All Moms experience this. It’s painfully at times; I wonder how I even make it at times. I find comfort in exactly what you said, recognition, smiles, love, kisses, memories, and all that stuff that you can’t hold in your hands because it’s so much better being held in the mind and felt with the heart.
    I send you a BIG-FAT-MOMMY-HUG!
    I know all too well this life you are writing about and although you almost brought me to tears, I know that you will be ok.
    The best years are upon you and lean on your support system without regrets, that’s why they are there. You can’t do it alone. I say that not only to you, but also to myself, and every other Mom (or Dad) that feels like they carry the weigh of the world on their backs.
    Namaste -W38

  6. Alvernon
    Alvernon says:

    Although I’ve always been extremely active in my now 11yr old daughters life, I relate to this post on a myriad of levels… My girlfriend has had your similar struggles and still sometimes feel the separation anxiety when my time with my daughter is up. I’ve brought love and help to my girlfriend, in the midst of blending a family, and want to encourage you that it will happen for you too! Through this, I’ve also been inspired to blog as well. From one writer to another I’ll follow your blog and you can follow mine for some stress relief… …Stay Strong!!! 😉

  7. says:

    Wow! I must admit I felt a little emotional. As a mom of 2, I can relate to some of your emotions. I remember blogging about it and receiving such encouragement from others. You are obviously doing a good job. Listen to your daughter. Hopefully our comments reinforce that. *hugs* my friend.

  8. judyhitson
    judyhitson says:

    My Mama heart was drawn to read “You’re a Great Mom…I Know it’s Hard” Mark Armstrong posted and read the rest on Stephanie Land Here Now
    Your words Stephanie that caught my attention, “I’m looking for a therapist, though I’m not sure what it’ll do to help.” I heard, Isaiah 55: 1 and is the best help I found. check it out God gives what is good Isaiah 55: 1 Expanded Bible EXP The LORD says, “All you who are thirsty, come and drink [to the waters; John 7: 37] Those of you who do not have money, come, buy and eat [ Prov. 9: 5]! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
    God bless you with His help, it’s the Best! He is there for you. You are a great writer.

  9. twobb
    twobb says:

    I was trying to fall asleep reading after a 1,5 hour try to put my baby girl into her bed for the night. Exhausted and lost I was scanning posts until I found this one. Thank you for posting this. It brought me back to life making me realize that life is going on. It calmed me down.
    You’re lucky. I hope I’ll hear the same words from my daughter some day.

  10. theroadtouncertainty
    theroadtouncertainty says:

    Wow! You definitely have a gift for writing. This story reminds me of my upbringing with my mother who was a single parent. Since I am the oldest I’ve seen her struggle with making ends meet as well as dodge finding love after divorce. Do not give up on either! Your faith determines the outcome. Stay strong! May God bless.

  11. madison boyd
    madison boyd says:

    This was so great! You are so amazing. I only have a newborn, so I can’t understand how hard it must be! I can on some level understand how emotionally exhausted you are! I went through severe postpartum depression, it will get better! Just trust God! I hope everything goes well for you!

  12. startswithmyra
    startswithmyra says:

    Your friend might look like life is great, with help, money and a house. But, deep inside you can’t see what she is feeling. I put on the best red lip stick, nobody ever know what was going on inside, but they saw my smile. Motherhood is the greatest part of life, our babies are watching everything we do. My mother always said,”don’t grow up, don’t have any kids, all they ever do is break your heart”. I have four kids, I’m glad I didn’t listen to her every word. Stay happy and smile daily.

  13. Patricia
    Patricia says:

    I’ve been a single mom and a married mom. I’ve seen both sides and sometimes I think being on my own was easier! Sometimes no matter how many people are around you, you can still feel so lonely and without help. It’s tough to make ends meet sometimes but I love how nifty we can be as women, as mothers. Keep it up! It’s an uphill battle sometimes, but we get through it, and we come out stronger and more wise. Your babies will thank you for the amazing abilities they have learned from you in the future.

  14. Life of A Deva
    Life of A Deva says:

    Thank you for posting this. I’m almost in tears writing this because I’m a single mom, going to school, working, with an almost 2 year old daughter. I get so tired. This really encouraged me. It showed me that I can have my dreams and still be a great mom, even if I get grumpy sometimes. See now, I’m crying. Thank you again!

  15. closetjunkieblog
    closetjunkieblog says:

    I am very envious of those mothers who struggle with being the best mother that they can be. Because I have chosen to put myself in a very horrible position, I want nothing more than to be an amazing mother, and all though no one understands this right now, Stepping away from my child is the best thing I can do for her right now. I want to be a mother to be proud of, not the disgrace I have allowed myself to become. So always remember no matter how hard it is to be a single mom, You ladies are doing a fabulous job! I allowed my struggles and heartaches get the best of me. But one day I will be exactly where I need to be

  16. lora2016
    lora2016 says:

    I am also a single mom, and this really got to me. My son’s father is nowhere to be found, but my son is the greatest thing(person) to ever happen to me! He is 5 and is a handful! This post was so touching that I almost cried when I read it. Keep up the good work and NEVER let them see you sweat!

  17. Jentodd
    Jentodd says:

    Amazingly written! I felt your angst from the first sentence and you moved me, as the reader, all through the piece. I want to encourage you, but everything sounds cliché. Wish I had the talent you do…maybe then I’d have the words you need to hear.

  18. dvn ms kmz time travel
    dvn ms kmz time travel says:

    Thank you for your courage and the guys it took to put all of this out there for the world to see. Thank you for the strength you possessed in sharing that the world isn’t always roses. But most of all thank you for being my voice from years ago, when I didn’t have even the energy to whisper, “help”. You are awesome. You are spectacular. From the still quiet voice, that shouts in my mind, I am letting you know, that it does get better. It won’t ever be perfect, but better. Please feel free to reach out to me should you ever need a friend or listening ear that simply understands. I’ve got your back. And even if you never need me, please know, you’ve got a friend out there in the world who knows what it’s like and who understands if you say something like, “I just need a break.” Peace, love and strength- Kim.

    • step.
      step. says:

      I got a little emotional reading your comment. Thank you for reading, reaching out, and writing me. I didn’t expect this post to be popular or even read that much. It’s been overwhelming to see so many people reading my thoughts that were born from ugly moments of self-loathing. I’m happy to see it has touched and resonated with so many people. It’s an unexpected community I have here. Thank you for being a part of it.

  19. atiredheart
    atiredheart says:

    My tired old heart goes out to you, Step. I hope things get so much better for you, very quickly. Be careful not to wear your heart out like I did. 🙂

  20. pierceplanning2016
    pierceplanning2016 says:

    As a soon-to-be first time mom who wants nothing more but to leave her job, dive headfirst into a blog, and spend time with her newborn, you’ve inspired me to be more real and open and raw than I am. There’s so many things that us a women tend to feel shameful for, but there’s so many things that we need to be gratefuk for, especially the love and support of friends and family. Thank you for sharing Stephanie!!

  21. SonniQ
    SonniQ says:

    I’m sorry. I can’t help myself. It’s actually a little funny because of the way you worded it, but: your friend just had a baby dinner? A dinner of babies, or a little dinner? Honestly, I knew what you meant. It created a play on words. Someday you’ll look back on this and it will become cherished memories.

  22. robintgalt
    robintgalt says:

    I remember reading your article in the Washington Post. Congrats on getting published and continuing to work hard as a parent and a writer. Wishing good things ahead for you… and the words to keep telling your story.

  23. Damon Lifestyle Therapy
    Damon Lifestyle Therapy says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I don’t have kids myself, but I remember the first time I told my mom that I loved her and that she was the best mom that she ever knew how to be and that I was grateful. I was in college and was learning how to see my family in a different perspective, one filled with love and compassion, instead of with anger and sadness. I can only hope that when life gets hard when I have my own kids, and I know it will, they will be as sweet and gracious as your Mia.
    It also sounds like you’re going through some burnout. I wonder if your busy schedule could use a fresh pair of eyes to rearrange to improve your efficiency and increase the amount of rest you are able to get each day. Have you considered seeing an occupational therapist? They are experts in reorganizing/modifying activities and environments to suit your needs so that your body and mind feel less stress. Let me know if you want to learn more – I would be happy to answer any questions. I wish you the best!

    • step.
      step. says:

      Hi! I didn’t think of occupational therapy. I’ll ask my freelancing group if any of them have used it. Right now I believe it’s simply being worn out and not burn out. I’d love to be able to work more! But maybe I am burnt out on being a full-time mom. Daycare is helping!

      • Damon Lifestyle Therapy
        Damon Lifestyle Therapy says:

        Hi Step! Oh, no one ever thinks of occupational therapy. Haha. Our profession has always been there, but for some reason, people just don’t know about it. And the kind of OT I am suggesting for you is nontraditional, and more health and wellness. I’m glad daycare is helping. Maybe try doing a little something for yourself, like soak in a bath, just for a few minutes even, when your kids are at daycare before going on to do other things? And sometimes, we all fall into the rut of feeling like “a, b, c, d, e, & f need to be done right now,” but it helps to reconsider which ones actually “need” to be done and which ones don’t. Or which ones can be done together to save time and energy. Because what you really “need”, is to take care of yourself, physically and mentally, so that you can continue being the best mama that you are. 🙂 I would love to help you out more – feel free to fill out this lifestyle assessment and I can give you more personalized tips. All the best!

  24. kstokes97
    kstokes97 says:

    I know someone who is about to be a single mother, and reading this has brought a lot of stuff to light! Thank you for being so honest with how it is being a mother, and for not hiding anything from the public.

  25. throughmyeyes709
    throughmyeyes709 says:

    I love it. You will be just fine things seem rough but that’s life don’t allow it to make you slump you’re beautiful angels love you and use their energy to keep you going gurl. In my prayers?

  26. liberatedeve
    liberatedeve says:

    Thank you for sharing your vulnerability…it’s hard to do this when you are focused on being strong for the little ones. I believe our children are angels from God so when your daughter told you you’re a great mom. He was speaking through her to give you the encouragement you needed. Great post!

  27. bones5411
    bones5411 says:

    Thank you! I feel your struggle. I am a father who struggles every day. That I cannot see my daughter as much as I want. Never give up. Always learn always grow as a person and parent.

  28. Candice
    Candice says:

    Single parenting is hard. But, you’re amazing enough that your daughter pointed it out to you. She loves you and you’re doing a great job. Power on momma!!

  29. Brooke B.
    Brooke B. says:

    So incredible! There is nothing like a mother’s unfailing love. Know that you’re making your girls proud, even Mia can already see what an incredible job you’re doing. Get that book out in the world so we can all read it! Best wishes!

  30. 4rmthedeepestcornersofmymind2theworldcom
    4rmthedeepestcornersofmymind2theworldcom says:

    Just started here and wow! This was the first I read and I am not the least bit disappointed. I am a single mother myself my babies are both under the age of two..same father but he’s no help. Reading this is so refreshing to know I’m not the only one and there are others going through similar things. I am only 22 and have no friends with the same issues as me. So thank you. Thank you for sharing and bringing comfort to other single moms. We will get through it!!

  31. wellkeptwoman
    wellkeptwoman says:

    You sound like you have some amazing kids. I was a single mother of 2 little girls before I met my husband and added to our family. I was completely broke and look back on all the sacrifices I made and know that it was all worth it. Just seeing the way my kids appreciate me now that they are older and understand what I was going through at 20 trying to raise 2 kids on my own. Thanks for sharing

  32. vercellonopace
    vercellonopace says:

    I would say that this is a very moving post for a few reasons. One is that I was a single parent with 3 children. Like you, I was always broke. I will say that God provided but the challenge of finances was always there. I am still a single parent (after a brief 9 year stint). Coming back from divorce, etc. I can still say I have those challenges. I appreciate you sharing your story. Sometimes it helps a lot to know that others feel where you are at. I do and empathize. Keep sharing.

  33. twistingsuburbia
    twistingsuburbia says:

    Wow. Your post resonated with me. We are coming out of 3 years of “getting by”. Just when I feel like I can breathe, another challenge comes along. I have learned that life is a rollercoaster. All we can do is sit down, strap in and try not to throw up.
    And hang in there.

  34. Allaya P. Cooks-Campbell
    Allaya P. Cooks-Campbell says:

    I just posted on my page that I felt as if I was drowning in new-mamahood. You’re not alone–just part of the toughest, most selfless, loneliest community ever. I spoke to a LCSW and we’re setting up a plan to incorporate more me into my life. You can expand into the love you have for your girls, and you’re not alone. And I’ve canceled more than a few plans because of no funds too…but you are not your bank account. You are worthy even when broke.

  35. Aadhya
    Aadhya says:

    Wow! Thank you so much for writing this, i thought i was the one dealing with problems, but seeing you makes me feel my problems are nothing compared to yours! I love how strong you are and what a wonderful mom you are!! You’re an amazing writer too? hope to take inspiration from you

  36. misskbui
    misskbui says:

    It’s hard even being on my own. Let alone with yourself and two kids. You’re so strong. No matter how hard you thought it was at the time, you pulled through and still have a strong head on those shoulders. Mums like you are the reason for Mother’s Day. <3

  37. sisterlopezcarcamo
    sisterlopezcarcamo says:

    You are so awesome!!
    I can relate to this. I had three kids and single thinking the same thoughts, God is good though. I can appreciate those struggles now. Without them I wouldn’t have met my wonderful husband

  38. Amanda@overcomeabuse
    Amanda@overcomeabuse says:

    Sometimes I feel like I’m not a good mother. I left my husband because he was abusive. He hurt me while holding my daughter two days after giving birth. In the hospital. I work full time, lots of extra hours. In school. Hardly anytime to breathe and eat, and to spend time with my baby. I get overwhelmed and frustrated. But I look at her innocence and know that I did the right thing, if not for myself, for her. There are days that I need an extra boost and your article gave it to me. Thank you. For those who are in a similar situation of mine, check out my blog. I’m searching for stories to share on my blog and friends who I can lean on and support.

  39. mandaloohoo
    mandaloohoo says:

    Congratulations on the new baby. I loved this post! I am sorry to hear your struggling. It’s just that I can relate so well. It was as if you took the words right out of my head. It sounds as though you are truly putting in your best effort and I say talking to someone makes a huge difference. (from my personal experience) you leave feeling lighter after each session and sometimes you figure your way out of a stuck place when you can talk aloud. I will keep you in my prayers and keep reading your posts. Hang in there mom. We are stronger than we think.

  40. jcrgalang
    jcrgalang says:

    that’s a great post! and congrats! I’m sorry you’re going through what you’re going through, but the sweet isn’t as sweet without the bitter! Keep truckin!

  41. Cristina
    Cristina says:

    I’m not emotional. Well, at least I don’t show that I am and I am rarely caught with teary eyes. But your post just made me emotional and have teary eyes. Thanks.

  42. aliciabell5
    aliciabell5 says:

    This was so inspiring! You are a great mom. I’ve been where you are several times- jealousy and all. It’s never fun, but it makes you who you need to become. You’re doing a great job for your family. Keep your chin up and keep truckin!

  43. nessaxassen
    nessaxassen says:

    Very inspiring and a great read. As a broke, 26 year-old, single mom with a four and seven year old, I know how frustrating life can be. When you’re feeling down or like life is out of control just keep those sweet words of your daughter’s in your head. Kids know when their mamas need encouragement. If you do your best, they will see that. Keep on keeping on!

  44. tbenevento76
    tbenevento76 says:

    You brought me to tears more than once in this piece. What an amazing young lady you are raising. The fact that someone her age can have that insight and then the ability to actually share it when it is needed most is amazing. Good job Mom!!!
    I know you mentioned therapy but not knowing how it would help.
    I mention this because I JUST posted about how it saves me from the brink of a complete breakdown. I hated it. HATED it. But I forced myself to keep going and somehow it took and it really did help. #Staystrong

  45. Annisa Longoria
    Annisa Longoria says:

    I love this. I completely understand how you feel. The tired feeling, the grumpiness. It’s all there for me too. I’m glad I found someone who relates. But you got this, mom. You’re obviously a fantastic mom and I have no doubt you will find partner, when the time is right! Keep up the good work, mom!

  46. itsmayurremember
    itsmayurremember says:

    You wrote this so long ago that I wish I had read it back then to offer whatever virtual support I can, even virtual hugs. I want to know how’s it going now, how are you now

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