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I had the opportunity to interview, Paula, a single mom of a 3-year-old daughter. She gives us a look into her journey as a single mom, shares her lessons learned and gives valuable advice to single mothers who may be at a crossroads or just need the simple reassurance that things will be just fine.
Hi, I’m Paula Montgomery, full-time administrator at a publishing company downtown in my hometown, Chicago, IL. I’ve given birth to the most extroverted, happy, insightful little girl I’VE ever met. She’s 3 and hilarious if not “busybodying”. My purpose in life seems to encompass mothering my child and creating a platform for women like me to tell their stories and give advice to others based on what I’ve been through.The writer in me must’ve been born of all the reading I’ve always done and loved immensely. DeserveMore.net is the product of mine and others’ stories and life lessons as well as advice on how to love, date, and build yourself up as urban people, especially single Black mothers like myself.
How did you become a single mom, i.e. divorce (what’s your story).
Well, when I was 19-years-old I left my mother’s house to be on my own but ended up silly in love with another 19-year-old. After living together a few months we decided to make a baby and be together as a family. That turned out just as predicted, I suppose. He and I went back and forth, in mental, emotional, and physical destruction until we managed to calmly breakup. Since he subscribed to the ‘I can be a better father if we’re together’ theory, once we ended our relationship, his fatherhood efforts declined until they disappeared into the nothingness of here and there text messages and empty promises.
Do you date? Are you in a relationship? When do you think that single moms should bring the men they date around their child? Is dating different as a single parent? Do you think it is harder to date as a single mom?
Yes, I date. I’ve pretty much dated since I became a single mom. Something I learned about THAT is there aren’t set time spans for things like meeting my kid or my family or spending the night. What matters is who I am when I meet a man and engage in a relationship with him. A great deal of the time I dated other men besides my daughter’s father, I was a woman who just wanted a man. Almost ANY man. That’s the problem. As a healthier-minded woman, I believe meeting my child is based on if longevity in a relationship has been expected.
It’s interesting because I only dated my daughter’s father before I had her. I’m not that familiar with dating without a kid. More “get up and go”, I suppose.
I really thought no man would want me after I had my daughter. Boy was I wrong. Me having a child has never been an issue to a man I’ve dealt with.
What advice would you give to a newly single mom?
Expect the unexpected. Then plan for the unexpected. But don’t forget to relax because God always has a way of taking care of things when He sees you taking care. It’s miraculous.
You will gain maternal instincts. Follow them.
Don’t forget to breathe. Take some time for yourself when you can. Don’t feel guilty about it, your kid needs you to be of sound mental and physical health.
Love yourself and create standards and relationship/life goals before loving/getting involved with a man. Trust me, it will save you and your baby a lot of time and unnecessary heart ache.
What is the best advice that you ever received about single parenthood?
My mother just told me to love my child. Love her more than some guy. When I’m overwhelmed or sad or despaired, look at her and be thankful.
3 words that would describe you?
Fiery. Optimistic. Reflective.
3 words that describe your parenting style?
Full-serviced. Realistic. Nurturing.
How do you respond to people who say, “I don’t know how you single moms do it. It must be so hard?”
It IS hard. But parenting, period, is hard. It’s better when we have a small village of folks we trust and who love our kid to help. That said, my experience has been full of learning but full of love, kindness, and joy as well. Kids will do that to you.
Do you think that people look down on single mothers?
Oh yes! They think we’re all either loose or irresponsible women. I’m neither. In fact, being a mom has helped me construct relationship standards, be more compassionate and more responsible. I indeed wanted my child. It shows. Really. I had a very nice stable job and living arrangements when I had her. She lives a good life, I’m very involved with her and her education. She’s healthy, happy, safe. That poverty or welfare-reliance people think of when they think of single mothers, especially the young ones like me, is a reality for some but not for all. I’m in a very serious, healthy, mature relationship now and I plan on getting married. My child will see a healthy relationship and grow up knowing how those are conducted. She’s already very privileged and I’m grateful to provide that for her.
What values are you instilling in your daughter?
I’m instilling honesty, accountability, responsibility, and the importance of being herself.
What do you/or will you tell your daughter about her father?
My daughter knows about her dad. Only recently have I decided to keep him at a distance as his in and out behavior is confusing to her and frustrating for me. If/when she asks me about her dad, I’ll tell her the age-appropriate truth.
What is the biggest life lesson that you learned as a single mom?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned, so far, as a single mom has to do with change. People change and become almost unrecognizable. People grow up and make necessary changes while others don’t. And those of us that grow have to leave nostalgic folks behind. We can’t live in the past. Life is about moving forward, adapting as is applicable; change.
Was your mother a single mother? If so, what did she teach you about being a woman?
My mom was a single mother. The way she was when I was growing up has an incredible amount to do with the kind of mother, the kind of woman, I turned out to be. She taught me how strong, smart, and savvy women and mothers can be. She was very resourceful, for a while, and did everything with style. Now, I’m not nearly as glamorous or social as my mom was but I’m just as smart, independent, and determined to give my child the best possible life and opportunities.
What is your dream for your daughter and for yourself?
My dream – literally the picture playing in my head since before my kid’s conception – is to work for myself, preferably out of a home office. I want to be able to take my daughter to school and pick her up without worrying about getting to the office on time or making profits for someone else’s agenda. I want to be very involved in her life and accomplish my goal of creating art as well as platforms for Black women to relate to one another, be entertained, and share their experiences.
Creating and surrounding my child with a stable family and being apart of a happy, fulfilling marriage has also been a dream of mine. I’m working on ALL of the pieces of my dream.
Do you think that single moms should put their own lives on pause for the sake of their children?
Nope! In a way mother did that. Now she has lost her way since I’m on my own. I don’t want that. I believe single moms can both live their own fulfilling lives and raise and nurture children. I’m biased, though. There isn’t much I really want to accomplish without her. A grown-up only date every once in a while would be nice, though.
You can reach Paula at:
Or via Twitter: Venus House Mama