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  • Writer's pictureDawn Neufeld

Single Mama Drama

Updated: 5 days ago

Back in May, I was terminated from a firm I'd been working remotely for since January. It was my first time practicing in a while and unfortunately (or likely fortunately) I was fired just days after finding myself in the emergency room on Mother's Day after I passed out several times. The final fall resulted in a busted lip that needed stiches, a goose egg on my forehead and a bunch of other bruises and bumps (scary times). As I laid in the ER by myself that night waiting to be treated and discharged, all I kept thinking about was how I was going to explain the situation to my job without getting fired. I wasn't worried about my health. I was worried about whether or not my health was going to cost me my income. My job found its way to the top of my priority list - not my kids, not my health - my job. And I suffered tremendously because of it. That was a HUGE red flag for me - but more on that situation in a later post.

In the weeks prior to being terminated, my health had been suffering tremendously and I attribute it to stress. Here's a good time for me to plug the book "The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma" by Bessel van der Kolk. The book provided me with much-needed knowledge about elevated cortisol levels causing inflammation in the body that can lead to life-altering and potential fatal health issues. Despite having this knowledge, I knew my job was making me sick but I felt stuck without another option.

Shortly before being fired, I had to both take and defend depositions in a car accident case one day after having to take off work a few days prior due to health issues. Seemed like a simple enough case - a guy ran a light and was t-boned by my client who was severely injured in the accident. The other driver admitted fault during his deposition (sweet!). After a lunch break, it was time to defend my client's deposition.

She was a model witness that day - she stuck to the facts of the case without wavering. I told her after her depo that I wish all my clients could handle a deposition like she did. But there was a moment in her depo that absolutely triggered me - she's a single mom who has two teenage kids who were in the car with her at the time of the accident. Defense counsel rightfully inquired why there was an extensive gap in between the accident and the time she sought medical treatment. She had her reasons, but I knew there was more to the story - and I knew I'd have the opportunity to help her clarify this particular issue.

I'll sum this up in a nutshell - as I questioned her and discussed her statements made earlier in the depo, I asked a simple question: "As a single mom with two active teenagers, how hard is it for you to take time off of work to seek medical treatment?" Her response went something like, "Nearly impossible. I can't take time off work because I'd lose my job and I needed to support my kids." She cried. I teared up a bit because I empathized with her struggle. We wrapped up the depo. I shut down my computer for the day and then spent the afternoon decompressing knowing I was dealing with my own health issues that required attention but was terrified to take time off of work to deal with them.

I get it - this is life. It's hard on EVERYONE these days. But single moms - moms, in general really, are just a different beast. We DO put everyone's needs in front of our own, often to the extreme detriment of our own mental and physical health. We get shit done because we just don't have any other choice. And it's exhausting and hard. We devote our energy and every reserve we have to our kids and everything else but ourselves - because we have to. We are the "I've got this" crew.

I've truly learned to appreciate my mom and the struggles she endured raising three daughters on her own after my dad suddenly passed away from a heart attack in 1985. God bless her.

As I sit in Vegas with my daughter (who is playing in volleyball nationals this week - I am sure I would've been fired from my job anyway the second I asked for time off to be able to take this trip with my kiddo), I know the job hunt will start again next week and I was thinking about all that needs to be done (like updating my résumé), I reminded myself to take the lessons learned from this short chapter over the last couple of months and apply them moving forward - they will help me navigate the job hunt and find a better situation to find balance in single momhood. And I needed to remind myself to give myself some grace - this isn't easy. Because of past trauma, it IS easy to internalize these situations and think you aren't good enough or worthy enough. You are. Give yourself grace when life gets a little complicated because you likely won't get it from anyone else. And frankly, put yourself first. Get your health check-ups. If you're not here to take care of your kids... then what is the alternative? You have to take care of you.

Check in with friends, your therapist, your tribe - but make sure they are people who actually have your best interests at heart. The number of people I've encountered over the years who deserved no space in my life is ever-expanding (again, that's a post for another day).

I see you. Be strong mamas - you've got this.

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