Friday, December 18, 2009

What Was It Like Becoming a Single Mom?

As we were in China I would receive emails and comments from family and friends who were excited to meet Hannah and they, with well understood excitement, would count down the days until we arrived home on Canadian soil. As I would sit in the hotel room in China I'll admit to being surprised by my own body's reaction to these comments. Words that I thought would bring great excitement and joy caused me also to break into a cold sweat and my stomach to flip-flop. As I'd sit in the dark (as it was often very late at night when I had time to check the computer) I'd find myself almost panicking about coming home. I believe these feelings were caused by a variety of contributors.

I was going to be a single mom. Let's be honest...this wasn't a surprise to me but the reality was quickly taking root. For the 13 days I was a Mom in China, I was wonderfully blessed to have my amazing, loving, awesome parents right next door (sometimes even in an adjoining room so that there wasn't even a full wall between us) and a loving, caring friend right in the room with me. Norma could often anticipate my needs and would quietly, behind the scenes just do stuff to make my life easier. I knew from the very beginning that I wanted mom and dad to come to China and was even more blessed when Norma could come too, but little did I realize until we were there just how much their love and support meant. They were always...always there to lend a helping hand, answer questions, a shoulder to lean on/cry on and so much more. What would I do when suddenly the door closed behind them when we were home and I was all alone? Would I truly know what to do? Would I question my gut instinct?

The answer I know now is that I would be just fine but at the time I didn't know for sure. The seeds of doubt would arise in the dark of the night and I'd find myself almost shaking physically and praying, asking God to help me both then and when we got home.

I can't tell you the number of times I've heard people share about how hard it is to be alone all day with a baby and how they remember counting the hours and minutes until their spouse came home so that they could get just a little bit of 'me time' or, get some things done. Those stories would go round and round my head and I'd question myself....'Will I be able to do it? There won't be anyone coming home to relieve me. What will I do?' Well, I need not have worried. No, not because of anything I've done but truly by what God has done. He has given me the most AMAZING baby!!! She is the love of my life and is a sheer joy to be with! She makes it SO easy to care for her as God created her with a sweet, easy going personality and the cutest smile you ever did see! I can honestly say that on numerous days as the clock has neared 4:00 I've thought to myself, 'I'm so glad there's nobody coming home as I don't want to miss a moment of being with Hannah XiaoFen!' We have our moments occasionally and my baby girl has that Hunan girl 'spicy temper' but those moments are so few and far between that they're very, very rare! There have been a couple of days when I've been in the room and just had to let her cry for a bit, all the while reassuring her that Mommy is right here and she's just fine but that it's 6:30 and if mommy doesn't finally put a bite of food in her mouth that day she's gonna drop! Yes, there was many a day when the first food I got was in the evening so I made sure to drink lots of milk and orange juice during the day and get fed that way. It's getting better now though and I can usually fit in 1-2 meals per day.

I have continually been amazed how God grants you patience and understanding with your child. Part of this I believe too comes with being a *gulp* older parent. :o) The patience and understanding I have now as opposed to 20 years ago is a blessing. The first night home Hannah cried for almost 2 solid hours when we went to bed and even though I cried with her, I just felt love flowing through me and my only desire was to make things better for her. Eventually she calmed down and even though those heart breaking shudders that came from her after such a long cry lasted for quite a while, I knew she was ok and that mommy was right there and she wasn't going anywhere. I tell her this daily, many times daily, and I can't wait for the day when she understands what I'm saying. I'm not sure if she does now but I truly believe the love that ensues when I whisper the words, 'Mommy's right here XiaoFen. Mommy loves you. Mommy's not going anywhere' must be felt by her little heart. I pray that God would allow her little heart to continue to heal and trust.

I believe some of the other fears I was facing was the unknown of how my life was going to change from what I had known. What would my 'new normal' be like? How would I fill my days? (Heh....silly, silly question I now know!!)

I had lived life to the fullest as a single and was a girl who loved to have a good time and go out with a friend at the spur of the moment. Although this has been somewhat curved, I also have a daughter who enjoys being out among people too!

God answered one of my questions before I ever left the airport in Toronto. (Yes, I promise to post that soon. That was what this post was originally going to be and as you can see it's taken a completely different turn.) As things were quietening down at the airport and Dad had gone to get the van, my cell phone rang. It was my best friend Sharon saying that she was at the house, the tea kettle was on and that she'd be there whenever we got home but not to rush. A wave of calm came over me as God placed this precious friend just where I needed her to be. She was still there and our friendship would still be there, just now with an added little person as the centre of our time together.
I had always known our friendship would be there as it's grown over 25+ years to something very precious but I hadn't been sure how it would change. You know what? It hasn't really other than we tease about what we used to find to talk about now that all we do is ooo and goo and Hannah and chat about her. And, Hannah has an honourary Grandma and Grandpa too! What a blessing they are to our family and such treasured friends. We love you Grandma and Grandpa!! xoxo Now when the phone rings in the evening, sometimes it's Grandma and Grandpa P wondering if XiaoFen can come over for a playtime? We happily oblige and they wind her up with all their fun and love and then we head home. We tease that on those nights she'll be up until all hours but normally she's beginning to doze by the time we hit our driveway even though we only live 3 mins apart. I know XiaoFen loves those play times but finds it pretty exhausting entertaining 3 adults! :o)

Time with other friends has also been wonderful and it's great to be off right now and have the time to spend with Hannah and at the same time with friends too. Our normal Christmas Day celebrations are planned for next week and Hannah will see what fun Christmas is as we share time with many family and friends!

Yesterday we were at Wal-M*rt and bumped into both Joy and Norma so we pulled our carts into Tim's and enjoyed a coffee (bottle for Hannah) and wonderful visit together. What a wonderful, unexpected surprise! Patient Auntie Joy was finally able to hold Hannah and it was a wonderful time for both of them! (Although I'm thinking Hannah would have preferred she keep her glasses on as they looked like a great new toy to play with!)

So, becoming a single mom has been different from what I thought but all in very positive ways!!! I love my daughter like crazy and cannot spend enough time with her! In no way am I bored and just the exact opposite. Now my stomach flip-flops when I think of going back to work next I try not to think about it and just enjoy this time we have together.

Even though I'm home all day you'd never know it from the look of the house. If you come over, just step over the stuff in the hallway and toys on the floor. Don't check to see if the bed's made as I'm guessing it won't be. Be careful near the high chair or you may find Cheerios adorning your socks. Just pull up a piece of floor, grab a block or rattle to play with us and have a great time! We're just hanging out together and happy to have you with us!


  1. Being a mommy is the very best thing in the world isn't it? Everything you said about things changing and having a "new normal" sound very much like me life. It's so different being mommy and so much better! And it's such a short time that our babies are babies and want us every minute. It's so great to enjoy every minute with them. Right down to the snuggles in bed at night!

    You are such an amazing Mommy! You and Hannah are a beautiful family. Thank you for sharing yourselves with us!


  2. Oh I just love this post. You said it all, and so beautifully!

  3. I have just loved following your journey to motherhood, Catherine. It's been such a joy to see you at home with Hannah. What a beautiful post. Motherhood CERTAINLY agrees with you!

  4. I love this post as well - I'm sure I'm not the only one admiring you, knowing how hard it is just to be a "mommy" for the first time! Hannah is a beautiful baby & you two are going to have a wonderful relationship.

  5. Wow, this post made me cry! Your love for Hanmah is so beautiful! You and Hannah are so deserving of each other. I love that last part, such a great attitude to have with kids. They're not going to remember the mess in the kitchen and how often you dust, but they will remember how much time they spent with you!

  6. Catherine,
    I've never commented before, but your post brought tears to my eyes. What wonderful words. As a new mom, myself, I understand every emotion. Hugs to you and your beautiful baby girl.


  7. This was such a beautiful, touching post. I truly enjoyed reading it, and seeing your adorable photos of precious Hannah!

    You are a lucky mommy, and Hannah is a lucky little girl to be surrounded by so much love.

    Happy holidays - I know this year brought you the best gift ever!

  8. Isn't amazing how we are matched with the perfect little one for us??? God is soooooooooooooo GOOD!! blessings and happiness to you and your sweet one .

  9. I have followed your blog for a long time now and this post is the one that made me comment. I, too, am a single mom with a daughter from China. I was lucky enough to have my parents and sister go with me when I adopted Lia. I had those same feelings of 'how will I do this when we get home' when we were in China but pushed them aside. The scariest moment for me was after my friends had dropped me off at my house and they closed the door. It was just the 2 of us and I had a mini panic attack. you, our normal is different now and I wouldn't change a thing!!

  10. What a precious post! Your little Hannah is so blessed to have you for a Mommy. I don't 'really' know you in person, but the love between you and your darling baby girl are so obvious. I am so happy for you.

    Always remember, that you are never alone. You have been given the gift of a loving family and many close friends. And with your faith in God, you will never be without support.

    God bless you.

  11. Thank you for sharing this reality. I love that you are enjoying motherhood so much.

    You are so blessed to have so much time off work. How is that possible? Is it a Canadian thing or did you plan it that way? Also, what is it that you do, besides teach piano?

    Because I'm self-employed, I won't get much time at all off, but at least I work at home and I hope to be in a position to have two assistants for the months following homecoming so I can focus on my daughter.

  12. It is truly amazing to become a mom and I understand exactly how you feel. Despite all the rough roads and the tough timjes figuring out the new normal, it is all so worth it and I wouldn't trade my life now for anything. You are so very perfect for each other and your love for each other will continue to grow every day.

  13. What a beautiful post. I knew you would be a perfect mom! I had no doubt at all. And you have been blessed with such a beautiful angel.

  14. Reading your post really touched me, it is plain to see that you are an amazing "Mommy" that truly loves her baby and every minute you are with her.I also loved to hear you give God the credit for it all. God truly placed Hannah in your arms and heart, what a reward. Sometimes when things get a little stressed or you are worried about something, just know that you are not alone, He is always with you and will see you through it all. I am so happy for the both of you, keep these amazing heart felt posts coming so we can enjoy your journey with you and Hannah. What a blessing you are to each other. Only God.

  15. I think you are an amazing and very brave mom. To set forth to adopt your daughter took a lot of courage and Faith. You did it and now are reaping the rewards. Your love for your daughter is so awesome. God bless you and have a wonderful and joyful Christmas with your daughter and friends and family.

  16. As you know, you're on the side of God's plan that feels FABULOUS - no more waiting - and discovering this amazing child - who by all accounts fits in with your loved ones so well.

    So happy for you!

  17. Catherine,
    You have the right minding. Cleaning our houses..lets just say comes later much later when we arrive from China! Spending quality time with our daughters is priority and yes since we are able to spend almost one whole year with our babies as a paid adoption (maternity) leave..yeah it's a Canadian thing, might as well have a great time!

    Hannah is blessed with a wonderful mother and you are blessed with the most precious gem. Enjoy this beautiful time of year, cherish family and friends and take in the joy. You deserve it!


  18. Thank you for writing this post! I'm so looking forward to the day I'll have my daughter home ...but there's also another side of me that wonders how things will change and if I'll be able to handle it. I think all new mothers have these insecurities but especially us singles. Because
    like you said everything is on us alone.

    So thanks for the reassurance that it will all be fine in the end. I really needed to hear that. :)

  19. Oh how I can relate! It's been 4 1/2 years since we've been home and I still feel that flip flop whenever I think about the trip to China (when it finally set in that I was going to be a mom) and the trip home (when it finally sunk in that I was doing it alone)!
    Each step of the way I've had wonderful support from family and friends, but the best thing in the world is being a mom and having that little one there in the morning and the alone time just to snuggle! Congratulations and enjoy your first Christmas together!!

  20. You are such a wonderful Mom! I know I would need alot of support and help if I was a single parent. Don't hesitate to ask for help so that you can be the best Mommy all the time.
    Soon you will be like us and strap her in for any new adventure!
    Merry Christmas!

    Alyzabeth's Mommy


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