Late one night, a woman looked out of her apartment window with the unsettling feeling that the rest of her life would be spent alone. But after setups and short-lived relationships, she felt like she had run dry of potential men to date, much less marry. In this moment of despair, it felt like the chance to fulfill her deepest desires had escaped her.This woman was my mom many years ago, although it sounds a lot like me.I’ve inherited much from my mom, such as her eyes and hair, her shy nature and coyly dry humor, and her fascination with art history.But perhaps best of all, I’ve also inherited her stories, lessons, and tried-and-true ways of facing life (even its occasional loneliness) with a heart open to love. In fact, I haven’t even a single “maybe-it’s-love” relationship on my record.When thoughts about being forever alone slink into my mind, my mom’s lessons on singleness keep me grounded. And there’s some truth to the adage that “Mother knows best.”While she would never call herself an expert on love or singleness, marrying for the first time in her mid-thirties gave my mom time to cultivate some serious single-woman wisdom.
In other words, time spent single should never go to waste. With marriage came a permanent travel partner and three of her own children to teach. It’s time to dispel the myths that life begins or ends at marriage.
Here are lessons from my mom that have helped me stay positive through singlehood, and I hope they encourage you, too.“I had a full life before and after marriage, in different ways,” my mom says. She made the most of her time when single, and not much changed after the altar. If we draw lines between the two stages of our lives, we may mistakenly believe that our “best years” are only found in one phase or the other.
While single, she flourished as a kindergarten teacher, furthered her education through a master’s degree, and traveled in the U. As my mom attests, the lines between singlehood and marriage are not that divisive after all.
As four of her five sisters, both older and younger, got married before her, wedding bells were a bittersweet sound for my mom.
“I was always happy when my sisters got married but a little wistful, too,” she says.
But amid the thrill of family weddings, my mom kept a level head, knowing that her life and love story would unfold in their own timing: “Frankly, all but one of [my sisters] married pretty young,” my mom says. I had a chance to teach and travel and experience life a bit.”Rather than wallowing in jealousy, my mom chose to be happy for friends and relatives who had found love.