Amanda O'Reilly

What’s the good in this? A great question to ask when things don’t go as planned.

From the outside, we may look the same as our single friends (with no children), but the insides of our lives, minds and hearts are completely different. I’ve never really spoken openly about being a single mom because it came with a boatload of shame. I felt and still do feel responsible for walking away from my son’s father when my son was a newborn. I got pregnant on birth control at the age of 30, and I had a choice, stay in a dysfunctional relationship where there is no loyalty and respect, or make another choice. I made another choice. I’ve raised my son alone for 15 years, until 2 months ago. My son decided to go live with his dad, won’t return my calls, texts, email all because I parented him. I’m not a helicopter mom by any stretch, but I am involved in his life, his school, his social media life, I do monitor his activities and I did remove his devices on numerous occasions when I felt that he was either being inappropriate, or wasn’t focusing on school. After getting a call from the school that he was 7 assignments behind, I changed the Wifi Password and that cost me my son, or at least for the time being. Part of me died that day, but part of being a responsible parent is knowing that if you’re not their biggest fan at times, you’re doing your job.

My coach said to me “ Amanda, what’s the good in this?” I was like, are you kidding me? What’s the good in this? There IS NO good in this. He asked me again. “Amanda, what’s the good in this? Don’t answer me now, keep asking the question and the answer will come.” I left and I kept asking myself the question. “What’s the good in this?” I’m an overachiever at “planning to live” but not living. I stopped living about 15 years ago so my son could have 100% of my time, attention and devotion. So he could beat the odds, grow up and skip the costly therapy sessions. I wanted to offer him stability. He saw his father every other weekend and on holidays which meant he was under my roof 90% of the time. My son gave me purpose, and I took on the role of parent seriously. Some people have said that I made a mistake raising him that way, never hiring babysitters, always racing home to make him home cooked meals, always sacrificing myself and never making myself a priority. Mostly this advice came from people that didn’t have children or who did, but their priorities were different than mine. I did what I thought all parents do. They sacrifice. They are present and available. This was especially important to me because I took on double the responsibility and often times had to be the mother and the father at the same time. I was forced to live more in my masculine than in my feminine and for a girly girl like me, its was hard on both of us. I’ll tell you this: there’s nothing single about being a single mom.

Single moms don’t have the same free will as other single women. We’re connected in the lives of our children at all times. We’re responsible for their well-being and daily survival. Hidden under the countless layers of responsibility lies our own needs and that’s where most of us get lost. When you don’t have anyone to answer to, come home to, or care for, your life and your time belongs to you. You can be as spontaneous as you want. A woman with children can’t. She has a schedule. Daily life is planned out because children need consistency and boundaries, and she needs to maintain her sanity. There is meal time, bedtime, a routine, a school schedule, a homework schedule, dentist appointments, doctor appointments, housework, laundry, errands and so on. Sometimes people forget the weight that single mother’s carry and sometimes as mothers, we feel forgotten, a lot. We listen and listen, but who is there to listen to us?

My heart feels like it’s been torn out of my chest but I have an answer to “what’s the good in this” It’s given me the freedom and the time to look at life through a more expansive lens and change my patterns and start living for me. Easier said than done, right? Especially when our raw spots are triggered…and our emotions flood in, and our default patterns become our only option. The Good news is I realize we can stop the cycle, by realizing it’s just that. A cycle. It’s protection…and we do a pretty good job at it, after we touch the hot stove a few times.

Being seen, and opening up isn’t a cake walk…or at least it wasn’t for me…and still isn’t. But the good thing is, the more we expose our truth, the more secure we become. The more we share, the more relatable we are. When we heal, others heal right along with us. The more we trust ourselves to honour our truth the more others around us will too. And that’s brave AF.

My practice now is surrendering to what is, and letting go, but I can’t just let go completely as my full time full-time on top of my full-time job has been being a parent, and til the day I die I will dawn the title of mother.

I feel like I’ve been handed an eviction notice on my life and all that I thought it was and would be but I’m here now… on this journey, trying to figure out who I am … what I want? Who I am without all the attachments and all the labels because as we know those things can be taken away from you without notice. I’ve defined myself by my role. Mother, Partner, Entrepreneur … but those things change and can be taken away from us in a heartbeat and I think that’s likely why most women live in fear.

Who am I? The truer me, beyond a mother or a daughter or potentially someday someone’s wife? Who am I that no one can take away from me? That no decision will disqualify me from? That no opinion of me will change? I am human, just like you. I find healing in writing, so I wrote and did the only thing I could think of to stay inside my son’s head and heart, until the day comes that we can sit face to face again. My hopes in sharing this is if you find yourself in a challenging situation with your child, remember we’re warriors and warriors can do hard things.

“We haven’t spoken in 8 weeks. My heart is very sad that you won’t return my calls, reply to my text messages or emails, but none the less I want you to know I love you. I hope you know that me staying on top of you and removing your devices was for your benefit. To help you focus so you can become the man that you are meant to be. As you are growing and changing I want to share a few things with you as it’s very hard as a mother to not be a part of your life and not to be able to rescue you from yourself. I respect you enough to let you test your wings out on your own, but I hope you realize that your father and I are and will always be your biggest fans and no matter what you can always call for help. No situation is ever THAT bad.

You’re going to be put in LOTS of awkward situations in the coming years. Being a teen can feel like one long experience in being put on the spot and feeling like you have something to prove. You’re going to be asked to make big, important decisions under intense pressure and even though your heart and brain are beautiful and big, your human — and humans make bad, people-pleasing, status-quo-keeping decisions under pressure. You’ll find yourself in situations in which your heart is screaming NO but your head and voice have a hard time keeping up. Remember: All things aren’t all good or all bad but in today’s digital age what you think is harmless stays with you forever. Taking one pill could kill you and trusting the wrong person could also put you in a regrettable situation. Guilty by association is the worst kind of association there is.

A good, well mannered, kind friend could ask you to make a BAD, DANGEROUS decision. Sometimes it can seem like the best idea is to keep the peace and keep your friendship, say yes and hope for the best. But wisdom is knowing that peacekeeping and peacemaking are two different things. People pleasing is often a human weakness, and wisdom is making a plan in advance to work with our weaknesses. You need to use that smart brain of yours and honour your body, always.

When someone offers you a beer: Say no, thanks. I’m allergic to alcohol. Totally sucks. (Then go fill up a cup with water and keep it all night to avoid more questions.)Experiment with your dad if you feel the need or the urge or you’re curious.

When someone offers you drugs: 19 kids in Ottawa alone in the last 3 months have died from taking 1 pill. As it was laced and killed them instantly. Some have been saved because they got help and they were able to get a shot to reverse the effects. Doing it alone, or in hiding could cost you your life. You have too much to live for.

When someone starts texting while driving: Say hey, I just saw a movie about a kid who got killed because he was texting and driving. Pull over if you need to text — We’re not in a hurry.

You find yourself in a sexual situation you’d prefer not to be in: Say hey, I like you and respect you too much for this to happen like this. Respect yourself and the people you’re interacting with. You have your whole life to experience and you could become a dad tomorrow if you’re not careful. This is no joke.

Someone is about to Drink and Drive: Say don’t risk it, dude. My dad will get us home- no questions asked. He’d rather pick us up here than at the police station.

When someone asks you to send pictures of yourself or start circulating pictures of others, don’t do it. It’s illegal, it’s considered bullying and child pornography. Seriously, and what is out there, stays out there. Don’t buy into it deletes after 30 seconds. Your future employers will google your name and social media and decide if you are the kind of person they want to hire. Don’t take the risk to fit in.

I don’t know if you’ll ever need to use these life preservers, but I hope should the moment arise, you will have some tools available to make it a little easier. Love always and forever — Mom xx”

I believe when we take full 100% responsibility for our thoughts, actions, and words that we begin to change the way we show up in this world. From this empowered space we no longer limit ourselves to illusory stories buried in the past, instead, we stand connected — in love — making us the most powerful alchemists of all. If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends. If broken by an inside force, life begins. All great things begin on the inside. When we haven’t made friends with uncertainty, we use control to keep our sanity. I’ve tried to control a lot in my life up until now, and learning to let go is my daily practice. This past weekend I packed up my sons clothes and his guitar for him and I had a Jesus take the wheel moment and am surrendering to what is. I’ve always rescued my son from his own consequences and I know that I have to let him face himself, sooner or later he will realize that when you run, you take you with you, problems, patterns, behaviours and all.

Everything can change in a moment; we have little control over the outer weather patterns as we make our way through the landscape of a life. But we can become masters of the inner landscape. We can use what happens on the outside to change the way we function on the inside. The hero conquers a monster; the heroine completes a quest; the reward at the end was there all along — the true self, the awakened consciousness. Joseph Campbell said, “What all myths have to deal with is transformations of consciousness. You have been thinking one way, you now have to think a different way. Consciousness is transformed either by the trials themselves or by illuminating revelations. Trials and revelations are what it’s all about”.

We all have a story, it just depends on who’s telling it. Sharing yours might lessen the suffering of another not yet brave enough to share their own.

Unfold your wings beautiful butterfly, take flight and soar, it’s your time to fly.