Single Mom Stories: Pledging allegiance

This month we celebrate the many experiences, lessons, missteps and triumphs of single mothers for Single Mom Stories September. Join us by reading, sharing, commenting and -- if you have your own story to tell -- contributing here as we strengthen the circle of support of mamas. 

Contributed by Colleen Hayes. Article originally published on her blog, The Queen Colleen.

A few years ago, when it became clear that I was, in fact, getting a divorce, there was only one thing I knew for certain.

I was going to be happy.

I was not going to let my divorce turn me into one of those crabby, wet blanket-type people who are just a drag to be around. In fact, I saw no reason to even classify myself as a divorced person at all. The word “divorce” still has very negative connotations. It’s something people whisper and gossip about. “Did you hear? She’s getting a divorce …”

I did everything I could to separate myself from not just my ex-husband, but that life I had been leading for years and years that just sucked the joy and happiness out of me.

I was a single girl, dammit! My new life was cause for celebration! I was free! I could do whatever the hell I wanted! (You know, so long as the “whatever the hell” could accommodate my two sons and the fact that I have a 9-5 desk job.)

So for the past few years, I only identified myself as “single”. On forms, quizzes, anywhere — I was simply “not married”.

But I did write about my experiences, as I always do. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote some more.

And while I was happily living my new single girl life, I started to get comments and emails. People were telling me they were proud of me…telling me I was an inspiration…telling me that while they were sorry to hear of my troubles that they knew that I would get through this…and not just survive it but make my life into something amazingly wonderful.

Not long after that, I started to get messages from people telling me that they, too, were also going through a divorce. They told me that doing so was the scariest thing they’d ever done, and that they were sad and lonely and heartbroken, but finding my written words and knowing that someone else has been where they are now was a great comfort to them. Friends I knew only casually through social media wrote words to me that brought tears to my eyes. They thanked me for making my life known because they could relate.

Do you have any idea how powerful that is? To have someone thank you just for making your life known?

It makes me tear up now just thinking about it. I have to go back and re-read those emails and messages I’ve saved to prove to myself that, yes, people really said those things to me.

So when I was asked to write a short bio to be included in the Listen to Your Mother program, here’s what I wrote:

Colleen Hayes is a writer from Milwaukee who just happens to still have a desk job. She lives in the ‘burbs and commutes to a very techy office job downtown every day. Divorced and thirty-something, she has two school-aged boys who keep her running and laughing constantly. She loves music, obscure pop culture references and used books. And movies that typically make 12-year-old boys laugh. And coffee. A self-described slacker Mom and un-graceful chick, you can laugh along with the stories of her life on her blog,, and follow her on Twitter @mommy_wins.

See it? There in the third sentence? Even now, several years later…knowing what I know and how good my life is…knowing that there is nothing in my life to be ashamed of…calling myself divorced was still hard for me to do, but I did it on purpose.

For the good that it does ME as well as other people, being “divorced” is a badge I now choose wear proudly.