Ten Important Lessons I Learned Being Raised By a Single Mom

My parents divorced when my brother and I were very young, and after my dad left we never had a close relationship with him. We had the obligatory dinner together once a week, but he eventually moved out of state and we didn’t really keep in touch. But don’t feel bad for me – my mom is amazing and more than filled both pairs of shoes! I never felt that I missed out on anything not having a dad around and my mom taught my brother and I a lot of important life lessons being a single mom. These are just a few of the things she passed on to us.

  1. Always Be Brave! We lived in a two bedroom flat when I was young and my brother and I shared a bedroom. One night he woke up screaming that someone was holding his head down. My mom ran into the bedroom not knowing what she would encounter. My brother had fallen asleep with silly putty, and it was stuck in his hair, adhering his head to his pillow. I can’t imagine the number of times she had to face something alone and be brave about it, but we always felt safe and secure with her.
  2. Give Selflessly. As we entered middle school my mom wanted to give me my own bedroom, so she slept on the couch each night and I took over her bedroom. Each morning she’d have to make up her “bed” in our living room and get ready for work in our small bathroom. She never complained and at the time I didn’t realize (or probably appreciate) what a sacrifice this was.
  3. Be a Hard Worker. I don’t remember my mom ever taking a sick day from work. She got up each day and took a train downtown for work, then each night helped us with homework, got us to our activities, etc. She was an excellent role model for hard work and my brother and I both have strong work ethics as a result of what we watched her do each day.
  4. Ask for Help When You Need It. My mom probably should have asked for help more, come to think of it. Fortunately we had family near by that helped her (my grandma watched us after school) and spent time with us on the weekends. I’m not sure how much she asked and how much was just offered, but I know we were lucky to have loving family nearby.
  5. Include Positive Role Models in Your Children’s Lives. My mom got my brother involved in sports and Boy Scouts at an early age so that he wold have strong male role models in his life.
  6. Don’t Burden Your Children with Adult Problems. My mom never once complained to us about my dad, and I know he didn’t make it easy on her. I also never realized how little we had growing up. My mom always found a way to keep us involved in the activities we wanted, helped us keep up with the clothes our friends were wearing (not an easy task I’m sure) and made sure our holidays were amazing.
  7. Always Appreciate Family. I often find myself telling my children what my mom and grandma always told us: be nice and treat each other well – he’s the only brother/she’s the only sister you have. At the end of the day, family is what matters. Friends will come and go, boyfriends/girlfriends will come and go. Be each other’s best friend. My brother and I were always close, and I want my own kids to have this closeness.
  8. Always Help Others. My mom had little free time and zero extra money when I was growing up, yet we always found ways to give to others less fortunate. We gave money at church each Sunday, we volunteered our time cleaning parks, or painting houses through an organization called Chicago Cares.
  9. Love Unconditionally, No Matter How Tired You Are! My mom worked full-time yet every night she came home we ate dinner together and then she had to help us with our homework. There was nobody to tag team with her. I remember late nights working on papers together. She also knows how to sew, so if she wasn’t helping with schoolwork or at one of our events, chances are she was mending or making something. No relaxing with wine and Netflix for her.
  10. Live Life to the Fullest. My mom is a breast cancer survivor, which has probably influenced her positive outlook on life and the fact that she gives 150% to her family. But even before this, she was always a happy person, who embraced all family time together. She has always put family first and now with seven grandchildren, they are her #1 priority.

My family is truly blessed to have this wonderful woman in our lives! Happy Mother’s Day to all the female caregivers teaching the next generation important lessons to live by.


Jennifer Strilko

Jennifer is the Director of Operations at DI/LDM, keeping the train moving for several operational teams and helping them meet their goals. Jennifer believes that everything happens for a reason and that we don’t meet anyone by accident. She’s looking forward to meeting new people and widening her tribe through this blog project. In her spare time Jennifer enjoys DIY projects (upcycling curbside finds is her favorite past time). Her Mom Hustle includes being a dance and baseball mom, maneuvering teen drama, and preparing her kids for college. She lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband, three teenagers and two dogs.