When you’re parenting alone, it’s so easy to get up in the morning and go through your day as though it’s routine. You’ve done the same things a million times, so it seems like it is. You get up, take a shower, eat breakfast, put your makeup on, do your hair, brush your teeth, and leave for work. Somewhere in between all of that, you make sure your kids are up, eating, getting dressed, and leaving when they should be. You could do this in your sleep. And some days you feel like you are.

When you get to work, have you ever thought, I’m just lucky to be here? If you’re like most single moms, that probably pops in your head once a week, if not more. You spend your day working on this and that, then you leave, get your kids, do something for dinner, and go through your nighttime routine. Wake up the next morning to do it all over again. You are going through the routine, sleepwalking through life. And you wonder where the last five years have gone?

Even when the weekend comes you are there but you aren’t really there. You are physically there, but you aren’t really all there. When was the last time you remember being ALL there? When you were still married or before you had kids?

Showing up means not just physically being present, but showing up emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. It means allowing yourself to be vulnerable so you can form a connection.

Vulnerability is one of the hardest things to do, especially as single moms, when we’ve been hurt so much. To let yourself stand in front of a crowd, even if it’s a crowd of one, and let yourself really be seen, flaws in all. To say, “I’m struggling,” “I’m wasn’t happy in my marriage,” “I thought my life would be different,” “How do I let go emotionally,” “I feel like no one gets it” is tough, but it’s also the best way to connect with someone else.

I know how hard it is, because before being a single mom I used to have tall, strong walls that I had put up over time around my heart so no one would hurt me. Then I found out, even that doesn’t always work. Pain and hurt will always ache, but the more walls I had up, the less connected I was to other people. The more I unknowingly held them at a distance.

I always thought when someone else was vulnerable it was courageous. It showed such strength, but in me, it demonstrated weakness. So I held my walls high and very proud.

When I was about to become a single mom and seven months pregnant, I came out about my pregnancy through a blog. My walls slowly crumbled around me. The more I shared with other women, the more I realized everyone knows a single mom. No one was judging me. No one was stereotyping me. That came from within me. I razed those walls and realized that when I allowed myself to be vulnerable…no walls, no bricks, no shield; and stood with open arms saying, “This is me,” then and only then is when I started connecting with other people.

They saw me for who I was. That in turn allowed me to see who they really are. It’s this amazing and magical moment that happens when you put yourself out there. It’s as though you are standing on the edge of a cliff – terrified that you will die, get made fun of, or people will laugh at you – when you jump off. Then you decide to just go for it. You take a running leap off the ledge and what happens you never expect. Instead of people laughing, making fun of you, or you dying, you don’t even land in the water. Your wings take flight, and you fly higher than you ever dreamed possible.

But this can only happen when you allow yourself to show up and truly be seen. Be present in every capacity. Listen to an acquaintance and discover what is she really saying? Meet someone new. Tell a different story. Show up and make sure you are showing up as you. Not with the mask you wear, but you…who you really are. The woman who has a crazy family. The lady parenting alone who isn’t doing it all well. The lady who doesn’t have it all figured out. The woman who needs help and support.

Show others who you really are and in return they will show you. Then the greatest gift will happen. You will connect, and then nothing will be the same.