About three years ago, I had a baby on my own. Becoming a single mom by choice was the best decision of my life.
However, it changed everything. I had no time, money, or energy for anything besides, well, working and mothering my daughter, Hazel. Somehow, I didn’t mind.
All I ever wanted from life was to be a writer and a mom-and here I was, in the amazing, atrocious thick of it all.
I did miss sweating at indoor cycling classes, a luxury I couldn’t afford anymore (timewise or financially). I was still moving my body-hauling a stroller up and down the subway, carrying a baby plus a giant box of diapers up three flights of stairs.
But I wasn’t getting the kind of workouts that felt kickass and cathartic, the ones that made me a centered, better person. The ones that might have helped me fight down the dark thoughts that occasionally crept up. Will my “cool, empowered” choice cause Hazel inevitable pain? How will we hide from Father’s Day? What did I do to deserve a life without a life partner? Will we really be okay?
Still, I never complained, never let tears slip out. I didn’t want anyone to worry or feel bad for me. I strove to keep it together, and I did. Until recently.
“Without any warning, the tears came.”
My daughter is almost 3 years old and is in school most of the day. So I started exercising again. The first time I returned to SoulCycle, it was with a few new mom friends. I was worried about keeping up. But really good hip-hop made me feel unstoppable, and before I knew it, the class was almost over. I exchanged victorious glances with my friends. They knew reuniting with the bike was a big deal for me, and I felt goose bumps.
And then, without any warning, the tears came. Maybe it was a hormonal or chemical release. Maybe it was the dark, candlelit room. But while huffing and puffing, I felt my guard slipping. At first I tried to wipe away my tears discreetly, embarrassed by my vulnerability. But those tears felt so good flowing out of me that I allowed myself to get raw and real.
I cried because I felt overwhelmingly happy about taking time for myself. I cried because I felt lucky that I was strong and healthy enough to endure such an intense workout. I cried for the power of female friendship, and I cried for the blessing that is my baby, Hazy.
I still turn into a big, stupid sap almost every time I work out. And you know what? I celebrate it.
Single mom is a badge of honor that I wear well, but everybody needs a little support sometimes- a spirited community to cheer you on, a secret world away from reality. My sobfests in sports bras remind me that I don’t have to be so tough. Even fierce women weep.
I am proud to be one of them.
This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Women’s Health. For more great stories, pick up a copy on newsstands now.