Hank was six years old and Helen was three when we moved into a run-down duplex.

I had just enough money for the deposit.

I never planned on being a single mom, but that’s just how life played out.

A friend gave me their old king-sized waterbed. The kids and I would sleep on that bed (without the water)…a fan in the window, the hot summer air filtering through its blades.

It wasn’t long after that, my Mom died.

She had been my rock, my primary go-to through it all. Two days a week she would take the kids to the nature museum. They never tired of seeing the snakes.

“Can we go again? Please Goggy! Let’s see the snakes!”

I didn’t know how to tie a tie. And so Hank went to the funeral without one.

I remember feeling bad about that. Not that he didn’t wear one, but that I didn’t know how to tie it, that I couldn’t show him. I felt like I was letting him down somehow.

I look back now and see how all these little moments bonded us in ways that at the time, were hard to see.

I write this little essay as a tribute to all the single mamas who don’t know how to tie ties, who might be a little afraid.

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”

~Sophia Loren