Since the beginning of time, there has been no image more revered than that of a mother with her child.  Just take a good look around all the famous museums in Europe and churches throughout the world.  The image of the Madonna with her newborn evokes amazing feelings of warmth and unconditional love in most of us.  Men actually bow down in the presence of such beauty.  Why? Because our ability to give birth is a powerful one, and it is one of the few gifts that man will never truly be able to understand or experience.

Sadly, at the same time that we are given such power, we also become the most vulnerable in our lives.  These vulnerabilities are exploited blatantly at times, especially in the workforce, and then more subtlety often times, at home.  We make so many sacrifices for our children and the desire to provide them with a beautiful home, good schools, stimulating activities and a fighting chance at a promising future.  In the pursuit of their best interest, we may even try to suppress our own needs or desires, and this is where we really have to be careful because if we sacrifice too much of ourselves, we expose ourselves to true danger– sometimes internal, but more often than not external.

There are predators lurking everywhere, and while some are easy to spot, others are not.  Beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing is a mantra all women need to embrace, especially in this day and age.    Always keep your guard up and question people’s motives– not that I want to promote paranoia, but I say this because of everything I have seen and experienced both personally and through the lives of so many others that have needed my help as a divorce attorney over the last 15 years.

Those who know me think of me as the eternal optimist, and indeed I do my best to focus on all the positive things in life.  But let’s be real– I hear heart-breaking stories every day.  It is my job to run damage control on a daily basis when love stories go awry.  While I do my best to surround myself with positive energy, I cannot ignore the fact that there are negative forces out there as well.  We all know that opposites attract– but only over time will you be able to assess whether this dichotomy provides you with good balance.  If those scales grossly tip to one side, and is obvious that the good does not outweigh the bad, you need to be prepared to bail, and to do it fast.

Positive people are super attractive, and now especially if you are a MILF (not that I’m okay with that term, but I accept it’s becoming part of our normal vernacular) the key thing to remember is that you are above all a MOTHER.  You have a young one that needs you to survive, and it is therefore your primary job to protect your own cub, but you can’t do that if you don’t protect yourself.   Therefore, always maintain your own credit, have your own bank accounts, make sure you know your legal rights, and have an emotional safety net.  Don’t ever let yourself become so dependant on someone that you can’t fend for yourself.

Being brutally honest, the last eight years as a single mom have definitely been full of difficult challenges, but I’ve also had a lot of fun.  Navigating the dating world in my post-divorce years has given me great insight into the male mind.  Yet while soaking up some of the best compliments in the world, I’ve continued to build my fortress of steel to fend off serious dangers- why?  Because it is not just about me anymore, and that is the point I want my fellow single moms to embrace.  I’m not suggesting you swear off all men– just proceed with caution.

In the end, of all the compliments I’ve ever been given the best one of all came from my son the other day.  He reminded me that it is the female lion that hunts and provides food for her family, and then he said, “Mom, you are a great hunter.”   Well, I am trying…  Here’s hoping all other single moms out there find that female lion that lives within all of us!

By Regina A. DeMeo