You Know You Are a Mother When..., Aisling Dunn (2022)

Aisling wrote a poem about the moments that are symbolic to them about being a parent. Included with the poem is a black and white photograph of Aisling hands with their sons’ hands on top.  

Aisling wrote a long-form bio about coming into being a single-mom in November of 2020, and offering some personal guidance for transitioning into caring for children on your own.

My name is Aisling Dunn (she/her). Maloney is my Maiden name ( I will be changing it back after the mountain of paperwork is filled out in the appropriate channels and at the appropriate federal and judicial departments). I was born Sept 1986 and I married an Englishman in March 2012. We met first in 2006 in London during my study abroad program. We were married for ten years and in year five we had our first baby boy in February 2017. We had baby boy number two in July 2020 after our marriage was solidly on the rocks and the waves of divorce were crashing upon us. We had made it through moving to and living in several countries and states, buying our first house, and being dog parents but our marriage just did not survive the kids. There was a lot more, of course, than the arrival of babies that sent our marriage to the blender. There were money insecurities, the pandemic, family deaths, stress of job security, lack of sleep, lack of space, lack of free time, and of course lack of love for one another. We stopped working together and started to work apart for at least three years before the papers were finally signed. I have a theory that humans change drastically from who they were every ten years, and in relationships, of any kind really. If you don’t change together or at least fully accept and still have love for one another after said changes, you grow apart. In our case, it was apart. I have been a single mother officially since November 2020. He left Portland and our family home to move back to England, leaving us to fend for ourselves alone and without any financial help. His abrupt departure left darkness upon our house and a trail of bitter resentment in his wake. The boys and I stuck together and pulled through. I tried to keep their same routines intact; till seeing family and friends, keeping them in school. Meanwhile, I would cry on my way back home in the car after dropping them off. It was a safe place to unload all my anguish where they couldn’t see Moma being sad. As other single parents might relate, you have to be strong in front of your kids and you find these secret moments to actually feel and go through all the massive emotions that go with breaking up with your significant other. Those moments were found in the dark after bedtimes, in the car when they were in the care of loved ones or teachers, and in the early morning after a night of tossing and turning - a head full of worry and stress about how you are going to survive this and doubting yourself if you are strong enough to actually pull through this sudden nightmare unscathed. Writing this now in April 2022 I don’t know how I mentally pulled myself out of the abyss which I felt was widening and swallowing me deeper into it day by day. I am still not completely out of it, but as I write this and you read it, I do see a light above me and I feel a cool breeze upon my face that is fresh with the promise of tomorrow. Being strong for my two set boys was the hardest thing to do but was also my saving grace as it forced me to plan and look to the future. I am getting back into what I love, which is photography and graphic design/ illustration. I am getting back to being Me before the marriage even began. This new Me has many scars which I now wear proudly. I have been down to the depths of my own purgatory and I have learned to rely on myself. I believe in myself as a person and as a Mother now more than ever. I hope that anyone reading this going through the same things can take away that you CAN do it, and the pain and helplessness and anxieties that you first feel after first being in the midst of a family torn apart will subside after time. Humans Are Adaptable, take things slow and make decisions with intention and you will get out alive. I promise.