Single mother Rachel Oldham's concerns are typical of any parent — there's never enough time, never enough money. “I'm doing this totally solo,” she says. “I always have this worry; am I doing everything right?”
Atypical circumstances add an extra layer of worry to Oldham's journey as a mother. Two and a half years ago, her husband of 23 years died of Lymphoma, leaving her to raise the couple's only daughter, Claire, alone.
Claire is now a thriving 14-year-old who aspires to become part of the movie industry, either in front of the camera or behind it. Oldham says Claire is an exceptional teenager with the type of inherent talent that had her beating out adults in screenplay-writing contests at the age of nine.
Still, like many parents, Oldham worries that her best as a mother is not good enough.
“I don't remember questioning myself as much when my husband was still around,” she says. “I guess I still did, but I had somebody else to share the blame and the victories."
Second-guessing is second nature for most parents, which is why Minute Maid's #doingood campaign puts special focus on their hard work. In the series of inspirational films launched earlier this year, parents like Oldham are asked a simple but pointed question: “How do you think you're doing?”
For Oldham, the answer is complex.
“When you do it on your own, you have this person you're responsible for, and you want to do the best,” she says. But without the tempering effect of her reserved husband, the self-described “go-for-it" mom worries her parenting style can be too one-note.
Still, in the few months between her husband's diagnosis and death, Oldham says she learned a few lessons that help smooth over parenting's rough edges.
Even though the doctors said it was unlikely her husband would succumb to his stage-one cancer, he still had a hunch he wouldn't make it. Though tragic, the finite time gave the couple the opportunity to fully appreciate each other, something Oldham says has profoundly influenced her.
“It's a whole new perspective on life,” she says. Not only does she "refuse to sweat the small stuff," she always remembers to let her loved ones know how much they mean to her.
“You think it, but you don't always say it,” she says. “I've always tried with Claire, but I try even more so now. I try to catch her doing good. I try to be appreciative of what she does, not worry about the little things, and just let her be her.”
Filming the Minute Maid video wasn't as emotional as Oldham expected, though the camera crew did catch a few tearful moments, like when she received an unexpected letter from her daughter.
“I often forget to tell you how much you mean to me,” Claire had written. “You gave up everything for me so I could follow my dreams.”
Indeed, the Oldhams moved to Los Angeles so Claire could pursue her film career. And though they now share a room in a one-bedroom house, the close quarters haven't affected their relationship.
“I love the fact that she tells people I'm her best friend,” Oldham explains. “In these types of circumstances, I know some people grow apart, but we've been the opposite. “
Learning to navigate parenting alone still leaves Oldham questioning herself occasionally. But she still has some advice for others in the same position.
“Don't set your expectations too high,” she says. “And always give them the tools to allow them to be themselves.”
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