What is the one adjective that comes to your mind when you hear, “Single Mother?
Before I even say what is positive or negative, and negative even going to the extreme of hearing Anne Coulter’s opinion on how children raised in single mom homes is destroying America… the consensus seems simple that there are more negative associations with single motherhood than positive. I have heard, “desperate, poor, sad, crazy, neurotic….”
Wait, I have met people like this who were never married, or are currently married. Just go check out your child’s next parent gathering at their school. People can be in these types of negative states for whatever circumstances.
The words I use to describe the single moms I know are strong, brave, hard worker, courageous.
The judgement may start from the lack of awareness of how one becomes a single mother. Some people think that they are smarter or just made better choices. Maybe you are smart and did make better life choices. However, the odds are that life can twist and turn that your secure marriage and perfect life than be turned upside down at any second. There is no guarantee to anything in life, not even your marriage.
At certain points in my life, I was pretty sure that I made the best choice and that I would never end up being the single moms I was sometimes meeting at work or at school, when I was in university. If it didn’t happen to me, it must be because I am better. That’s a bias many people have towards certain struggles, such as sickness, injury, or accidents.
It was not until I became a single mother that I never realized how much prejudice single moms face. Especially at first, the early days were the toughest, as you are facing with friends who were close who had this judgmental side of them that suddenly starts to show up in conversations. And slowly, you are not so close anymore. Nothing much had changed, except that I was partnerless, often sad and distraught, of course, as it is the case with any life transitions and loss. Friends, some married, some single, don’t know how to deal with this huge “failure”.
Some people asked me why would I do such thing, without any knowledge of the problems I was facing. After all, it costs so much money to have 2 separate households.
Mental sanity is worth more than mountains of money.
Some people believed that there was an affair or extramarital infatuation involved. Clearly not, as I did not date for years after I made the break. And same goes for my ex spouse. We both believed that dating soon after the separation would not be the best for the children.
I was the decision maker in the separation, so I was made the “bad guy” and was judged by people around me who had nothing to do with the relationship. I made the break because the relationship was much less suited for me than for him. Naturally, the uncomfortable person calls it time out or quits first. It does not make them the “bad guy.”
I could never do anything right. I love fashion and I loved to dress nice. That made me look like I was out looking for a new one. True story, real words.
I got judged by the place I rented, which was actually horrible. It was more than 30 years old, it was in the ground floor, and had a “friend” tell me that it was too big for a single mom. Because a single mom deserves a broom closet.
I got judged by my “financial choice.” I was destined for poverty for the rest of my life, and the kids will be messed up. After a play date, one mom actually said to me. Wow, your kids are really nice, unlike what you might think with them being from a single parent family…
I like this lady, but I was really speechless. It was the politest slap in the face.
I meet all sorts of families every day. I see married families with countless fights and unhealthy quirks that truly, their kids could use some serious counselling. Married families where kids are left with nannies most of the time. Not that nannies aren’t great, but they are not meant to replace parenting.
I meet families who seem to have it perfect and together, and years after it turns out that one spouse was cheating. Or one spouse has all these things they want to do, and the other spouse doesn’t let them, and that is the source of their frustration and underlying struggle, which caused them to sleep in separate beds and affected children negatively. People struggle with communication whether they are married or single. Marriage allows for the opportunity to learn to conquer your fears and limitations, and just because people stay married, it does not mean that they are growing together. Most cases, quite the opposite is happening.
Then I meet single parents who also struggle with communication. They have the same problem as married or single people, but now, they are more disposed to the “bullying.” Single moms have more limitations, true. I would love to work 24-7 and build my career, except, more than half of my time, sleep or awake, goes to parenting. What people truly lack here is empathy, because they never think that they could possibly end up in this “loser position.” Life is like an ultra marathon, not a sprint. Twists of fate is unpredictable.
I don’t feel ashamed of being a single mom anymore, and I did for many years. I could not tell my family about it, and I realize that this feeling of shame is where it was wrong. There is so much stigma that is outdated from the times we live in. If we can swipe left or swipe right and find someone to date, there is nothing to be ashamed of having given all your heart to someone who betrayed you and you moving on from that. Lesson learned, do not rinse and repeat. The worst are the people who stay in these types of relationships for the sake of comfort and normalcy, while they lead an unsuccessful life full of negativity and lack of growth.
The single moms I know are strong. They take care of themselves. They get up early and do yoga or work out in their living room, make their kids breakfast, lunch, and dinner from scratch, and nurture themselves and their children a way that they perhaps never did in their previous married life. They focus on work, kids, and enjoying life. So what is there to judge? and the possibility of these kids becoming fearful and anxious adults that will only chicken strips and nothing else?
In my observation, no child has more chance of being well adjusted. In fact, the blessing is that as the parent learns, the children learn life lessons early in how to treat people. People and influence is what affects our success rate in all aspects of life. Learn that early, and we are bound to make less grave mistakes, and that is the advantage that these single parent children have.
Whether you are single or married, are you learning, growing, progressing? We need this myth debunked.