There's a famous quote about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers that goes, "Sure he was great, but don't forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, backwards and in high heels." I think about that quote when I think about my life as a single mom: too much work, too little sleep, running in every direction, and once the kids were asleep, sinking onto the couch and giving myself a pep talk for the next day. There are so many things that people need to start saying about single moms; things that'll give them credit for doing everything that parents with partners do, but by themselves and while facing a ton of criticism.
Being a single parent is hard AF. It's literally one of the hardest things I have ever done and, to make things worse, I rarely got any credit or praise for doing it. Most of the time, I heard the exact opposite; comments about my parenting style, questions about what was "wrong with me," and even insults about how I was ruining my kids' lives by raising them alone.
Those comments hurt. A lot.
Single moms don't get nearly enough credit and feel way too much shame, while simultaneously doing the best they can in a situation that sometimes feels impossible. I had to learn to be smart, resourceful, creative, and flexible. Sometimes I failed epically – sitting on the side of the road in a rainstorm with two small kids waiting for a tow truck that never showed or not making it to school in time for pick up after an hour-long commute. Other times, I managed to meet everyone's needs and achieve a momentary balance of kids, school, work, and self. Those moments were rare and often fleeting, as I moved on to the next crisis or hurdle.
I want all of the single moms out there to know that they are enough. While their kids may never know or say "thank you" for how hard they worked to put dinner on the table or holiday gifts under the tree, I see you. I've been there. I get it. And I hope that everyone starts seeing single moms as the badasses they are and starts telling them that they are hard-working, tough, amazing moms who deserve to hear it every day.
"They're Doing The Best They Can"
They may have to work two jobs and send their kids to day care. They may be too tired to play soccer in the back yard or get a workout in. They may pick up fast food for dinner or let everyone eat cereal in front of the TV. They are doing the best they can.
"They're Great Moms"
They learn so much about their kids and themselves, as well as how to be independent and what everyone needs to get through the day. They learn about priorities and things it's OK to let go. That makes them great moms, even when they don't feel like it.
Single moms are badass. They have to be the parent; the sole provider, diaper changer, vomit cleaner-upper, bandaid applier, temperature taker, and official child snuggler. There's nothing more badass than self-sufficiency, especially when it involves bodily fluids.
"They Work Hard"
I remember the first time I heard someone say that single moms were lazy. I may have swore at them. Seriously? There's nothing lazy about working, parenting every second of every day, and managing a home, a family, finances, and your own damn life alone. My independence and loneliness were like Ginger's high heels; they made things harder, but I wore them with grace and made it through the hardest moments by myself. The opposite of lazy.
I gave up so much of myself to be a mom, and I pretty much gave up the rest when I became a single mom. I forgot who I was for a while. My role became provider and mother, and I rarely had time, money, or energy for anything else.
"They Deserve A Break"
Before you complain that your single mom friends never have time for you or are always working, stop. Offer to babysit or, even better, find activities where they can bring their kids that won't cause them a ton of stress. They deserve a break and your help, and they probably don't have rich parents and a whole town pulling for them, like the characters on Gilmore Girls.
"They're Definitely Dateable"
If you Google single mom, you will probably see all kinds of reasons not to date one. I met so many people for whom my kids were a "deal breaker." Give them a chance. You might find that single moms have all sorts of qualities that make them not only dateable, but sexy, fun, and ideal partners.
Single moms are creative. They have to be, or at least learn to be resourceful, creative, and flexible when things go wrong. Sometimes this means dinner picnics, everyone sleeping in mom's bed during a thunderstorm, or a dance party in the living room when everyone is feeling sad.
"Their Kids Will Turn Out Fine"
Most research now shows that when all other things are held constant, kids who grow up in single parent families turn out just fine. They may even learn a thing or two about love, self-sufficiency and hard work from their badass single moms.
I remember the first time I realized that I was the sole adult responsible for making sure my kids stayed alive, fed, and happy. I felt so alone and inadequate. The truth was, I was enough. I made it. My kids are happy and healthy, and I was capable of so much more than I thought I was.
Single moms, you are enough; even when you feel alone and afraid, and even when you mess up. You are amazing. After all, you have to to be. Everything is gonna be alright.