Being a mom is hard. Being a single mom is the hardest thing I've ever done. Not only did I have to "do it all," but it felt like I heard rude and judgmental comments everywhere I went, often from people who couldn't possibly understand what I was going through. That's why I propose changing how we, as a society, talk to single moms. There are things every single mom needs to hear immediately, and probably every single day, and those things are never rude, judgmental, or shaming: they're supportive.
When I became a single mom I questioned whether or not I would survive the experience. I lacked confidence in myself, especially in my abilities to parent without a partner. I worried that my kids would suffer because I left my husband, and I was perpetually exhausted. The first few weeks on my own were some of my darkest. To make matters worse, there were so many times when I felt like I had to apologize for being a single mom, even though I didn't owe anyone a single, solitary "I'm sorry."
Thankfully, however, there were also moments when people told me exactly what I needed to hear. They told me everything would be OK and that they were there for me. I can't tell you how many times I called my mom on a weekend afternoon, stressed out of my mind, only to hear her say, "You're OK, your kids are OK, and do you want to come over?" I honestly don't think I could have done it without hearing those words on a consistent basis.
It seems like single moms can't win, which is pretty crappy considering how hard they have to work to juggle parenting, home, and work responsibilities. That's why there are more than a few things they deserve to hear, like, immediately.
"You're Doing Great"
It seems like single moms hear all of the ways they are screwing up or all of the ways they are going to screw up their kids, but rarely hear how great they're doing or how wonderful their kids will turn out as a result of their tireless efforts. It's so unfair, especially considering how hard they work every day to make sure their kids are fed, clothed, happy, and healthy. They deserve a break, and deserve to hear that they are doing a good job.
"How Can I Help?"
When I was a single mom, the most supportive people were the ones who asked me what I needed. Whether it was a break, a latte, a meal, or someone to help me write a badass online dating profile, every little bit of extra effort from those around me helped.
When people asked me if they could help, I never felt alone.
"Your Kids Will Be Fine"
I remember having to take a bullsh*t class about co-parenting when I filed for divorce. Literally every section made me question whether or not divorce would screw up my kids. The last part even suggested that it would probably be the best if made things work with my ex-husband. Bullsh*t. In fact, new research shows that kids raised by single moms do as well as kids raised by heterosexual couples. The key is social support. So, perhaps it's time to stop judging single moms and start supporting them, at least for their kids' sake.
"Don't Forget To Take Care Of Yourself"
All moms need time for self-care, and I'd argue that goes double for single moms. That's why it was so frustrating to have someone question whether or not I loved my kids just because I wasn't around them every hour of every day. It's not only OK to go to the gym, get your nails done, go on a date, take a freaking shower, or do whatever you need to feel human, it's crucial to your ability to be a good mom.
"You'll Be OK"
It's hard. Believe me, I've been there. Sometimes it was damn near impossible to tell myself that there was a light at the tunnel that was exhausting days, disappointed kids, hellish bedtimes, and not ever feeling good enough. But, it gets better. It does. You will be OK.
"You Don't Have To Apologize"
Whether you leave your partner or choose to have a baby on your own, our society seems to want you to apologize for simply being a single mom. When people found out I was a single mom, they seemed to think there was something wrong with me, and I was told that getting divorced would hurt my kids. Our society makes so many assumptions about single moms, which are rarely accurate and are often completely unfair. You don't have to apologize for making the best decision for your family.
"You Can't Do It All... And That's OK"
I felt so guilty when I couldn't attend every school event, or when I felt like I couldn't juggle everything alone without failing at something. I wish someone had told me it was OK to be the best mom I could be, and that I should prioritize what I have time for, and be realistic about what I can reasonably accomplish, to avoid burning out.
"Don't Let The Bastards Get You Down"
When people judge you for being a single mom, go ahead and tell them to back off, get a life, or go fly a kite. Or if you can't speak up, try to remember that they can't possibly understand what life is like in your shoes and socks, and you don't deserve their judgment. Being a single mom is badass, especially considering all of the flack you get simply for existing. Try not to let the bastards get you down.
"You Are Enough"
In the end, I realized that finding ways to simply get through the day as a single mom wasn't a sign of failure, it was a sign of resilience. I was enough, but I didn't hear it as often as I needed to. Single moms out there, you are enough. Even when you feel alone and afraid, and even when you mess up, your kids have everything they'll ever need: you.