Why it is totally OK to be a single mom
I am proud of my status and, though the comments sometimes bother me, I defend it with honesty and truth.
Photo credit: Jessica Peterson/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
I think that sometimes we think it is not OK to be who we are. As a little girl, I grew up thinking one day I would meet my prince, get married in a magical ceremony that would make all of my dreams come true, have the perfect babies and the family photos to prove how happy we were. The reality of marriage and kids was nowhere near what I imagined. We were smiling in photos, but not behind closed doors.
Now, as a divorced, single mom, I have to deal with the stigmas that are still there despite the changing society. They are slight sometimes, but they are there. That "you are not living and raising your kids the way we think you should so it is wrong" attitude.
Single moms have full plates. But I often think that my plate was a lot fuller in a bad marriage. So when people ask what happened and why I could not make it work, I have to explain over and over again that this life is better for me and my kids despite the fact that their dad is no longer married to their mom.
I have noticed a pattern of comments that I get and thought I would address them here. These are actual things that have been said to me over the last few years.
"Couldn't you stay married for the children's sake?"
I got divorced for the children's sake, actually. So many still think that a "family" consists of mom and dad in the same house. Who cares that they are at each other's throats? That there is no love shown between each other that will benefit the kids? That the fighting is actually worse for the kids? Being a two-parent household is always better.
I could not disagree with this more. My children have blossomed in the divorce. Granted, they have also aged since the separation, but they seem happier and are very well adjusted. Bad behaviors like screaming when they do not get their way and other frustrating behaviors have subsided a great deal with the dual households that are both calmer.
Both parents are happier now and the reflection on the kids is evident.
"How can you possibly have enough time for your kids and everything else you have to do now? You need a partner for the division of duties so they get the attention they need."
I can see the reasoning behind this one but, honestly, it irritates me to no end. It came from a woman my age, too. Not someone who is from another generation. Truth is, yes, it is very hard to balance everything and the attention to children all at once. But my divorce has actually made me a better mother. Sure, I miss taking out the trash sometimes because it was not my "job." But I don't miss having to deal with the drama of the relationship as opposed to playing on the floor with the kids.
Yes, I have to tell the kids to "hold on" a little more than I used to. But when we have that time together, uninterrupted, it is truly our time. I don't worry that he thinks I should be doing something else or that I am spending too much time with the kids and not with him. I can just be a busy mom with a lot to balance like everyone else.
In addition, I think kids get too much attention sometimes. I want my girls to be independent, thoughtful of others' time and needs and to be able to resolve issues on their own. If I constantly stop to help them, I will be teaching them that they always have to rely on someone else to help. They are perfectly capable of handling a lot of things themselves. Being a single mom just makes it easier to help them with their own independence.
"How are you going to teach your kids about successful relationships when you gave up on yours?"
Yes. I got this one. And more than once. Surprisingly enough, when a divorce happens, a lot of society still looks at the woman as the reason it ended. She did not pay enough attention to her husband, nagged him too much, caused him to stray. The reality is that some men and women just have no business being married, much less having children. Mine was like that. Though I would not trade my children for anything in the world, hindsight shows the relationship was doomed from the beginning.
I can teach my kids about relationships and how to work on them to make them the best for all parties involved by using my relationship with them as an example. Just because things did not work out with their dad does not mean that I do not have the skills to teach compromise, trust, love and working through the hard times. It just means I did not have a great relationship with that one person. It does not doom me, and my children, to relationship challenges through our entire lives.
I love being a single mother. I have rediscovered myself, rediscovered my goals as a mother and a woman and found my energy and my happiness in life again.
It is totally OK to be a single mother. The questions and ideals of "typical" notions have no bearing on our ability to raise awesome kids and give them all they need.
I am proud of my status and, though the comments sometimes bother me, I defend it with honesty and truth. And go on with my day and what matters most, raising my kids the best way I know how.