Man oh man, mom guilt can consume a gal. The sheer volume of decisions moms have to make in a given day is overwhelming. I probably ask myself “Did I make the right decision?” a hundred times a day. Every day. And I only have one kid!
As a single mom, there’s an added layer of guilt. Not only from being a single mother at all, but also because there is no one to share that guilt with. When you can share parenting guilt, that burden lessens. Even the perception of having that partnership can make a difference. But when there’s no one there, the guilt can knock you over if you let it.
There’s no one standing next to you to say, “It’s fine! You’re doing great! Our kid is amazing!” All that’s there is the critical voice in your own head telling you you’re probably screwing it up.
Your married or coupled friends may not know how to help or support you. If you’re anything like me, you are awful at accepting help let alone asking for it in the first place. You very well may look like you have it together enough that everyone is too busy talking about how great you’re doing to notice you could use some support.
Then there’s the multitude of messages telling single moms that, yes, they are in fact screwing up. Telling single moms that their families are “broken” or somehow incomplete. That they need something more or their kids are going to suffer, be left behind, or somehow be less than their counterparts that have two-parent households.
I call bullshit.
I say: we are enough.
I say: our kids are awesome and thriving.
I can’t tell you not to feel the guilt. You will. But you can control how much it affects you. You get to decide what role guilt plays in your life and in your mothering. When you feel it sneaking up, you can kindly remind it that it’s not welcome in this Supermom mind. If it doesn’t listen right away, give it the old, “I said good day, sir!” Single mommas ain’t got time for that.
We are busy loving on our kids.
We are busy teaching them love and kindness.
We are busy helping them understand rules and boundaries.
We are busy showing them what strength and independence looks like.
Get outta here, guilt. We don’t need you.
What we could use is some support. Just some thoughtful encouraging words can go a long way. Do you know a single mom? Is she doing a great job?
Please tell her. Now. Text her. Tell her not only that she’s enough, but that she is amazing. Tell her you are so impressed with all that she does. Tell her you know she has a lot of rough days, but that her kids are loved fiercely and that that’s all that really matters at the end of the day.
You might think that she is so strong and independent that she knows these things. And in her heart of hearts, she might. But trust me when I tell you it’s very likely that she doesn’t hear them on a regular basis.
She hears her own critical voice at the end of a hard night listing out all the ways she failed. She sees her limitations and wishes she had more or could do more for her babies. She hears the clattering of messages saying she can’t be enough for her kids.
Be the voice that tells her something different. You may not be able to shoulder some of the guilt for her, but some encouraging words may be all she needs to help shatter it for today.