As a single mother, I often hear a lot of comments about how hard it must be and how I must be super woman. Honestly, it can be really hard and there are days when I just want to break down and cry. But I don’t, because I am strong and determined and refuse to give up just because something is challenging. One comment I heard recently was “Oh my God, I’m so sorry! How do you do it?” I was a bit speechless when it was said and managed to mutter something like “um thanks, yeah it’s tough.” And I kicked myself for it after, because what I really wanted to say was “How do I do what exactly? Raise my child? Probably the same way you raise yours, just minus the having a significant other part.” That comment made me realize that I really don’t want pity from people, because I truly don’t need it. What I really need is support, love and friendship.
People often make the assumption that single mothers made a string of bad life choices and that they could have prevented the situation. The truth is; I am not a single mother because of my choices. I am a single mother because of someone else’s choices or lack thereof. I have made pretty solid life choices and have an education I’m proud of, a job I love and a family who stands by me through thick and thin. Single mom’s have been breaking the stereotypes for years. In fact, there shouldn’t even be a stereotype anymore because single mom’s come from all walks of life and are represented in every group on this earth.
A family friend of an older generation said to me a few months ago “You poor thing without a man, no one to support you financially.” Again, more unnecessary pity. Everything I have in my life, I earned completely solo. All 100% me. In fact, I’ve never lived with a man. Supporting myself on my own is all I’ve known my whole adult life. Adding a child to the mix means that I had to make some financial adjustments but I didn’t need a man to get through financially in the past and I don’t need one to get through my present and future.
Raising a child alone can be a struggle, but it is also a way to come up with fun, exciting and creative solutions for everyday living. It means there is a lot of juggling, prioritizing and brainstorming, but those are skills that I am proud to have and things I hope my daughter learns from me. I am setting an example for her; showing her that we can do anything we set our mind and heart on, and that we can rise after we fall.
If you know a single mother, don’t give her your pity. I can guarantee she does not want it. Instead, offer her words of encouragement. Tell her she’s doing an awesome job. Let her know that she is setting a great example. Let her express her worries and fears to you. You don’t always need to have an answer or a solution, just an open mind and an open heart. She’ll appreciate that you listened and gave her a chance to get some things off her chest. If you’re really close friends with her, offer to babysit. Give her the freedom to see a movie, get a manicure, go for a walk or just take a nap. Your gift of free time will be one of the best presents she will ever receive from you.
Someone whom I don’t know very well asked me a ton of questions about my situation and said “well honey, you were given lemons but you sure did make lemonade.” No lady, I didn’t make lemonade. I built the stand, bought the cups, promoted the hell out of the business and became the lemonade empire. This single motherhood thing? I’m rocking it!