Support, not criticism, is what’s needed among single moms
If you’ve ever spent a few minutes reading through the comment streams of news stories and blogs, you know that complete strangers can be critical and judgmental with each other. I don’t pay too much attention to this type of banter. However, when women succumb to tearing each other down in what I interpret as comparison-labeling-semantic wars, I am disheartened.
One such topic that seems to rev emotional engines of late is single parenting. In 9 Reasons Divorced Parents 'Count' As Single Parents Too (Brittany Wong, Huffington Post, 8/25/15), Wong exposes the controversy and provides some perspective. Single parenting is not about how single you are or how little time, if any, the children get to spend with the other parent. It is about your personal, individual journey raising your children outside of a marriage or committed relationship.
Rather than wasting energy criticizing each other for not quite “qualifying” as single parents as we establish how much worse we have it, we could be empathizing, supporting, networking and mentoring each other through one of the most difficult situations we will face as women and parents.
In that spirit, here are a few nuggets of wisdom from my own journey, during which I often felt like a mother duck barely keeping my head above water with three ducklings ever at my side.
When you are a single parent, you experience and enjoy lots more family time. I had no choice other than to bring all three of my boys everywhere. I could not afford babysitters or a nanny, so when my middle child had a baseball tournament or the oldest had a soccer game, we all packed snacks, books and games and went to the ball field or gym together. We shopped together, traveled together, ate together and made tons of family memories together, all of which strengthened their bonds as siblings and our bond as a family unit.
You have to be organized to get three boys up and ready for school, pack lunches, drop everyone off in the morning and arrive at work on time. And if you and your children plan to wear clean clothes and eat three meals a day, you have to be organized and efficient. Multitasking becomes routine and normal. The kids pick up on these skills, especially when they are important cogs in the machinery of your well-oiled family unit. Being organized at home spills over to work and school, which I now believe actually helped all of us.
Basking in Free Time
Free time? As a single parent? No, there is not much free time. But in those moments when the universe aligns and you do have a moment to yourself, you enjoy it like at no other time in your life. You listen to the quiet and it sooths you. Every bite of food tastes amazing, especially since you get to choose what you want to eat and you do not have to cut up and serve anything to anyone else. Sitting or lying still and motionless feels like a sinful luxury. And while it may only last a few precious minutes, you drink in every second and it refuels you for weeks or even months.
Online resources for single parents: