National Single Parent Day hits me oddly. How about you? What exactly are we celebrating? Surviving? While some single moms choose to have or adopt children without a partner because it’s a heart’s desire and you haven’t found the right guy and time isn’t on your side or maybe an opportunity just fell in your lap to love a child and your heart was ready and able to accept that responsibility. Others become mothers because of unplanned pregnancies. Oftentimes, moms become single mothers through a divorce or the death of a spouse or loved one. Few choose to become single moms. Many are given that title through unexpected events. I don’t believe it’s an ideal way to raise children because of the stressors often involved, but it often is a necessary and even normal family dynamic these days.
There are SO many single parents…the numbers are surprisingly high.
I learned that 1 in 4 children have single moms. That number equates to over 15 million children according to the Single Mother Guide. 80 percent of all single-parent homes have a mom as the primary caregiver. These numbers are staggering for the number of children in single-parent homes and the number of single parents.
I’ve been a single mom for over 10 years. Not by choice. By necessity. Above is a favorite, although blurry, picture of my kids and me a few years back. The biggest concern for me as a single mom is, “Will my child be ok?” This question is a complicated one. There are no guarantees, no matter what the parenting situation looks like for a child.
When I began to reframe that question, it took some pressure off of me. “Am I loving my child and providing what I’m capable of?” This seemed to be a better question. That’s my responsibility. This is what I can offer. If they feel loved, they will be ok. Will it be easy? No. Will their path take different twists and turns that might have been different in a family dynamic with mom and dad? Quite possibly. Is there a chance they will make poor choices? Maybe. Will they graduate from college and live successful lives? Perhaps. Will they become single parents someday? Who knows. My questions rarely help anybody, the kids or me.
The second part of this involves questions about myself as a single mom.
How will I provide financially for my children? Will I be able to retire? What schooling or career changes do I need to consider to better my future? How do I date? Will I ever remarry? Do I need to have a therapist? How is my mental, physical, and spiritual health? Who is my support system? You have your own set of questions and I could keep adding.
My biggest encouragement to single moms is not to lose sight of who they are and what gives you joy.
Live by your core values. Set healthy boundaries, Live in gratitude for what you have. If you care about yourself, you will have more to give out to your children and others. You are not selfish. You are wise in taking care of yourself. I had that flipped around for years with homeschooling, directing a co-op, serving in my church, running my four children around to all of these activities to bring them opportunities, volunteering here and there and everywhere. Guess what happened? I lost myself, I didn’t know me. I was a shell and I crashed. When I really began to take care of myself, my confidence grew, my business started growing, my kids started commenting, people saw a new me emerge.
Mom, don’t deny making yourself a priority!
On this day, single mom, do something to make you truly joyful. Whatever it may be… yoga, hiking, shopping, reading, a project, gardening, meet friends, coffee shop, or even take your kids to a playground or the zoo and enjoy laughing and creating a positive memory.
Today, married mom, check in on your single mom friends. Let them know you see them, you support them, you care about them. It will mean so much to them to hear those life-giving words when they may feel empty of themselves. Just because your single girlfriend is funny, dressed cute, works out, and seems ok, doesn’t really mean she is. For the single mom you may call this weekend, thank you.
Happy Single Parent Day, Moms!