By Laura Lifshitz
When I ran into parents around town as school was wrapping up, everyone popped the same question:
What is your daughter doing this summer?
I pretty much shrugged my shoulders and said, “Camp Mom.”
When my daughter asked why we can’t go on vacation or why she can’t go to camp like the majority of her classmates, she knew the answer before I responded.
I don’t have the money.
I freelance and have my own business, but I always have a full-time role in addition. However, I along with many other people recently got laid off due to a company liquidation. That means that so far, my summer has been spent interviewing, working on freelance projects and acting as the official cruise director for “Camp Mom.”
It took a wise friend to remind me that my kid is 7 years old and won’t regret missing out on camp, but will love her time with me. I vacillate between knowing my friend is right, but also feeling guilty that she can’t attend camp and other activities she’d love to do.
I felt sorry that my finances don’t allow for fancy camps and vacations, much less weekend getaways. But really, should I waste a second being sorry I can’t send her to camp? No. In fact, many of my single moms can relate to that feeling of guilt that plagues us in the middle of the night. That feeling that because we are only “one human being” that we are never enough. The reality is these late-night guilt fests are wastes of time and unproductive. It doesn’t help anyone—not us, and certainly not our kids.
Here are 5 things you should never apologize for as a single mom.
1. Lacking Money
As long as your kids are clean, clothed and fed, there shouldn’t be any sorries floating around for not having enough money for extras, vacations, toys, experiences or what have you.
There is no rule that says parents have to have a ton of money to do everything and anything for their kids. In my opinion, this generation of parents is too focused on orchestrating every single moment of their kids’ lives with experiences and lessons/activities, without teaching kids how to deal with their own time, boredom and imaginations. Kids are too scheduled.
If you don’t have enough money for the extras, stop saying sorry. That’s life. We don’t always get what we want but like Mick Jagger says, “If you try sometimes you just might find—you get what you need.”
2. Not Having A Partner For Your Kid To Call Stepmom or Stepdad
Love comes when it comes. You can’t force the right person to be in your life or your kids’ lives. Many times my daughter has mentioned wanting a stepdad, but there is no store to purchase such beings, so she and I will have to wait until the time comes.
Don’t feel bad that it is just you. You happen to be your kid/kids’ mother…that is more than enough in a child’s eyes.
3. Getting Divorced
It is fine to tell your children that you are sorry that the divorce is hard on them, or that they can’t have their two parents in one house, but don’t waste time apologizing that things didn’t work out with you and your former spouse.
Unless you completely messed up the marriage and everyone knows it, (and kids shouldn’t even know the “whys of a divorce”) don’t waste time apologizing over spilled milk. What’s done is done and to sit there and feel sorry and guilty all the time is only going to be bad for you and your kids. They’ll end up using your guilt to their advantage, and you’ll end up feeling negative and regretful as if you ruined their lives when you shouldn’t feel that way.
Acknowledge their difficulties as children of divorce and help them adjust as much as possible, but don’t grovel or allow guilt to be your parent guide.
Move on, be positive, acknowledge their difficulties as children of divorce and help them adjust as much as possible, but don’t grovel or allow guilt to be your parent guide. Parenting with guilt will only end up being bad for your kids. Think: letting your kids get away with murder because you feel bad; buying a bunch of toys and stuff to make up for the divorce—all bad ways to parent!
4. Needing To Have Time For Yourself
Don’t say sorry for telling your kids you need a time-out of your own. Don’t feel bad for asking family or a babysitter for help so you can breathe. Don’t be sorry for telling your kids, “No, sorry. Mom needs a break. We can’t do X, Y or Z today.”
Don’t feel bad for feeling some relief that it’s a former spouse’s turn to have the kids. Needing time to yourself is normal for every single human. Did you think that once you had children you would stop requiring alone time? Of course not. It’s just harder to come by.
5. Having To Work
Most people have to work—parents or not. Don’t apologize for not being an at-home parent. Life is expensive. Kids are expensive. Being on your own makes those little kids you have even more expensive. Don’t say sorry to your kids for having a job.
Sitting around apologizing constantly is a waste of time. If you hear yourself feeling or saying how sorry you are, you need to take some time to consider why you are so consumed with guilt and regret. You need to live your life and own who you are and what you do. If you can’t own who you are and how you live your own life, your kids will be insecure and anxious. You need to believe in yourself and the path you are walking on this way both you and your kids can feel secure and at peace.
Laura Lifshitz is a pint-sized, battery-operated writer, comedienne, single mother and chocolate fanatic. A former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate, you can find her work in many places, like the New York Times, DivorceForce, Mom.Me, Women’s Health, Worthy, Working Mother and numerous other sites. Follow her on Facebook and her own website, frommtvtomommy.com.