By Audrey Cade
Have you ever felt like a dab of peanut butter spread too thin over a piece of toast? It’s there, but barely noticeable; and, whoever’s going to eat that sandwich is likely to complain that it’s too skimpy on what matters most and doesn’t taste right!
Sadly, many single moms often make it through the day feeling as stretched and inadequate as the remnants of a jar of peanut butter; which can lead to feelings of guilt for not being “good enough” or able to “do it all!” Single mom guilt is so unfortunate, and unnecessary because, by and large, solo moms do an amazing job of doing everything it takes (and then plenty more!), often with less than what is expected!
Single moms, I implore you to give yourselves a break from single mom guilt, and here’s why:
Guilt is just a sign that your inner mom regulator is working properly
We can’t help it, but moms naturally worry about everything under the sun when it comes to our kids. We want them to be happy, healthy, and have everything they need (and want). As the best for our kids is mom mission #1, it’s an unconscious reaction to begin analyzing every factor that contributes to mission success. So, when anything appears to be a threat to the mission, we start to look at ourselves as a potential cause.
Did we give enough of ourselves?
Were we as aware and on top of it as we needed to be?
Is there more we should be doing?
Are we screwing it up?
These questions can certainly make us go mad, or at least keep us awake at night replaying game footage from the day and second-guessing the “could have’s” and “should have’s.” What we miss in the midst of self-doubt are all the aspects of motherhood we are nailing. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to separate the continuous self-review of our work; but, the fact that we assess our actions and seek to improve where we can is a sign of how awesome we are!
We have to learn to forgive ourselves for mistakes, then make each wrong step an opportunity for growth and improvement, instead of a punishment!
Worrying is a sister to caring. We could all probably stand to tone down the self-destructive tone on our reflection so that it remains productive instead of creating undue anxiety or pressure. If you want the best for your children, it’s because you love them so much and are committed to doing the best possible job as their mother. That, my friends, is the making of a wonderful mother. Yes, you should care about your kids and devote time to figuring out how to stay on top of your game and complete your mission; but, you should not let worry overshadow the good work you do to the point of creating guilt!
It is what it is
We have only so much control over the events that influence our lives. No matter how hard we work or the choices we make, we cannot fend off greater forces like death, the economy, or bad decisions made by others. We can plan, but sometimes we have to react and make the best of whatever situation we find ourselves in. Often, bad situations are not our fault, which is one reason to immediately drop any guilt we have surrounding events and circumstances we do not have a hand in.
It’s important to note that aside from things we never invited into our lives, we are human, and all of us make mistakes. So, even if some of the negative in our lives right now can be attributed to something we’ve done (or should have done), nothing positive will come from continuing to beat ourselves up about it! We have to learn to forgive ourselves for mistakes, then make each wrong step an opportunity for growth and improvement, instead of a punishment!
Moms never want to feel like we have, in any way, caused pain or disadvantage for our children. This is often a huge obstacle for single moms to overcome. Single moms may become bogged down with regret for not being able to provide as much as we would like in the way of time, money, or other resources, and worry how this will affect our kids. Regret, shame, and guilt will poison us all we allow them to have more power than optimism and forgiveness.
The past, and even to an extent the present, may not be our ideal; but, the light is always brighter with forward movement, rather than allowing ourselves to get trapped in everything that has gone wrong. Instead of letting mistakes and misfortune define us, we may achieve more of what we hope for in life by allowing those experiences to teach us, then letting go so that they can become meaningful by how we apply them.
Second-guessing our abilities is a trap!
Who’s telling us that we’re not good enough and why are we listening? Every child will complain from time-to-time about what their parents do- that’s just kids. However, it’s highly unlikely that our kids are suffering, let alone resentful of what we do for them (or how we do it) because we’re single moms, or for any other reason. Guess what? If we do the best we know how, love with all our hearts, take our job as a mother seriously, and never stop trying, then we are good enough. Quite honestly, by that criteria, we are kickass!
We cannot let ourselves be consumed by doubting in our abilities, listening to ill-informed naysayers (who cares what they think?), or letting ourselves buy in to the notion that a bad day makes for a bad life. We all stumble and have reasons from time-to-time to question our abilities; but, we are often way too hard on ourselves.
We need to start buying into our own hype to recognize that we, as single moms, move mountains on a daily basis.
We need to trust that our kids love and appreciate us, even when they’re not the best at showing it. We must trust that all our effort is making a difference and will pay off. We need to find fulfillment with what we have and refrain from making comparisons to others or letting other people’s standards color the way we look at our lives. We need to feel well-deserved pride for all that we do- because it’s a lot- and stop worrying about what we believe to be shortcomings.
Any mother in any situation has disadvantages and weaknesses. Weakness is not the same as less than, and certainly not a sign of not being “good enough!”. We need to start buying into our own hype to recognize that we, as single moms, move mountains on a daily basis. Kickass single moms are the masters of multi-tasking magic, the glue that holds everything together, and the ultimate examples of love and dedication!
Independent mamas, you are the full on pb & j deluxe! You fit exactly where and how you’re supposed to, and “guilt” shouldn’t even be in your vocabulary!
About the Author
Audrey Cade is the author of “Divorce Matters: help for hurting hearts and why divorce is sometimes the best decision” (on Amazon) and the matriarch of a blended family of eight. She is an experienced “divorce warrior” in the areas of co-parenting, step parenting, parental alienation, and re-marriage, and enjoys sharing these experiences with others who are also committed to raising happy and healthy kids. Audrey’s professional experience is as a case manager social worker with the developmentally disabled, families with young children, and homeless populations. She holds degrees in Early Childhood Education, Human Service & Management, and a Master’s in Psychology. She enjoys family outings, a variety of arts and crafts, cooking, gardening, and writing. She is a featured blogger for Divorced Moms, has work regularly appearing on Divorce Force, and articles appearing in Step Mom Magazine, The Good Men Project, and others.