In the year following my divorce, there has been one particular word popping up pretty often in discussions with friends or sometimes even uttered in conversation with single men over my single mom status. When describing or complimenting me these days, people never fail to use the word badass.
I wasn’t sure what to do with this label at first. When I think of a badass, I think of someone who is sexy and defiant or even a little rebellious— perhaps lots of black clothing, a few tattoos, and a strong gaze. I am a 34-year-old suburban mother of two with a meal planning calendar and a 10pm bedtime. Badass is the last word I would expect to describe me.
But I’ve learned that when numerous people tell you something about yourself that you might not recognize, maybe you should listen up and own it. I’ve finally come to better understand the badass characterization and even embrace it.
Could you wear this label, too? Give yourself a little credit.
Here are 12 signs you are a badass single mom:
1. You have courage about the path in front of you. This doesn’t mean that you are completely confident in every moment of every day. A quote I repeat to myself often is Anne Lamott’s statement that “Courage is just fear that has said its prayers.” You don’t have to be fearless all the time, but know that deep down you can handle anything that comes your way.
2. You get stuff done. Taking out the trash, paying the bills on time, sweeping the floors, mending the running toilet… All the many tasks that keep the home fires burning are no joke to accomplish. And you are handling it all on your own.
3. You don’t gain your value from others. Instead of competing with others, you compete with only yourself to be better and stronger than you were before. It doesn’t matter what your ex thinks of you because that does not define you or determine your value. In any divorce, there are friends who fall away on both sides. It can be hard, but someone’s opinion of you does not define who you are. Only you can define that.
4. You live by your own rules. The things that are important to you have a high priority in your life, and the things that don’t matter are not relevant anymore, and you don’t apologize for it. I care about healthy food on the table for my family, for instance, but I don’t care if my kids are wearing matching clothes, and I let them take the reigns on that. It’s my house and my rules, and what others may think about it has no bearing on my household and how I’m raising my children.
5. You take care of yourself without apology or guilt. This might mean declining social invitations to soak in a bath or binge on Netflix. Or it could mean carving money in your slim budget to keep your gym membership. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your own kids. Don’t apologize for self-care.
6. You are completely comfortable with your kids on your own. The laundry piles, the packed lunches, the doctor appointments, the carpool juggle, and the Saturday errands with kids in tow. You can handle them on your own without another adult because it’s what life has asked of you. That is no easy task.
7. You stand your ground. This is true when you’re meeting with attorneys or involved in mediation with your ex. And this is true in your own household as well. Single mothers can’t say, “Just wait until your dad gets home and he finds out you did that.” Kids will push back on authority because it is human nature, but they know where you stand on the issues that are important to you because you stand your ground with them.
8. You are stronger than you were before your divorce. You’ve learned lessons you could not learn any other way, and your strength and determination have increased as a result of the pain you experienced. You finally reach a place where you feel grateful for the lessons you learned and the new life you’ve been given.
9. You don’t downplay your accomplishments. Whether you have achieved little things like gaining skills on a new hobby or bigger tasks like work promotions and professional accomplishments, you don’t shy away from your achievements or downplay them. You are comfortable with others knowing that your hard work is paying off.
10. You give real talk. You show your face to others even when you are sad or hurting. This doesn’t mean you tell the cashier at the grocery store the entire sad story of your divorce, but when a friend asks how you are doing and it’s been a terrible week, tell her the truth. Tell her it hurts or that you are still grieving. Don’t hide your pain from everyone. Showing your heart and being authentic are the bravest things someone can do in our society of perfectly curated Instagram life.
11. You don’t allow yourself to become a victim. No matter how terrible your divorce story is, you don’t perceive yourself as a victim. You might not deserve how you were treated, especially if it involved infidelity. But you understand that people are complex and that sometimes heartbreak happens for you, not to you. You choose to move forward to bigger and better things and find new strength in the remnants of heartbreak.
12. You insist on being treated in a way that you deserve. This might mean cutting your losses early on in future relationships. But after a bad first run, you know how to recognize when someone is not valuing you and not seeing you for who you truly are. You insist on the love you deserve, and this means your next chapter will be brighter than you can imagine.
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