I’ve been a single mom now for just over a year. My little girl is only 2, and at this age, it’s hard to find 5 minutes alone, let alone an evening. My few forays into dating have led me to a few realizations:
- I’m actually pretty exhausted by the time she goes to bed, and all I really want to be doing is vegetating on the couch watching Netflix.
- If I’m going to spend precious time away from that couch, the guy had better be extraordinary. There’s a common myth that single moms are desperate; oh hell no. If you’re not more interesting than Stranger Things, then please go away.
- My life is already awesome, and I am already complete. I have great friends, a wonderful family, and the cutest toddler that ever graced God’s green earth. (I may be biased.)
- I’m no longer waiting around for Prince Charming. Last time I kissed my prince, he turned out to be a right royal toad.
Coming of age in the 90s, I remember the career choices that almost every girl wrote in our school yearbook; teacher, nurse, housewife. I was the first girl to ever do the IT course that had been running for 5 years at our school, and I got paper planes thrown at me, until I pretended not to know what to do and asked the boys for help, and suddenly I was ever-so-datable. I like to think that that sort of social conditioning is nowhere near as strong now and that things will be even better for my daughter’s generation, but I certainly grew up feeling like my life’s purpose was to do something-or-other for awhile until my knight in shining armour showed up and I could pop out cute a little mini-me or two.
While I am boundlessly grateful for the mini-me in question, this time around, I’m entirely self-rescuing.
Here are 6 reasons I don’t need a man to rescue me!
1. I want an equal partner.
I’m a strong, independent woman now. The struggles of a high-conflict divorce from a narcissist, and raising my daughter alone, have made me realize that I am capable of far more than I ever dreamed.
In Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, she discusses how important an equal partnership is if you’re going to “have it all” as the saying goes, and balance a successful career with a family. The very act of rescuing suggests inequality, that one party is stronger and the other weaker. Thanks but no thanks!
2. I don’t need someone to fix my broken bits anymore.
I suffered from depression throughout my teens and twenties and dreaded being alone. Being in a relationship, even a clearly wrong one, made me feel safe and wanted. I was looking for band-aid solutions, but handing my self-esteem and approval to someone else is basically a recipe for disaster. Becoming a mother changed that: watching her grow and thrive, and feeling the love that grows between a mother and a child, I could finally unconditionally love myself. She gave me the strength to leave my abuser, and the power to place my happiness in my own hands.
3. Being a woman doesn’t make me weak.
Here in Australia, we’ve had a female prime minister, and it may not be too long till America has its first too. (Good luck, folks!) Throughout human history, we’ve been told that we were inferior, and we believed it. It’s maybe going to be a few generations before we fully internalize that actually, you don’t need a penis to run a country.
4. Newsflash: I’m actually not a princess, and I don’t want to be.
Since becoming a mom, the gender stereotyping we force down kids’ throats from day one has really started to get my goat. With the (totally awesome) exception of Doc McStuffins, most of the doctors my little girl sees on TV and in books are male. The toys section of pretty much every department store is neatly divided into blue and pink, with fire trucks for boys and kitchens/Barbies for girls… and a whole lot of princesses.
When I daydream about what my little girl might be when she grows up, a princess is not on the list. Astronaut, yes. Being either born into royalty and riches or marrying into it, no. Newsflash: being a princess is not a skill. I don’t understand why society still teaches our daughters that marrying well and wearing pretty dresses to the ball should be the pinnacle of their ambition.
For my part, “someday, my prince shall come” can stay in 1937 where it belongs.
5. I simply don’t need rescuing.
It turns out that I can actually change a lightbulb and open a jam jar myself. Assembling that bed from IKEA, not so much, but I can hire someone for that, I don’t need to marry them.
6. I don’t define myself by my relationship status.
If Mr. Right shows up, that’s awesome. If he doesn’t, there are so many other ways that I can have a fulfilling life, rather than settling for Mr. Wrong, or even Mr. You’ll Do In a Crisis. Many of my heroines never married, and while having someone to snuggle with on the aforementioned couch would be nice, it’s hardly a necessity. I’m not waiting to be someone’s other half because I’m not a half.
Also, my baby is pretty snuggly anyway, and when she’s older, I hope that I can be a great role model to her, and teach her that single life isn’t about waiting for that prince.
I’m proud to say that with my divorce, I already rescued myself. For the first time in many years, I’m truly fulfilled and happy. They say that you need to learn to love yourself first and to learn to be happy by yourself before you can truly be happy in love with someone else. I’ve learned to rely on myself for happiness and approval, and any guy who thinks that I want to be rescued has got the wrong girl. For my own sake and my daughter’s, I’ve learned that I’m fine just how I am.
“Here’s to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.”