Single moms are a class of often unsung heroes that bear the enormous responsibility of raising the next generation of children, often with limited resources and help. No wonder, then, that many such moms can feel overwhelmed, at times, and think it necessary to over-compensate under all the pressure of raising kids alone.
Single moms, I am here to tell you that you are amazing as you are. What you do is good enough! Honestly, those are understatements; but, my point here is that there’s no need to feel obligated to raise the bar higher than it already is.
Here’s three reasons why over-compensating for being a single mom is a bad idea:
1. This isn’t a competition. No one is timing a race, measuring for distance, or weighing the worth of what you do. You are not being compared to married moms, dads, or anyone else. You are a mother, you hold the most important job ever assigned to humans, and the only opinion that matters is your child’s.
Well, okay, don’t ask a teenager what he thinks; but, seriously, if you feel “less than” for any reason because of your single status or perhaps because you just wish you could do more, STOP!
Women tend to be too hard on ourselves, in general. We often feel intimidated and like we’ve failed if we can’t recreate the perfect Pinterest birthday party, afford a lavish vacation, or have as much time available as we would like to be with our kids.
Some of us are good at that Pinterest stuff. All the more power to those moms. Some of us are just lucky to open a can of ravioli and not burn the house down while warming it up.
All of us have our “thing” that we are especially good at. Rock whatever it is that you excel at, and unshackle yourself from the pressure of feeling like you need to measure up to Polly PTA mom. Hey, does Miss Polly PTA bring home the bacon AND fry it up in the pan? Can she roll with the punches, rule in resourcefulness, and singlehandedly slay in multi-tasking like a single mom can?
There’s enough pressure to go around in this life, as it is, so no need to put any more on yourself. If you love your children and make them a priority, provide them with their basic needs, spend time with them, teach them, comfort them, shape them into good people, and support them to learn and grow, then you are a good mom!
2. You are one, but you are enough. One is all that you need to be. You are a mother. You do not also need to feel required to be a father and every other role in your child’s life.
Hopefully your children still have an involved father. If so, let him be the father. Just because you no longer live together doesn’t mean that your kids can’t derive what they need from you as a mother, then what they need from their father while with him.
Every parent wears multiple hats: chef, doctor, chauffeur, teacher, and so on. Don’t feel the need to wear hats that can be worn by others to try to prove something to yourself or anyone else. You’re only human!
True, that you may have to be creative in providing all of the necessary influences your child needs in their life. If your ex chooses not to be an involved father, then you may have to seek positive role models from relatives, coaches, and others. There are people who will help you carry the load, so don’t feel as though you must carry the weight of the world yourself.
You need to remain strong to be there for your kids in all of the areas where you are irreplaceable.
3. Cleanse yourself of the guilt. Divorce is always an unfortunate thing. Whether you wanted your divorce or not, a lot of shame, disappointment, and guilt can accompany the situation. You might harbor negative feelings about your failed marriage, about your kids not being able to grow up with an intact family, and so much more.
No matter what sorrow you may carry from your relationship, you need not give into urges of becoming Super Mom, the temptation to give your children the world, or to punish yourself any longer!
You will be fine. Your children will be fine. Believe it or not, leaving a bad marriage may have been the best parenting decision you’ve ever made because you may have given them the opportunity to have less conflict in their lives and to see what healthy relationships look like.
You owe your children security, love, and the ability to love both parents after divorce. You do not owe them your future happiness as a punishment for breaking up with their father.
Over-compensating because of your post-divorce guilt defeats the whole purpose of divorce. Divorce is your opportunity to be reborn as a stronger and healthier version of yourself, which will also most likely make you a better mother. Your children need you to be whole and confident parent, not broken and living your life as an apology.