As a single mom of two, there were a lot of things about life and motherhood that I learned the hard way. There are many moments I'd love to be able to go back and redo, and there are times when I look back at moments that showed my maturity in being a mother. There are unique challenges that come with raising a child alone, regardless of the circumstances leading to single motherhood.
So in case there is someone who's reading my blog facing the struggles of "doing it alone", I hope I can pass on these 5 important bits of knowledge to you.
- If you are the mother of a child with a parent who is absent and not involved in the child's life, be mindful of the things you say. In other words, don't badmouth your child's father in front of your child. I'd even go as far as to say don't badmouth him at all. It isn't your job to form your kid's opinion of his parent. Not only is it just wrong, badmouthing your child's father is doing the same to part of your child's identity. Of course we get frustrated when promises are broken between your kid and his father, or when you're doing everything alone with no help from the other parent. Hopefully you have an adult person in your life who can act as a sounding board during those times, but that should never be your child.
- Be very, very selective about whom you allow in your child's life. Particularly, I'm speaking of those you may encounter while dating. There is nothing wrong with dating, there is something wrong with bringing people in and out of children's lives. You have a standard to uphold as a mother. They shouldn't have any idea about your dating life. Also, its hurtful and damaging to allow your child to begin to build bonds with men who are not showing signs of being in your life long-term. While your newest ex may be able to walk away unscathed, your child may be left wondering what happened and if they had anything to do with it.
- Don't allow people to make you feel bad about needing some time to yourself. A lot of people have a "that's what you get" complex, and think that if a single mom expresses a need to have some alone time or some time away from the kids that she's putting her kids off or being a bad parent. Having some time away from the kids can strengthen your bond with your children. While I don't condone being out until 4am every weekend, all weekend, I certainly believe all mothers deserve some personal time. It helps you to keep your sanity.
- Be able to put your foot down when it comes to your doing whats best for your child. One of the things I experienced being a single mom was a constant questioning of my decisions as a parent that I knew in my heart were right. Because I become a mother at a relatively young age, I've always had this cloud of judgement that follows every decision I make as a parent. At some point I just had to put my foot down and stand up for those things I know are right for my children. You will learn overtime that you know your children and what's best for them better than anyone else. Yes, even over your own parents.
- Its OK to be single. Don't stay with someone who is treating your badly or whom you can not get along with for the sake of your children. Children are much more perceptive than we'd like to think, and they can perceive parents' unhappiness with each other. Being single, even as a mother, is not a death sentence. Use this time to set personal goals and discover who you are as an individual. Enjoy your single life.