Do we need to save the single mother? It seems that the archetype of the single mother raises so many fears and criticisms, not only for the single mother but for partnered/married mothers too.
This week I’ve been really reflecting on my own journey of the single mother. I went from wanting to be saved from my single motherhood to truly accepting and embracing the experience and growth that has been born from it. Now motherhood overall is a journey in itself, but throw in divorce, separations between parents and children, custody battles, financial battles, court papers and processes, guilt, trauma, loss of hopes and dreams – it not something you like anyone to go through. And yet as I’ve discussed ‘single mothers’ in various setting these last few months, the judgement has seeped through.
Every single mother has her own journey (partnered or single) and ideally, I would love to create a world where mothers just supported mothers, and basically humans just supported humans without any labels or separations or segregation. Motherhood can be stressful, any married/partnered woman can feel just as lonely as a single mother as within her marriage. None of it is about comparison. In due respect, we all have challenges regardless of our circumstances. And all challenges and stories should be respected.
Yet, I find whenever I talk about single mothers, other partnered mothers spring up to compete with the challenges of the single mother.
Quite often I hear “at least you get time to yourself”… like being separated from your own children is a luxury? Give me a husband who stays at home one night a month while I can catch up for coffee with my friend anytime, over 7 torturous days every fortnight of being without the little souls that light up my life. Suggesting to any mother that she is lucky to be without her children is not kindness.
“What about the freedom to make your own choices?”. Yes, I embrace the freedom to not have to ask for permission or agreeance from another. But it’s sure hard having to make every long term financial decision on your own and bear the consequences and the brunt of ‘not so great ideas’ on your own shoulders. Going to bed alone, without a partner to share the burdens of some massive cock-up can be overwhelming.
There are times a married friend will invite me over so we can feed and bath our kids together as her husband is away. Only to call last minute and cancel plans because her husband came home early and ‘I don’t need your help any more’. But what if I needed yours?
Or the times that old family friends from my married days celebrate their 40th, and only invite one of you because THEY feel awkward about your divorce. And yet your ex and you have coffee regularly and are happily suggesting to each other how to make the best of their current dating experience. Often, I have found other people have more issues with our divorce then we had ourselves. We never pushed our issues on them, and yet they seemed to push their issues with our divorce on us.
Or the times a girlfriend completely cuts you off for leaving your husband – yet she was the one confiding in you how she’d cheated on her own husband the year before.
Or how suddenly the social invitations from married couples stop coming in. I don’t think it’s anything personal. It seems to be more their own uneasiness around the idea of ‘single’. Perhaps their own fears of being alone? Surely, they don’t honestly believe we’re out to snare their own husbands??
Worse is the pity comments from married friends, “You’re too nice to be single! I wish you could find somebody decent”. Even worse “Why can’t you find anyone decent?”. Does that mean if we are single then we aren’t ‘good’ people? That because we are single mothers, there must be something intrinsically wrong within us?
It’s been quite an interesting journey seeing the reactions of partnered mothers to the single mother.
I hope one day that all mothers can put their own struggles aside and just bear compassion for every other mother regardless of her relationship status.
For me I love celebrating the relationships of my partnered mother friends. I love seeing them blissfully happy, seeing them celebrating their anniversaries, missing their husbands when they travel for work and rejoicing in their bliss of having them home again. I always giggle when I see them sneak a kiss at a BBQ or a cuddle at a picnic. Nothing lights up my soul more than seeing my girlfriends with their husbands and kids, all together revelling in their family unit. Their bliss is my bliss. I think it’s wonderful and I trust one day that will enter my own life.
I trust that one day we, as women, can stop judging each other and learn to celebrate and support each other from the heart.
The single mother isn’t one to be feared, judged, condemned, isolated, or criticised. Nor does she need to be saved. What she needs more than anything is to know she is enfolded still into her community, unconditionally. To be celebrated and supported and told she can do this. I now and admire many single mothers as fully capable and emotionally sound human beings who do an excellent job at raising and providing for their children.
Nor do I believe that she should be the victim or the martyr. Neither archetypes do anything empowering for the single mother. She does not need to be pitied, even when she wants to be. And trust me, like all humans do, she will want to be pitied. She’ll want her moment of having her doom and gloom heard. She doesn’t need to be saved. Her rescue doesn’t come from outside of her, but from within her. The best thing to do is to listen for a while and then ask her “How are you going to move forward?”, “Can I help you?”. Nothing is more important than hearing “I don’t know the answers, but I know I believe in you”.
Every female has the ability to step into their own power, to empower and rescue herself, whether single or not. Single mothers may just need that bit more support, compassion, encouragement, and belief so that they can find the belief within themselves.
Which is why I’m currently creating a new course, just for the single mother. A safe place where she can face her fears, share her story and be supported through her journey of empowerment. This course isn’t about how to not be a single mother…. It’s about how to be an empowered female who know her own strengths, who can stand tall in her own arena, who can be proud of the road she has traveled and is a shining role model for all who surrounds her (esp her children) ….. who happens to have children and……who just happens to be single.
If you would love to learn more about this course, or be involved in the market research to create this course, contact me here – I would love to hear from you!