We single mothers, by choice or not, really do need all the help we can get. Everywhere we go – online, on the television, at work, at our kids’ schools – people have an opinion about motherhood.
I feel that in my life, I do compete with other moms and dads that I perceive to be doing things better than I do. They may not be, but I can’t help it. I think it is just human nature.
Now, as a single mother, I feel even more pressure to do things the ‘right’ way. It’s ridiculous, I know, but I feel such a responsibility to make good decisions. In the wake of the Gwyneth Paltrow comments about moms being ‘routine’ and how hard she has it in Hollywood, I thought I would try to lay out some do’s and don’ts that we moms should adhere to.
If for anything else, to save what little sanity we have left after spending our days with the kids that make us both happy and frustrated to be alive at the same time!
DON’T: Judge yourself or other moms
This one comes from the Paltrow drama but, in reality, I find that moms tend to judge other moms the most. I can not tell you how many times I have listened to the gaggle of gals at a school function talk about another mom. A mom they do not even know that they are judging on the ways her kid dresses – hey, mine has more style that me! – the way her kid talks, the way she handles herself in school, and so on.
I am a Homeroom mom every single year in one of my kids’ classes and I get judged on the parties I throw. I heard this through the momvine. It is one thing to have thoughts about how you would do it in your head – never aloud! – but it is quite another to spread your judgments to others.
So please, don’t do it.
DON’T: Listen to nonsense
There is a lot of misinformation out there about motherhood. I feel it gets even more convoluted when you are single. When stress is an issue, most advice is to get out of the house. Well, as a single, it is a little harder. When being overwhelmed is an issue, most say to take a break and get out of the house.
This is a very hard thing for most single moms. But reading even more deeply into the advice that is in there can be mind-boggling. Reading about how to do something or how someone else does it is awesome. We all need varied opinions to make an educated choice. But to try to be the kind of mother you are not just to fit into the ‘supposed to’ arena can add unnecessary stress that none of us need!
DON’T: Beat yourself up
When things get crazy – the laundry is piling up, the kids are fighting, you are $100 short to pay the mortgage due tomorrow, and so on – try to remember that this too shall pass. I know, I live it. The ‘I have no idea how I will make it another day.’ conversation that is on auto-play in my head!
But somehow, I always seem to make it through. The issues seem small once I am onto my next issue. If I handled it right, great. If I didn’t – Oh well. It has passed and there is nothing I can do about it anyway except make better decisions in the future!
DO: Take compliments
I can’t stand it when people say, ‘I don’t know how you do it!’. Well, I do it as anyone else does.
One day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time. It just has to get ‘done’. But nowadays I try to see it as a compliment. A pat on the back. A friendly acknowledgment that they can not comprehend your motherhood.
My usual response is ‘Thank you.’ and then a nervous laugh or a compliment back at them. Learning to take a compliment is very hard for a lot of us. But what we do, as mothers – single or not – is worthy of everyone. Take it to heart – you deserve it!
DO: Take care of yourself.
Whether you joined the help for single mothers club by choice or not, you deserve to take care of yourself. Remember that no-one can pour from an empty cup, and you don’t need to force yourself to do anything you don’t feel like can handle. Your kids need you happy and healthy.