Every mother at one point – and perhaps even daily – wrestles with a few challenges that keep her from being her best. During my time these past seven years as a single mother, I have noticed that one of the challenges she battles against comes from society itself.
People within society who shame single mothers rather than encourage them are prevalent. Whether it is the news media that casts single mothers as victims with no hope for a decent future or gossipmongers within neighborhoods who judge the choices she has made, a single mother needs love, too, like her kids need oxygen. She does not need finger pointing, tongue-wagging assaults that demean her or her children. Her heart pumps blood just like everyone else’s heart, one thump at a time.
The book I am writing and look forward to having published later this year, Parenting with Grace, Gratitude … and Guts!, features my journey through the wilderness of single motherhood as I raise my son, Liam, on my own. His father left us when Liam was 16 months old and terminated his rights a few years later. It is not a book about resentment – not at all. It’s an unfolding story about love, grace, forgiveness and redemption. Yet, as I met other single moms along this path, I have noticed a common denominator that made its way into our lives: shame.
And it’s sad. We were not designed to accept that way of thinking. No human being was destined to believe in that message of negativity.
Rather than debate the hot-button issues of how a woman became a single mother or drag her circumstances through the media, family grapevine or community gathering, why not look at life through her children’s eyes and recognize an opportunity to help build a new legacy for the next generation? A good mother is a good mother.
Shame is an unnatural and undeserved emotion whether you are a woman or a man. Flung at a vulnerable person and adopted as gospel, shame can multiply into a strong toxic way of thinking. Messages of I am a mistake or I am not good enough become a belief system that was never intended to be there. It creates a deep well of pain.
And unless a single mother receives external encouragement to motivate her internal environment, she and her children might remain in that pit of hell. [Read more…]