Most little girls dream of being a mom. No little girl dreams of being a single mom. Even now, after eight years of single parenting, part of me still wonders if this is real life when I tell someone I’m a single mom. It’s not that I’m embarrassed; it’s that it’s harder than I ever imagined. It’s that I never wanted this for my kids.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the struggles of single parenting. But this is life now and always viewing it as a glass half-empty keeps me from seeing the good in it. There may be negatives to being a single mom, but there are also positives. This is how you find them.
Negative: “I’m overwhelmed by my to-do list!”
Positive: You have an opportunity to help your kids develop independence and skills. Being overwhelmed became constant from day one of becoming a single mom. For a while, I thought if I could just get a handle on the paperwork or house stuff or new pace of single parenting, life would ease up. But life doesn’t ease up. Overwhelmedness is simply the result of doing a job made for two. The upside? It’s an opportunity to teach our kids new skills and let them develop independence. My teen sons have fixed the lawnmower, built a backyard fence, and cooked dinners.
Negative: “I hate that my kids are hurting.”
Positive: You have an opportunity to help your children develop empathy and compassion. Seeing my children grieve after my husband died was probably harder than processing my own grief. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t take away their pain. But I could help them learn from it. I could help them see that others were hurting, too, and help them develop deep compassion. My oldest daughter ended up becoming a burn ICU nurse, where what patients and their families experience is grueling. Having walked through raw pain helps her empathize and connect with patients and families walking through their own tragedies.
Negative: “I wish we didn’t have financial struggles.”
Positive: You have an opportunity to focus on the important things money can’t buy. It surprised me how soon after my husband’s death my kids worried about money. “Will we be okay? Will we have to go to boarding school?” (They had no idea boarding school was for the wealthy!) From the beginning, I explained that while life would change, I could cut costs with the best of them. We would have all we need, even some extras, and no one would have to go to boarding school. I’ve watched my kids be willing to make do with last season’s basketball shoes, work for extra things they want, and most importantly, trust God to provide.
Negative: “I can’t do this alone, but I don’t like asking for help.”
Positive: You have an opportunity to deepen true friendship as you learn to receive graciously. Being in a place of need is vulnerable and humbling, but it can be used for good. Allowing others to help builds real friendship and community. My college-aged son called home one day saying that family friends had offered to buy his books that semester. He was reluctant to accept their offer because it’s hard to receive. But this son was headed to medical school and I pointed out that one day, he’d likely give free care to someone in need. Learning to give and receive graciously would be important.
What negative of single parenting is hardest for you?