A Few Myths Any Single Mom Can Choose Not To Believe
From “free range mom” to “tiger mom,” parenting land is full of labels. Many of them come with prepackaged judgements and plenty of contention, but none more than the term “single mom.” For every four people I tell I’m a single mom, one of them apologizes. That’s not an exact stat, but it feels close.
As a single mom, I’ve sort of gotten used to people projecting their own fears about parenting solo onto me. If I had a dollar for every time I've heard about how hard my life must be, I'd drive a Tesla instead of a Volkswagen. Here’s how I get through it: I don’t believe them.
I’m moving in a month, working at a startup, and working on two political campaigns, so I wouldn't exactly say life is "easy", but it’s full of the challenges that make life worth living and not necessarily harder than it would be if I weren’t a single mom. Choosing not to believe the myths below has helped me create the life I want for myself.
Ready to live your best life as a single mom? Here are a few beliefs to throw out the window, with new beliefs to replace them.
Myth 1: Single moms struggle
If you’ve landed here, I don’t need to explain this one to you. Single mom is practically used as a synonym for struggling. It has some basis in reality, because there are a lot of women out there who believe someone else should be taking care of them, and they’ll flounder until it happens. You can choose not to be one of them. If you’re struggling, you can choose to thrive instead.
I know it works because I’ve seen it happen in my own life. Before Phi was born, I worried that I couldn’t afford to do it all on my own. Soon enough, I needed to. I found a way, and it’s gotten better with each passing year. Magically, I’ve found paths forward that allow me to grow more deeply into who I am while making enough money to enjoy life. Three years into Phi’s life, I’m looking apartments in my dream neighborhood and sending her to the preschool I like the most. If it weren’t for the challenges of being a single mom, I wouldn’t have experienced so much growth in every area of my life in a short amount of time.
Single motherhood has shown me what a boss I am. As a single mom, I’m thriving more than I have in my entire adult life.
New belief: The challenges of single motherhood show me just how strong and capable I am.
Myth 2: Your life should revolve 100 percent around your kids
All moms get this one. As soon as we grow or adopt humans, there’s this expectation that we put our kids first all of the time. Everything we do is supposed to be for them. I mean, it’s not terrible to consider the needs of these little humans we’re raising but sometimes enough is enough. As the in-flight safety spiel goes, put on your own mask first.
As a single mom, this old adage feels especially relevant because I have priorities that are more about me than they are about Phi. I’m on a mission to be the best, happiest version of myself. It happens that when I’m my best self, I’m a better mom, but honestly motherhood isn’t my whole motivation and that is fine. When I go to a barre class, it’s for me. Phi is a huge part of why I work so hard, but when I stay late in the office or leave her with a babysitter so I can go out to a political fundraiser, it’s as much about my ambition as it is about being the role model I want to be for her. On the rare occasion I make time to hang out with a guy, it’s definitely for me. When I finish writing this post and eat ice cream and watch Nathan for You, I’m sure you can guess who it’s for.
The point is, as a single mom your time might be even more wrapped up in your kid than it would be otherwise. You might have to pay someone to get a minute away from your kid. You might want to go out with a guy instead of spending time with your precious child. Go ahead. You didn’t stop being a human being with your own needs the minute you became a (single) mom.
New belief: We all deserve to have it all.
Myth 3: You have to do it all on your own
Yes, you can do a lot. You can work full time, take care of yourself, and make dinner with your kids on a regular basis if that’s what you choose to do. You can do all of that and run for Congress. This single mom is doing it! You can do whatever you set your mind to.
That doesn’t mean you need to do it alone.
Accepting help can be the hardest thing for me, especially because I’d rather be seen as the single mom superhero than the struggling single mom who needs help. The fact is, single mom or not, it takes a village. Being a single mom can mean your village needs a few extra hands. Those extra hands can help us and the kids we’re raising thrive.
If you’re lucky enough to have family members willing to help out, take them up on it. Beyond allowing family and friends to take on a bigger role in your village, paying for childcare is worth it, whether that means paying a nanny regularly or a babysitter for a night out. As my friend and OG single mom boss Emma Johnson advocates in her book, consider childcare a non-negotiable expense like rent or your mortgage payment.
New belief: Through accepting help, I’m able to use my time and skills most effectively.
Myth 4: Your family is broken
I’ll always remember sitting in a restaurant in Dublin one evening about a month after Phi’s dad and I split up. It was early in the evening, so the room was empty except for my family and one other family. After we’d been sitting a little while, a couple came in with a stroller to join the other family.
As I ate the best tagliatelle of my life, I tried not to focus on this raw, awful feeling that my daughter and I would never have what that family had. We won’t, but I’ve learned I don’t need to feel awful about it.
There’s a phrase I always come back to when I’m questioning the turns life has taken: quantum trust. It means believing that everything is happening exactly as it should, even if we don’t understand exactly why. On a deeper level, it means that every other possible reality has played out on some level we’re not aware of. We’re here, conscious in this one. I choose to believe it’s for a reason. Plus, it’s pretty cool that my whole family fits on one bike, at least for now.
New belief: Your family is perfect.
it's true: your family is perfect and so are you. I hope these new beliefs inspire a few single moms out there live that truth!