Question for you: What do you think of when you hear the words “single mom”?
I recently asked this question on one of my social media platforms, and I was pleasantly surprised at the answers received. We’ll get back to that later on and compare notes, so keep your answer to the above question in mind as you read this.
Before we go any further, I want to make a quick disclaimer and give a little back story: I am a single mom. I got pregnant at 17, had a baby by the time I was 18, and my son’s father and I were no longer together before the baby even arrived. He stayed involved for a few years, but it was toxic. I found myself in and out of bad relationships in a really shitty effort to validate myself and give my son a father figure. That lasted longer than it should have and was a completely failed plan. But! It’s one that I don’t regret for a single second. Looking back, I can see a lot of growth, even in the shit storm that my life was.
After a really bad break-up with a man that I was supposed to marry, my eyes FINALLY opened. After spending days --and I mean DAYS-- crying in bed, something clicked. And I found myself in this glorious light. This is also when the "badass, single mom" me started realizing that I had it all wrong.
Single moms tend to have this ridiculous stigma attached to us. And what’s incredibly pathetic is, that we often do it to ourselves. We literally attract the “handicap” stigma. As if being a single mom is, somehow, a terrible problem to have. We do this by pouting, bitching and complaining about how hard it is, floating from man to man trying to fix something that a man can’t fix, etc.…
Now let me be clear: not all women who relate to being a single mom are actually single. I was raised by a mom who was married for 13 years. Her husband was absent 99% of the time, wrapped up in drugs, alcohol, and other unmentionables. He left her to be the sole provider and caretaker of not one, but three children, one of which is mentally handicapped.
To be blunt, I am SO tired of it. I am so tired of people looking at single moms and saying “Oh, you poor thing!” or “Look at everything you’re losing out on, all the opportunities that you’re missing.”
What pisses me off the most is that we also somehow convince ourselves that we can’t do x-y-z. We can’t pay the bills, there’s not enough time in the day, we are so tired, and we don’t have friends…and on and on and on. We soak in the pity and start expecting people to feel bad for us and then get pissed off when they don’t. That is a form of entitlement, and it annoys the hell out of me.
Now, when I asked people on social media what they thought of when they hear the words “single mom”, I did get people who said words like "tired", "broke," "scared," and "lonely". And those are all so true. They are. I feel them all from time to time. The thing is, those words are only true for as long as we allow them to be.
Along my journey as a single mom, I’ve often been told that I "can’t ‘insert task here’ because [you are] a single mom.” And there is the problem. Those words are the problem that has come up from so many of us single moms being so damn content to soak in the attention and the pity.
To my fellow single moms: STOP IT.
To everyone else: STOP PITYING US.
It’s way past time to start realizing the bad-assery that comes with being a single mom. And first thing's first: feel your feels, and let it go!
Yes, it gets lonely being a single mom, but are you really alone? Probably not. If you try hard enough (it’s as easy as jumping on Facebook these days), you can connect with other humans! Even better, you can totally find other single parents in your area! A good friend of mine created a group on Facebook for my local area just for single parents!
Yes, single moms often find themselves broke, but look at the rest of the population. Even married people are broke. So get off that pity train really fast and do something about your financial situation if you are that miserable in it. It’s not easy, but nothing worth having ever does come easy. Take a look at your kid(s). Are they easy? Not by a long shot. Are they worth it? Every single millisecond of every single day.
Yes, being a single mom is scary -- Hell, being a mom is scary!! No one bothered to create a handbook for us, and even if they did, we would STILL be screwed! Every single kid is different. And that, is what makes them beautiful.
So, again, these words are only true as long as we allow them to be.
If you cannot tell by now, I think single moms are pretty cool. And we have some great opportunities. I think about my son, and I wonder, if I was a co-parent, what responsibilities would I delegate to the other parent? Would I have made it a priority to show up to every single football practice? Would I take the time to learn about video games and basketball (which I REALLY had no interest in)? How well would I really know my son? Would I be the person I am now, if I wasn’t the sole provider for us? The answer to that is, no, I wouldn’t be. I know this because I had to think about the example I am setting for my son. When I decided to follow my dreams and be a business owner, I did it with my son in mind. I made the choice knowing that I can show him what hard work is. I can show him that he can do anything he puts his mind to. He only needs a dream, a prayer, a plan, and determination that he cannot contain. I get to SHOW him these things. Not just tell him.
Does that mean that you need to go start a business? HELL No. It’s not for everyone. It IS an example that eliminates an excuse though. Don’t tell me that you can’t do something and use being a single mom as an excuse. Because we single moms are bad-asses. We are our own unique super heroes.
We can also be our own worst enemies and that needs to stop. We face all of the same challenges as moms who co-parent; we just face them differently. We have to be more creative in our solutions.
So, to all the single moms: take the weight of the world that you feel on your shoulders, and use it for the greater good. You’re too damn strong to succumb to the pressure. But feel it. Let the pressure refine you. After all, that’s how coal gets turned into diamonds right? Stop allowing the handicap stigma to latch onto you. Drop the excuses, and go chase everything you want in the world. It’s not impossible. And it’s not selfish. You are teaching your children something that they won’t learn in school.
In closing, I want to shout out to everyone during that exercise I talked about earlier who mentioned words during like: courageous, strong, dedicated, hard working, warrior, fierce, selfless, resilient, brave, independent, survivor, fighter… Those words, they mean EVERYTHING. Keep encouraging the single moms in your life. For me, those words are life. Please don’t pity us.
Love us, believe in us, and encourage us.
Sarah Akey is a badass single mom living in Oregon. She makes amazing cakes and other fantastic treats, and loves the Seahawks ALMOST as much as she loves her kids and baking. You can find more of her delicious work here .