I’m a single mom.
I’ve made that statement countless times in the past 7 years and the reactions are all over the board. I’ve gotten used to the spectrum of reactions from sympathetic nods to judgmental eyebrow raises. Then there’s my favorite, “Oh, I was a single parent all of last week when my husband was on vacation. It was the absolute worst!” I’ve mostly gotten used to the last one, but I’m still perfecting my smile-and-nod routine.
I’ve gotten used to doing it all on my own. I make the lunches, do the laundry, pay the bills, email the teacher, schedule the doctor appointments, buy the gifts for friends’ birthday parties, sign up for summer camps and sports and everything else. (The everything else is a lot. It’s literally everything else, including working full time. Everything else doesn’t leave a lot of room for sleep.) I’ve gotten used to all these aspects and more, but I’m still not sure how I’m supposed to celebrate Mother’s Day as a single mom.
Every year it hits me like a ton of bricks. Every year this holiday creeps around the corner sometime after Easter and surprises me more than April Fool’s Day ever does. I grew up in a home where our dad took us to get our mom a gift or make her breakfast. There’s no one else in my home that’s going to help my son do that. It’s just he and I. Just us. It’s just the two of us. As this sinks in, I start to wonder, “Am I enough? Is this enough? Can I really handle all of this?” It’s all too easy to spiral out of control into that yucky place of self-doubt.
Far too often, reality is not in alignment with our picture-perfect social media selves and what society tells us we should be. This makes it easier for self-doubt to creep in and wreak havoc. As moms, we are told to be perfect. Schedule all the things! Go on all the play dates! Read all the books! Work out! Eat healthy! But still treat yourself! Treat your kid! (But not too much!) The constant barrage of conflicting messages is enough to make anyone’s head spin, let alone someone who had to spend 45 minutes explaining why toot-free zones are important. (Answer: because our friends don’t like smelling our flatulence, thank you very much.)
Writing this post, I’d like to imagine that I’m the ‘cool mom’ version of Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. (Minus all the smoking, of course.) In reality, I’m whining about a foot injury from stepping on Legos (again), the laundry pile is overflowing, there are dishes in the sink and I’m about as far as one can get from the Louboutin’s that Carrie Bradshaw would wear with my hair in a bun and a scrunchie while I sport peanut butter-stained yoga pants and a sweatshirt purchased from a beachside store on vacation some years ago. Reality is weird. It’s messy. Reality is hard.
I know I’m not alone in this though. The deep, dark scary place of self-doubt is far too easy for all of us moms to go to in times of trial. I try to avoid this deep, dark scary place of self-doubt at all costs. But I know when I go down there; I’ve got to get myself out of the muck and quick. It does nothing for my parenting or my self-esteem.
Recently I found myself in one of these spirals as I pondered Mother’s Day and what the heck my kiddo and I would do that day to celebrate. I went to one of the worst places to go to when spiraling too: social media. (Why we think it’s a good idea to mindlessly scroll all the creatively and carefully curated cubes of smiling children, trendy outfits and four-star meals when we’re feeling down on ourselves, I will never know!) I’m so glad I did though because I came across a song that’s featured in the new Ugly Dolls movie, which recently came out in theatres. The song is called “Broken and Beautiful” and it’s by Kelly Clarkson. The lyrics were captivating:
I know I’m superwoman,
I know I’m strong.
I know I’ve got this ‘cause I’ve had it all along.
I’m phenomenal. I’m enough…
I don’t need you to tell me who to be.
The tune is catchy. It’s one you can shake your hips to and scream-sing when you need to let it all out. I needed to hear these words at that moment, “I know I’ve got this ‘cause I’ve had it all along.” I reflected realizing that I’ve done this ‘single parent thing’ for 7 years. I’ve got it down pat. What was I stressing about? Mother’s Day was going to be great no matter what we did. Mother’s Day is just another day after all, but it’s another day I get to be my son’s mom. That’s what matters. I’m his mom and I’m phenomenal. I’m enough in all my perfect imperfections. I am enough. You are too.
So moms, let’s remember this battle cry in the good and the bad. Recently I’ve played it when I’m worn down and when I feel like I’ve done well too. I’ve leaned on it so many times since the first time I heard the song and will likely go back to it many times over. I don’t know what I’ll do on Mother’s Day yet, but I know it will be just my son and I. I know we will have a dance party in the living room with music that’s too loud and I’ll be sure to blast the one that reminds me I’m superwoman, gosh darn it.
And the next time I find myself saying, “I’m a single mom”, I’ll really be thinking, “I know I’m strong.”
You are too. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. You are all superwomen!