Perhaps the more accurate title for this post should be “Questions Asked By THIS Single Mom.” All single moms don’t have the same worries and doubts. Just like working moms or lesbian moms or stay-at-home moms — we are not a monolith. But maybe there are some other moms who, like me, are raising kids solo. And maybe they can relate to the questions that fill my mind during those (rare) quiet moments of my day.
Let me preface by saying that the tone of some of these questions might come across as negative. But then, questions about our own parenting and value often are. Let me be clear, though. Parenthood, single or not, is the greatest part of my life. I tell my kids every night, “Every day, I am so honored that I was chosen to be your mom.” That being said, my thoughts sometimes follow these paths:
Am I enough?
No. I’m not. And I’m not supposed to be. I read several years ago that in an “ideal family,” children still need at least five people other than their parents to invest in their lives. That number rises for kids who grow up in single-parent homes.
I need men around who will model for my son what it means to be a husband and a father. He needs someone to show him how to shave and put on a necktie. He needs to know a man who is kind and strong and vulnerable. I need these same men to model for my daughter what it means to respect and honor women. She must know what it means to have a father figure affirm and praise her in a way that a mom cannot.
I need other women to stand alongside me, to love my children and to care enough about the people my son and daughter are becoming to discipline and guide them. It is my strong belief that we all need a village as parents. But maybe single parents need a few more residents.
Will they appreciate me?
This is, admittedly, a selfish question. During these days of eye rolls and asking why I can’t come to every school event and evenings filled with laundry and dishes and worry, I sometimes allow myself a moment in which I fast forward to my daughter’s college graduation. She makes a speech that includes something like, “I would not be here without my mom. She raised my brother and me to be confident and independent and curious about the world around us. It wasn’t easy being a single mom, but she did her best to afford us every opportunity in life.”
By this point in my daydream, I sit in the crowd of proud families with tears streaming down my face. I’m not proud of the fact that I sometimes long for the day that the non-stop, consuming work of single parenthood is recognized by my offspring. But I admit to you here that it happens.
How do they view love?
When a baby is dedicated at my church, my pastor often says, “The most important gift parents can give a child is loving one another.” My children have no memory of their parents living together. What they would remember if they could would not be super awesome. My son has asked if I’ve ever kissed his dad before. Yes. My daughter wants to know if I loved him. Yes.
But I can tell that they both have a lot of trouble grasping my responses. It doesn’t seem to fit with what they know. The concept of having parents in a loving partnership? Completely foreign to them. It is important to me that my children spend time observing healthy relationships. I want them to learn that marriage and commitment are wonderful. I wish I could be the one to offer that lesson. However, I am thankful for friends who serve as important role models instead.
Who am I?
I think every mom goes through a season in which she loses her sense of self. She wonders who she is outside of taking care of her children. For many years, my identity has come from being a mom and from my work. I find both roles very fulfilling. But, I worry that there is not much to me outside of that.
I have not been in a relationship or really even dated since my divorce seven years ago. So, the part of me that feels like a grown woman? The woman attracted to men and who has those feelings reciprocated? The part of me that engages in adult conversations and decisions? That me is practically non-existent.
I also have thoughts such as, “I would love to train for a marathon or read more books or do more volunteer work or learn to grow a beautiful garden in my backyard or finally hang curtains in my house after living there the better part of a year.” But I don’t do these things. I just run the same hamster wheel every day. And even though you know exactly where you are going when you run in the same circle over and over again? Sometimes I feel lost.
How did I get so lucky to be given the gift of loving two people so much?
Before I go to bed every night, I walk into my kids’ rooms. I kiss them on the cheek and tell them that I love them. As I watch them sleep, I study their faces. I can become overwhelmed by the notion that I get to raise and love and guide these two amazing people.
In those tender moments, I resolve to do better by them. I will pay more attention and model maturity and patience and make sure they have the life skills that they need. Though I always fall short in the light of the following day, that doesn’t stop me from trying again. I love my little family. We have created a home that values teamwork, honesty, and laughter while also hosting fights and hurt feelings and frustrations. I am thankful that I get to lead all of us through the good and the bad. Nothing I do is more important than being Mom.