Chances are good that you know at least one single mom. And single parenting is really hard, especially the kind that I do—the kind that doesn’t involve any substantial presence of the other parent. There are no breaks. Many people see you as detrimental to your child, no matter how awesome you strive to be.
You are constantly battling to find child care so that you can go to work in order to provide some kind of life for your child. You worry about the amount of influence that babysitters and daycare workers are having on how your child is raised. I could go on and on and on about all the ways that single parenting is the absolute worst.
What doesn’t get talked about much are the ways that single parenting is absolutely amazing. Which is a shame, because even though it’s hard, I know I have had some very special experiences that were only possible because I’m a single parent:
1) Nobody To Argue With
Ever. About anything. I call all the shots. I picked my son’s name, got him circumcised and vaccinated, chose his schools, doctors, church, clothes, and every other thing myself. I get to choose our life. And it’s fantastic.
2) Nobody To Share With
Because my son’s father is 600 miles away, I rarely have to share time with him right now. At some point as my son gets older, I’m sure he will start to take trips to see his dad, but for the moment, I never have to worry about those sad drop-off times or weekends without my baby. I also get the lion’s share of my son’s love and affection. There is no parental competition. Nobody ever feels resentful that a kid is choosing their other parent. I’m it. I get 99% of the snuggles, kisses, hugs, I love you’s, school projects, silly songs, special gifts, and every other thing that a parent treasures.
3) Knowing I Really Am Awesome
It’s true that you don’t know how strong you are until you are forced to find out. I get asked all the time, “How do you do it?” And the honest answer is, “I don’t have a choice.” Every day I get up and do what I have to do, because I want to give my kid everything—because he deserves everything. If you can survive and thrive as a single parent, you have some hard-core confirmation that you are a warrior. With each season of fighting through hard things, I am able to stop for a second and recognize that I am a fighter. I fight for my family every day. I don’t always appreciate or give myself the grace and credit that I should, but every now and then I have no problem straight-up gloating that I have accomplished a whole lot in the last six years.
4) Teaching Love, Acceptance, Tolerance, and Inclusion
When you are part of a minority group—any minority group—you have an opportunity to teach your kids about the special and beautiful ways our differences make us all wonderful. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and because our family isn’t “traditional,” my son has no reason to look down on or judge other non-traditional families. Instead, we talk about how every family is different and special, and all the people in our lives that love us. We talk about making people feel loved and how we can include everyone around us in our lives. We talk about the way God loves us all the same, and how we need to remember that when we have conflicts with others. We talk about how we are lucky to have all of the things we have, and why we need to bring that awareness into our interactions with others by giving people the benefit of the doubt, being loving, sticking up for what’s right, and showing grace and forgiveness.
Single parenting can be difficult for a billion reasons, but it can also be a blessing and opportunity. My life isn’t always easy, but it is full—it is satisfying, and it is packed with so much love.
QUESTION: What is unique about your path as a parent? What strengths have you drawn from it?
CHALLENGE: Take some time to think about a single mom you know, and decide on one thing you can do to support her this week.
Edited by Cathryn Matheson, Amanda Lewis, and Becky Fawcett.
Image from Shutterstock, graphics by Anna Jenkins.