Confessions of a “Single” Mom
I am a single mom. Nope, not the typical kind without a husband. I have a perfectly wonderful husband. What I mean is, I am the mother of a single child, an only child. You know, boy mom, girl mom, twin mom, SINGLE mom. We have one perfect, lovely daughter and I do not think we will ever have any more children.
What expression is on your face right now? If you are looking at your screen like you just saw a ghost, then you probably don’t want to read the rest of this because you are the target of my current frustrations. If you are thinking something along the lines of “of course you want more children!” then click along your merry way, my friend. I am over you.
Allow me to share with you some actual statements directed to me by other moms:
You are selfish for only having one child.
You don’t become a real mom until you have your second child.
It’s not for YOU, you need to have another baby for HER.
Why don’t you want to have 2?
Don’t you want to give her a sibling?
Are you as appalled as I was by these? Am I crazy to think that these are rude and invasive statements? Let me tell you something, mamas, I am a pretty strong person but comments like this can wear you down. I had a moment this week and I broke, I let them get to me and I questioned my choices as a mother.
Was I doing wrong by my daughter for not planning on her sibling? Am I being selfish?
Thankfully, my husband talked me off the ledge, so to speak, and reminded me why I should never let anyone make me feel like a lesser mom simply because we are raising an only child.
An Only Child? Why Don’t You Have More?
No matter how many children you have, there are challenges, but to say motherhood doesn’t really begin until you have more than one child is insulting and insensitive. You do not know my story, my journey, that brought me to motherhood. Most likely it is vastly different from yours and everyone else’s.
Imagine if I had been trying, unsuccessfully, for years to become pregnant and this baby was our miracle child.
What if I was one of the countless mothers who had to have uterine surgery immediately upon birth, rendering me unable to conceive again?
I could be like far too many young women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer or have emergency hysterectomies before even hitting 30.
Perhaps I experienced such drastic depression and anxiety following the birth of my baby that I know it would be detrimental to my health (and therefore my family) to go through that again.
Or, I could simply be one of the many women who choose to have one child because that is what makes their family complete.
Not knowing which of these women I am, are you willing to play Russian roulette on the off chance you may sway my decision to better match your perception of my reality? I would hope not.
“Only” One Child?
My “single” mom status often robs me of the joy of sharing my daughter’s milestones and accomplishments. I am not a bragger and I try not to dominate any conversation with talk of my kid’s latest and greatest, (I mean, she eats holding a spoon in one hand and scooping up oatmeal in her free hand- I’m not saying she’s rain-man), but when she finally learned all her letters, I was excited! When I taught her to sign, I wanted to talk about how cool that was! But I can’t tell you how many of my “proud mommy moment” stories have been met with, “well, she’s an only child, so…”
So what?? So my daughter’s accomplishments don’t count? My parental successes are negated because she’s an only child? This is my first time creating and raising another human being, and I get pretty flippin’ excited when I do something right! Let me revel in my mommy moment! I am well aware of the fact that she is my only child and I have more time to spend teaching her the alphabet than, say, a mother of 4. But that mom of 4 only had ONE child at some point, and I’ll bet she was just as excited when #1 started walking as she was with #4. (I did my research here- I know a couple of these moms and I asked 🙂 )
A REAL Mom
I became a “real mom” on November 6, 2014. That is not Belle’s birthday. This is the day I found out I was pregnant, and I changed forever. This was the day that I began to put someone else before me.
I wasn’t sure if I would ever get to experience this day and I won’t soon forget it, because I likely won’t experience it again. There is a small window of time after you see those 2 pink lines where you are the only one who knows the good news. I remember sitting for just a few minutes and thinking. Praying. Just experiencing that moment and trying to rationalize the fact that I had a life inside me. Everything flashed through my head. I thought about the medical concerns, I worried about what I had been eating (or drinking…), I wondered what I needed to change to stay healthy, and on and on. That’s when you become a mom. And selfish? Well, there’s no one else on the planet who I would give up both coffee and wine for, so there’s that.
It’s All Relative
Everything is relative, right? Well, my only point of reference is my own mother: a mom of two girls, four years apart. She was loving, strict, and consistent. My mom valued time spent together and responsibility. (And chores 🙂 ) We never got everything we wanted but we always knew we were loved. Now 21 months into parenthood, I am loving, strict (as one can be with a 1.5 year old), and consistent (as one can be with a 1.5 year old). We spend as much time as possible together, and I even transferred from a school I loved to be closer to home and have more time with her. Belle does not get everything she wants, but still comes running to me when she needs some love or reassurance. Hopefully this means I am doing something right.
As a teacher, I devote a decent percentage of my life to other people’s children. I love teaching, and, after my own daughter, it is the reason I wake up in the morning, my purpose in life. Learning how to balance teaching with motherhood is a daily juggle, and as soon as I think I am good at it, I am reminded otherwise. Whether you are a working mom, a SAHM, a mom to triplets or a mother of an only child, you are a REAL mom. Trying to balance life with motherhood requires REAL effort, REAL sacrifices, and REAL humility.
Yes, there are many teachers/working moms who have multiple children at home. Does this make you a better mom? No, it makes you a busier mom. I work with dozens of awesome mothers and I respect the sacrifices they make for their families. On the flip side, I have taught children who have several siblings, and I was the closest thing they had to a mother. Having more children does not make you a better mom. (It does give you more practice!) It simply makes your motherhood experience different than mine. Don’t discount my only experience simply because you have had more.
Having only one kid is easy? Nope, having zero kids was easy.
Parenthood is hard, life changing, and uncharted territory. As a “single” mom, I have no other children to compare to, and no experience to bring to the table. Your first child, whether it is your only child or the first of many, is a difficult ride. You are flying the airplane as you build it!
If you have 4 kids, people ask if it was planned, if you have 1 kid, people ask why you don’t want more. If you don’t have any, they ask why not. I am not sure what the magic number is, but for my family, it is 1. We are a happy, healthy, family of 3. Plus a beagle.
Happy Mother’s Day
Moms are all perfectly imperfect. We love in the purest form, yet we struggle to get it right every day. As Mother’s Day approaches we need to lift each other up, celebrate each others successes, and empathize with each other’s failures. Every day I wish I could do something over. I think I probably have that in common with all of those “real” moms out there. We are all blessed to be called “Mommy,” whether you have only one tiny human calling you that, or more.
I am a real mom, and I know it’s too early in the game to call it- but so far, I think I’m a really good one.
I would love to hear your “single” mom stories, share your experiences with me in the comments, or shoot me an e-mail! Remember, we are all in this together 🙂 ~ Ashley