Hey there, awesome readers.
Welcome to the last post of this series.
Just so you know, I’m writing this from under a blanket. Partly because I’m in the middle of an insomnia party with the hamster, but also because since embarking on this journey of strolling down memory lane, I’ve been stuck between the past and the present and now I’m slightly lost.
It’s funny how walking through a maze of memories that hang like drying bedsheets across your mind can invoke such an array of emotions.
Clearly, I spent much of my time as a young, single mother hanging out with guilt. My original goal with this series was to tell other young, single mothers: DON’T DO IT.
Guilt is not your friend.
I was touched one morning when I received a message from a reader:
That last one killed me. You and I are truly kindred spirits. My kids aren’t grown yet and I can’t help feeling I’m already an epic fail. Fucking up constantly. Wishing I could do it all over again.
This reader mirrors how we ALL feel at some time or other. Guilt is a powerful and evil force that makes us blame ourselves for everything – whether it’s in our control or not.
This is a lie.
It’s okay to be tired. It’s okay to vent. It’s even okay to feel frustrated.
If the windows are open and the neighbours can hear us yelling, this doesn’t make us bad mothers. It makes us human. (And who cares what the neighbours think, anyway?)
Yes, we will screw up. We’ll yell when we shouldn’t. We’ll blame our kids for the amount of homework they have. We’ll even resent Martha Stewart for our lack of home-making skills.
The good news is that kids are resilient. And while they may believe that we’re perfect, our screw-ups are an opportunity. A chance to show our children that it’s okay to be wrong sometimes. It’s okay to be so tired that you let tomorrow take care of itself. Dust bunnies that roll out from under the couch when a friend drops in … this doesn’t define us, but rather reveals that our limited time has been spent elsewhere. So. What?
We interrupt this post with a Pop Quiz
It’s been a long day. The sink is hosting a gathering of dirty dishes, the laundry is yelling at you, your kids’ backpacks are bursting with homework, and suddenly your daughter springs a big one on you: she needs 28 cupcakes for the class party *gasp* tomorrow!
On a scale from one to panic, you:
A) Freak out.
B) Rush to the grocery store and buy three boxes of pre-made cupcakes. No wait! Four boxes. You need one for the drive home. You know. Just to make sure they’re fresh.
C) Run around your kitchen like a frenzied turkey and start baking.
D) Tell your daughter not to worry. You got up at 3 a.m. and the cupcakes are in the fridge. Oh, and they’re packaged in a pretty carry-box that you managed to pick up on your way home from work.
If you answered D), congratulations. You’re Mary Poppins.
The typical reaction, and therefore real answer is either A+B or A+C. (Sorry. I didn’t mean to throw algebra into this.)
As parents in general, and single mothers in particular, it’s important for our own sanity that we never, EVER use the words “perfect” and “parenting” in the same sentence. We really are our own worst enemies and this stems from a super-human ability to look at ourselves from the outside and judge our every thought … our every decision … our every reaction.
In truth, a little guilt is a good sign. It means we care about our children. It means we really want the best for them. And even though our envisioned best may not meet with expectations of fairytale TV lives, our best IS the best. Truly.
As Eleanor Roosevelt once said:
“You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give.”
Isn’t that great advice?
Okay, I’m coming out from under the blanket now.
Previous posts from this series:
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