Well hello there, awesome readers!
You need to stop putting everyone else first – and that includes your children.
Let’s face it: focusing on everyone else’s needs ALL THE TIME is exhausting. What ends up happening is the final hours of the day appear *poof* and we realize that we have no energy left for ourselves … for our own dreams and aspirations.
We put our kids to bed. We check our to-do list to make sure we haven’t forgotten anything “important”. And then we put ourselves to bed. The next day we wake up to the same routine of getting shit done before we burn out. Making lunches. Folding laundry. Helping our kids with their homework. Shall I go on? Nah. You know what I’m talking about.
And yet the thought of doing something for yourself makes you feel guilty. I know this because I’ve been there. (In fact, I wrote about this in my book, SUPERWOMAN: A Funny and Reflective Look at Single Motherhood. Front and back covers pictured above.)
Here’s the deal. Guilt is an ugly, stinky monster that sits heavy on your chest while eating at the center of your brain. It even wakes you up at night. You have a responsibility to your kids, true that. But you also have a responsibility to yourself.
You see, once upon a long time ago I was just like you. Mr. What-Was-I-Thinking was out of our lives – mine and my girls’ (I’m referring to their “father” *insert eyerolling*) – and I was left holding the bag … all the bags. The laundry bag. The grocery bag. The homework bag. With no parental or financial support from him, everything fell on me. Much of the time I was hyperventilating from breathing in the flames of my own red-hot to-do list.
Oh sure, I had dreams. I had goals. I wanted to make my mark in the world. But WHEN? With no guidance and no direction, I didn’t know where to turn except back to the laundry room to fold another load of towels. What I would have loved – NEEDED – was someone to help me get out of survival mode and get back my sense of purpose.
It is for this reason that I am now looking to partner with either an individual (therapist, life coach, etc.) or organization (educational, personal development, etc.) to help single mothers get the help they need to remember who they are: mothers, yes. But also, women with goals and aspirations of their very own.
I truly believe that the saddest thing in the world is forgotten potential. The reason why I wrote SUPERWOMAN in the first place, was to connect with other single mothers and remind them that they are not alone; that in order for their lives to have meaning, they need a sense purpose.
Raising children is an important job. Perhaps the most important job of all. And in order to be our very best at it, we need to first feel happy and fulfilled. Mastering this is our obligation to ourselves. It is our obligation to our children. If we’re not happy, they’re not happy.
Dear Younger Me …
I’m sorry that you didn’t have someone to tell you this when you were a young, single mother. But now that I know (at THIS age), it is my obligation to tell others.
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Donna McCarthy says
So true, we are left holding all the bags. I was going to call my single-motherhood story ‘hands full’, because my hands were always holding something, Like Willy Loman hunched over dragging those suitcases, the things in my hands seemed to become heavier and heavier with the passage of time. I was forever lugging something up the stairs, down the hall, into the car, over the fence or through the snow. I wanted my hands back. To hold something that I needed or wanted. I made notes to myself to go back for whatever that was. But ‘only moms’ seldom get to bring the things we want home. Which is probably a good thing, because if we did, where would we put them?
Mona Andrei says
Ha! So well said, Donna! And “Hands Full” is an AWESOME title for a single mother story. Two words for you: Write. It. (Pretty please?)