Top 6 Things a Single Mom Wants to Hear…And The 5 That Could Make Her Lose Her Sh*t
Wearing my single motherhood on my sleeve leaves me open to unsolicited comments, both positive and negative. While there are some that I would like to hear over and over again, there are others that have me wanting to say, “Will you please just shut the f**k up?”
Let’s start off with the positive ones:
1. “Can we come over your house for dinner?”
After Ellie goes to bed at 7:30pm, I am alone. All alone. In the evenings when I’m not buried under a pile of work - I would do anything to have company. Offering to come over for dinner makes things infinitely easier because it eliminates that ticking time bomb called bedtime, and allows for me to enjoy company long after Ellie has fallen asleep. And offering to bring something makes a good day, a-ma-zing, because it is one less decision I have to make.
2. “Let me hang out with Ellie while you go to the grocery store.”
Open ended offers of help are very kind, but the last thing a single mom wants to do is feel needy, so instead of saying, “If you ever need help, let me know,” something as simple as, “If you want me to watch Ellie while you go grocery shopping on Saturday, let me know, I am free all morning,” is much easier to say yes to. And extremely appreciated.
3. “When you are at the grocery store – TAKE YOUR TIME!”
Most errands are crammed into the 3.8 seconds of free time I have, which means – I throw Ellie in the stroller, bring my re-usable grocery bags, and run through the aisles throwing stuff in the bottom of the stroller, and when Ellie reaches the breaking point – we leave. I never manage to remember everything. And I don’t take my time peeing – so being told to take my time grocery shopping is a little slice of heaven.
4. “My husband will watch her while we go out for ________ (fill in the blank).”
This is one of my favorite sentences because it is multi-layered in its benefits. First of all, I think it is very important for Ellie to spend time around positive male role models. Second, husbands don’t charge hourly to watch her. Third, this means that mom gets to do something with a friend.
5. “I’ll be right there.”
Dealing with being a single parent on an emotional level is one thing. But managing it on a logistical level is something entirely different, and honestly, it can be extremely frightening at times. Recently I had a terrible stomach bug, and Ellie’s one-year molars were breaking through all in the same 24-hour period of time. I couldn’t go more than 10 minutes without vomiting and Ellie had been sleepless and crying for over an hour. I sent a friend a text at 2am telling her what was going on, and she replied saying, “I’ll be right there.” 20-minutes later, I had physical help and peace of mind. Priceless.
6. “You are doing a great job.”
Parenting all by yourself frequently means that almost all of your hard work goes unnoticed, all day, every day. And not that you are parenting for prizes, but sometimes a little encouragement goes a long way – especially when you haven’t slept in three nights.
***And then there are those things that absolutely drive me nuts, that some people seem to be unable to hold back from saying.
1. “If it makes you feel any better my husband isn’t any help.”
Um…I’m not sure how to say this politely, so I am going to just come out with it. Shut up. Please shut up. I have been around these supposed “no help husbands” and they are a much bigger help than an absentee father. Much bigger. Do they do as much work related to the kids and the house as mom? Maybe not. But in most cases, they do contribute a whole heap more than nothing to your family. I’ll make a deal with you - I will never pretend to know how much it takes to keep a long-term committed relationship going until I successfully have one. And you won’t pretend to know what it is like to be the head of a single parent household, until you do so (and I really hope you never have to).
2. “What are you going to do about _______(fill in the blank)?”
Bringing up worries that mom has either chosen to put on the back burner right now, or that haven’t happen yet, is equivalent to her walking down the street on a nice sunny day and being hit in the head with an anvil. Pretty much kills the momentum of the good day. So try not to project your parenting woe of the moment on to a person who isn’t there yet.
3. “Why didn't you have an abortion?”
This one really gets me. And here is my answer once and for all - if you need to ask the question, you don’t know me well enough to deserve an answer. And asking is incredibly insulting to my daughter. So shut the f**k up. Please.
4. “Does it bother you that she doesn’t look anything like you?”
Um…well I happen to think my daughter is really one of the most beautiful little people I have ever seen, much more beautiful than I was as a little girl – so no, it doesn’t.
5. “What do people say about her father not being there?”
Focusing on what is missing, instead of what is present is really insulting – to me. And I’d really like to teach my daughter to focus on the things she does have control over, and her response to those, instead of things she doesn’t. So just please, keep you curiosity to yourself, and leave the father questions off the table.
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