The Single Mom Guilt is:
- Guilt for not being there.
- For making them do more than they should.
- For the bad grades they get because you aren’t there to help with their homework.
- For the messy rooms they have to live in because you are too exhausted to help them organize it.
- For every time you have to say no, because you cant afford it.
- For the cold cereal dinners.
- For the embarrassing junky car you force them to ride in.
- For them having to get themselves up in the morning, or tuck themselves in a night because you work crazy hours.
- For the teeny, tiny apartment.
- For snapping at them because you are stressed and tired, and you don’t mean it.
I compensated for this guilt with little treats, toys, and outings, when I had an extra few dollars. It was never anything really big, maybe a trip to the dollar store or a show at the dollar theater, roller skating, a happy meal. But it was still done out of guilt and it made me feel better to see them smile or excited, even just for a few minutes. But it was money I didn’t have to spend, money that could have gone to bills or savings, more guilt!
My Single Mom Guilt was not legitimate guilt, I do right by them. I’m not out at bars, clubs or on dates. I’m working hard to provide for us and accepting this eased the guilt immensely.
One day my son asked me if we were poor. After my heart cracked, I took a deep breath and asked him if he had a bed to sleep in, toys to play with, food to eat, clothes to wear? He said yes. I asked him if he was happy? He said yes. I asked him if he felt loved? And he smiled and said, “Wow. I guess we are rich after all. Rich with love.” One of my best mom moments!
I explained to him (and my daughter) that every family is different and will have different things and do different stuff, but it’s not those things that are important. I told them they should never compare themselves to anyone else nor should they judge anyone else, based on the stuff they have. They should always think about how they feel on the inside, the joy, the trust, and the love they feel in their family and hope that other children are as lucky as they are.
I now compensate for The Single Mom Guilt by the quality of the time I spend with them, not the amount of time. By going for a walk instead of sitting in front of the TV. Eating dinner at the table, even if it is cold cereal. Coloring in coloring books then tacking them to the wall as art. Playing board games. Dance party (turning on some music and dancing like idiots for a bit). Painting my daughters finger nails and letting her paint mine. Building Lego’s with my son. Just listening to them talk and talk, which is probably the most valuable time I spend with my kids.