Open Letter To Single Moms On Father’s Day

Dear Single Moms:

First, kudos to you! We give you the utmost respect and admiration. You sacrifice and put your children first. Sleepless nights, no days off, runny noses, tears and so much more is what you have your hands full with. Your love is repaid with butterfly kisses, big hugs, cuddles, and I love you’s.

For all of the wonderful things you do, for all of the irreplaceable moments you’re there for, you’ll always be an awesome mother.  However, I’m going to say something that you may not agree with.  While you play the role of both parents for your children, you can never be the father.

Greeting cards companies have now started making Father’s day cards for single moms. The reason a mother AND father are needed in a family is because they both play very distinct, but very different roles. The ideal situation is to have both parents in the home. However, it’s not always possible. Even in situations where it’s not possible, the mother is still the mother, and the father is still the father.

If single mothers are now taking credit for Father’s day, should single fathers take credit for Mother’s day? Each parent should be an active part of their child’s life. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. When we become parents, we decide to do what we need to for our children, even if that means taking over where another parent may fall short.

While we don’t get extra credit for doing what we have to do, we earn it through our children. Our children grow up and recognize the sacrifice we make for them. They recognize even when their parent has to fill in for the other parent. As a single mom, you play an important role in your child’s life, an irreplaceable role, but you are still not a father. Please do not wish single moms a happy father’s day unless you’re going to wish single fathers a happy mother’s day. I’m sure many will disagree with this, and that’s ok. A woman can not teach a child from a father’s standpoint because she has never been one. That’s like saying a woman can teach a man how to be a man.  No, she can not. She can teach him what her idea of a man is, but she will never speak from a place of personal experience.

So single moms, you ladies are awesome! You all rock!  Please continue to celebrate Mother’s day.  *In my Maury voice* You are not the father! Please don’t feel like I’m taking anything from you, because I’m not. This is just the reality of things.

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3 Things I Learned from Divorce

Most divorces are not mutual understandings between two mature and rational adults that have simply decided their relationship had run its course. More times than not, there is an array of hurt, frustration, anger, resentment, bitterness, and general pissed off-ness. The reality of unmet expectations are a key source of these. After all, no one goes into a marriage believing or expecting their relationship will end. Rather things happen, people change, and sometimes spouses become toxic to each other and the relationship dies.

One day I looked up and despite my best laid plans, I was in a marriage alone. When he did come home, there was no communication and whether we think they cannot hear or understand, the arguments between mommy and daddy were changing my little girl. It had to end and it did. Going through a divorce, yes, I learned a lot about the legal process. But it was what I learned about myself that has been most valuable.

I learned how to separate my needs from my wants.  During my divorce process I wanted my ex never to part his lips to me again. However, I needed him to communicate with me for the sake of our child and for my own emotional closure. I wanted him to just leave me alone. But I needed our child to feel loved and have access to her father and mother together in the same room, at the same time. I wanted to pack up everything, move and live a new life as though the previous ten years never happened. I needed to stay near my support system and be mentally present so I could respond effectively to the constant changes of my new reality.

Spousal support, child support, visitation, property division – there can be a mound of items pulling for your attention. Keep your focus. There are certain things that need to be primary on your to-do-lists to ensure you and your child(ren)’s well-being. Do not be distracted by hurt feelings and your personal desires until you compromise those needs. Control your emotions. Stay rational and remain clear. Necessities first.

I learned how to manage my time and resources. Through the separation then divorce process, I was thrown into single parenthood. Single moms doing it and doing it well are definitely to be commended. But if I wanted to be a single mom, I would not have waited until I was married to have my daughter. The expectation was that the duties, challenges, and successes of one of the greatest jobs on earth (parenthood) would be shared with my husband. Simply because my marriage ended did not mean the responsibilities of parenthood ended. For that matter, neither did the responsibilities of maintaining a household and running a business.

Doctor and parent-teacher appointments still need to be attended. A landlord still needs to be paid. Food and clothing still needs to be purchased. Summer camps still need to be secured and you are only one person. If you stretch yourself too thin giving all of you personally and financially to the lawyers, the ex, the children, and the job, you will have nothing left for yourself. Manage your time wisely to include “me time” and quality bonding time with your child. Utilize your resources. Trusted family and proven friends that make up your personal community are there to support you. Drop the pride and allow them to help. You would be surprised how far a ride from school, a recital attendance, or a playdate with cousins will go in reminding your child they are loved and giving you a much needed hand.

I learned that I am tougher than I thought. When my marriage ended I jumped into survival mode. I had to step up as the head of my household. I had taken care of myself before but there is not as much at risk when you are a grad students living in a one room efficiency, sleeping on a futon, and eating pizza every night as when you have a child. Failure was not an option. I had one chance to give this child what she needed to be successful and productive in life and I was not about to let that be compromised because her father did not want to be a constant and active part of the process. But it was hard…real hard.

I cried alone in the dark while she slept. I apologized often and made up excuses for the void of her other parent. When the weight became overwhelming I even considered how I could end my life. I thought how much better she would be without me. But despite the challenges, the hard times, or toxic thoughts, I woke up every morning and did my best. I looked in my child’s face and saw my purpose for pressing through each day.

Divorce can be hard. Some processes are more tumultuous than others. Some are quick and easy legally but the emotional wounds aim to destroy your spirit. Know that no matter how dark it may get, you are tougher than you think. There are lessons you can learn and apply to other areas of your life and to your next relationship. There is some self-love that went untapped because your focus was your spouse and your child. Tap into it and remember you are important and worthy of love. The conclusion of your marriage does not define who you are or what you have to offer. At the end of the tunnel is a chance for you to look back and share with someone else going through what you learned from divorce.

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