Who wants to be a single mother?
I never wanted to be a single mother. No one dreams of being a single mother, or says “when I grow up I want to be a single mother” (#lifegoals)! But what is it about being a single mother that makes people so terrified? And more importantly, why does the term “single mother” seem to be synonymous with “terrible mother”? Why the single mother stigma?
There was a video in The Guardian last week which brought it all up again for me, and it’s been on my mind ever since.
The Single Mother Stigma
So, let’s talk about the social stigma of being a single mum. I never thought much about single mothers before becoming one, but when I did become one I didn’t think negatively of single mums at all.
I thought they were brave, brave women. But I did still think there was a social stigma and I did not want to be put in the single mum category. I thought that instantly people would think that I was stupid, uneducated, and a drain on the economy. I thought they would think that I should never have had a child, that my daughter would grow up disadvantaged and that I was scraping by, and barely keeping it together.
All I could think about was that beef TV ad… “I’m a single mum with a daaughhta” where, pretty much, the implication is that single mothers are run down and tired. Was this how I was going to be thought of forever going forward? Shit!
Why does society look down on mothers who are single, and not fathers? Single mothers are often thought of as run down, unkempt, dole bludging, irresponsible, exhausted, possibly drug addicted, irresponsible, selfish, young people who cannot get their shit together. The implications is that it’s our fault we are single. Meanwhile, single fathers are looked at as being heroes. Wow, how does he do it? He does it all on his own; amazing! WHAT A CHAMPION!
Why can’t single mothers and single fathers just be treated equally? And for that matter just equally as parents? I am a mother, who happens to be single. That’s it.
Aren’t we all the same? Just mothers? Single or not? What does our relationship status have to do with our quality of life? Our ability to raise a child? Our intelligence?
It really makes me mad when I see society being so judgmental. New single mothers feel bad enough as it is, without the judgement and ignorance of society thrown in too. Most single mothers didn’t ask to be one. Some are single mothers because their husbands or partners have passed away suddenly, and some were cheated on. Some are single because they have fled a domestic violent relationship, or a partner with addiction.
In my eyes that makes someone strong, brave, capable, independent, fierce and protective of her children. It doesn’t make them a bad mother. Sometimes relationships just run their course and there is disharmony, toxicity and sadness in the home. Is it not better for children to be raised in a happy and mentally healthy home?
I know that my daughter and I wouldn’t be as happy as we are today, if her father and I were still together. My daughter has two parents that love her more than anything. We are no longer together, and that is OK.
The trouble is that so many people worldwide in the government and media have a terrible opinion of single mothers. As mentioned in The Guardian video , in 2011, after the riots in England, Prime Minister David Cameron said “I don’t doubt that many of the rioters out last week had no dad at home”. Seriously?
In 1998, Margaret Thatcher said that the children of lone mothers were better off in the care of a very good religious organisation, so that they could grow up with family values. WTF?
More recently in 2013, Richard Land, US Southern Baptist leader, called on single mothers to put up their kids for adoption so that Christian households with two parents could raise them. I can’t tell you how much this upset me when I heard that statement at the time. It really got to me, and I cried about it for days. I had never felt so judged and looked down upon IN MY LIFE. I was a new single mother, and I was devastated. Now I just think he’s an idiot.
Luckily we also have many amazing people in the media and government who are representing single mothers really well. Barrack Obama for example was raised by a single mother. And what an amazing man he turned out to be!
When people say “I feel like a single mother” (which let me tell you, frustrates us single mothers to no end), what they are really saying is “I do everything on my own. Poor me. I’m exhausted and hard done by”. It’s downright offensive.
Letting go of the single mother stigma
We need to let go of the single mother stigma! Most single mothers I know are strong, independent, hardworking, educated, motivated, happy, and fun women. Yes, at first it can be challenging. It’s certainly an adjustment emotionally, physically, mentally and logistically. But most single mothers who have got through 2-3 years of being a single parent are absolutely loving life, extremely happy, getting shit done and f***king owning their life. Our children are our number one priority, just like any other mother. And life is bloody amazing.
I have met hundreds of single mothers over the last 4 years (#notkidding) and they are all kicking bloody ass.
I have grown to love the term “single mum”. To me, it represents strength, courage, and resourcefulness. I have surrounded myself with single mums, and they are all intelligent, educated, loving, confident, independent women, who would do anything for their child.
I am a single mum, that is a fact, and I am also a strong, smart, and independent woman, and a loving mum who would do anything for her child. We are not failures at all, we are a success for getting ourselves out of a toxic relationship and doing what’s best for our children.