Most mothers feel mommy guilt at one point or another.
Whether it’s guilt from working outside of the home or the guilt that a mother feels when her child gets hurt on her watch. Expectations are placed on us by society, family and friends, the father of our children, and most importantly ourselves.
There is a belief that you should be the perfect mother, and that you somehow aren’t living up to that role. When we fall short, we feel guilty.
Single mother guilt is different from mother guilt.
By single mother, I mean a woman raising her child on her own with little to no help from the child’s father.
The guilt that single mothers feel is exacerbated because we don’t have the other parent to depend on. Since we do a job made for two, on our own, the expectation to “do it all” is not just a desire, but a necessity.
My ex and I broke up very early in my pregnancy and I had to deal with the reality that my child would be raised in a one-parent home. I was guilt-ridden about the situation. I thought about the worst case scenarios, and my pregnancy hormones, vivid imagination, and worrisome personality did a number on me.
I wanted so badly for my son to be raised in a household with both parents, since I did not grow up in a household with my father.
After my son was born, the situation with his father and I escalated, and for much of his life his father has been absent.
During the first few years, I cried my eyes out thinking about what all of this meant for my son…
Would he resent me?
Could I have done more to make his father be present?
Would my son be a Black boy lost?
Would I need to overcompensate for the absentee parent?
I overanalyzed the situation and blamed myself so much so that it took a little bit away from the joy of being a mother.
After much praying, a lightbulb went off in my head.
I was a good mother and I strived to be great. I was there for my son one hundred percent. I did it all; I was it all. I had an amazing son and support system…why should I beat myself up and blame myself for the actions and inactions of a grown man?
I gave myself permission to let go of the picture-perfect idea that I had in my head, and accept and make the best of what was.
I let myself off the hook, for the most part. All I could do was my best, and clearly I’ve done something right.
That doesn’t change the fact that it takes a lot of effort and sometimes struggle. Every aspect his life is managed by me. If I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done.
I would love for his father to be consistent in his life, but if and until that happens I am a proud single mother and I will continue to get it done. I will not feel guilty about the things I cannot control. I am entirely too busy raising him into a young man to allow my guilt to get the best of me.
Most women do not set out to be single mothers, but as with many things in life, unplanned things happen. Single mothers have to let go of whatever guilt they feel and stop trying to overcompensate for the absentee fathers. All we can do is be the best mothers that we can be.
We can never be fathers and we are not meant to be.
The guilt of trying to do both and failing will take away from the amazing journey that we are on with our children. As long as they are taken care of and are loved, we have done our job.
Don’t feel guilty about the other parent does or does not do. That’s on them.
Let go of the guilt, forget what should have or could have been, and embrace what is and what’s to come.
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