...that a lot of other "coupled" moms need to reassure themselves that you are worse off than they are to reaffirm their own choices?
Not all of them, mind you... just the unhappy ones I guess. I am so sick of pity and condescension, it hurts. Why can't women be more supportive and encouraging of each other? Why do we have to tear each other down when we should be building each other up? Does anyone else feel this way?
I really feel like the majority of "coupled" moms I encounter spend a lot of energy trying to tell me what I can't do because I'm a single mother to assuage their remorseful feelings about their own lives. Part of me gets defensive and angry, like "how dare you tell me what I can and can't do!", but mostly I want to tell them that they are under-estimating not just me, but themselves! Don't tell me "it was hard enough on me when I did that, and I had help... I would never have been able to do that as a single mom." How do you know? I'll bet you could. I'll bet you'd have done it even better as a single mom. Or shaming me for my aspirations by telling me that it will detract from my time with my kid, thus inferring I am a bad and selfish mother. Did it ever occur to you that I'm trying to be an example to my kid? Yikes. Am I some how less able to strike a work-life balance than other working parents because of my single status? I don't get it. These criticisms come largely from other working moms too... it's just weird to me.
Does anyone else encounter this? I really do not feel like being a single parent is harder at all. I truly believe that I am better off without the added layer of a relationship to deal with. Yes, being a mom is hard in general... and as a single mom, I have one less income to support us, and one less helper around the house, which can be challenging (although in my case, I don't miss the money or the help because it was never there in the first place), but I don't have to deal with all that other crap. Maybe they see me as sad because I don't know what it's like to have true love in my life or some other such crap, and that's quite fine by me, but the women I know who do have healthy, loving relationships (like my lovely sister) aren't like that at all. They are supportive and wonderful. So, what gives?
I'm just discouraged by the lack of love and support among women who really ought to be building each other up. Thanks for reading if you got this far. I just needed to vent I guess, so I didn't feel the need to search out and infiltrate an ancient tribal matriarchal village of some sort. Ugh.
On a slightly related note, if one more person tells me that I shouldn't try to do something because of the high potential for failure, I'm going to pop 'em in the nose!! I have never in my life been told so much about how difficult something is and how I might want to reconsider it, as when I dared to voice my desire to go to graduate school. I am thus far qualified and I'm trying to take course work to further qualify me, but I have been met with so much resistance. I've done the cost-benefit analysis. The risk is very low. The reward is very high and the probability of success is below average, but it makes sense to at least try. I'm not a moron. I didn't get to be a single mom nearing 40 in undergraduate school without figuring out that failure is a part of life and that it sucks, but discouraging me from even TRYING??!! What is wrong with this picture?? I have a GPA that will let me graduate with honors for goodness' sake. Arg!!
When I started the divorce process, I got "do you really need to do that?" and "is he really that bad?" and "what's the big deal?!" and "how are you going to support your kids without him?" on and on and on...
Uuummm, YES! he's that bad! YES I really do need to leave him. And I have no clue how I'll manage... but I know I have to, so I'll make it work somehow!!! And yeah, in hindsight I do know that some of the nay-sayers were really unhappy in their situations.
Doing school and parenting these crazy wonderful kids all by myself is the hardest thing I've ever done and some days it does suck but I love it and it's the best thing for my family and I wouldn't change anything!
Single student mama to dd 5/04 and ds 11/07.
I haven't heard this much. Although I generally am a private person, aside from my close friends who get the whole scoop. I try to put it in perspective that those women are at a different place in life to not have that feeling that they can't live in their situation any longer.... Maybe that's not what you're getting at. I guess I just think that they haven't been faced with having to do xyz.
For myself I find people expect me to be able to do things that just don't work for me. And maybe I'm in a different place too that my parenting is still the priority when it can be... What I mean is I won't be joining a book club that meets during my kid's bedtime... I can't afford the babysitter, and I would rather do bedtime for consistency.
I really feel like the majority of "coupled" moms I encounter spend a lot of energy trying to tell me what I can't do because I'm a single mother to assuage their remorseful feelings about their own lives. Part of me gets defensive and angry, like "how dare you tell me what I can and can't do!", but mostly I want to tell them that they are under-estimating not just me, but themselves! Don't tell me "it was hard enough on me when I did that, and I had help... I would never have been able to do that as a single mom." How do you know? I'll bet you could. I'll bet you'd have done it even better as a single mom.
Or maybe the "coupled" moms intend such comments to seem supportive and affirming. Women often try to support each other with expressions of sympathy and validation of what the supporter believes are the other person's feelings or experiences. A married mom may (quite understandably) assume it's harder to raise kids alone. To imagine herself as a single parent, she would also have to imagine a major separation or the death of her partner. Therefore, she may (again understandably) assume that, in your position, she would welcome others' sympathy and recognition of how much she has on her plate.
Comments like, "I would never have been able to do what you do, if I were a single mom" can also be taken to mean, "Wow! You've accomplished something I imagine would be difficult. I'm impressed."...instead of condescension.
I do understand what you're saying. When I was in my early twenties, partnered but unmarried and unexpectedly pregnant with twins, I knew things wouldn't be easy. But I knew myself and I thought things would turn out alright. The kind of support I wanted was agreement that I was strong enough to handle what I had coming; that success was possible. So, it was like fingernails on a chalkboard, when my mother said things like, "Please, will you guys choose an apartment close to me? Maybe my neighbor across the street would let you rent a room! Once these babies come, you're not even going to be able to take out the trash - much less leave the house - without me coming over to help you. You're probably going to feel overwhelmed and call me, crying, wanting me to come over - maybe every day. Things will be easier on both of us, if you live near me."
As I'm sure you understand, I felt she was telling me I wasn't up to the task and would surely be an incompetent, desperately unhappy mother. I disagreed and felt angry, to think that's how she saw the situation - and me! The truth was:
>> She could not imagine herself having twins, especially without the perceived stability of marriage. She was sympathizing with how she thought she would feel, in my situation - and trying to be supportive, by assuring me she would help and I wouldn't be alone in my misery. She approaches things differently than I do and was not capable of understanding how I looked at things, or what I would have preferred to hear from her.
>> Part of the reason I found her sympathy so offensive was because it inflamed that little, unwelcome reservoir of insecurity in the back of my own mind. Maybe she's right? Maybe I only feel confident and hopeful because I'm in denial? To reason through my objections to her outlook posed a risk that I might find part of what she said to be true or wise. It was easier to get angry and dismiss everything she said.
And maybe, without the anger and defensiveness, I could have constructively expressed to her what kind of support I would've liked, and why.