Posted on | April 30, 2014 | 17 Comments
A friend of mine posted on Facebook, that “wonderful” marketplace of ideas, about how single mothers should put their children first and shouldn’t date just to date. And in many, many ways, I agree with her.
But see… I also disagree.
I think as women, and especially as mothers, we tend to put ourselves second in every way. Our children ask for something for dinner so we make it and eat the sloppy leftovers. Our husbands or significant others come home tired and cranky, so we put our own tiredness and crankiness on the back burner and slap on a “SO glad to see you” face. Our boss needs extra work done so we do it, even if it means missing a play at school or whatever else is on our agenda.
If our children need it and we can afford it, we buy it… even if it means that what we need goes without purchase. Hell, I have cardigans with holes in them that I still rock at work because my kid is growing like a weed and I have to keep him dressed in normal clothes. (Side bar: Also DEAR GOD why does everything he own have holes in the knees now? Do they give him scissors at school? Is he forced to walk over rocks on his knees?)
So when it comes to being a single mom, our first instinct seems to be to cross our legs tightly and say “Now I will focus on raising my child and nothing else.” Like self-flagellation of the strangest kind. As if by denying ourselves something normal and natural we will somehow raise a better child. Don’t get me wrong… there are some crazy men out there who will take advantage of a single mother or her children. There are bad ones in every bunch… just like… wait for it… when you’re dating WITHOUT a child.
As a single mom, it really bothers me when I hear women say “I gave up dating until my son/daughter left for school because he/she is just too important.” It bothers me because what on earth is that teaching the child? That mothers aren’t people? That mothers don’t have needs for companionship and love and nurturing and yes, of course, sex?
I just don’t think that’s right. Because we do. We’re people. We are warm-blooded women just as we are mothers. One doesn’t outweigh the other.
Certainly I’m not an advocate of installing a red light bulb on your front porch, but show a little life to your kids, ladies. Don’t sit back and let your child be the center and only part of your life because if you do that… when you do that… you are doing both of you a total disservice. Your child will not be ready to face a world where he/she is not the center. Your son will not understand why his wife wants more from him when he KNOWS that “real moms” don’t have needs outside their children. Your daughter will not know why she feels urges to be more and do more outside of the world of her children because her only role model taught her that her children should be everything.
Children are important. Children are the future and all that Whitney Houston sing-along nonsense. But part of giving them their future includes being real about their present. And for me, that means teaching them that women have needs. Women, yes even mothers, have ups and downs and loves and laughter OUTSIDE of their children.
We put ourselves second so much for our children and in many ways we are right to do so. But we should never lose ourselves to the people we love… not even to our children. So single moms? I say date. Date as much or as little as feels right to you. And if you decide you don’t want to date, that’s perfectly okay, too.
Just don’t make that choice because you think you’re doing your child a favor. Because I don’t think that you are.