"Guilty as Charged"
by Susana Rosende
Is there a mother alive who does not live with guilt? Well, as a single mother, "GUILT" is my middle name.
I feel guilty for the divorces, yes, count them TWO, necessary as they were. I feel guilty for my kids' time away from Dad as well as their time away from ME. I feel guilty for running behind schedule almost, well, YES, EVERY day, despite meticulous planning the night before, because Brian missed the bus, Joey forgot his lunch, or the dogs chased the neighbor's cat and I had to climb a tree to get it down.
I feel guilty for falling into debt, paying bills late, and living paycheck to paycheck, especially when I'm scrounging for change (from the car, old purses, and the bottom of my current purse) to ensure that Joey is included in the class field trip and Brian has the exact dictionary his I.B. English teacher insists her students cannot live without, (regardless of the fact we already own several dictionaries, including the Oxford English, Websters, and Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Set).
I feel guilty for trying to give 100% to my kids, my job, the pets, and the house, and never, ever, even coming close.
(Note: The beautiful illustration of the juggler is by one of my favorite artists, Margaret Walty. Click here to learn more about Margaret Walty and her art.)
But, nobody explains the GUILT phenomena in better detail than Susan Farrell, the single mother of two teenagers, whose motto is: "Live, love, laugh; life's just too short not to."
From an article in The Harsh Reality of Being a Single Mom by Susan Farrell:
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The pillows were soft and the comforter so warm, the luxury of satin sheets soft on my skin. The maid entered the room with my breakfast tray and set it down next to me on the Victorian nightstand. She wished me a good morning and then walked to the French doors of the balcony and drew the curtains back. Oh, the bright light was blinding ...
"MOM! It's 7 a.m. and I have to be to school by 7:30! You forgot to wake me up early!" My daughter screams as she flips on the bedroom light and storms off.
Reality wakes me harshly from the dream as I scramble for my clothes and run for the bathroom, hoping to get there before my teenager. I could hear my son yelling from the basement, asking if his jeans had been washed or was that pile still dirty? I moan with the day's first twinge of guilt.
Grabbing a pair of shoes (do they match?) and my makeup bag, we head out the door. I grab bananas and a bottle of juice from the fridge to eat in the car on the way ... my futile attempt to feel some semblance of being a good mother providing a nutritious breakfast to my kids. At the stop light, I scribble an excuse note for my daughter on the back of an envelope from a bill due today: "Please excuse Kris for being late this morning." As I sign my name, I sarcastically think to myself how surely by now the school administration has the excuse and handwriting memorized.
As I drop her off, my daughter reminds me she has Key Club after school and will be late. "Can I have some lunch money since I didn't have time to pack a lunch?" More guilt as I hand over the last couple of dollars in my wallet. "Thanks, Mom. See ya tonight," and off she jogs to class, catching up to another friend running late.
"HA!" I think to myself with a little cockiness, "See? I'm not the only parent running late today ... and THAT girl has BOTH parents living at home." My chin goes up a little.
Off to school No. 2. I ask my son if he has all his homework, only to have him avoid my eyes and mutter "sort-of." Uh, oh, here it comes ... more guilt: the mother fails to be on top of things again. I mentally review the night before. Didn't I check his planner last night? Oh, no, I was at class last night, then stopped at the grocery store for milk, then to get gas in the car, home at 10:15 p.m., chased the kids off to showers, and fell asleep exhausted while he was still in the shower. Another twinge of guilt. I resolve to be a better mother starting tonight and remember to check homework while fixing dinner.
I ask him if he has bus money. No, he spent it on lunch yesterday. Why didn't he eat his bag lunch from home? Don't I remember? Yesterday he woke up late and didn't have time to pack a lunch. Today, too. I scrounge around in the bottom of my bag and find enough change for him to have lunch and bus money, and remind him to go straight home. He closes the door and turns to go in the school, dragging his feet. I begin to drive off, then slam on the brakes, and honk the horn. He walks back to the car with a puzzled look and opens the door. I smile a half-cocked smile and said, "Love ya, kiddo. Have a good day, okay?" He smiles a little and stands up a little taller: "I love you, too, Mom. See you later." Okay, I feel a little better.
As I attempt the makeup job in the car on the way to work, I resolve to become a better mother, more organized, more attentive to their needs and their emotional and physical well-being. And I should be better at budgeting too, not having to scramble for change in the bottom of my purse. I begin to analyze all those years of raising the kids to this point wondering where I had failed to teach them to use their alarm clocks. By the time I arrive at the office, the guilt has become overwhelming and I'm feeling like the world's worst mom. I look at their picture on my desk, sigh, and bury myself in the workload at the office: "Another day, another dollar."
A typical day in the life of a single mom. It's a circus act, trying to juggle and balance all the roles, tasks, emotions. Just like a trapeze artist, it has its ups and downs and swings back and forth. And as with any circus, sometimes you're in awe and holding your breath, sometimes you've just gotta laugh.
We come to the world of single motherhood in various ways, whether through unplanned or planned pregnancies, divorce, adoption, or some other fate, but nonetheless share our many frustrations, triumphs, problems and emotions. Welcome to the Single Moms Refuge, an e-zine written by single moms for single moms, in hopes of making our circuses run just a little smoother.
Barnum and Bailey got nothin' on us, ladies! We can surely show them a thing or two.
Well said, Susan!
For another view point on Single Motherhood, see The Hand Count and Recount Experts by Laurel Fuqua, RN, MSN, MOM, below:
The Hand Count and Recount Experts
by Laurel Fuqua, RN, MSN, MOM
I picked up this mornings' paper and was delighted to see that the entire country is experiencing a bit of the life of a single mom � "hand counts and recounts." Our lives are one big roller coaster of recounts. I can't think of a day of my life as a single mom that I'm not involved in this arduous process.
Think about it. Recounting the bill totals to see if one more dollar could be found to leverage the kids' vote for a night out at the movies. Then there is the recount of all the change in the bottom of our handbags, hoping there are enough quarters, dimes, nickels or pennies to add up to a few more dollars.
Or, how about the daily recount of missing socks? Yep, there are always missing socks to be found. Sometimes, they have disappeared only to be found after their mate has been thrown away.
We have even named some of our more frequent recounts. The One-Two-Three is probably our most famous. You know, "If you don't stop doing that by the count of three you are going to your room. No, I mean it � 1-2-3 ..."
We use hand recounts especially for our teenage constituents. Recounting the minutes they are late for curfew. Recounting the number of times we have to walk by their room and close the door because it is so messy. Recounting the number of times we say, "How many times do I have to tell you??"
Last, but undoubtedly not least, are the recounts on the men in our lives. Let's see ... there are the ones who mysteriously disappeared, the ones who weren't quite sure what they really wanted, the one's who we thought had our vote but by closer inspection, really didn't ...
Not only are we forever recounting, but also someone is always challenging our results. Sometimes it is our own children, family and friends. Occasionally it's the bill collectors or even our own government � the IRS. And when it comes to getting all of those recounts done, there certainly aren't a plethora of dedicated volunteers showing up at our "camp" at 7 a.m. to help.
Single moms are in actuality the experts at hand counts and recounts. Our lives revolve around them. It's frustrating, it's confusing and yes, it's time consuming. But it is part of our process. It's written into the Constitution of Single Motherhood and it's critical that we get it right.
So, stop all the fussing and whining about the Florida election recounts. Just get on with it. In fact, it you really want to get it done right, call in the experts. Women who know 1-2-3 like the back of their hand, women who go to sleep counting and wake up recounting, women who are used to being challenged on their results, women who have made recounting an art and a science � Single Moms. And while you are at it, send a few of those dedicated volunteers our way.
Thank you, Laurel! Count me in.
For more articles, see the Single Moms section of Working Moms Refuge.
More sites for Single Mothers:
Welcome to SingleMom.com
SingleMom.com offers support for single moms in a strong community of single mothers. http://www.singlemom.com/
2. SingleRose.com - Resource For Single Mothers
Resource for Single Mothers http://www.singlerose.com/
3. Single Mothers-Resources For Single Mothers,Parents & Single Fathers
Single Mothers M.O.M.S. ~ Moms On a Mission is a non-profit organization that offers resources and help for all single parents. http://www.singlemoms.org/
4. Single Mothers Online for single moms by choice or chance
Single Mothers Online is for single moms by choice or chance. It is also the home of the National Organization of Single Mothers and the official site for The Complete Single Mother book, Single Mother newsletter, and Single with Children, a weekly syndicated column. http://www.singlemothers.org/
5. SingleMOMZ - The Site By Single Moms, For Single Moms
SingleMomz.com is a community for Single Moms, by Single Moms to share advice and chat about career, kids, love, child care, divorce, health, sports, recipes and more. http://www.singlemomz.com/
6. Single Parent Central - The home of guerrilla single parenting
offers resources, information and support for single parent families. http://www.singleparentcentral.com/
7. Hope Network
was founded by Gail Grenier Sweet in 1982 as a nonprofit charitable organization. HOPE is designed to give single mothers a sense of community, enhance parenting skills, and develop self-reliance. Phone: (262) 251-7333 (weekdays) Fax: (262) 251-2088... http://www.execpc.com/~philsch/HopeNetwork.html
has a personal touch because it is run by a single mother for single mothers. http://www.4singlemothers.com/
9. A Single Parents Network
is a single parent web community geared to single parents resources, information, and discussions combined with the largest single parenting social club just for single parents. http://singleparentsnetwork.com/
10. Tribute to Motherhood
offers a tribute to motherhood through famous quotations, poems, and verses. Use these words and links to Victorian art to help fashion a greeting to your own mother or wife. http://www.tssphoto.com/mom/trib.html
Single Mothers in the News throughout the World: