I ran into an aquaintance the other day. A friend of a friend that I hadn’t seen in 3 or 4 years but I had always enjoyed spending time with her & her family. We chatted for a few minutes while our kids were in swim lessons & as we were rushing to transition to the next activity, I asked her to give my best to her husband. She asked for me to do the same.
When I told her that my ex & I had been divorced for 3 years she looked shocked (clearly she is not very active on social media) and then the look on her face turned into something I can only describe as…pity. Now if you know me in real life, you would know that pity is not often a look sent in my direction; I’m a confident, competent, high energy gal always willing to lend a hand to anyone who needs my assistance. I rarely complain (except about the Evil Genius Raccoons who raid my garbage weekly). There isn’t anything pitiful about me and yet that was how I felt at that moment: pitied. The English have a statement to go with that look: “Oh! Poor you!”
I was raised by a single mother and my maternal grandmother, two formidable, proud and opinionated women whose own life choices helped shape my own. Financially they struggled to raise two children and help put them through university but my mother & grandmother did the best they could with their meager resources. I have eternal love and gratitude for them both but I learned a valuable lesson from their struggle: never be financially dependent on a man. I got an education and established myself in my career before I got married. I learned that lesson the hard way but it has served me well through all of the stages of my married life: pre, during & post.
When I was married I thought that being a single mom would be about the worst thing that could happen to a woman. Previously, there was such a stigma around single moms, like they were damaged goods. I remembered how hard it was for my mom and her single friends to meet men of quality, recounting their collective commiseration over a box of Hochtaler wine when their new beau turned out to be faux. I witnessed the bad choices they made as they tried to escape the loneliness and emptiness they felt without a man in their lives. Men who were unworthy of their love were given access because a bad man was better than no man, the mid 80s version of less martlet more chicken.
Well, times have certainly changed. More and more women are choosing single motherhood – either by leaving their marriages or conceiving without a partner. The definition of family has changed drastically over the past several decades and single moms are emerging as rock stars There are some very high profile blogs, including my favourite Wealthy Single Mommy that are empowering single moms to take control of their after wives: financially, emotionally and romantically.
I don’t feel like a rock star everyday but I feel like I’m doing the best I can to raise two happy little human beings. I’m fortunate in that I don’t have to do it alone: I have great support from their dad , my tribe and my amazing family, especially my mother. My mother, through trial & error, has shown me all of the things that a single mother can be: she can be strong and she can be vulnerable, she can be fierce and she can be afraid, she can be proud but she can never, ever be pitied.