Just under a year ago I wrote an open letter to a lady that was screaming at her child's father in the parking lot of Chuck E Cheese's. That was my first and I thought my only open letter post but, perhaps it's going to be an annual thing. Not really, but I came across something today that I haven't been able to shake, much like that lady in the parking lot. Only this time it was in a Facebook group and it was a well-meaning lady who happened to strike a nerve with me.
I was scrolling through Facebook this morning, as I typically do and a post caught my eye. The woman posting started off by talking about how her husband was out of town and she was alone with the kids. I immediately knew where this was headed.
I probably should have kept going but I just couldn't help myself. I read the post.
Like I said earlier, this woman was well-meaning. I do not question that one bit. And she probably has no idea that her post was upsetting to me. But maybe she or another well-meaning mama (you?) will read this letter.
To the well-meaning woman that said you were heartbroken for me,
Ok, technically, you did not directly tell me that you were heartbroken for me. You told all single moms that you were heartbroken for us. Now, I know you had the best of intentions. You had a long week caring for your children by yourself and you really can't imagine how anyone does this on a daily basis.
I get it. Really, I do. It's hard for anyone to imagine a situation that is so different than their own.
And maybe I'm just sensitive but saying that you are "heartbroken" for me, a single mother, really rubbed me the wrong way for various reasons. I did leave what I thought was a polite response but it didn't fully convey what I was feeling about your post.
Which was mostly sadness.
You see, "heartbroken" signifies grief or distress. When someone is heartbroken, it usually points to some type of devastation. While I'll give you that most (not all) single mothers have endured some type of devastation (but who hasn't?), this doesn't mean that they are currently living in a state of devastation or grief... or that they need your grief.
As I read your post, I could hear my son playing and laughing in the other room. I thought about how he would feel if he knew that people felt sorry for me, us, because there's no man around to give me a break when I'm tired.
That we are somehow incomplete or broken without a third person. That we are "heartbreaking".
This breaks my heart.
Again, I know it comes from a good place but please, don't tell a single mom that your heart breaks for her or assume that she is lonely without a man.
You don't know how she got to where she is. Perhaps becoming a single mom was by choice. Maybe it was the strongest thing she ever did, getting herself and her children out of an unhealthy situation.
Or perhaps, like me, her unplanned pregnancy turned out to be her saving grace.
To say my situation is heartbreaking because I don't have a husband to help me when my child is sick is implying that this one factor is what makes or breaks a family - that we don't have a good life, that we can't have a good life without a man in the house.
And this just isn't true.
Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that this life is what I envisioned for my family or that being raised without a dad is what I felt was best for my son; I certainly don't mean to say that i am never tired, stressed or overwhelmed but just because life doesn't go how we planned doesn't mean that it is not good.
Our life is good. Actually, it's pretty great.
We are not broken, we are not incomplete. And we aren't in a state of grief. Sure, our family may look different than yours, but I assure you we are anything but heartbreaking.
We are healthy, we are happy, we love deeply and we are deeply loved.
What more could any mom ask for?
A Happy & Whole Single Mama