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15 Things You May Not Know About Single Moms

15 Things You May Not Know About Single Moms

When people enter into discussions about single mothers, it unfortunately often carries negative connotations. The single mother is often looked upon by society as a weathered woman who has volunteered to undertake the extremely difficult task of raising children on her own. Though each case is different, it is often a false portrayal of a woman who, despite her circumstances, is doing an amazing job raising a child, or children, single handedly with little to no help.

What most single mothers would tell you is that they are indeed not the dregs of society that most, including the media, may make them out to be, but they are simply women doing the best they can with what they have. They wish to be respected and understood, but are misinterpreted or looked down upon.

So in order to bridge the gap of understanding, here’s a list of the things you may not know about single moms. Perhaps you’ve wondered, too scared to ask in case you offend, or perhaps you are a single mom who wishes to share with others what you wish they knew. Either way, we’re laying it all out for single mothers, everywhere.

1. She is afraid of failing

Like all parents, single mothers work hard to ensure the safety and well-being of their children and themselves. They want to provide a happy home. However, unlike coupled parents, single mothers have the arduous task of shouldering that burden on their own. There’s no one to share the responsibility with if anything goes wrong. So, in order to lessen the stress, she must practice the art of letting go. This means she has to come to terms with not worrying about the things she can’t change, and simply concentrating on the things she can; using her energy wisely so as not to burn out.

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2. She really hates having to juggle

It’s not fun, it’s exhausting, and it means she’s reminded of all the things she must see to. Watching a single mother juggling pick ups, meetings, parent-teacher conferences, bus schedules, and drop-offs makes you realize just how freakishly superhuman she can be. But, as impressive as it may look, she finds no joy in keeping busy just for the sake of looking busy, and would prefer to remove herself from anything that causes any unnecessary stress or drama. This makes her an impressive strategic manager who handles her time and tasks wisely and approaches everything with a little savoir-faire.

3. She feels guilty… constantly

Not being able to see friends or family as often as she wishes, or having to rush off from work the moment the clock strikes 5pm to make it in time for pick-up, fills her with inexplicable guilt. She’s probably aware that people know and understand her situation, but that does nothing to lessen the guilt. She’s used to being on top of things, so when things just don’t go according to plan, or she has to let someone down, she feels the brunt of that more than anything. Yet still, she gives it her all and offers to be there next time. Whether or not she is able to is another matter, but she won’t give up trying!

4. She needs to be private

She would love to share what her oldest told her the other day, or what she found in her daughter’s room, with someone, anyone, but she can’t. As a single parent, she is the only one her kids can confide in and trust regarding certain private matters, or things of a sensitive nature that they wish never to leave the home. She values that trust more than anything. So instead she holds it close to her, even promising to take it with her to her grave.

5. She would appreciate more help

A firm offer of help when she truly needs it is always welcome, but she is aware that many view a single parent’s request for help as a sign that something may be wrong. She doesn’t like to feel incompetent, but unfortunately, the world depicts single moms this way. She would rather do it on her own than be made to feel as though she isn’t doing a good job. Sadly, because of this, she is less likely to ask for help. But letting her know you are there, if ever she needs you, allows her to make the decision. By giving her the opportunity to come to you, it feels like friendly assistance rather than a rescue mission.

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6. She is aware of the stigma

Sadly, she is more than aware of how society views and treats single moms. She is also aware of how the world views children of single parent mothers. However, this does not stop the single mother from being a wonderful parent who is more than capable of raising equally wonderful, happy, and intelligent children. In fact, she works doubly hard to fight the stereotypes and refuses to be pulled down by them.

7. She never really sleeps

Whether it’s that loud bang in the night or the phone ringing at 2am, the single mom is already on it! She is eerily alert, even while sleeping. Being awoken abruptly from sleep, she’s like a meerkat-ninja, with her head held high watching, listening and at the ready for any signs of danger. She’ll jump from her bed and go investigate, seemingly unafraid and at the ready. Once all is well, she will check on her young before heading back to bed. Even daytime naps may be shallow, as she’s keeping one ear poised just in case the school calls. But she’s become a master at short power naps and awakes firing on all cylinders.

8. She is constantly thinking about the future

We’re often reminded to be in the present and to be here, now, if you are truly to enjoy life. And although the single mom is fully aware of how to do this and the benefits it brings, she’s always thinking ahead. Surprises are not the single mother’s best-friend, so a little forethought will help to keep her prepared, just in case. Yes, this can be rather draining, but she feels comfortable thinking and wondering about tomorrow; planning and making decisions about the future safe in the knowledge that if things don’t work out, at least she has some sort of a backup plan, or at the least, an idea of what to do next.

9. She wishes she could go away… alone

After all that planning, juggling, and managing, it’s no wonder she needs a break! A few hours here and there whilst the kids are at school or visiting friends are great, but they only last so long. What she really wants is a 2 week kid-free break away, alone, someone nice and sunny, with plenty of sea and sand; massages, yoga, and sleep! Yes, going away with someone is fun, but in truth, all she wants to do is sleep on the beach without having to worry about someone else. A vacation away on her own means she is able to get back to her, for a bit. Then she will return, ready to go and missing her little angels.

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10. She worries about money

Yes, this is true! However, this means she has had to become an expert at managing her finances. Whether she has it or she doesn’t, money is on constant play and rewind in her mind. She is the breadwinner, the sole provider and accountant for the household, and so she needs to be on top of every penny. The pressure is on. She is able to compartmentalize the household’s finances and has money management down to a fine art.  Whether that means getting the best bargains or coming up with creative ways to save money, she does more than her best.

11. She needs friends who are single, too

Yes, it’s great to have the love and support of other single mothers, but sometimes she would like a break from single mommy land. She needs that separation that only loving single friends can offer. After all, she is a single woman, too. Delving too much into single-mommy stuff can get rather depressing over time. The single friend gives her a chance to step out of that place once in a while, and just be a single gal, rather than a single-girl-mom. No mommy talk, no money talk, no childcare suggestions, just pure fun, and welcomed unattached chatter. Plus, talking about dating disasters is always fun!

12. She dreads punishment

There’s no denying that strong bond that single mothers have with their child; when it’s real, it’s a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, that bond has it’s fair share of up and downs! When it’s time to discipline their child, the responsibility falls solely on the single mom, and it’s rough. She hates having to do it, but knows it must be done. There’s no good cop, bad cop routine going on here, the single mom has to be both; she has to know when to lay down the law, but also how to give the comforting and reassuring hugs after. It may be confusing to onlookers, but it’s the most impressive, and rather scary, double act ever. She manages to discipline and nurture her kids at the same time, as she knows the benefits of both together are endless.

13. She is cautious about dating

Yes, she would love companionship, but she is more than aware that dating comes with its not-so-great moments. And yes, she is familiar with the assumption that she is desperate and lonely, or looking for a father for her children; this is not the case! The confident single mother is not looking for a savior or a knight in shining armour. She is not down and out, and would appreciate it if you didn’t swan in to “save her.” She is more than capable of handling her business. What she would appreciate, however, is someone on her level who is considerate of her situation. Respect her, love her, and treat her like the smart, beautiful, and intelligent woman she is; she doesn’t need to be rescued and doesn’t have time for dodgy dealings. What she needs is a genuine someone, a mature relationship, and a solid friendship based on loyalty, respect, and affection.

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14. She has to be intuitive

Having intuition is great; being able to notice those things often unsaid is an essential part of good parenting. But as a single parent, this skill can often be quite overwhelming, as she cannot afford to be complacent or disconnected. The emotional and mental well-being of her kids rests solely on her shoulders, and this thought is always at the forefront of her mind. Therefore, it’s especially important that she is conscious of those things her children aren’t telling her and is able to follow her hunches, especially where subtle changes in their behavior are concerned. From here, she is able to assess whether or not she needs to step in to help or simply to offer an encouraging hug. Always in tune, and always one step ahead.

15. She doesn’t want you to feel sorry for her

In no way should the single mom’s situation be viewed as a sorrowful case. Things happen in life, as they do to everyone, but she has dusted herself off and has amassed a superhuman strength to make life pretty awesome for her family. There’s no denying she has a lot on her plate, but there’s also no denying she’s strong and capable, and is a loving mother. So if you happen to know a first-class single mom, praise her, hug her, and let her know she’s doing a phenomenal job. And if you happen to be one, smile… you’re doing an awesome job!

Featured photo credit: Mother & Daughter/Rolands Lakis via flickr.com

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Patricia C. Osei-Oppong

Writer, Poet, Marketer

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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