Ridding the Single Mom of Guilt and Burnout
I can already hear some of you as you read that title and think to yourself, “really? Is that even possible?” Let me start by answering that heart and mind probing question; yes it is possible. Why? Because Jesus said it is, “Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26 NLV)
What is single mom guilt? The feeling of fear or that because of what has now become your current reality of being a single mother and because of a lack of a father for your child that you are somehow harming, stunting, neglecting, or lacking the ability to give your child exactly what they would have if the other parent was around.
What is burnout? It is a physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress. You know the daily in and out of carrying out all of the duties and responsibilities that were meant for two people to split.
I’ve felt it. Scratch that, I feel it every day; it haunts me. Some days it’s a soft repetitive whisper and other days it is on the loudspeaker in my mind. Thoughts and feelings (of guilt) like these:
I couldn’t afford on my single income to sign her up for dance classes or to pay extra for fun that her friends are having.
I’m exhausted after a long day of work and am only seemingly half present to spend any quality time with her.
Guilt that she will feel the blow of perceived rejection and/or abandonment. I have felt that blow as a young child and pain and lasting effects can be devastating.
Guilt she will in the future date or even marry the wrong men (man).
The fear of am I am doing enough or am I doing too little?
Am I disciplining too much or not enough?
Often the guilt and burnout go hand in hand. The battle is minute to minute and often it feels exactly like you are carrying the weight of the world and your child’s world on your shoulders. I came across a sermon by Dr. Mike Murdock and he could not have been more accurate about how it feels to be a single mother:
“Single mothers feel it continuously (burnout, guilt and overloaded) cause they are attempting to be daddy and mommy. It’s almost impossible to be the disciplinarian and the comfort zone. Single mothers feel schizophrenic. They feel like what’s wrong with me? “I love you baby” and then they do something wrong and “now I have to spank you.” It’s like who am I? You feel hypocritical; you don’t feel yourself and there’s overload.” (Dr. Mike Murdock)
Here are some tips to help rid yourself of the single mom guilt and burnout (or at least try to ease them a bit):
Have a supportive circle. Having a support system is key in being a single parent period, but often times our support either diminishes or perhaps we never truly had one to begin with. It can sound easier said than done but there is support out there (church, online, local support and meet up groups for single parents and their children). If you have supportive family or friends, pull them close and do not hesitate to ask for help. Which leads to the next tip.
Ask for help. This one I struggle with constantly, I do not like feeling like a burden by asking for help and there have been people in my past that have assisted me in feeling that way even more than I already did because I am a single mother and they are not (I was told it was my fault and I got into this situation so it’s my problem to deal with). In Matthew 7:7 (NIV) it tells us to, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” That is what I believe we should be doing as well. We may not always get the help on the first ask, but keep asking, seeking and knocking.
Find time for prayer. I know how much of a challenge this can be, but it is vital. Even five or ten minutes of reading the word and praying will have an effect on you in supernatural ways. It will bring you some peace and it is also a place where you can cry your heart out to the Lord. It is your safe sacred place where you can let your guard down and take off that mock superhero cape you wear around all day. And sisters, God has so much to share and speak to you; go to Him.
Put up little reminders throughout where you live, work and/or in your car. This is something I have been doing for a few years now and it helps me a lot. We tend to get lost in the shuffle and busyness of everyday life and our minds can become consumed with all sorts of things. Write down Bible verses that speak to whatever you may be feeling (or trying to combat like guilt) as well as quotes that inspire and encourage you.
Watch, listen and read testimonies and sermons of other single mothers. They are out there if you look and they will encourage, inspire and give you that extra boost that you can do this and you are doing it!
Lastly, I wanted to encourage you with something that my previous pastor shared a couple years ago. He was honoring single parents by saying that he had spent many years counseling men and women who struggled with all sorts of addictions and battles that had been the effect of neglectful or non-existent parents. But what he shared was that even if you feel that your child is being neglected due to being a single parent, or not receiving the support from both parent and you may struggle heavily with guilt; YOU SHOW UP. That child does not feel neglected or abandoned because they know that no matter what you always show up. You are there every day, even though you think you are not there enough and/or they deserve more; YOU SHOW UP. He said that the basis for a child that feels secure, loved, confident and accepted is that even though it may be just one parent that is showing up, that is the most important thing.
“There will be so many times you feel like you’ve failed. But in the eyes, heart, and mind of your child you are super mom.” –Stephanie Precourt