It doesn't matter how you came to your journey as a single parent, most of us will feel guilt at some point during our child rearing days. Despite my own story being racked with guilty feelings, I read some really deep stories online that had me curious as to why we allow ourselves to feel this terrible feeling.
One post I read started like this, "How can I stop feeling guilty about being a single mom?" Well, that would all depend on why this person feels guilty. Why is being a single mom causing her to feel guilt? We'll never understand her situation personally, but this question swam around in my head for awhile as I thought about the feeling of guilt that surely we all know, some greater than others.
Truth be told that despite our journey, even if it is glamorous and without much pain, there is always that little knowledge that is tucked away (sometimes deeply) where we know how the ideal family is supposed to look and act. God's plan for one woman and one man to raise their children. Single parenting although seldom glamorous and seldom without pain, is by far one of the most emotional rattling experiences out there. You are encouraged most days and maybe you have this single parenting thing down pat, but then other days you acknowledge that you can't 100% fulfill your kids by yourself. Where is the happy medium? When do you fully experience single parenting without guilt?
Honestly... you probably never will.
Uplifting huh? Well, truth be told ALL parents experience guilt and it resides on various levels. You are up because of great kids and a great day, then you are down because of a comment or bad behavior. Guilt over the right decisions turning out to be wrong decisions and lets not forget the sudden loss of temper that brings you right to Guilt's doorstep! Single parenting has it's own guilt-ridden emotions but so does double-parenting, as I like to call it. It is hard to run from this feeling in any parenting situation. I think it's really important for single parents to remember the key fact that although single parenting guilt may look differently and have different factors than double-parenting guilt, it is still guilt experienced by both situations.
So how do you lessen the guilt in your life? Try turning your eyes to what you are doing right and how you can positively improve the things that are causing your guilt. An example that quickly came to mind is that I experience guilt when my son sits down to watch a movie of his with me and I end up falling asleep out of exhaustion. I feel guilty that I missed out on time with him, but did he impose that feeling on me? Not at all, but if I wanted to make sure of how that made him feel I could ask him and explain my tiredness. This can help both of us understand intentions and hopefully alleviate the guilt I feel when this accidentally happens. I'm not any less of a mom for falling asleep as I am when I do the other numerous things for and with him. How I can help prevent falling asleep in the future would be to watch the movie on a Saturday morning versus a Friday night so that I'm wide awake and ready to enjoy the time together.
Remember that if you are doing everything to your capability and within your means for your child's benefit, there is nothing to feel guilty about. We all make mistakes and it's okay to know and admit that. Forgive yourself for the reasons you are a single parent. Forgive yourself for the impossible situation that you find yourself in. Most of all, forgive yourself for sometimes feeling like you've failed your kids. You haven't.