You know who she is, chances are she comes to those classroom parties by herself, if she even gets to come at all, because she probably needs to save her time off from work for when her child is sick. Nothing feels more alienating than being the token single mama in a group of happily married couples rearing their children. I became a single mama three years ago, and the sting of being with Cole, and seeing his sad eyes when he sees other little kids with their daddies, never truly escapes my head. Cole has a fabulous daddy, and we co-parent very well (when people meet us they do not believe we are not married), but I know many situations are simply not like that.
- She probably feels like a failure because she is divorced (guilty as charged here), so excluding her from your mommy group because she isn’t married will only make her feel like a failure as a mommy too. I know this sounds ridiculous, but all women need at least one good friend or she will lose it.
- Please be sensitive to her financial situation. No matter how balanced she seems on the outside (probably like a duck on water, calm on top of the water, legs kicking wildly under the water), she still only has one income coming into her household, where you have two. Cole and I might not able to afford what our friends do on vacation, since I am a complete wacko about not going into debt for vacation and entertainment, it is so nice to always be included on the invite. So always invite them! Nothing is worse than seeing pictures of happy families on days out and knowing that they might not have invited you, because they figured you could not afford it.
- Every situation for single mamas is different. A couple of years ago, I saw the stress on my child’s face when I was so upset about something, so I work hard to keep that stress out of his life. It is not his responsibility to work out things between his daddy and me, like where he will be this week, who is coming to what activity, and who is paying. Never put the weight of the world on your child’s shoulders, they are kids. Unless you are particularly close to that single mama, do not assume you know her situation. I do not have any single mama friends who set out to be single moms, none. Nada. Not a one. No one has a baby and then thinks, “you know, I would love to be all on my own with this child with discipline, be in charge of all of the finances for my household, not have backup with child rearing, and feel incredibly alone”. I know she may seem like she has it completely together in public, but I guarantee she feels like she is screwing her kid up and failing, in private.
- I have heard some pretty horrible things from people in my journey, like “I guess I just don’t believe in divorce like you do”, from people who have no idea about my situation. I would never assume to know things about your marriage, so please do not assume to know things about single mamas. She could be coming from a domestic violence situation or a situation with infidelity. If you don’t know her, you really don’t know, so shaming her by saying that you do not believe in divorce will only make her feel like more of a horrible person. *please refer to my read, “keep it shut”.
- Being friends with a single mama does not mean she wants your husband. I promise. For real, though. I have no desire to add additional drama to my child’s life with even dating right now, how fair would that be to him? That single mama has felt a pain and loss like no other, so most would never cause that pain to another woman, believe me, let alone a dear friend.
- Divorce is not contagious. I had “friends” before who simply did not ride with me throughout that wave of unbearable pain and loss. That is fine, clearly they did not belong in our lives. The worst thing you can do to a soon to be single mama going through a divorce is treat her like something is wrong with her, because guess what, she already tells herself that, every single day.
- Every mommy situation is different, and your husband might be gone on business trips every weekend, or absent because of other reasons, but please do not say to that sweet single mama that you are “basically a single mama”. Remember, if you have two incomes coming into your home, a daddy who lives in your house and takes out the trash and does the dishes, and eventually is coming home from those business trips, you are most definitely NOT a single mama.
Cole and I have been blessed with some truly wonderful friends, who amazingly I found along the way, some before I was a single mama, and some I met afterwards. I know that every situation is different, but as I am learning about my own mouth, ay ay ay, monitoring what you say can change so much in your relationships with the people around you. Cole is my number one, ride or die, together forever, so I am trying to focus every day on being the best mama I can be, single or not, which is the same for every single mama I know personally. Chat that single mama up you see standing or sitting by herself at church or at school, I guarantee you she would welcome some cheerleaders.