Story by

The Single Mom

Posted on by C.

I recently listed a couple furniture pieces on an online marketplace, and got all the usual inquiries. But one that really bothered me was the message that started out with, "I'm a single mom..." and then continued like all the other messages with, "and I'm interested in the couch..." I've seen and heard this introduction in so many places that my reaction to it has become immediate and almost harsh. Why would someone start their communication off with the statement about being a single mom? To me it seems completely irrelevant to the conversation. But I've seen that it actually often means, "Because I am a poor single mom, and forging my way through this difficult life all alone, taking care of my children, all alone, I should be given a break, and you should give me a break or just give me {whatever the item is}, to help me out." Before you go and get all angry and say that I should have more compassion, let me make it known that I, too, am a single mom, and I have been for most of my adult life. Is my story different?... Am I a single mom, but highly lucky and wealthy, and have completely different circumstances that make it impossible for me to understand the difficult plight of other single moms? Not at all, not even a little. I became a mom at age 18, and had only a high school education until I finally got my Bachelor's degree in my 40's. I worked hard, sometimes 2 or 3 jobs, while raising my kids. I've struggled, I've been poor, I've been broke, and I have wished life would give me a break. But entitlement has never been a game I want to play. I work hard, and I try to give far more than I ever expect to receive. There are people in this world that are deserving of compassion because of their circumstances, and my friends will tell you that I am one of the most compassionate, giving, helping-hearted people around. I believe it takes a village, and I have had friends who have helped me in dire times, just like I have helped friends in theirs. But to approach a stranger about something I want, and immediately expect them to sacrifice their situation to make mine easier, is nothing but selfish entitlement. We find ourselves in different stages of our lives, and in different situations, primarily because of the decisions and choices we make along the way. I hear many single moms acting like their status makes them a victim, somehow, who should be taken care of by others. They may be the victim of something else (abuse, a bitter divorce, theft, etc.) but just being a single mom does not make someone a victim. There are a bunch of single dads out there, too, raising kids by themselves. There are grandparents raising their kids' kids on fixed incomes. There are single-income families who also struggle financially. Why should being a single mom offer rights of entitlement that others don't get? I'm not a fierce "go it alone and never depend on another person" type of a soul, either. I deeply understand the gift of compassion, helping others, knowing how to accept help, and knowing when to be gracious about the kindness of others. I would encourage anyone, in any situation, who is struggling and needs help to gather all of the people closest to you and say to them, "I'm struggling, and I need help." If you don't have that, there are thousands of organized and willing charitable social organizations around you that pool resources, work hard to earn donations, and make it possible to give to anyone in need, who will come and take the steps necessary to get the help (See my note at the very bottom of this about 2-1-1). And after you receive help, find a way to give back, somewhere, somehow. Don't just take, ever. Volunteer. Teach. Trade. Take Turns. Build your village, and offer what you can to the world. Everyone needs help, in some way or another, at some point in their life. And everyone has something to give; if not now, then somewhere along the way, in some form. Your choices and decisions, including the people with whom you surround yourself, all affect how every day of your life progresses. If you associate yourself with people who are wrong for your future, or you make choices that don't propel you toward a better life, then where you find yourself is largely because you chose to be there through one decision or another. I can see this throughout my own life, and though I know some things happen TO us, how we respond to those things is also one of those directional decisions. I say this from the bottom of my heart, from my most giving and caring and compassionate heart, STOP presenting yourself as a situation, especially a negative one, and start being the person you want your children to grow up respecting and imitating. Give more than you get. Do good things. Make decisions that place you in that village that will be there for you when a time of need arises. Don't take advantage. Be genuinely grateful - gratitude is the opposite of entitlement.