Yes, I admit – I tried very hard to be both a mom and a dad to my child.
And, I’ve heard it from other single parents, who all admit that they often refer to themselves as both “mom and dad.” But the hard truth is that we will never be both. We can brag all we want on social media that we can perform the numerous duties required of both a mother and a father. In the end, it’s impossible. Chances are, if you asked your kids what they wanted, they would mostly likely say they would have liked a home where both parents were present. I know this sounds painful to single parents everywhere – myself included.
No, I’m not saying that one parent can’t raise a child on their own, or that the child can’t grow up to be a good human being with just one parent. In fact, most of us know a person that was raised by a family member because both parents were unavailable. But many times, in spite of avoiding pain and trying to fill the gap of a missing parent, we fool ourselves. We even go so far as fooling our kids into believing that we can be both their mom and dad.
MY WAKE UP CALL TO REALITY
I remember when my son was in elementary, and he came home crying because he was being bullied at school because he didn’t have a dad. To top it off, he would often avoid the topic when friends asked about his dad, too. When he finally felt comfortable confiding in me, he admitted that he had been holding these feelings in. I can vividly recall the pain in my heart from hearing that. The emotions that flooded every inch of my body immediately wanted to do everything in my power to stop my son from hurting.
That was one of the first times that I realized I was lying to myself. I cannot pretend to be his father, or continue to tell myself that I can play both parental roles. That situation also made me realize that I had been fighting my kid’s battles instead of teaching him how to fight them on his own.
THE UNSPOKEN TRUTH
For years, as my kid was growing up, it was a topic that I would not bring up much. I did not know if he wanted to know about his father, who was serving time in jail. It was not until I started asking my son about his feelings toward his father that he felt as if he now had permission to ask questions. Up until then, I didn’t know he was scared to bring up his father. In some way, he felt as if it was disrespectful to me to ask. That’s why I feel that pretending to be both mom and dad only does more harm than good in the long run.
This became even more clear to me when I was in a 4-year relationship and saw the bond that was created between my son and my ex-partner. I could sit for hours watching my son play his music, attend every school event, talk to him about sex and responsibilities and do everything else for him (and with him), but in the end, it will always be from a woman’s perspective. Even during times when I tried to adopt a more masculine role, it was still coming from a woman. I would never be able to play a truly masculine role a male figure would have on my son. But the same is true for a single father, who will not understand the bond that comes with being a mother.
Kids get bullied these days for so many things, even if they don’t have a traditional two-parent home. And only a few kids are brave enough to say something about it. Many times, the kid living in a single-parent home already feels guilty or doesn’t want to hurt the parents feelings, so they keep their feelings inside. That is why I believe the faster parents understand the reality of the “both mom and dad” situation, the faster they can help their kids cope with the situation (I learned the hard way).
PAIN IS NECESSARY AND INEVITABLE
As a single mom, I would often find myself trying to save my son from feeling any pain. After all, in my view, he’s been through enough already. But the truth is pain is inevitable – we all go through it, and we all must learn to overcome challenges in life. We don’t get to sit here and feel sorry for ourselves, or our kids, because of the situation we’re in. Life is tough, and it becomes tougher when you have to face it on your own as an adult. But children that grow up shielded by their parents often grow up to be lost adults. They don’t know how to work through the struggles of life on their own.
I AM NOT A VICTIM
When I used to refer to myself as the “mom and dad,” I would experience one of two feelings; either a feeling of power (that in some way I was adding meaning to my life) or a feeling of being the victim. But really, both are emotions that I don’t feel. I am not a victim, and I don’t need to be saved. I’m not hopeless – none of us single parents are. And, I don’t have to pretend to take on the role of a man to feel more significant or more meaningful. Being a mother already is meaningful enough.
We could sit here and say that life is unfair, or that we are victims of misleading partners. We could give ourselves false meaning to our lives by saying we are both the mom and dad, or we can stand up and take control of our life. I say we start by looking deeper into who we are as an individual (and parents) and become more self-aware of our flaws. I’m all for working on ourselves to become better single moms and dads, who are in charge of our lives as we do what’s best for our families!.