When you tell someone you’re a single mom — whether it’s because of divorce or having a no-show parent—you always get the face. You know what I’m talking about — the face of pity.
It’s nice to know that people genuinely care and want things to be good for you.
Most of the time, it’s not that someone wants to make you feel bad for being a single mother, but that they want things to be assumedly easier for you. And for the most part, people are in love with love — the ideas of couples and happy marriages.
The reality is your life may be absolutely dreamy and wonderful as a single parent or perhaps it may be hard, lonely, and tough. I hope it’s not the latter.
Either way, after talking to numerous single parents, there’s a common theme I get from many parents just like me—they feel they’re missing out or that their family is incomplete because they’re lacking another partner.
A dad. A mom. That — somehow — their family is “wrong” and not valid or real because it doesn’t consist of two married or partnered parents raising a child under one roof.
This is just a myth, a farce, and a flat-out lie.
You don’t need a dad or another mom or partner to be a legitimate family.
Families come in all shapes and sizes. Some of us have many children and some of us have one. Some of us have two dads, some have two moms, and some have one mom and one dad—the list goes on! Family can consist of blood family, adopted into blood family, friends, and neighbors.
The way we conceptualize family is based on how close we are to someone and how much they matter to our hearts—not how many genes we share.
Not a marriage certificate proving that “Hey, we’re family!”
You and your child or children are a complete, fully functioning, viable family! A dad will not make you real.
A man next to you whom your kids can call “stepdad” or a woman “stepmom” doesn’t magically make you a family.
You’re already a family with dreams, struggles, achievements, stories, patterns, habits, history, and tradition!
You could live the rest of your life as a single person and still, you and your child/children and anyone else close to you and your kids’ hearts would be family.
Forget the shame you may feel or the inadequacy you might swallow when you wonder why your marriage didn’t work out. Forget the heartache you may feel when you think about why a parent became a “deadbeat parent,” — walking away from you and your kids.
Forget the feelings of “Why can’t things be different?” Forget the feelings of “Why are all my friends coupled and I’m not?”
Being a single parent has tough moments, but it can also be AMAZING.
Consider this—you’re not unhappily married or saddled with a toxic partner, you get to be the boss and parent as you see fit, and you’re single now, but not forever.
Now, you have the power to choose the right person.
You can do it! You’re already running the show on your own. You have so much to offer to someone else and your children.
When it all comes down to it — family lives in our hearts, not on some demographic chart or in some statistical arrangement with the words, “Two parents and X number of children.”
At the end of the day — when you tuck your kids in bed — you’re reminding them what a family really means and that’s love.
Laura Lifshitz will work for chocolate. The former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate is currently writing about divorce, sex, women’s issues, fitness, parenting, marriage, and more for YourTango, The New York Times, DivorceForce, Women’s Health, Working Mother, Pop Sugar, and more.
This article was originally published at PopSugar. Reprinted with permission from the author.