I’m going to say something today that probably won’t be popular. I’m part of a very proud, strong, resilient group of women who take a lot of pride in who we are and what we do and why we have to do it. I’m a strong, single mom. Almost ever since I was a mom there was a single in front of it. I’m also confident, successful, well liked (I like to think) and stable. I am not your typical image of the struggling single mom (see stats). And, I’ve often beat that drum to change the perception of the single mom because from where I’m sitting I know a lot more single moms like me, who are more than ‘providing’ for their kids with or without the support of their ex.
But today, I’m putting down the drum. I have a confession to make. I may be a great single mom. but I haven’t been a great mom.
I have a lot of friends who are going to disagree with me and I appreciate that but the truth is, I’ve been using ‘single mom’ as an excuse. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve done a lot of things right and I do not believe for a second my kids are going to be screwed up for life. But there are a handful of really important things that being a single mom have made ‘ok’, but I realized today – they’re not ok. So here’s the first one:
1. My kids health has not been a priority.
~I haven’t taught my kids healthy eating habits and have allowed them to eat what was convenient. I’ve started cooking less and less. I haven’t cooked fresh vegetables….ever. Frozen, steam in the bag, yes, but fresh. No way. Too much fast food, too much snacking. You name it we’ve done it and I’ve used – they’re not fat as a gauge. Wrong measurement!
~I’ve been late on doctors appointments for them. Let a rash linger too long. Not pursued that strange bump on my daughter’s wrist. This is not good. I need to keep them as healthy as possible at all times so that things don’t get worse. No other commitments or to do list items should take precedence over this.
~They aren’t active enough. I know most kids these days are not – except for in their specific sports, etc. But I’m talking about in general playing outside. Not sitting on the couch or in front of an electronic. Taking a walk in the neighborhood. Playing in the park. All of those things would typically involve me because of their ages, which is the problem. I’m too tired, too busy and frankly too inactive myself to set the right example. Enjoying being active is something that will keep them healthy for so many years to come. I know this because being active and exercising has always been a part of my life. Now I do it inside on my treadmill when they’re asleep, but when I was young, it was just a part of who I was. We biked, walked, ran everywhere. A body in motion stays in motion. They need to learn to love being in motion.
There are other areas and I’ll get into them in the upcoming weeks. But it was time for me to really understand the difference between a reason and an excuse. The difference is choice. The ‘reasons’ I say some of this happened is because I needed a good job to support us and provide my family the experiences they deserve. I needed to be perceived well at work for the next raise or promotion. Maybe I even just liked the attention success and involvement at the job brought me. These are all reasons but with a different choice – choosing a different priority, maybe they’re no longer reasons.
I got here today because my daughter is really struggling with healthy eating habits. I looked at her cafeteria account and some days she’s buying 2 entrees, chips, 2 cookies – and that’s on a day when I packed a lunch! How have I missed that? Well I’ve been busy and sick. But in the light of a cancer diagnosis, finally my priority has changed.
My family’s health is my #1 priority. With 3 generations being diagnosed at 41 or 42, we’re at high risk! I would give up everything to ensure my daughters do not get cancer or I will die trying. My grandmother and my father died of cancer. It stops there. I will not die of cancer and the next generation will not get it!
So I’m unwilling to make anymore excuses. If I don’t have time to get to the store, buy fresh, organic food, include them in understanding what’s good for them, take them and the poor dog on a walk – then whatever is taking my time needs to change. It is not an option. Today I realized I’d give up everything for their health. Everything! And that includes riding high on the I’m so busy cause I’m a superwoman, single mom horse. I don’t need that anymore. I just want to be a good mom with healthy kids. That’s enough for me.