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I have something to say... But a blog let's me spew until I figure out what it is.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Guilt of a Single Mother

Going into motherhood, I knew that "guilt" would be a part of my daughter's getting older.  I knew that there would be times that I would disappoint her in the interest of her safety or that I would make her furious for not allowing her to do the things she wanted to when they weren't appropriate.

At three, we had a challenge with bed time - Olivia "can't sleep" (she tells me), so she wanted to get up and play around a dark room.  No child - you're going to bed for a list of reasons too long to even begin itemizing.  

So, every night, I would dutifully (and usually with frustration and attitude) go back upstairs to correct he behavior and put her back in bed. 

But the thing "they" don't tell you is that there will be times, when disciplining your child, that you will literally not be able to make eye contact with them because the sheer heartbreak they feel is written all over their faces - and it's contagious.  Looking them in their tiny little heartbroken eyes (and remember, we are talking about telling my kid that she cannot PLAY at TEN o'clock at night in a DARK room with NO supervision) will compel you to change your mind, let them stay up, or read them more stories until they pass out... which, as you know, I do not advocate.

Le Sigh - the manipulation!

So word of advice to those who haven't gotten there yet - DON'T MAKE EYE CONTACT - they can sense your weakness!

But the bigger reason for this post is the guilt that I carry with me for meeting, falling for, marrying and choosing to have a child with a person who didn't really want her.  MY choice, MY naïvety, MY will, MY stubbornness and MY ambitions are what got me pregnant and divorced.  Now, and for what may amount to a substantial part of her life, my daughter (for the most part) is fatherless.

When I was a little girl, I worshiped my father - he was kind, funny... etc etc.  If you have met my dad, he requires no further explanation.  They say that a girl's self esteem is built by the father - so the challenge to me, as her mother, is to learn what components of self esteem are usually part of that equation and determine what I can do to substitute the role.  Is it telling her, genuinely, that she looks beautiful? Aren't we hard-wired that the feedback from the opposite sex is key to our chemistry/makeup?  How do I support her, love her and encourage her in the ways that make her feel as though she has both a mother and a father?  To allow her to feel that her life is just as full as those children who have both parents full-time?  

YES, I know - better ONE loving parent who can expose her to healthy relationships  than TWO distracted parents who barely liked one another.  If things hadn't changed, she would have wound up "instinctually" attracted to a man who felt nothing for her, didn't keep her a priority but rather a responsibility and something to be answered to... 

But the guilt that I feel for bringing her into this world and subsequently losing a "headcount" in her life which is known to be a rather important piece to the puzzle... what do I do about that?  What I know is this - my kid is very bright.  She has a rapidly expanding vocabulary and she has a strong grasp of concepts.  For now, she is happy, healthy, inquisitive and sometimes stubborn.  For now, I don't need a game plan... but I am evaluating my options.  

While it is my hope that I will meet someone awesome - someone independent, loving, affectionate, involved and whole - I simply can't and will not hold my breath.  The answer is not in finding her another father... that would be short-sighted and simple-minded.

The answer, for the time being, is figuring out who *I* am... and then using my independence and rationality to develop a life and a lifestyle in which she doesn't feel as though there is some huge void.

...What matters not is the event, but one's perception of the event...

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