Single Moms Don’t Need to be Superheroes—Priorities are Important
Something happened to me last month that I want to share. It was a powerful moment and it really opened my eyes to some of the challenges single parents—especially moms—face.
I know a single mom (we’ll call her Kat), and she’s a superhero. Her husband passed away three years ago in an accident and she’s been raising their two girls by herself since then. She really does it all—I’m talking full-time job, active in the PTA, kids are well-behaved and she’s always there to help out other parents. She’s got my nomination for sainthood.
Anyway, last month Kat gave me a call and asked if I could pick her up at a car dealership and drive her home. Her car was in the shop and she knew I worked across the street—plus, we don’t live far from each other. I was happy to do it. Plus, I owed her for giving my daughter a lift to and from dance camp with her daughters last year. Again, mom of the year.
I swung by, picked her up and ran her home. Me made the usual conversation—kids, work, school, etc. As we rolled into her driveway, I asked if she needed a lift back to the shop later in the week to pick up her car. “Happy to do it,” I said.
Kat started crying. Then laughing… while crying.
I had no idea what to do. Deer, meet headlights. She must’ve seen my look because she really started laughing and apologizing, tear still running down her face. Still completely unsure of what to do, I tried to smile, which only made her laugh harder. She wiped her eyes, re-centered and apologized, and she said something that really resonated with me:
“I’m sorry, I really needed to let that out. It seems like nothing is breaking my way lately. I’m overworked, overtired and overstimulated. Now, I don’t have a car, which means I need to figure out how to get the girls to school and dance this week, and how to get myself to work. And I’ll have a bill for repairs on top of everything. This 20-minute car ride is the longest I’ve sat still in a week and it really just made my anxiety about everything bubble up.”
My reply was… less than stellar. “Dude, you need to ask for help!” On the bright side, it made her laugh again. She explained that it’s hard for her to ask for help because as a parent, she knows other parents go through on a daily basis. She doesn’t want to be a burden. She told me it took her the better part of an afternoon to convince herself to call me for a ride home from the dealership.
We chatted for a little while and I let her know that people are always willing to help, and that asking for help is okay. I did end up giving her a ride later in the week, and I know she was able to arrange carpooling with someone in her neighborhood for her daughters to get to school.
The experience is worth sharing if only to remind single moms that they don’t need to be superheroes. Overextending yourself and trying to do it all on your own can beat you down. Asking for help doesn’t mean burdening someone else—it means unburdening yourself.
For myself, it’s taught me to offer up help where and when it’s applicable. Sometimes being the one to make the offer alleviates the stress of another person having to ask for it. In the end, it’s about people helping people, before it gets to the point of a breakdown. No one should feel like they’re on an island.