You can feel it when we arrive. There’s something in our eyes, aura or stride. There’s a question on our invisible T-Shirt that asks, “How do you plan to take advantage of me today?” We are Bitter. Perhaps we were perfect wives and girlfriends or maybe we were Bitches with attitudes. Either way, when our relationship ended, we were left with the children and the lion’s share of the work. Most mothers end up with physical custody of the children, so dating changes, economic ability changes, her body changes.. We have a beautiful child or children who have more needs than most because of their other parent’s absence however extreme.
And let’s keep it 100, child support is rarely enough, no matter how emotional he gets about it. It doesn’t pay for sleepless nights, no one around to help with dinner, homework, extra-curricular activities, illness, PTO for sick children, having to attend EVERY field trip you can, Parent Teacher conferences with just me or the reality that no one is coming to help unless my family feels like stepping in. We’re tired, we’re over worked, we’re overused, and we’re underappreciated.
Most of us are bitter and you know what, we should be. Damn.
The impact of single motherhood is a fact. According to Working Poor Families Project, “the share of working families headed by a woman that are low income increased from 54 percent in 2007 to 58 percent in 2012. The share is even higher among African Americans, as 65 percent are low income.” In addition to that, Pew Research reports that 62% of Married women with children make over $50,000 a year while 61% of Unmarried women with children make less than $30,000. Before we blame the poor for their personal choices, let’s look at a couple more facts. Professor Stephen Jenkins, Director of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and chair of the Council of the International Association for Research on Income and Wealth found that, “When a father separates from the mother of his children, his available income increases by around one third. Women, in contrast, suffer severe financial penalties. Regardless of whether she has children, the average woman’s income falls by more than a fifth and remains low for many years.” He also found that separated women have a poverty rate of 27% which is double the rate of their male partners, regardless of whether or not they have children.
The bitterness is not only due to financial hardship but to the challenge of finding new love after becoming a single mother. Let’s be frank, dating kinda sucks. Here are a few reasons:
- You have higher standards. You clearly made a mistake so you’ve upped the ante.
- You can’t go out, network or socialize as much as you’d like because you can’t afford it, money or time.
- You have emotional baggage and challenges that stem from the demise of a family. You trust no one.
- You’re bitter and it’s not hot. Men don’t find you especially attractive anymore.
Unfortunately, no matter how much you deserve your anger, bitterness is ugly. Everyone can see it, smell it and no one wants to clean up that mess or date bitterness. You have to let it go if you want to live a whole, free, healthy life.
I was praying the other day-I am a firm believer that all problems have solutions- I asked spirit, “What is the solution for this bitterness in my heart.” I have been angry for quite a while. The message I received was…. (Are you ready?):
Shocked and appalled, I muddled through the idea of giving to a taker. Someone who left me hanging high and dry… someone who left me struggling caring for “OUR” child? GIVE TO THEM???!!! …….Ah Hell Naw! (To the naw, naw, naw). Give???
Then it hit me. Our bitterness stems from the idea of being robbed. Robbed of time, of trust, money, our youth even. You feel like you’ve lost something and you can’t get it back. And if your co parent is not the most responsible person, you may feel like you’re still being robbed. However, you can’t be robbed of something you give. No one can take something you have inside. Besides, what does it mean to love someone who hurts you? To actually give to a thief? It makes you merciful and gracious. What if it’s a misunderstanding? What if he isn’t a thief at all. He may have some life lessons to learn that you have to be a part of simply because you share a child. Perhaps your mercy and generosity can help him grow and thus help your child grow. Bitterness is a web. You deserve it, it’s not fair, and you’re right. You’ll never be wrong. What does your bitterness say about your beliefs. Can someone truly rob you of what you are due? Regardless of what religion you choose, all suggest a belief that God is good. Would God leave you victimized and ruined? Are you aware of the blessing of being able to give? Not to mention, Do we stay angry? Do we let every relationship we have be seasoned with bitterness for someone who doesn’t even want you any more? Again, “Hell Naw…..”
When you give, you affirm within yourself that you have enough, you may even have more. You’ve moved on! You accept the result of that interaction but you still have life! You give from your abundance and you can appreciate yourself for being so giving. And YES you have more and more will come! Surrender that gift knowing it will come back as the golden rule states. Instead of being bitter because someone took something, admire yourself for being so giving. Watch your child thrive and be proud of your philanthropy. They would have less if you didn’t give. Don’t spoil them, but give consciously without using your giving to heal them of the pain of a missing parent. That pain is theirs to bear and you can’t fill the void with things. Choose not to operate as if you are paying a debt you don’t deserve, or like each dollar and hour are being stolen. Surrender that time with peace because you know you will always have enough. Give more than your share with love because it simply feels better. The vibe of being someone who has enough to give, who gives with love and faith is far more attractive anyway. Bitterness is ugly, being giving is beautiful. Giving removes the frown lines of bitterness and make you gorgeous with love.
Stephen Jenkins, “Marital Splits and Income Differences over Long Term, No 2008-7, Feb 2008, Economic Social and Research Council.
Kim Parker and Wendy Wang, “Modern Parenthood: Roles of Mom and Dad converge as They Balance Work and Family, March 2013, Pew Research Center. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2013/03/FINAL_modern_parenthood_03-2013.pdf
Deborah Povich, Brandon Roberts and Mark Mather, Low-Income Working Mothers and State Policy: Investing for a Better Economic Future, Winter 2013-2014. Working Poor Families Project Policy Brief