When it first dawned on me that I was a single mom, my heartbeat with such trepidation. I couldn’t shake all the voices in my head. I was so worried about what others would think, how I would be perceived. The single mom stereotypes were all that haunted me at night. Single moms have always been portrayed to be poor and on welfare, angry and desperate. There were some single mom stereotypes I was sure I would never going to fit, but there was one I was outright set on not to fit, “the bitter baby mamma” stereotype.
I can’t even count how many times I have heard someone refer to a single mother as bitter and angry. Honestly, I may have said it a time or two. But she was bitter, and I don’t think it had anything to do with her motherhood status. I am not quite sure why bitterness is a stereotype ascribed to single mothers. But there are some obvious reasons why a single mother would be bitter. Perhaps, she is a solo parent with little to no help with and for her child. She may have experienced heartbreak and has yet to heal from it. Maybe she’s angry her life didn’t go as planned.
There are tons of things that may have occurred that would make one angry, resentful, and yes, bitter. I experienced such a tumultuous divorce. Bitterness probably would have been accepted and understood. I have witnessed the effects of a bitter single mother. My quest to be the exact opposite became a priority.
We associate grief with the death of a person, but there is more to grief. Grief is essentially about loss; the loss of a person, a thing, or even an idea. The key to ridding myself of all bitterness about becoming a single mom was grief. I had to grieve my idea of how I thought my life would be. We were supposed to be married forever. I hoped to have raised our son together, in the same home, as a unit. But that’s not how it turned out to be. Not only did I have to mourn the loss of my marriage, but I also had to grieve all of the hopes and aspirations I had for our family unit. Defying the bitter baby mamma stereotype alone was not ideal.
My mom was an awesome example. My brothers and I never witnessed my mom utter harsh words towards my father. Anger and bitterness never were on display for us to see. With her example and with the guidance of my therapist, I have been able to walk through the stages of grief, allowing the bitterness to ebb.
Setting an example
It’s rare that a woman purposely sets out to become a single mom. I am sure there are some but, most have a quasi, ideal family they have envisioned to have ever since they were just a little girl. I am sure my mother did not plan on becoming a single mom of 3. And a single mom to a young black boy was definitely not my ideal situation. But here we are. Once I got over the fact that I was following in the same unfavorable steps as my mother, I decided to model her example. I know my son is watching me, just as I watched my mother. He’s watching how I speak to his father. He is paying attention to how I react to certain things. I know he is. Knowing that he’s a very attentive boy helps keep my bitterness in check.
They say it takes more muscle to frown than it does to smile. I read that was a myth. Who knows what’s true? What I do know for sure… carrying around unforgiveness and bitterness is a heavy burden. It probably does take more strength to carry it all every single day. I can literally feel the tension in my neck and shoulders every time I allow bitterness to settle. Why light unnecessary weight?
As valid as my bitterness may have been, I understood very quickly it wasn’t healthy for me to carry it and it certainly was not sound to allow my child to be privy to it. The single mom stereotypes run deep. I, honestly thought they were inevitable. There were some I just knew I was going to apply to me at some point during my single mom journey. A single mom may have every right to be bitter, but that doesn’t mean she should hold on to that bitterness and display it for the world to see. I am so grateful I was determined and resilient enough to rid myself of the bitterness early. It made me a better me.
Are you a single mom? Have you struggled with defying the stereotypes that come along with single motherhood? Are you a bitter baby mamma?