Is there a secret to single mom success?
What's your secret? We ask each other this question all the time! We want to know the secret...the hidden and unknown information to unlock the door and make it easier for us to achieve our goals. How'd you bake such a wonderful cake? How'd you get into shape and lose the weight? How'd you get the fabulous job? How do you get your kids to get along?
For some reason, we assume there is a secret to achieving our goals, and we all want in on it!
I think we tend to focus on the secret aspect because achieving goals is hard work, and if we can avoid hard work...we would prefer to do so! I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. After all, it is the desire to work smarter, not harder, that has led to wonderful inventions that help us to complete our chores efficiently, and create our societies with far less back breaking manual labor than in earlier times. This is certainly a good thing!! While we may not have to break our backs as generations before us did, we still need to put forth energy, effort, and perserverance to get where want to go.
Raising children certainly falls into this category! Unfortunately, there aren't any machines to do this for us...so, you guessed...the energy, effort, and perserverance is gonna come from us! I talk about the need to Parent with a Purpose, and I truly feel both our personal and parental victory can only happen if we do this. Unfortunately, effectively parenting, and raising great children, does not get us to society's definitions of success. We will not get rich, we will not become famous. We will not amass houses, and cars...jewels and pool boys, by effectively raising our children. In fact, by choosing to raise our children, we often lessen our opportunities to achieve this type of glamorized success. It is impossible to go after these things with all our time and attention, and continue to be an active and present parent. If we give all our time attention to such pursuits, there are simply no minutes left to parent.
This conflict is not a new one. The American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson lived from 1803 to 1883, and it was during that time that he penned his famous poem, Success. Emerson obviously had enough going on in his life that he felt the need to define his achievements...and there no mention of stuff he bought.
I delivered my last child in 1996. I had been pregnant for two years as the last two kids were back to back. I struggled in a position that was not enough to pay the bills, and was not particularly stimulating to me. I was bored, frustrated, and I felt trapped. When I left that position, my boss, Kyle, gave me a card with Emerson's poem on the front. I framed that card and it still hangs on a wall in my home, serving as a reminder of the true meaning of success. Through all my struggles, fears, and single mom frustrations, I return to the poem, and it reminds me that I am living single mom success right now, right in this moment, and am continuing to move in a manner that ensures my success will continue.
I want to share the poem with you here.
To Laugh often and much
to win the respect
of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation
of honest critics and endure
the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty,
to find the best in others;
to leave the world
a bit better, whether
by a healthy child,
a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
to know even one life
has breathed easier
because you have lived.
That is to have succeeded.