Millennial motherhood. A loaded two-word label that sparks two snaps or a blank stare in just about any room you walk into. On the one hand, you have many (not all, by any stretch or measure) Baby Boomers and Gen X’s who hear this title and instantly conjure a young person with an inability to manage a budget much less raise a baby, because “they” live in a world that’s selfie and text-driven. Conversely, you have rallying millennials who are reclaiming and bolstering pride in a beloved generational nickname by disproving blanket stereotypes of irresponsibility with unchartered success. However, when you add “unwed” or “single” to the title of millennial mother, no matter how hard you try, you have successfully added a layer of societal stigma brought on by stereotypes that they are left to navigate, with baby in tow.
At the crux of all these labels, there lie women like me, armed with a graduate degree, some “real-world experience”, a growing preschooler, and a bare-boned, often unmanicured, ring finger. Whether by choice or chance, being a young, single mother comes with a lot of internal and external pressures that lead to an oft baseless need to constantly prove yourself. For many, there is this pressure of filling in this narrative in the absence of a wedding band, answering prodding questions about where dad is at the baby shower, birthday party, or PTA meeting. When motherhood is unplanned or the circumstances we find ourselves in becoming unplanned, it is easy to doctor stories or rush into new relationships because we search for a dismantling end to a cloud of shame we were never meant to adapt ourselves to or embrace.
While we know stereotypes will not stop being perpetuated in our lifetime (one would hope though), what we can do as mothers are stop subscribing to them. Like a YouTube channel you hit the unsubscribe button to, or an offensive or inundating profile you stop following, it is imperative to stop feeding into the social media feeds, the social circles, and even family members that beget shame. When proving yourself is done at the expense of rushing into relationships or trying to maintain relationships that aren’t healthy, especially to outwardly appear that you have the picturesque nuclear family, it is time to let it go, sis. Accepting singleness is so much more liberating than it is to live according to someone else’s expectations that have no-thing-to-do-with -you.
Acceptance for me came from recognizing that the strings that kept a flat-lining relationship alive had to be cut like the umbilical cord that held on to one of the greatest blessings I’ve ever known. Acceptance of your singleness does not detract from who you are, it is actually value-added! Think about it. If you operate from a place of associating singleness with self-deficiency you will think and operate as if you are in need of a partner to be fulfilled; to be successful; to outwardly appear as you have it ALL together, or as a prerequisite to being complete. This notion causes you to operate from an incapacitated mental space defined by lack. However, when singleness is embraced, you can focus your energies on being and embracing who you are and want to further become. Remember, you are missing nothing. Whether you have a partner or not, whether you have that degree or not, or that desired amount of money in the bank or not, you possess all you need within to embody the ‘BAUCE Millennial Mom’ you know that you can be.
I started and still continue to embrace this period because that is what singleness is- a period-of re-discovering who I am now that I have entered motherhood and SELF-defining the BAUCE that I am without the title of girlfriend, and disassociating myself from the notion that being single was some form of being inept at being “wifey material.” Acceptance has allowed me to realize how conditioned I was to think that life would be a linear progression of high school sweetheart-hood to fiancé on a predetermined graduating timeline. That’s a lifetime movie, sis. Not real life.
With the help of therapy and discussions with trusted and supportive girlfriends, I learned that perspective is certainly key to rewiring the feeling of wholeness attached to the white picket fence nonsensical narrative that plagues us, especially when you have a baby. I had to change the lens. What lens are you looking through? Is it one of self-deficiency or is it one of self-love? A love that says “I am worthy, period.” Drops mic*. Walks away*; no matter what the ex thinks, the other moms in the playgroup think, or what the hat-wearing mothers in the church think. That’s the self-love that I STAN.
Before we optimally pursue relationships with others we have to form and build a relationship with ourselves. That same energy that we pour into asking and answering potential partners 21- questions should be poured into ourselves, our craft, and our kids. Keep that same energy, sis!
Singleness is an unfettered time in your life unlike any other, whether you are a mom or not, to upgrade your whole self: mind, body, and spirit.
It is a period of self-investment:
- to secure the bag,
- enhance that credit score,
- heck buy the property, and
- achieve personal goals unattained.
It is a time to read that BAUCE article, take note and apply the gems dropped from that amazing podcaster, go to that conference, invest in your business, advance in your career, and most importantly spend quality time being present with your legacy in the form of your child(ren). But first, it’s time to rewrite that narrative. To the BAUCE Single Mothers, how are you starting your next chapter?