Earlier this week, we celebrated Single Parents’ Day. I’ve been a single mom for the past 20 years. However, I didn’t know there was such a day to celebrate until a few years ago.
That may be a good thing.
There are so many ways we use labels in our society. Some of them are useful because they help us categorize things and make sense of the multitude of options in our lives. Consider a world where we didn’t use labels like red, green, and blue to distinguish the vast array of colors we see. In this way, labels can be useful.
I’d even contend that some of the more “negative” labels are still helpful when positioned in the right way. The word single, for instance, represents an entire category of people. When you’re looking to date, this label is extremely helpful in identifying others with the same potential goals as you.
However, there can be a darker side to the same label, particularly when it comes to parenting. Society has deemed the “appropriate and ideal” form of parenting to be one that includes two parents. Taking this further, it’s also asserted that those two parents be a man and a woman. And, of course, there’s the added expression that the man and woman should be married, not otherwise “engaged”.
There’s also often a stigma associated with being single. Instead of revering the fact that someone chooses to honor themselves, their children, and their truth until finding the right partner, the view is often, “What’s wrong with him/her?” I’m not stating that either of these presumptions is accurate. They are simply observations I made while in this space of being a single parent.
That’s the problem I see with labels. I don’t have a concern with the actual labels, it’s the assignment we make to the meaning of those labels that concerns me. I think that’s what Abraham Hicks was referring to in this quote: “You could leave the ‘single’ out and just say ‘I’m a really great mom’.”
When labels interfere with our ability to feel and express joy, they can be hurtful. And often, we adopt labels (or labels are assigned to us) without a thought. The labels we acquire simply came from the way we were raised or from the way we’ve interpreted cultural norms.
Often this ‘acceptance’ of labels, is done unconsciously. When we become aware of a label’s impact on the way we live and access measures to feel good, it’s time to evaluate the continued use of such a label.
For me, being a single parent is kind of a “Badge of Honor” that instantly demonstrates strength to overcome and thrive when presented with challenges. Two things here: 1. That’s my ego talking, and 2. Not everyone has the same view. Sometimes others see single parenting as weakness and inability “do what it takes” to be coupled “appropriately” for the sake of their children. Neither of these label connotations serves me well.
What I do know is this: I’m an awesome mom.
Saying that feels great. It’s free of the baggage the label of “single” brings to the best relationship and achievement I have in my life. When I think about motherhood as my best relationship and greatest achievement, I want to feel good always.
That’s the way we’re designed to feel—especially about the things we do well.
When you look at your life and consider your relationships and achievements, they should bring you love and a feeling of joy. There’s no room for baggage (of your own or baggage projected by others).
I appreciate this quote from Abraham and will consider it for other areas of my life.
Where can you evaluate and drop labels that make you feel anything less than spectacular?
Here are a few that come to mind for me personally: middle-aged, female, pretty, wild, outspoken, crazy, curvy, middle class, and college-educated.
Again, the labels themselves aren’t harmful, but the meaning behind the label may be. Also, the meaning we assign may not even come from our own thoughts and assertions, but ones we’ve adopted unconsciously or accepted, and prescribed by others. And most times, no two people have congruent assignments of the meaning for the same label.
I invite you to consider the labels that show up in your life and determine if they serve you well. If not, I encourage you to drop them.
You deserve to feel love and joy.
When labels negatively impact the way you feel, it’s time to eliminate them or replace them with something that fits better for you.
There’s life (and reclamation of joy) after depression and it’s brilliant.
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