How to Turn the Single-Mom-Guilt Narrative Around - by Abby Herman for MotherHustle
“I’m tired of feeling like crap because I couldn’t provide something or because I forgot something. Instead, I want to use those feelings for good and become a better version of myself.”

Mom guilt is real. And as a single parent, I think it cuts even deeper because it feels like we’ve failed in so many other ways. It leaves us feeling incomplete–like there’s a piece missing from us or our lives. While I don’t think these feelings ever will change, it’s what we do with those feelings that really matter.

“Guilt” has a negative connotation, and it’s no secret that it’s something no one wants to feel.

I feel guilt all over the place:

  • That my daughter grew up in two homes, instead of one.
  • That I have never been able to take my daughter on that epic vacation.
  • That I told that white lie to get out of doing something.
  • That I turned in that project a day late.
  • That I forgot to pay that bill.
  • That I didn’t turn on my alarm and I missed a run.

Guilt is a feeling of lacking, of being inadequate or of doing something wrong. And anyone who doesn’t feel guilt from time to time is lying. Many feel it on the daily.

But while guilt looks and sounds negative (and it sure feels that way when you’re in the throes of it), it’s also an opportunity for growth.

At this stage in my life, I’m done with letting the negative rule my thoughts and impact my life.

I’m tired of feeling like crap because I couldn’t provide something or because I forgot something. Instead, I want to use those feelings for good and become a better version of myself.

Here’s where I’m turning guilt around and putting myself in a different space as soon as I feel those pangs:

My daughter grew up in two homes, instead of one…

… which means she had the opportunity to spend quality alone time with each of her parents. She had different experiences at each house and, heck, had two Christmases every year. Plus, she learned how to be resilient and lean into change.

I have never been able to take my daughter on that epic vacation…

…yet. It’s coming. Once this summer, courtesy of my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary and once when she graduates from high school in a few years.

I told that white lie to get out of doing something…

… but seriously, who hasn’t told a white lie to get out of something? And if I feel guilty about it, that’s a true sign that I need to speak the truth about why I didn’t want to do the thing.

I turned in that project a day late…

… but it’s OK. One of the best things about owning my own business is the personal relationships I build with my clients. As long as I communicate with them, they understand. But it’s good practice to plan ahead next time.

I forgot to pay that bill…

Yep, it happens. Forgetting to pay a bill is a good reminder to have a written budget in place so it doesn’t happen often. That and auto-reminders through my bank!

I didn’t turn on my alarm and I missed a run…

… which is fine — because while I do love a good run, I’m no pro athlete. Nor do I want to be. At this point in my life, I run for fun–not to run an epic personal record time. My running buddy is training for a Boston-qualifying time. She’s going to run whether I’m there to meet her or not. It’s not the end of the world to miss that run.

It’s hard to turn the feelings of guilt around in the moment; I’m only human, after all.

But with reflection, I can look at the feelings of guilt from a different perspective and grow from what put me in a place of guilt in the first place. And tomorrow, I’ll be better for it because I’ll be able to make the little changes and little steps forward to be a better me.


MotherHustle panelist Abby Herman is a content strategist and content coach for small business owners, helping to get her clients’ written message out to their audience, in their own voice and on their own terms. She specializes in working with female-owned, service-based businesses to generate ideas and strategies that help to move their businesses forward with content that attracts the perfect clients. Abby firmly believes in the power of educating and empowering business owners so they can grow their businesses without breaking the bank. Community over competition is truly her jam!

When she’s not crafting words or coaching her clients through their own writing roadblocks, you can find her exploring the mountains near her home in Phoenix or finding new ways to get her teenaged daughter to take a break from the school books and technology. You can follow her on Instagram,YouTube and Facebook.

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