11 things I don’t give a $#!T about since becoming a single mom


I recently threw out the white plastic Pampers wipe box that I’ve had for the 4 ½ years I’ve been a mother. I had my last laugh about that stupid thing. See, when I was pregnant and getting Helena’s nursery together, I searched far and wide for the least visibly offensive wipe box. After all, the changing station – atop a midcentury birch Heywood-Wakefield dresser – was visible from our apartment’s front door. It was important that the view upon entering was stylish.

Today? I could give a shit.

That dresser is in the same spot, and as I type it is covered with a mess of once-worn and mismatched pajamas, that weird turtle nightlight that casts stars on the ceiling, Baby Vicks VapoRub and an array of sippy cups half-full of stale water. Letting go of the notion of a décor-correct home has made the difference between neurosis and sanity. This is just one item on a growing list of things that makes me so much happier now that I no longer care about them.

Here is my list of seven things I no longer give a shit about since becoming a single mom:

    1. What my husband does for a living. I used to love bragging about my now ex’s job. It was a really, really cool job, and he was really, really good at it. But he doesn’t have that job any more. And he isn’t my husband any more. Plus, I have a pretty cool job myself.
    2. Where I vacationed. Before I had kids–and even after my daughter was born–I used to travel all over, all the time. Europe, Cuba, Brazil, Laos – not to mention sundry domestic locales. Now, I feel fortunate that I can fly to see my family in Illinois a couple of times a year, and that a friend and I rented a lake house a couple hours away last summer.
    3. How my kids are dressed (This is true only most of the time. Let’s get real. The holidays are school pictures are coming up!). Good mothers pick their battles. Even though the dress code at preschool is rather strict – standard-issue plaid jumper and white blouse, black tights and shoes – Helena and her strong fashion opinions often go to class wearing a getup like the above. Which I think is awesome.
    4. Planning every detail of my future. Until my life unraveled a few years ago, I loved to plan and scheme. I think it gave me some sense of control to map out my life. Plus, it’s just fun to brainstorm where we might live, the kind of house we would buy (and decorate!), the career feats I could accomplish. Today I find more meaning in working hard, enjoying everyday things as they come, and being open to surprises.
    5. That people don’t get what I do. When I first started telling people that I was a freelance writer, friends and strangers would often say rude things like, “Oh! It must be so HARD to make a living!” And I would get defensive and think of nasty things to say while I stewed. Then I stopped giving a shit. And you know what happened? At the exact same time I let that go, people stopped saying snotty things on the subject. Life lesson learned. That you like my shoes. Or my haircut, or my couch. Because really (and I’m talking to women only here – you know how we are with complimenting each other!), if the only opener you can muster is about my belt or my eyeliner, we have nothing in common. Say all the nice things you want, but I really don’t give a shit about you.
    6. What people think. Now, if you tell me you don’t care what anyone thinks, I’d say you’re a sociopath. There are a handful of people whose opinion I hold highly – and if they call me out on stuff, I listen. But the rest of the time I don’t give a shit what you think. Really, I don’t. Because I’m old and wise enough to believe that I’m really doing my best to be a decent person. Maybe you should stop giving a shit, too.
    7. Feeding my kids perfect food. When Helena was a baby, I nursed her until she was 16 months and made all her baby food from scratch in a little food processor — including an assortment of millet, and barley and other grains I don't normally eat. Everything was organic (duh), and there was hardly any sugar. Now? Not a day goes by that my kids don't wolf down some syrupy, chocolatey item, and you will occasionally find a pizza and store-brand fish sticks in my freezer.
    8. Squeezing my ass into a size 4. Now I'm totally content being a size 6. OK, OK. For a while there I was rocking an occasional 8. But I'm back down to a 6. And sometimes a 4. That dress I bought a couple of weeks ago was an XS, though. Really – do you want me to send pictures? I'm a freaking 6, OK? (But sometimes a 4.)
    9. When people are snippy and bitchy and say things that hurt my feelings. I used to think you needed to talk about stuff. You don't. Unless a relationship is in peril, give people the benefit of the doubt. Just let it go.
    10. That your husband irritates you. Now, everyone has their challenges. My marital status doesn't make mine worse than anyone else's. In fact, lending an ear to my friends struggling with difficult marriages is just part of being a good friend, and I'm happy to oblige. When married, I used to gripe about my husband's many annoying habits. But being on the other side of divorce, you learn that petty irritations must be let go (see #10). And if that is all you have to contribute to our conversation, you are boring and small and a crappy wife and I don't give a shit about you.
    11. The details of my body. Like most women, I used to have little hang-ups about what went where. My boobs were kinda small, my nipples a weird shape. Boo hoo. Then I nursed two babies who would become the fleshiest, healthiest pumpkins you ever saw. Helena's bulbous cheeks looked like they could have launched off her face, and for a while were so big they crippled her tiny smile. Have you ever seen a baby walrus? With all its folds? That was Lucas. And suddenly my little breasts became the most amazing organs I'd ever met.
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Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.

Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list. Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer. A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

22 Comments

  1. Monica on November 12, 2012 at 8:24 am

    funniest mommy blog ever but oh so true! thanks for the mention!!

  2. Amy Cirbus on November 12, 2012 at 10:05 am

    The most accurate comment on being a mom I’ve read in a very long time – single or married. I wish there were only these 7 things I don’t give a shit about! Awesome.

  3. Emma on November 12, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Amy and Monica – please share yours!

  4. Honoree Corder on November 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    I LOVE this. Emma! Like you, I used to care a lot about what people thought, and now I only care about the opinions of a very few, select people. It’s so freeing to let that all go.

    Blessings, Honoree

  5. Toni South on November 12, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    So true…I used to be meticulous about the holiday decorations and had a decorator do my daughter’s bedroom before she was born. It was beautiful and perfect and it makes me laugh hysterically thinking about that silly perfection. As I sit here in my cozy 750 square foot condo with artwork taped all over the walls haphazardly and a kitchen table covered in Barbies, I couldn’t give a shit about perfect decor. I love this crazy mess:)

  6. Laura Vanderkam on November 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    I have a slight gap between my two front teeth. Before kids, I looked into getting it fixed. After kids I stopped noticing it. My vanity really stopped being a driving motivation for much.

  7. Terri Trespicio on November 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    I f*$ng LOVE YOU. And I’m not even a mommy. Can’t wait to talk! -Terri.

  8. Lori on November 28, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Emma, I’m so freakin happy I stumbled across your blog! Love, love this post in all of its glory! I’ve been lucky enough to give a shit less long before my divorce, but I embrace it and own it even more now. Keep it up, sista! ~Lori

  9. Pamlet on July 18, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Oh, how I loved this! I don’t think I could stop at 7…so many things I’ve learned as a single mom but not giving a shit has got to be numbers 1, 2 & 3.

    • Emma on July 21, 2013 at 4:25 pm

      Pam – Pray tell, what would you add?

  10. Trish Sammer Johnston on July 19, 2013 at 11:13 am

    I just stumbled onto your website for the first time today. I think you are now my new imaginary single momma best friend. I hope that’s OK with you.

    I’m on Twitter @singlemommaTSJ. You should follow me back so we can cement our hypothetical friendship.

    • Emma on July 21, 2013 at 4:24 pm

      Ha Trish! I checked your blog, too, and I think we are imaginary soul mates. Let’s stay in touch!

  11. Melissa H on October 16, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    The hardest one for me to learn was to not give a $#!T about what people think of my kids. To look at my goth daughter who went to prom in a Nightmare Before Christmas dress, many people think I’m doing something wrong in raising her (and some have even told me so). Now, I’ve learned to look at them and ask if their kids make straight A’s with 3 Pre-AP classes and scored over 1200 on their PSATs. I’m just waiting for the day when I can just smile at them and walk away without feeling the need to point out how wrong they are to judge my kid by the way she chooses to dress.

    • Emma on October 16, 2015 at 7:09 pm

      Yeah, time will only tell :)

  12. Cherrelle on January 5, 2016 at 4:53 am

    I was “smile reading” this post :) It’s so relatable!!

    • Emma on January 6, 2016 at 12:14 pm

      :) thanks for telling me xx

  13. Lisa on January 16, 2016 at 8:54 am

    Love it! Thank you for keeping it real when I needed to read something like this. <3

    • Emma on January 16, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      Ha! :)

  14. Malissa on January 29, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Hahaha thanks for making me laugh first thing in the morning. I like how you view single momming-it..and LOVE your writing style

    Thanks for the read! Take care!!!
    *Malissa

    • Emma on January 29, 2016 at 11:04 am

      ha, thanks :) xxx

  15. Alayna on September 4, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    As a newly single mom, I am really hoping that I won’t give a shit about what my ex thinks about how I live my life. If I want to lounge in my Pjs for the day with our little one after a long week then so be it.

  16. Jesse Murphy on January 2, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    I totally feel this! I haven’t changed since becoming a single mom, but I still really relate to these things. You definitely have to choose your battles!

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