Dear Married Women Calling Themselves “Single Moms”

DearMarriedMomAh, social media. The magical wonderland where we get to share our thoughts, joys and pet peeves no matter how random they may be. Today, I do want to share one of mine, and possibly even get on my soap box a bit again.

We’ve all seen it — those random posts from married women who are, for whatever reason, temporarily without their husband and they are left to do all the parenting duties on their own, and they post about how hard it is to be a “single mom.”

While I completely empathize with you that it is truly very hard to take on all of the parenting responsibilities day and night, night and day for days, weeks or even months on end, I really want you to know that what you’re experiencing is not in the same category as being a single mom. I do not mean to take away at all from your very real struggle. Really there just needs to be another term for women who are without their spouse’s support for whatever reason other than “married single mom” as it is just not accurate. It’s just that there’s a bit of something in me that gets triggered when I see this as I am, a truly bonafide single mom. Here are the areas where this is a gross inaccuracy to state this:

First of all, if your hubby is away, it’s probably because he’s making money. Unless you’re a single mom who just sits there while the money rolls in, this is not the same thing. Single moms need to take care of business, bring home the bacon and then fry it in the pan. And then after that, they set the table, serve it, clear the table and then do the dishes and put the kids to bed. Yes, you totally miss him while he is away and isn’t there to help with the nighttime routines and I totally get that.

Yes, single moms don’t really get the breaks, but eventually your hubby will be back. And more than likely you likely know what date that will be and can hold on for dear life until that date comes. Single moms often don’t get to have any foreseeable break. Yes, there can be scheduled visitation, but not all moms have a reliable baby daddy that takes the kids, or the time is not relaxing due to all the emotional strings attached or genuinely worrying that they are not safe when away. I do remember how nice it was to have that kind of support, or even the occasional “hey hun let me take the kids for the afternoon while you get a nap/get something done/do whatever you need to.” I wasn’t married to Satan himself and often got these kind of thoughtful breaks. I am not gonna lie, I miss that support, but you do what you gotta do.

Also, even when it’s hard and difficult, you can usually call him on the phone or at least send him a message and get some emotional support. Rarely do single moms have that dedicated, unconditional support that comes with a (good) spouse and in fact can even have the opposite in a former spouse or partner that can make life more difficult. Just talk to a handful of single moms and unfortunately the drama that can go down is all too much of an earful (especially if she’s still stuck in villainizing her ex) and can be really draining to be around. We may have our slew of girlfriends that are supportive, but there is simply no adequate replacement for a good, supportive and kind husband. (As well as a stellar therapist, which heaven knows, every last one of us single moms need at some point in our lives.)

Additionally, single moms who have shared custody get to deal with the fallout of when the kids come back from dad’s. Most of the time, even if it’s regular visits, there is an adjustment period where the children act up and out even more so, and without another parent there to enforce and help lay down the law. The irony of how difficult it can be is very thick. Of course not all single parent situations are like this, but most are. There is much you do can to improve your co-parenting relationship with them, but as in marriage, it takes two to tango and if your ex is not on board with playing nice and keeping good communication about discipline and routines, you’re kinda outta luck.

I believe there are extra blessings in heaven for those that help out single moms to get a break, especially when they just reach out and offer it. I know for me, it is really, really hard to ask someone to watch my kids all day or heaven forbid overnight so I can go to a conference out of town or some event that will really help me personally or for my business. Simple overnights that would only require a supportive husband and some minimal schedule tweaking all of the sudden become a major ordeal.

Being a single mom and trying to “keep up” with everyone around you is really intense. I know for me I want give my children one-on-one time, to put them in gymnastic, karate, Montessori school, get them into piano lessons and more. Which takes money and transportation time out from the rest of the things that need to get done. I actually even homeschool my boys which some days I question myself on this one. It’s easy to forget that I can be gentle with myself and know that if I’m not “giving my kids all that their friends are getting” that it’ll be ok. I can get creative and find new avenues or they can go without. It’s like trying to run a race with only one leg, but pretending like you’re good anyway and then getting upset and frustrated with yourself when you don’t come in with a qualifying time.

The bottom line is that being a single mom is HARD STUFF and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. This post is bordering on whining, but needed to be put out there regardless. Divorce just sucks and ruins peoples lives but the after effects can still be better than the marriage or relationship was, which is really saying something. I don’t pretend to have the answers but also hope that this helps to shed a little bit of light on this topic that is often handled with a lack of sensitivity and understanding. I know many single moms that didn’t get into that situation as as result of their own string of bad choices, at least not in proportion to the consequences received. Please give extra love and understanding, as well as a heartfelt offer to watch her kids from time to time. And maybe even bring over a pizza.


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