“Uuhhh…” she says, lolling her head and slouching. “I’m so exhausted. Trevor’s traveling again so I’m totally single-momming it until Friday.”
A sympathetic “oh, honey…” a conciliatory pat on the back. The poor thing! Taking care of her children all alone!
Welcome to our lives. We are the legions of single moms out here, who do this thing that is so horribly taxing it launches you into a stretch of mindless exhaustion and sympathy-evoking comments on the playground. Every. Single. Day. Some of us even do it by choice!
Let me invite you into our kitchen to share a little bit about us, because we might not all be quite what you expected. So have a seat, grab a cookie (yes, homemade – some of us have time for that!) and I’ll pour you a hot cup of coffee with a generous shot of Baileys. You’re welcome.
So here’s the thing, friend, there are lots of different single moms, and each of us is as unique as our situations.
Take me, for instance. Two years ago my marriage ended and I began my journey as a single mom. My children live with me, oh, about 99.9% of the time.
Or how about my friend Theresa*. It’s just about four years ago now that her family got the devastating news her husband had terminal cancer. He passed away about six months later, and since then her life has taken a very sharp turn from where she expected it to be.
And then there’s fellow UrbanMommer Sara, who became a single mom by choice when she had her son Will.
Each of us has a different story, and yet each of us has one thing in common: we are single moms.
What others sometimes whine about doing, we take in stride every day because hey: it’s our reality.
There are things that are terribly taxing about being a single mom, for sure. And it’s a lot more than having to mow your own lawn and clean your own eavestroughs. When all the worry, and all the financial burden, and all the decision-making falls on one set of shoulders, well…that’s hard. And granted, that’s not everyone’s reality. I’m lucky by many single mom standards; my kids’ dad provides generous and regular financial support and carries a share of the transportation burden for their extracurriculars. Many of my divorced friends aren’t so lucky.
And I’m not trying to win a sympathy award here either. I don’t think I’m a hero and I don’t make it a habit to complain of my lot (much).
I so don’t need a pat on the back for doing what I do, but here’s the thing: I’d kinda rather you didn’t complain about it when you have to (sorta) do it for a little while. So the next time your husband’s on the road, take a quick second to think about it before you complain about “single-momming it.” I know I’ll appreciate it.
*not her real name.
one of the joys and the hard parts of being a single mom is that you get to be all things to your children – you are the funny one, the discipliner, the one they play with and the one they do homework with, the one they come to when they are sad and when they are happy. I was not the funny parent in my marriage, nor was I the one that played as much as I do now. I was the logistics, the getting out the door, the cook and bottle washer. I think one of the gifts of being a single mom is that it forces you to be much more rounded in your gifts to your children – I get to teach them about strength, that they can put together a piece of furniture, about money, about challenges, and I get to dance with them, to sing badly with them and to enjoy them. My role is wide open, unlimited, I don’t share it with anyone.
Sara Lanthier says
Great post Kath! I’ve had a few extra years to get used to those comments…:). I sort of laugh now when I hear that one. I actually feel bad for them because I think it’s harder – they’re not used to doing it 100% so it’s a challenge. Whereas it’s all I’ve ever known, do you know what I mean? I’m too exhausted to put my words straight…:).
guilty as charged…but i have (so far) managed to stop myself from completely embarrasing myself. when i start beaking off i take a step back and realize to whom i’m speaking to and apologize and my respect meter for her flies through the roof.
i realize that i get to be a SAHM and don’t have to work (although i should be doing something…anyone have a job for me?) and i have single mom friends who have to work, drive, chauffeur, cook, clean, plan, feed, nurse and teach all by themselves. i’m very lucky and very grateful. single parents deserve so much more and you do need a pat on the back…and a medal…and a raise….and a vacation…and… 🙂
nancy macdonald says
Yes Kath- so true about all of this
signed 100% of the time xx