How many times since becoming a parent have you said or heard someone call themselves a “single mom” to describe a time when they had to parent alone? My guess you’ve said or heard it at least once or twice.
The term “single mom” is often casually thrown around to describe a short-term situation (i.e. a husband’s business trip or boys’ weekend), resulting in a mother having to parent solo. She calls herself a “single mom” because she basically is…right?
Wrong. Actually, it doesn’t. I repeat it DOES NOT make you a “single mom.”
When you call yourself a “single mom” due to a scheduling issue, you are basically saying how inconvenienced you are to be solo parenting. Suddenly you have to maintain the house, your work obligations, and kids’ schedule all alone…all things single parents do daily.
When your spouse is gone, you still have your partner. Kids are being difficult? Text them to vent. Little Johnny refuses to take a nap? Call them. Need to share an important milestone? FaceTime it is. Them not being there physically does not mean that they are not present in yours or your child’s life. Having to be mindful of a time zone difference does not make you a single parent.
When your spouse is gone, your financial situation does not change. You are not suddenly stressing over paying bills, buying groceries, or paying for kid activities. You still have the benefit of living on a dual income. Your financial security is not suddenly in jeopardy. Being a single mom means that you are the sole provider. Your salary has to cover all the bills, groceries, and all the extra things kids need. Sometimes this means living paycheck to paycheck. Sometimes that means having to balance two jobs. Some single moms are just trying to make ends meet without child support to depend on.
Being single means that you are the one maintaining the schedules all the time. You may struggle to balance being present at home with your kids and knowing you have to work to provide for them. Being a single parent means you have to navigate all the tricky times with your kids alone: working through those long nights of not sleeping, potty training, and boo-boos…all without a partner.
Being a single mom means spending half your days with a hurting heart because of shared custody. It means missing holidays, birthdays, and other milestones. And it means you never get a break because of absentee fathers, which really means you have to schedule time away from your kids weeks in advance to ensure you have a babysitter.
When you call yourself a “single mom” because of a scheduling issue, you are diminishing the heart and hustle that real single moms put in day in and out to support their families. Next time you are upset about being a “single mom” for the weekend, try to soak up the extra one-on-one time with your kids; some single moms would love the extra time with theirs.