“Oh, I just can’t do it! My hubby’s away on a boys’ fishing trip this weekend and I’m a single mom. It’s just too much work.”

When I hear a married woman say this, it makes me want to kick her in the baby maker.

You see, I am a single mom. I am divorced. My kids are with me 70% of the time and I have neither hired help nor family nearby. I am a single mom. You, my dear, are not. Being a single mom is twice the work, twice the stress & twice the tears. And there’s just one of me.

True story: a friend once sent around an email to several moms asking for help with childcare on a weekend when her husband was away. It started “Help a poor single mom this weekend? I’m committed to a 30-day yoga challenge and can’t miss a day, so can anyone take care of my kids for 1 1/2 hours this Saturday?” Needless to say, this did not go over well with the single moms on her distribution list.

When your husband goes to Vegas with the boys and you are on deck for the weekend, you are NOT a single mom. He will arrive home Sunday evening, hungover as hell, contrite and willing to do your bidding for weeks to come. Ninety percent of the time, he is there to help you with picking up the kids from school, meal preparation, taking out the garbage, unplugging the toilet, coaching soccer, burying dead pets, changing lightbulbs, reading bedtime stories, paying bills, letting you sleep in when you are hungover as hell because book club turned into wine club, bringing you breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day, holding you close after a long day.

I’m not looking for your pity, but please realize that when you “jokingly” refer to yourself as a single mom, you belittle those of us who are truly on our own every day. No one is going to walk through the door at the end of the work day, pour us a glass of wine, help with the dinner/bathing/bedtime. To snuggle with us after the kids have *finally* gone to bed. To hold us when the day has knocked us on our ass.

I have a great ex-husband who is devoted to our children. He supports us and never shirks his commitment to our children. If I need him in an emergency, he is 20 minutes away. But the day-to-day parenting duties and night time bullshit that exasperates all mothers from time to time? All me. Same thing when the kids are with him. He recently took the kids on a vacation to Mexico and ended up suffering from Montezuma’s Revenge. Luckily they were travelling with other families that could lend a hand with the kids, but that is not always the case.

I should say that the only time a married woman may claim single mom status is when she is a military wife. My best friend is married to a man in the military and has endured more than her share of parenting hardships while her husband was away for 3-6 month – or longer – tours. I tip my single mom hat to her and all Military Wives.

But for the rest of you faux single moms? Suck it up. He’ll be home soon.

Pam
Author

Pam is a Vancouver-based mother of two who writes with honesty, humor & hope about her post-wife life at divorcedoula.me After working through a difficult separation and divorce. she now enjoys a enlightened co-parenting relationship with her former husband. She started DivorceDoula.me to share her experiences and resources with others who may be going through a separation or divorce of their own.

30 Comments

  1. I think this runs both ways. I completely agree that having your coparent away for the weekend does not make you a single parent. Period. Just like my husband is not “baby sitting” when he has the kid. It’s called parenting people.

    I also know several single moms who are single moms 100% by choice – that is they went into parenthood choosing to do it on their own and I get sick and tired of their whole “oh I’m a single mom whoa is me” crap.

  2. I agree with you Got Air, and it was not my intention to make martyrs of single moms. Many of us have made our bed & now we must sleep (alone) in it. And trust me: I can’t even imagine what it must be like for moms who have been widowed or abandoned. What I was hoping to do was *gently remind* my normally thoughtful & loving friends that when they call themselves “single moms” their jokes are hurtful. I try to empathize with my friends when they are experiencing issues with their husbands, partners or ex’s. I put myself in their shoes & try to give advice that is best suited to the situation. Hearing women call themselves “single moms” reminds me that they have no idea of what my day-to-day life is really like.

  3. In my opinion, a single mom is a woman who is not married but who does have a child or children. I’ve been one for 23 years.

  4. I agree with this. At the same time though, I get tired of hearing single moms who DO have an ex partner / childs father in the picture complaining about how hard it is to be own their own.
    I am a single mom of a 3 year old, with no father in the picture. That means no co-parenting, no support (of any kind, finacial or otherwise), and no time off.
    When I hear women who have every weekend, or every other weekend, or even ONE day a week ‘off’ while their child is with his / her father complaining, I think wow, you have no idea how lucky you are. I have even heard women in this position talk about not getting enough ‘me’ time. Hunny please.
    I’m lucky if I get out for a couple hours once a month. When I hear them complain it almost makes me say ‘suck it up, they’ll be with him soon.’

    • I agree. My daughter almost 21 and no farther /financial support /weekends off etc. 3 types of parents:joint, co and single.

    • Yeah I am with you if there is a dad in the picture any amount of time or even with only financial support them you are not a single mom . As a real entirely single mom since even when I was pregnant this drives me nuts to ., I was thinking the writer was a real single mom but the dad is in the picture if even a little bit, not a single mom.

    • Yes! Although I agree divorced women or women with exes who play a role face challenges, they are NOT the same as women with no father in the picture, no days off, no support, etc.

  5. I agree with Melissa.My closest “single mom” friends complain all the time about not getting “me time”,even though they have actively involved ex-husbands who take the kids 30-60% of the time.They tell me I have no idea how hard it is.I always have to bite my tongue.I totally agree with the fact that some things are harder (single income,getting the kids places on time by yourself),but don’t forget the fact that if I am not at work,I have my kids with me.I still get out occasionally for a date night or a girls night,but it is far from every other weekend.

  6. I agree with Melissa as well. But maybe there are levels of single momhood? I am divorced and have my ex in the picture. He is with my girls every Sunday. I have remarried, but it was my decision to ensure that my new husband does not take on a father figure role. So, in other words, other than Sundays, I do it all and refuse to rely on my husband when it comes to my girls. Does this make me a single mom? Maybe on a certain level. But I truly think women like Melissa are the real troopers and are the true definition of what a single mom really is.

  7. Jenny Kanevsky

    Preach sister. Preach. I can’t write anymore because I’m so freaking exhausted from being a single mom. With a non-parenting coparent. Ya. Single. Mom.

  8. Jill Robbins

    Well said. I was a single mom for a long time. It is not the same. I have been without my husband for extended periods of time and it is really just not the same. Not even close.

  9. This is the one area of mommy-hood that I wish wasn’t so divisive. Parenting is hard work regardless of the relationship status that you have. Motherhood comes in so many shapes and forms. A mother who is single has never had a partner and adopts or uses IVF. A mother whose partner has passed. A mother whose partner is in the military. A mother whose partner works away for weeks on business. A mother who is divorced but has a great co-parent. A mother who is divorced and has a horrible co-parent (lack thereof). A mother who is married but whose partner is disengaged, or abusive.
    While we keep trying to one-up each other on “who has it harder” we miss the opportunity to really support one another.
    Everyone has their own battles, challenges, etc. You never know what a mothers life is until you truly walk in their shoes.

    • Jennifer Burgess Reply

      You nailed it Alisha! Everyone has their own set of challenges.

    • Jenny Penney Reply

      I agree. Making assumptions about someone’s life based on marital status alone is asinine! I am a single mom (100% of the time, I should add) and probably have more help and support from family members than some of my married friends. I get more nights out than one married friend because her husband is terrified to be alone with the kids and calls her hourly when she tries to have a night to herself. I know other single parents who have their kids 50% of the time. They complain when it’s their “week” with the kids, while other parents have no “week off” to look forward to.

  10. Comment from a ‘single dad’, though I would never really claim that title. My kids are with me 50% of the time, and I provide well over 50% of their financial support (closer to 90%). But, their mom (my ex) does a lot of the work, and still proclaims herself to others as a “single mom”. To me, those who can truly proclaim themselves as ‘single parents’ are those who have no-to-extremely little support (time and/or money) from the other parent. I think too many people try to wear the banner “single parent” as a badge of honor, when it’s just not due.

  11. Wow, you have someone 20 minutes away you can call, AND child support! My husband died, leaving me with 2 kids under 6, alot of debt and no family for 200 KM. Suck it up princess, YOU aren’t a single parent!!!

  12. I am a military spouse. I am a “solo parent” for months at a time. Right now we are on our second 6-month deployment within the last year. (He was gone for 6, home for 6, and now gone again for 6.) I am 100% responsible for everything. I don’t have family nearby. I never get a break, unless you count the one day a week I go to work and get a babysitter for 9 hours. HOWEVER, I don’t deem myself a single parent because I am able to stay home with and provide for my child due to my husband’s INCOME. He may not be here to help out with the childcare or day to day tasks and taking care of the house– I mow the lawn, take out the trash, take care of the pets, child, house and everything else. BUT I am able to take care of this with *less* stress because I don’t have to work a full time job on top of it. I would never go so far as to call myself a single parent. I think about the single parents who are working a job and putting food on the table for their kids with no support, financial or otherwise. I admit I roll my eyes at people who get overwhelmed when their husband is away for the weekend. But I guess it is just when someone is used to having lots of help, it seems so much harder when they don’t have it. But that’s my normal.

  13. Pingback: Blog Love - 5 Absolutely Awesome Posts About Being Mom

  14. This is a little ridiculous, trying to compare who has it harder. I have I children and am constantly told how lucky I am to have all this free time. Well, hell, maybe it would be nice if my baby did not die and I had these little faces to care for too. So unless you walk in someone’s shoes, don’t judge who has it harder. You don’t know their story.

  15. How about this…parenting is hard and we should all get to vent sometimes without being judged. I have said many times “I’m a single Mom this weekend” and everybody gets that without a thousand details. Don’t be so sensitive.

  16. Frankly if there is a Father in the picture and active in his children’s lives then you surely cannot claim to be a single Mom. 70% of the time? Try 100%. Everyday, 24/7. No “me time”. As a widow raising my children what I miss most is his emotional support, someone to turn to and share a worry and concern about one of the kids. The full responsibility is all mine. I love my kids and love being a Mom even though it’s hard. But don’t pretend that you are a single Mom unless you literally are.

  17. Divorced moms who get child support, and shared custody are not single moms either. PUHLEASE.

  18. I wouldn’t consider you a single mom either, I would consider you a divorced co-parent mom.

  19. Thank you so much for your website and comments, but I really am a single mom. My husband passed away about six months ago and no one really wants to talk about it, especially by two boys and their wives. But I am hurting pretty bad and would love some advice Thank you!

    • I don’t have any good advice for you, but I am so sorry that you all are in this most difficult situation. Take it easy on yourself and grieve whenever you need to. Maybe find a support group so you have someone to talk to. The hardest part is feeling closed off from everyone else. Much love to you all.

    • Kristine Laco

      Marianne,
      If your family doesn’t want to talk about it right now, find someone who does. Corner a girlfriend, hire a therapist, or call a helpline. Frankly, I’d venture to guess your sons need to talk to you more than they let on. Find a time without distraction (and wives) and let them know you need them. You have earned their ear, embrace, and shared strength. Loss is hard. The deeper the love the longer the grieving but you should not have to do it alone. Please take care of yourself. We need strong women in this world to keep us all powerful. <3

    • Sending love to you. I am so sorry you are struggling, Marianne. I haven’t been in your shoes but I wanted to express my condolences and send some light your way. That sounds incredibly difficult. Our local hospice helped our family in times of loss, I am not sure if yours has counselling and resources available but we found it really helpful. Wishing you peace and comfort.

    • Alison Huff

      I am so sorry for your loss, Marianne. Sometimes I think people forget that those who are grieving need to talk about that loss… that they feel as if talking about it somehow makes it worse. Even bringing up “Hey, do you remember that time he did that funny thing” seems like it’s a subject that shouldn’t be brought up, when the opposite is true. Yeah, it’s going to hurt and there will be bittersweet tears, but that, too, is part of the process. I think that sometimes people view those who have passed as a taboo subject of sorts.

      If you have friends who will lend an ear, try opening up to them. Your boys may follow suit and talk to you when they are ready. (For what it’s worth, sometimes men have a harder time being open about those feelings.) Or, if there are local grief support groups in your area, I’d recommend going to one – even if you don’t feel able to open up to them the first time out, just being with people who are struggling with a loss might help you to feel less alone in yours.

      If you’re not comfortable with doing that, writing might help. I actually wrote a lettter to my late brother on what would have been his 40th birthday. Writing can be very cathartic; it allows you to get your feelings “out” while also kind of being “heard” by the universe, if that makes sense? I don’t know. I certainly don’t quantify myself as a master of grief, although I’ve had my fair share, but writing has helped me during those times when I’ve needed it most.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss, Marianne. Too many times people just don’t know what to say to someone who’s suffered a loss so they end up not saying anything. Please find a grief support group or if you’re not comfortable with the group setting, keep reaching out to friends and family members until you find someone who is a good listener. It still just may be too raw for your sons to process and communicate. Your local hospital and county public health office are good places to find support groups. Wishing you peace.

  20. You may be a single woman, but you are NOT a single mother. Your ex has the kids 30% of the time, You are a divorced mom.

Write A Comment

Pin It