I’m a single mom.
No, I’m not. Yes, I am. OK, I am sometimes, but not always.
Confused? Me too.
When I first got divorced someone called me a single mom and I did a double take. Me, a single mom? No. I live in a nice apartment in a good neighborhood. My kids are getting a great education and we are not living hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck. Their dad, my ex shares custody and while at times I wish he would go away, absentee he is not.
It seems these days there is a sliding scale of single motherhood. No divorced mom I know has it easy and while it is hard to measure rough, tough and wearying emotional pain, there are barometers upon which we can measure and compare ourselves. I don’t have it as rough as some and I won’t pretend that I do.
Single moms are those who struggle to put food on the table, are living in near poverty, juggling utility bills and their kids are at best what used to be called latchkey kids. These hardworking mom run from job 1 to job 2. I have seen athletes and celebrities praise these single moms for making it through, for getting their kids out of tough neighborhoods and rising above abuse and desperation. They are single moms, they did it alone and should be praised.
I have a friend whose ex up and moved across the country. Other than a few weeks a year when her son goes to visit him, she is THE parent. Every day, every night. She works her butt off providing for herself and her son. There is no safety net for her, no large divorce settlement, not even a small settlement to help. She is a single mom.
I have a friend who cannot co-parent with her former husband. Sadly, communication with her ex is best avoided all together. She carries the emotional burden of parenting her kids solitarily.
So, where does this leave me? My ex and I while not great, do manage a semblance of co-parenting. Many days its calendar and schedule focused but when there are issues of development, emotional strife, of transitions in life, we try to talk and delve deeper than who is taking this one to the birthday party next week. Ok. So we aren’t there yet, but this is my hope down the line. Plus now I have a boyfriend, so while I am single, I’m kind of not. Additionally I have family and friends who support me and offer an ear to listen or a ride home when needed.
So there you have it. I am not clinging to a life raft, I am ok. So I am decidedly not a single mom.
But wait. I am not married to my kid’s father, I am not in a romantic relationship with him and there is not really a friendship as of yet either. The worries, fears, joys, successes, failures, amazing days and horrible nights I have to hold on my own. When I am sick and I have the kids it’s on me. When they are sick and I have them, it’s on me. When I am missing my son so much the first week of camp, I can’t roll over and talk to the one person who misses him as much as I do. When my daughter runs into the kitchen in a crazy costume and breaks into an amazing rendition of Taylor Swift, I can’t laugh and share the joy with her dad. I am emotionally responsible for them 100% of the time and physically responsible for the them 50% of the time. I share none of that time together with their father.
I don’t know everything but this I know for sure; I am divorced, I am single, I am a mom and I have never been a fan of labels.
Related post: An Apology To Single Parents