I read yet another blog piece about how difficult it is to be a “married-but-single-mom.”
You know the ones.
The ones crying about how difficult their life is because they signed up to be a stay-at-home mom and now their husbands work 60 hours a week…so they can be a stay at home mom. And the husbands don’t feel like changing diapers, or they don’t clean up their own dirty underwear, or perhaps the husbands literally don’t lift a finger in the house. The moms that complain that their lives are so painfully lonely because they got everything they ever wanted and now realize how hard it is to be a mom and a caregiver to all of the humans in the house and they think they’re living the same life as a single mom.
Listen. Just stop with this.
Ladies, (and yes, I’m singling out the moms here since that’s who I see debating this subject time and again), if you are married you cannot be a single mom. It is virtually impossible.
Simply put, “single” and “married” are antonyms. They have opposite meanings. You cannot be married and single at the same time.
When can you call yourself a single-mom? When you’re single and unmarried, raising children. Full stop.
Husband gone 5 out of 7 nights a week for work? Not a single mom.
Husband works nights and you work days? Not a single mom.
Husband doesn’t lift a finger around the house to cook, clean, or care for the kids? Not a single mom.
Husband is included in any of your vernacular when describing your relationship status? Not. A. Single. Mom.
I understand that your husband might put in long work weeks and expect dinner on the table and the laundry to be done and that, yes, you are the primary caregiver for everyone in your household. I get that. I get that is nothing short of the most incredibly difficult job on the face of the planet. Because it is. Parenthood is hard. And yes, husbands are like having an additional child. Absolutely.
But you know what you have that single-moms don’t, in case it isn’t obvious? A partner. Of some sort.
If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you have a person providing financial means. Emotional support. An adult human that lives with you at least some of the time, even if he works long hours or even if he travels for work. Someone to talk to about something other than MineCraft and 3rd grade math. You have a person.
And I’m not willing to give those a pass, who do not actually know this struggle, to share a title with any single mom. Just…no.
Call me an asshole. Call me bitter. (Because a divorce that I didn’t want has made me both of those things.) But that title isn’t suited for you as a stay-at-home mom who has a partner. Sorry.
I’m not saying your situation isn’t difficult. I’m sure that when you’re comparing yourselves to other married moms whose husbands come home at 5 pm and immediately chip in with the kids, help with dinner, bathe the kids or whatever, I’m certain you have it more difficult. And that’s frustrating and unfair. But you’re still married. Maybe it looks different than the fantasy you created in your mind about how it would be, but you’re married.
When I was married, I worked a typical 8-4 job and my husband worked nights as a restaurant manager. When my daughter was a baby and a toddler, six nights a week after 4 pm and on weekends, the caregiving was all me. And I do remember making comments to friends like, “Man, sometimes I feel like a single parent,” because I had no clue what that actually meant.
Now I do.
I am divorced. I have my daughter 5 nights every week, including every weekend. I run two businesses, so I put in about 50-55 hours of work a week, and I provide about 90% of my child’s financial well being.
I certainly could have it more difficult. Obviously, there are moms (and dads) who have their children 100% of the time without any help, some working more than one job. The real single parents. The toughest of the tough shit. I’m sure some reading might be in this category and believe that even I shouldn’t be using the term single mom because I have a part-time co-parent, and I can respect that to some degree. I will happily accept an alternative title of “bitter asshole, divorced mom.”
But what we both don’t have is a person.
That person that promised me for better or for worse, the one that said “I do” in that thing called marriage? He’s no longer here with me because life had other plans. No more confidante, no more equal contributor to finances, no one to fight over the remote with, no more 30 minute timeouts so I can walk the dogs if I’ve had enough of being a mom in a given moment on a weekend. Because I am single. And a mom. And I’m on my own.
I know we all live in our reality. And all of our realities are hard. That’s the truth. I don’t think any of us as parents believe our lives to be easy. We can all find solidarity in the struggles of raising small humans. This shit is difficult no matter how perfect it looks on paper. All of it is hard. Marriage certainly isn’t a romance novel and raising children isn’t puppies and rainbows like we dreamed these things to be before we had them.
We know mom life is hard. We know.
But, please. Please reserve the title of “Single Mom” for those who actually live it.