Anyone who has navigated the journey of motherhood knows that it isn’t always easy. Everyone’s journey is different, and all moms face their own unique set of challenges. For single moms, the journey becomes even more complex as they suddenly find themselves facing a whole new set of challenges while navigating a whole new identity as a “single mom.”
For those not facing this journey of motherhood solo, here are seven things single moms want you to know:
1. The specifics of how we became single moms is not of great importance.
Some of us end up with this title by choice, others of us don’t. Becoming a single mom can happen to anyone, at any time. Think about this fact the next time you judge a single mom. It could easily happen to you, too. Regardless, we don’t see ourselves as victims of our circumstances. Instead, we understand that life is all about playing the cards we’re dealt and making the best of our individual situations. Believe it or not, some of us actually enjoy being single parents and are much happier than we would’ve been otherwise. Not every single mom is bitter and jaded.
2. We need support instead of judgment.
Isn’t it wild how single moms are instantly stigmatized by society’s standards, for no other reason than their marital status? Single moms have figured out a way to run an entire household and raise children all alone. Somehow, society is still quick to slap a negative label on them. When a man is single and raising children, we dote on and praise him for being such a dedicated father. A single mom? Damaged. Something must be wrong with her, right? Why can’t she keep a man? Her children are probably going to have issues because of her single status.
Did you know that outside of already being in a negatively stereotyped group, there are also mommy wars raging between single moms themselves? The finger pointing as to what makes you a “real” single mom is an ongoing battle. These women battle for the title of “single mom” and what makes it “realer” for them than others.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter if the child’s father is in the picture or not. It doesn’t matter if you are receiving support or not. It doesn’t matter if you split time equally with another parent or not. If you are living alone with your children and unmarried, you are a single mom. Mic drop.
3. We feel isolated as moms thanks to pop culture glorifying the “mom group.”
We don’t really fit in any group. We aren’t in the married moms’ group, but we aren’t in the single and childless group either. We still want to have playdates even though we are single. We still want to be invited to parties, cookouts, and other social events, even though we don’t have a husband to bring with us. We can still relate to you, even though we aren’t navigating our way through married life, too. It is so refreshing to meet other moms who treat you like any other mom – rather than flinching when you mention you don’t have a husband.
4. Speaking of husbands, we aren’t trying to hit on yours or, God forbid, steal him.
Our primary focus is on our children, not trying to find a man. Our dating standards have risen substantially as a result of having children. We definitely don’t want a grown adult in our home who needs to be tended to like a child. We won’t accept anyone who views children as a burden or who won’t love them like their own. Now that we’ve realized we can do it all on our own, the only reason we “need” a partner is if we happen to find one who makes our lives better. We have already learned the hard way that relationships don’t always work out and marriage is not a lifetime guarantee. We’d rather devote our energy to raising beautiful human beings. We’ll worry about finding a partner later.
5. We work our butts off without the emotional support, financial support, or parenting support that comes along with partnership.
If you’re married, please don’t call yourself a single mom. You may have an emotionally absent husband or a physically absent husband who travels a lot, but you still have a person. Regardless of your marital situation, you are still technically married which means you have an actual person that is legally responsible to help you. We understand how tough it must be to be married and not have a partner around to help. The reality remains the same. Being married = not single.
6. For those of us actively co-parenting, please don’t tell us we’re “lucky” to have a break.
I haven’t met a mom yet in a co-parenting situation who doesn’t miss her children tremendously when they are gone. We hate knowing we are missing out on up to half of their precious childhood. We miss out on so many nights simply knowing our children are tucked away safely in our home. We miss out on hearing about their days, seeing their smiles, and feeling their arms wrapped around us. We miss out on telling them we love them daily. It is more of a struggle for some than others, but it’s hard regardless. It is a constant emotional struggle knowing your children deserve time with their other parent but also feeling the devastation of missing out on so much of their lives. The positive side to this is that we make the most of the time we do have with our kids, knowing it is limited.
7. We are better people because of our experience as single moms.
We have learned how to be utterly and totally selfless. There is no room for selfishness when you’re a single mom. If you wake up and don’t feel like jumping out of bed, too bad. Breakfast needs to be made. If you want to take a break or go for a walk for some alone time, not happening. We don’t have anyone to share tasks with or split errands between to keep our days running smoothly. We are a one woman show when it comes to running the household, taking care of the kids, and working full time jobs to support them. We have found strength we never knew existed within us and love so big we could never contain it. We have learned what it means to truly love unconditionally.
Most of all, we want the same things for our kids that married people do and simply want others to understand we’re no different than anyone else.