My Spouse Works A Lot -- But No, I’m Not A Married Single Mom

by Christine Organ
Originally Published: 

My husband works a lot. Like a lot.

But I am not a married single mom.

Yes, he is sometimes gone for days at a time.

There are weeks when I am the primary – or only – caregiver to our kids.

But I am not a married single mom.

There are times when we are like ships passing in the night – or more accurately, at 8 a.m. in the morning when he’s rushing to catch the commuter train and I’m rushing to get the kids ready for school.

But I am not a married single mom.

Not for a week or a day or even for one second.

Sure, we hear this all the time. When a spouse is traveling for work, the at-home parent might say they are a “single parent” for the week. When a spouse goes away for the weekend, people might joke that they are “parenting solo.” And when a spouse works ridiculous and long hours, the other parent might vent about being a “married single parent.”

But this has to stop, and here’s why…

First, making these superfluous comments – whether in jest or shrouded in not-so-veiled complaints – is demeaning to parents who actually are solo or single parents, whether by divorce or death. Making these comments minimizes the very real struggle that these parents face on a daily basis. What’s more, it implies that being a single parent is somehow a bad thing, when, in reality, there are any number of reasons why single parenting might be best for the family.

Second, you also won’t hear me saying that I’m a married single parent is because it implies that the burden I bear is heavier than my husband’s, when that couldn’t be farther from the truth. When he’s traveling for work, he isn’t gallivanting “with the guys” or taking in a healthy dose of self-care by the pool. No, he’s enduring long stressful meetings, he’s eating hotel room service at 10 p.m., he’s advocating for clients in front of angry judges and angrier opposing counsel. Believe me, if anyone is getting he short end of this stick, it is him.

But the real reason you won’t hear me say these words is because they aren’t true.

Yes, my husband works a lot. On a good day, he leaves around 8 in the morning and gets home at 7, and then spends another hour or so catching up on emails and what-not after the kids are in bed. Other days, he works a full 16 hours. All in all, he puts in about 60 hours, on average, each week. And that doesn’t account for out of town conferences, client meetings, or commuting.

I, on the other hand, work from home. Over the past several years, my workload has increased from sporadic to part-time to a solid full-time gig now. For a number of reasons (none of which I’m going to debate or defend), we’ve decided that this is the arrangement that works for us right now. What this means, practically speaking, is that I bear the lion’s share of carpooling, laundry, tidying up, and other responsibilities related to raising a family and keeping a home.

But despite his busy work schedule, my husband is still very much a parent. He FaceTime’s with the kids before bed. He is there to kiss them goodbye in the morning. He shows up to baseball games on a Wednesday, before sitting down at his computer for another 5 hours of work after the kids are in bed.

I might do the bulk of the heavy lifting at home for days at a time, but then he’ll cook a veritable buffet on the weekend, stocking the fridge with leftovers for us to eat during the week, even though he won’t eat his dinner some nights until he gets home from the office at midnight.

He might be physically around less hours in the week, but he’s more emotionally present.

He might not be there for a family dinner every week night, but he’s there to listen to concerns about whether our son is ready for orthodontia and what to do about the non-stop bickering.

I’m a parent. My husband is a parent. We are each parenting and caring for families in different – yet equally important – ways.

So, no, I am not a married single parent. And, if you are like me, then neither are you.

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