I’m a huge advocate of mindfulness and positive thinking, so I live 80% of my single mama life with that attitude, and not feeling sorry for myself. I browse through Pinterest in the evenings, feeling uplifted by motivational quotes and chats with friends, and scroll through Facebook reading varying articles on motherhood, where generally, I feel inspired. I also write about single parenting often on my blog/Instagram, Seashells and Sit Ups, and usually chat about the funny moments. However, I also have to admit to the other 20% and how it’s real, too— the 20% of single mama life that is super overwhelming; the part that sometimes puts a pit in my stomach, extra dark circles and bags under my eyes, or a teeny bit of woe-is-me into my soul (because let’s be real; you can rub all the crystals you want, say alllllll the prayers, but sometimes we just need to feel a little sorry for ourselves before recharging our batteries). and that’s the 20% where I admit that being a single mom is EFFING HARD. Like, really exhausting, patience-testing, and just downright lonely and difficult, at times. Like anything, there are incredible moments as well – we get to experience almost every single milestone (depending on our co-parenting timeshare), get extra cuddles, and our hearts are filled with SO much pride and love.
Let me start by saying this – us single mamas don’t want people’s pity or others to feel sorry for us, but we also don’t want anyone to shame us. We all come from different walks of life, different backgrounds, or different situations that lead us here to solo mom life. The biggest thing as single moms, is we just want to be understood, and looked at as an equal when it comes to motherhood and parenting. We know it can be hard to totally grasp the life we lead being a single mom, but we want you to have a little piece in your heart or your mind of what our day is like, and that sometimes, it’s just really hard, and that’s okay. We also know that parenthood and motherhood, in general, is exhausting and difficult, so we get that, Mama. But, being a single mom takes those normal feelings up a notch…
So, if there were a list of things we could tell our happily married friends (or our single friends without kids), it would be the following:
Photo by London Scout on Unsplash
- Please give us grace. We will probably always be at least 20 minutes late, to like everything. Because when our little(s) demand on one more snack, or we have to cater to a poop that simply cannot wait, or our little love-bug throws a show out the window, or insists on bringing 123 more toys wherever we’re going, we’re a one-woman-show behind the scenes of a circus tamer.
- Know that we sometimes have a hard time at family get-togethers and functions, because it’s hard not to feel different when everyone else is “normal.” But, pretty please, never stop inviting us to them, or it’s easy to feel like we’re being left out because we aren’t your stereotypical “family.”
- When you come over for a playdate or a dinner date, we will probably never admit that we’d actually love if you helped clean up any mess(es) you made, or help do any dishes you used. Even if we say “don’t worry about it!” we’re the only one ever cleaning up or doing dishes, so even a 5 minute break from any additional de-cluttering or cleaning would be totally amazing. Every mom could use a little fairy godmother sometimes.
- We pinky promise, we NEVER want to go after your husband, and it hurts us that we’re ever seen as some type of weird “threat”. Equally, we don’t need to be “hooked up” with all of your single friends or yoga instructors. We dated and were married once, so #wegotthis. Buttttt, on second thought, if you do have a hot (I mean, totally sweet and kind) pilates instructor, feel free to show them a picture of us and give them our number…and then please offer to babysit if they ask us out 😉
- When we say we’re too tired to make it to something, we promise we’re not being a flake. We actually are. We do every pre-school drop off, pick-up, make every lunch box, do every bath, read every bedtime story, play good-cop/bad-cop on our own, clean, cook, and play soccer mom (and our work never stops, 24/7). So when we get a free night or weekend, sometimes all the energy we have is to entertain our munchkin(s) at home, or be in PJs by 8pm.
- We know everyone is on a budget, but sometimes we can’t afford to do the fun “luxury” moms events or mamas-night-out. We don’t have a husband to watch our babe(s) for a night out, and if we don’t have family that lives nearby, that means we have to pay a sitter every time we need a break. Say we grab dinner and a drink with girlfriends and we’re out for 4 hours; The average sitter costs $15/hour, so for babysitting alone, that’s $60. It’s likely our dinner + drink tab is about the same, so that’s over $100 just for a night out of the house. That adds up quickly, especially when you’re on a one-income household!
- We totally know how hard it is to be a solo parent, but when your husband is out of town for a work trip for a few days, it’s just not the same as being a single mom, so please don’t say you “know what it’s like to be a single mom!”. While your hands may be physically full while your partner is away, you still have someone to lean on for emotional support and/or financial assistance. Being a single mom means you have no partner; no one to be there for you physically or emotionally, and therefore, single parenting is not the same as solo parenting for a short amount of time. (but, to military spouses and mamas, we respect you and know how hard that must be, too. In fact, we know how momin’ it is so tough, in general, and we love and respect all the different hardships about being a mom – single or not). But, that being said, unless you’re truly a single mom, you are not a “single mom” because of a traveling hubs.
- If we’re dealing with postpartum anxiety or depression, please please please be there for us. Just come over and sit with us. Make us get out and do something. Call us. Text us. Just be present. Personally, I chronically worry about something happening to me, and that my little cub would be all alone if it did (knocking on wood so hard RN). Not having a partner or roomie to look out for you can feel scary, so we really rely on our friends and fellow mamas to just be there for us when we’re feeling anxious, sick, or scared.
- …and when we’re sick, we don’t get to just take it easy and rest. We know the same is true for 98% of moms everywhere, regardless if they’re in a loving relationship or not. But we don’t get to clock “out” when Dad comes home at 5pm and take a nap or have someone else cook dinner, so we often get even more run down. So when you say life is hard when you’re sick, as moms, oh how we get it. But if you happen to be in our area when we’re sick, yes, we’d love some of that chicken soup you offered to drop off (that we probably said “oh, no worries – I’m okay, but thank you!” to.)
- Lend a listening ear or offer to celebrate with us when a milestone or achievement occurs. We don’t have someone waiting at home to talk to about a raise, success from a project, or how our little(s) earned a friendship badge at school. Pop bubbly with us. Give us a hug. Offer to take us out to celebrate since we don’t have a better half besides our kiddo(s). Or help our munchkins make a card for us – that would mean the world.
- If we’re venting about a tough day at work or a shitty guy, be mindful. AKA – probably not the best time to boast about your babe(s) 6:30pm bedtime because your husband is “sooo amazing” and puts the rug-rat(s) to bed while you get to relax with a glass of wine in peace. As a working single mom, I’m lucky if my little rascal is even in bed by 8:30 (especially in the summer when it stays light so late). By the time I get off work, get back from pre-school pick-up, make dinner for two, do bath, stories, teeth brushing, and bedtime, it’s nearly 9pm. So, personally, I end up going to bed at the same time my little guy does. Relate to our situation and realize you are hashtag #blessed to not have to do everything. always.
- There’s no such thing as one single mom being more of a “real single mom” than another. Whether a mama has 50/50 joint physical and legal custody and collects spousal and child support, or mama has 80/20 and gets child support only, or another single mom has 100% full legal and physical custody with minimal (or no) child support, THEY ARE ALL REAL SINLGE MOMS. Doing the best they can, with what they can. Of course, all circumstances are different, no matter who you are, where you are, or what you have. But from one single mom to another, we all know the hustle (and struggles) are real – despite a time share, what court paperwork says, or what $ amount gets put into our account every month (to not).
- Help us when you can. It’s really hard for us to ask for help, so when we do, we really need you. Of course, we would never expect anyone to drop what they’re doing for our need(s), but what we’re trying to say is it really does take a village to raise littles, especially when you don’t have a better half to lean on. So if we ask for a favor, we probably exhausted 34234 other options before asking you, and would really love your support or help if you can offer it.
- Please don’t judge us and please feel free to never stop telling us we’re doing a good job. We get it – it’s annoying and hard to hear about our life’s constant chaos. But, that’s motherhood, in general. So, if you don’t have kids and think our life is a train wreck, just wait 😉 You’ll see how tough it is one day and how much of a juggling act being a parent is. So, as single moms, we know our conversations aren’t always the peppiest, happiest, or most relatable, but we need our friends to love us anyway.
- Yes, you can totally steal our phones and “see what Bumble and Tinder are really like.” We may be stuck in this weird in-between phase between our friends who are married with a toddler and a baby and our friends who are newly married with no babes yet, but #mamasstillgotit….because we have to still wash our hair, shave your legs, and keep updated photos on dating apps if we ever want to go on a date again someday. We know you’re “soooo thankful to not be single in today’s dating world,” but kindly remember, we wish we weren’t, because online dating these millennials really is a train wreck. So, give us some good right swipes and some prayers 😉
Cheers to ALL THE SINGLE MAMAS out there, and even bigger Xs and Os to the friends that make us feel normal. Accepted. Comfortable. Loved. Valued. and appreciated. We adore you, always.