I often interrupt people when they call me a single mom as I quickly give props to my ex-husband for stepping up and doing his part every Monday, Tuesday and every other weekend. Perhaps it is a case of me sharing TMI with people who just don’t care, but I really don’t think I deserve the quote-unquote credit of single-momming that full-time single moms do.
What makes a single mom a single mom, anyways? Sometimes it has nothing at all to do with relationship status.
Single moms are moms who raise kids and do the bulk of the work on their own…for whatever reason. Some of us are divorced with exes who take the kids 50% of the time. Others do it on their own every single day 24/7. Some married women even feel like single moms because their husbands travel or are deployed or simply report to the man-cave until all of the kids are fast asleep each night.
We are strong women who sacrifice hard and love harder. We lose our patience and we are overcome with guilt and we say our fair share of I am sorrys. We show up at games and awards ceremonies after we nervously ask our boss if it is okay to leave early— again. We worry at midnight about calling in sick when little Johnny has a fever and we don’t have the luxury of having someone to ask whose turn is it to stay home? We budget and finance and swipe credit cards if we have to just to make ends meet and we have learned to rely on things like faith, hope and our village to get us through the shitty times. We are role models to our daughters and our sons and we freaking rock.
Still unsure if you are a single mom? Here are some other clues that you are most definitely a part of The Single Mom Club:
Your top drawer is…… empty!
You have not bought yourself a new bra in years because why would you? You may have a collection of cheap sports bras from Walmart or Amazon, but a real, clasp in the back, feminine, everyday bra with underwire and all? Come on, who has the time or money or sex life for that? Not a single mamma, that’s for sure. No one notices what your wearing under your sweats and your teen daughters need bras more than you do. Luxury-items like underwear, jewelry and anything that is strictly for you, mom, are always last on your shopping list. And sadly, you don’t even notice anymore.
You live paycheck to paycheck.
With one-income only, you are constantly living on a tight budget. Your kids are accustomed to hearing maybe with my next paycheck when they request pretty much anything—a new pair of shoes, a group sleepover, or a dinner out at their favorite restaurant. You daydream about things like pumping a full tank of gas or grocery shopping until you drop, but in the meantime, you always find a way to provide. Because single moms are resourceful and creative in ways they never taught us in home-ec.
You are exhausted.
You are tired. All the time. You work, cook, clean, carpool, help with homework, discipline, brush teeth, do laundry, give advice, wipe tears, tell jokes, lend an ear, schedule every damn appointment, lose your patience and try to freaking find it, bring home the bacon and you fry it up in the damn pan— all by yourself. With a large, freaking smile, too. Because there are literally not enough hours in the day, you have mastered the arts of juggling everything and surviving on minimal sleep. On the rare occasion when you are sans-kids, you can’t do anything other than binge-watch and order take-out. And, girl, don’t ever forget how much you deserve to Netflix and takeout.
Dating scares you.
Sure, the thought of going out to dinner with a handsome beau makes you smile, but the thought of adding anything into your already demanding whirlwind of a life seems unrealistic. How could you possibly schedule phone calls, let alone dates with someone, when 3 little people (and their sports and social schedules) keep you in high-demand? And speaking of those little people… why risk the great thing you have going right now by bringing a potential love interest into the picture? The right guy will somehow just find his way into your heart when the time is right, wont he? Like when the kids are all off at college!
You discover you’re human.
Sometimes, it truly does feel like too much. You break down, overcome with fear, anxiety or self-pity because you just need a break. Or maybe a pat on the back. Or an adult partner who loves you unconditionally and can take care of the kids when you are sick. You end up snapping at the wrong time, yelling at your kids or crying instead of sleeping, which leaves you with a heavy heart, guilt and a promise to be better tomorrow- less jealous and more grateful. You promise yourself you will practice acceptance. Because you really are happy. Happy and human.
You wouldn’t change a thing!
Yes, it is hard being a single mom. Yes, sometimes you get jealous or overwhelmed or you plan hypothetical escapes in your mind, but, no, you truly wouldn’t change a thing. Because being a single mom has made you who you are, whoever that is today. It has shaped your sense of humor and your likes and dislikes. It has taught you about conflict resolution, adversity, strength, defeat, and hope. It has shown you how to love and how to forgive. It has challenged you to create hope when you feel hopeless and trust God when the going gets tough. It has given you the freedom to be the mom you want to be and to live, laugh and love however the hell you want. Every day you give nothing short of 100%. Some days that 100% is better than others, but you never give an ounce less. And your kids? They are awesome. They are safe and they are loved. They don’t know where they are going, but you are teaching them how to get there, mamma.
If you are carrying the brunt of the work on your own shoulders, single, married, divorced or merely it’s complicated, take a minute to look in the mirror and say good job, I love you. Every freaking day.