Being a mom is hard. Being a single mom is the hardest thing I've ever done. It sometimes feels like a bizarre circus act where you have to both take care of your kids and work full-time, and seem to fail at both simultaneously and often. You "do it all," while suspended above some serious doubts and fears, and feeling the weight of people perpetually judging you simply for existing. It seriously sucks. There are so many times that you feel like you have to apologize for being a single mom, even though you don't owe anyone a damn "I'm sorry," at all.
Like the fact that you are a single mom in the first place. I never really thought about it until I was faced with rude comments, raised eyebrows, and questions about how I got myself in that predicament. I was judged for taking my kids to events by myself, especially those typically attended by dads. I can assure you that attending a Father's Day breakfast as a single mom pretty much guarantees that you will be gossiped about and scrutinized. Of course, if I wasn't able to attend events, because I had to work, people looked down on that, too, which made me feel guilty and like a terrible mother. (I wasn't.)
I also got a lot of flack for doing the things I needed to stay sane and feel like a human being. I remember telling someone that I was training for a half marathon, and they asked, "How can you spend so much time away from your kids? Don't you feel guilty?" Well, I didn't until you suggested it. Ugh.
It seems like single moms can't win or that society thinks they should apologize for even existing, which is pretty crappy considering how hard they have to work to juggle parenting, home, and work responsibilities. I think society owes them an apology.
When You Become A Single Mom
Whether you leave your partner or have a baby "out of wedlock," our society seems to want you to apologize for simply being a single mom. When people found out I was a single mom, they seemed to think there was something wrong with me. Even worse, I was told that getting divorced would hurt my kids, which was so not true considering that I was leaving an abusive partner. Our society makes so many assumptions about single moms, which are rarely accurate and are often completely unfair.
When You Have To Work
When I was a single mom, I had to work to support my kids. It seemed like I was damned if I did ("Do you ever see your kids?"), and also damned if I didn't and had to rely on child support, family, or public assistance to support my kids. I remember one landlord telling me that he didn't like to rent to single moms because they had to rely on child support to pay their rent. I remember responding, "No, I work." He didn't seem to like that idea either.
(In case you are curious, I reported him to the fair housing commission. Screw discrimination.)
When You Have To Miss Events
I had to miss a ton of events, because I couldn't bring my younger child along or couldn't get time off during the work day. I felt like the worst mom, ever.
When You Do Things Without A Partner
It's sad that being an independent woman is not always viewed as a positive thing in our culture. When I was a single mom, people would always ask me where my husband was when I attended soccer games or school events. I would respond, "I don't have one," which made them raise their eye brows or sometimes stop talking to me entirely.
When You Have A Son
For some reason, our culture thinks that boys need fathers in their life to thrive. What a sexist, heteronormative thing to think. I can think of tons of men (President Barack Obama comes to mind) who did just fine after being raised by single moms, not to mention all of the sons raised by amazing lesbian couples.
When You Need Help
Asking for help is seriously hard for me. When I was a single mom, I felt like I needed to apologize for thinking about asking for help. After all, if I "didn't want to do everything by myself, why did I leave my partner?" Bullsh*t.
When You Attend School Events By Yourself
Attending parent-teacher conferences made me want to sink into the floor. So many questions about my kids' dad and often having to bring my kids with, because I couldn't find a sitter.
When You Can't Afford Things
Raising kids is expensive. Raising kids by yourself, when your ex doesn't regularly pay child support and life happens, means you can't afford things like new clothes, to go out for drinks, or to attend expensive events. I was constantly told that my career would suffer, because I couldn't attend the right events wearing the right clothes.
When You Start To Date Again
While single dads are viewed as extremely "dateable" rockstars, when you decide to date as a single mom, people often suggest that you should instead focus all of your attention on your kids. Seriously? Being a mom doesn't have to mean being a martyr.
When You Take Care Of Yourself
I felt so guilty whenever I tried to take care of myself. I felt bad asking for a day off from work to do self-care or asking someone to babysit or pick up my kids from school so I could exercise or get my hair cut. I needed to do those things, but apparently single moms don't need self-care (which is so not true).