Nearly every TV show, movie, and book endlessly offer up stereotypes about single moms. You see the same person over and over. She’s usually young, frazzled, incapable of brushing her hair or changing her clothes, and her only redeeming quality is the vast support in her push-up bra. Well, contrary to the stereotype, some of us single moms can’t relate to that. (Except the push-up bra because sometimes it just works better with certain outfits, ya know?) But the rest? So played out, and usually really untrue. Sure, single moms get tired sometimes but so does every other mom. But the truth is, being a single mom is as full of pros and cons, and rich with complexity, as being a mom within any other family structure — so, why don’t we get to see the other side of these stories? Why are single moms relegated to such a limited (and limiting) "range" of depictions? We're either trashy sluts, or washed-up divorcées whose ex-husbands dumped us for a younger woman (who will likely also be depicted as a one-dimensional slut, because being a woman means being subjected to a never-ending series of degrading stereotypes, no matter who you are).
The end of a long day in my very real, single mom life usually plays out with tucking in my little friend. I carefully snuggle her into the sheets, give her Eskimo kisses because I can, look at that precious face with eyes so bright, and remind her that she’s my entire world. Because she is. There are definitely some irritating, frustrating, sucky moments in the single parenthood but kissing that monster goodnight is not one of them. And when I look at it, as I often do at 3 a.m. when I forget to sleep, there are quite a few ways being a single mom is actually amazing.
Only One Set Of Rules
Have you ever worked a job where more than one person had authority over you? It's a complete nightmare trying to juggle all those conflicting directives. The same is true when it comes to raising a kid: If you're not a single parent, you have to deal with actually working with another person to establish rules and strategies and limits, and all those other parts of parenting. Or maybe you don't work together well, and then you're stuck knowing that what you’re telling your child is not necessarily the same as what someone else is telling your child can be a pain in the ass. It can be infuriating and can add a ton of stress and a lot of behavioral problems. However, the single mommyhood manages to avoid these irritations by having only one parent with only one set of rules. Sure, it's more work to have to do everything on your own, but the upside to that is the simplicity of only having to do things your way.
Bedtime Snuggles Belong To Me
This is probably selfish and horrible but wow do I love getting that little monkey to myself. There’s something about watching your child fall asleep that feels like magic. No matter how grown-up they seem to be — doing alarming things like, say, using the word "rhetorical" long before it’s time — they become babies again when they close their eyes. So, those last moments of wakefulness and getting to kiss her face goodnight is the highlight of my day, every day, and I don’t have to share it with anyone else.
Priorities Are Simplified
It’s so much easier to be clear on what’s important when you have just one adult's priorities to consider, and they're your own. There’s no way around the knowledge that your child comes first. There's no "OK, maybe you should spend a little more time at work for the next [period of time] because of [big, pressing professional concern] and I'll be on kid duty a little more, and then maybe [some other division of labor/reshuffling of family priorities at a later date] will happen later." Those conversations just don't happen when you're a single parent. I mean, hell yes, it would be kinda cool for a lot of reasons, but the upside is that it's ultimately very simple to decide on a prioritity structure for your life, because you're the only adult. So there’s no compromise of letting one parent bear the brunt of parenting for a while because you have other things going on. Nope, that child will be your priority and that priority won’t change. And that simplification can make it a lot easier to make all the other decisions that go along with it.
Halloween Candy: It's Mine
Just like the bedtime snuggles that I can steal and stretch for as long as I want without objection, Halloween candy need not be shared. OK, technically, I’m supposed to share it with my child but she understands completely that all Kit-Kats and Reese’s belong to me, so I don’t even feel bad about that. I feel a little bit bad about the Sour Patch Kids since they’re her favorite but since I put a roof over her head, I bet she’ll let that slide. (Hey, look at that: I guess even single moms do have to compromise sometimes.)
Images: Jessica Blankenship; Giphy(4)