Being a single mom was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it was also one of the most badass. Not only do single moms have to do everything other moms do, but they do it alone, with few breaks and no one to help carry the parenting load. Unfortunately, while people should be giving single moms perpetual high fives, they judge the hell out of them. In fact, every single mom I know has been shamed, even by total strangers who literally have no idea what life is like in their shoes.
As a single mom I felt like people shamed me simply for existing, especially when they had the audacity to say things like it was clearly my fault "I couldn't keep a man." I had to work to support my family and was expected to serve as both parents to my kids, all with a smile on my face. Meanwhile, I heard whispers from moms at my kids' daycare when I struggled to carry two kids in the rain or was late for pick-up. Not a single one ever offered to help. When looking for an apartment a potential landlord said, to my face, that he didn't rent to single moms because we never paid on time. And, sadly, so many other single moms I know have heard comments just like these... or worse.
As a community, there’s absolutely no benefit to shaming single moms. Even if you've read about (and believe) how growing up with a single mom makes her kids' life harder, do you really think shaming a stranger publicly will change their situation from the better? Hint: it wont. I stayed with my ex for way too long, partially because I was afraid people would judge the hell out of me for not working things out "for the kids." In reality, I was actually a way better parent after I left.
Shaming single moms is not helpful, true or kind, but it happens every single day. It needs to stop, or more parents are going to be forced to hear things like the following:
"I remember when my oldest was a baby, I'd always get dirty looks from older people while I was riding the city bus with a baby. I was 21, had a full-time job, went to school full-time, and was a full-time mom. Not being married, I guess, was more important."
"I was told when my son turned 1 that if I didn’t hurry up and find a man that my son would be screwed-up, because he would have no male figure to identify with in his life.
Someone also asked me recently if I wanted more children. I said, 'Of course, I would love nothing more than to have many children,' The lady responded, 'Then, they would have different dads. That is complicated and messy. You might as well just have the one.'"
"When I was pregnant with my son, someone told me that she felt bad for my daughter and family, because I couldn't keep my legs closed and was bringing another child into this world out of wedlock. And that I should feel ashamed."
"I was 20 when I had my son. I heard things like, 'if you had spent less time on your back you wouldn't be so tired now' and 'are your parents raising your baby?' But my all time favorite one was when I was pregnant and someone asked, 'Why didn't you have an abortion?' It's sickening how people mom-shame for any reason. I hate it. That day I felt so sick to my stomach, like I would never be good enough for my child."
"My nurse asked, 'Why do you keep having kids?' at my first OB appointment with baby number three. She told me I wasn’t being smart having my kids so close together. My kids are 2.5, and 14 months. I’m 20 weeks pregnant now."
"Shortly after I got pregnant with my youngest, my husband disappeared. I eventually gave birth at 24 weeks because of preeclampsia. As soon as I was able I had to go back to work. I was also in grad school, but trying to be a single mother of three, work, and go to school with medically needy children was too much. Life was understandably difficult and stressful, but if I dared complain my parents would tell me that I deserved my fate and this is what happened to whores who couldn't keep their husbands around. I was also told that my kids' medical needs and my difficult pregnancies were punishment for being a bad wife in addition to a litany of other sins. People at my parents' church shunned me and berated me for being a single mom."
"Telling me my child needs her parents together, that I will depend on my parents forever because I can’t maintain a relationship, and that I need to stop using being a single parent as an excuse for stress."
"When my son was born, a local couple offered me $50,000 to take the 'burden' off my hands, so I could have a fresh start and maybe things wouldn't be so hard on me."
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.