Man, being a single mom is hard, OK? Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is probably really needing to convince themselves that single motherhood is easy (in which case, you have a co-parent so you can do them the kindness of indulging their self-delusions for a minute because, yes, they need to believe it). Harder doesn't necessarily mean "worse," but it's harder to be a single mom and single moms want every other mom to know that. After all, and mathematically, it is undeniably more difficult to do the work of parenting with half as many adults.
People adapt and strengthen to accommodate their respective loads, of course, and single parenting isn't the relentless sh*tshow that partnered parents think it is. You only think that because you're conditioned to carry your load, not ours. Since it's the most you've had to carry, you think it's the most you could carry, but that's not true. Yes, we're strong or whatever, but you would be if you had to be, too. Single moms aren't inherently stronger than paired-up moms — we've just been training differently to perform a different task. It's not like there wasn't a massive amount of pain for this gain. But now... we're cool.
But there does seem to be a few points of consistent misunderstanding between single moms and not-single moms. That, thankfully, can be easily remedied. And while I loathe to speak for all single moms I'm, well, going to! So here's the truth, my friends. This is what we want you to know:
We Don't Need Your Pity...
We need roughly seven additional hours in each day and a very comfortable mattress to fall into every night, but on the list of things single moms need, the pity of other mothers is nowhere to be seen.
... But We'll Take It, Like, If You're Not Using It
That said, this is a real sh*t gig LOL. (If you put "LOL" after something, it means you're chill and laughing and not dying inside.) Just because we can do it doesn't mean it always feels fair that we have to. We don't want the "poor, poor you" eyes from you every time we mention that we had to cancel dinner plans because the babysitter bailed. Girl, it's fine, it happens, we'll have dinner another time, no biggie. But also, if we call you up crying because we're having one of those random days where it all just feels so damn heavy and unending, yes, we will take one giant pity please.
We Don't Want To Sleep With Your Husband
I remember the first parents event I attended at my kid's preschool when he was 2 years old: It was me — a single 27-year-old from a 4th-floor walk-up in the East Village — and a whole bunch of extremely married Park Avenue couples. I'm not exaggerating when I say that none of the other moms spoke to me. Their husbands, clearly oblivious to the fact that their wives had deemed me not worthy of socializing with, were basically normal human beings so we did small talk about our jobs and kids and the bad snacks provided to us.
What the husbands didn't get, but I definitely did, was the other moms did what a lot of coupled-up moms do to single moms (albeit not usually en masse as it happened on this weird day): assumed I was the enemy. They assumed the lack of a ring on my finger meant I was an uncontrollable wrecking ball, swinging in to demolish their marriages. Yes, #NotAllMarriedMoms, but some of you definitely are doing this, and you know you are.
First of all, Rebecca, I don't want to sleep with your husband. He's... fine, I guess, for you. Good for you guys, or something. Not interested. Next, why do some people think that just because a mom is minus a spouse that we're desperately looking to lock down the first dude we see who knows how to hold a baby? Single life isn't a malignant condition we're hoping to cure immediately before it kills us.
We Do Sleep With Other People, So Try To Be Chill About That
Some of my married mom friends have insane sex lives with their partners, and I love hearing about all of it. Having never been married but vaguely anticipating that I might be one day, I enjoy holding onto the belief that you can have sex with just one person for years at a time and still keep things weird and hot.
So yeah, I'm down to hear about married sex from my married friends. I have non-married sex, and if we're friends, I'm going to talk about that. This seems like it should be a non-issue, but all single moms have encounter the occasional married mom who gets oddly uncomfortable at being in such close proximity to single dating life, like either she's so glad she doesn't have to live that life anymore that her bristling feels like pity, or she misses it so damn much that you feel like you might talk about the sex you had the night before and accidentally push her over the edge into filing for divorce.
We Don't Think Our Kids Are Screwed
We don't actually think that being raised primarily by just one parent puts our kids at any kind of insurmountable disadvantage. Shrug.
We Don't Want To Hear About How You "Feel Like A Single Mom" Sometimes
Oh, like when your partner works late four nights in a row and you're stuck getting the kids fed and put to bed by yourself? You're so right. That's definitely the part of single parenthood that's so crushing and isolating. Bath time. Totally. Feeling like a single mom amounts to nothing deeper and more complex or challenging than schedules and logistics.
Imagine while you were enduring those few days where your co-parent was scarce, you had no hope of them ever coming home. Imagine you knew that this was it, indefinitely, unless maybe you ended up with another partner, which would mean dating, which requires a surplus of time, energy, and money you probably don't have (not even to mention the lengthy, tedious emotional acrobatics necessary to integrate a new person into your one-parent family).
So yeah, imagine doing bath time a few days in a row with the extra weight on your mind that this was how it would always be unless you were willing and able to do a hell of a lot of work over a long period of time to change it. Because that's not what you were thinking during your partner's long work days. You were thinking about how they would probably let you sleep in on Saturday morning and then maybe go to the gym or brunch with your friends. You definitely had some You Time in the future. You know what single moms have to look forward to after a week of Doing It All Alone? Doing More Of It Alone But This Time Without School During The Day.
We're All Just Kind Of "Whatever" About It All
Honestly, we don't think about the differences between us and not-single moms that much. Whether we became single mothers by choice from the beginning, or it was the result of things with our former partners not going as planned, we have undoubtedly experienced plenty of judgment and doubt from other people about our choices. "You're having a baby alone?" "Are you sure you two can't work it out for the children?"
By the time we're on the other side of things, most single moms have very little interest in agonizing over what our single status means to you, a paired-up mom, and even less interest in what your marital status means to us. Which, spoiler, is exactly nothing. So maybe that's the whole point, really. The biggest thing that single moms want other moms to know is that our relationship status should be the thing you think about least. Let's talk about Game of Thrones or Steve Bannon's face or whatever.