Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Only Actual Single Parents are Actually Single Parents

This has come up from time to time, and Michelle Obama's gaffe has made this an issue once again. Maybe some of us make single parenting look too good sometimes, I guess, because it seems everyone wants to call themselves one!

To be clear, if you are married to (or still in a relationship with) your child's other parent, you are NOT a single parent.

I don't care how many hours they work or how often they travel, they are spending their hours doing what's in your child(ren)'s best interest, as you are. You can still email, Skype, text or otherwise communicate openly about your children and your feelings about how you're parenting. You may disagree (and sometimes, from what others tell me, I appreciate that I don't have to get anyone else's approval or buy-in), but you know that even when you disagree, you both love your children and would do anything for them.

Single parents, whether divorced or by choice, do not have that. While I know that co-parenting is all the rage, and some do it quite well, it is still not the same as what married couples have. (Otherwise, I'm guessing, they probably wouldn't be divorced.)

I can't speak for all single parents, but I can say, as a divorced mom with full-time, sole legal custody, I cannot relate to you married mothers who try to tell me that you get it because your husband's out of town for a week or a month, or even a year. Sure, we might be able to relate on having to be two places at once, but you cannot relate to having no one who loves and cares for your children like you do.

One of the main reasons I divorced my husband was because he couldn't do that. He couldn't put their needs before his. I never had that, so I don't know what it feels like, and I could be suffering from my own delusion of the grass being greener, but it does sound pretty good. It wasn't the lack of his physical presence, but the loss of moral and emotional support that put me into therapy.

I'm not trying to say who has it better or worse, but I wish the married moms had more appreciation for what you do have. (And I'm guessing your spouse/partner doesn't like when you call yourself a "sometimes single parent," either.)

I don't know what to say when women complain about their husbands because they spent too much money on a present, or tried to solve a problem instead of just empathize, or forgot to pick up the dry cleaning. I know I'll sound like I'm trying to play the "woe is me" card if I say anything that tries to remind them that those problems are the good kinds of problems to have, but at the same time, it's bothersome to me to see women not appreciate just what good men they have in their lives.

And if you don't have that? Then maybe you really are a single parent, and I will be there with my moral and emotional support (and my therapist's number).

But if your spouse is merely physically absent, we can bond about how to overcome the challenges of too few hours in a day and being outnumbered, so long as you understand...and appreciate...the moral support of your spouse.


Rose ASL said...

You're absolutely right. And as much as I complain about my mom and her inability to let me live my life, yet in many ways she keeps me from feeling that single-parent burden, because I still know that my children are surrounded by people who love them.

Robbie said...

That one comment " I am sorta of like a single Mom" pisses me off more than others. I have had to tell people to not say that crap to me. They don't get it when you have to do everything, not talking about getting kids dressed for school, giving baths, but EVERYTHING by yourself. It is not the same. It is NOT.

Karen said...

Seriously this burns me right up when people say 'I'm like a single parent' ...Idiots. If you are not one then you are not LIKE one. You have another income, another person to be morally supportive in some fashion, another person to rely on in emergencies, another person to love you and your children like no one else does...I mean I could go on. Such comments are drivel stated by ignorant people.

Raine said...

Sometimes, I even want to emphasize I'm an only parent. like, no weekends off. I know that's probably splitting hairs, but I agree a married to their child's parent type of person definitely is not a single parent!

Melanie Routhier said...

Thank you so much for this post. I will sheepishly raise my hand and say that I am "one of those" Moms that has complained I feel like a single parent to my 16 month old. Although my husband is here because of his work I am physically responsible for my son 22 hours of the day (something I didn't think would happen but it has).

But you are right, I am not alone in this. My husband loves our son more than anything else and has also stayed home from work when I was too sick to walk.

So again thank you for giving me a much needed kick in the behind. Hats off to you. :)

Kris Underwood said...

Thank you for this post!

This subject comes up so often and I just don't understand how some mothers can call themselves a "sometimes single parent." You are not a single parent if you are married and have your husband or wife coming back home to you and contributing to the house. It is just not the same. You are solely responsible for that child if every way-legally, financially, emotionally, everything.

Again, thank you for this post.

Party of One Mom said...

I totally relate. I, too, have sole custody of my 10 yr old son. His father dropped off the face of the earth right after our divorce 8 yrs ago. I do it all. And when I have had married mothers with husbands that work late and travel tell me they are just like a single mom I want to scream. No...no, you have NO idea, lady! But no, for the sake of your kid's friendship with their kid you smile and nod whilst gritting your teeth. Ugh.