Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the Single Mom

Jamie at Single Mom Survives has very kindly provided us with this post.  Kate was a single mom and Lydia was raised by one so we had been feeling remiss that we weren't doing enough to speak to these lovelies and let them know how much we adore and admire them. 

A little about Jamie...  She can write her ass off.  Her posts (and tweets - oh Maude, her tweets) are funny, honest and often so real  that they're not always easy to read.  But they're worth reading.  Because she is expressive and personal and a little bit FU in way that we're not. Because we're not that brave.  If you check out her blog you'll see what we mean.  She's awesome and hilarious and we're glad she's here. 

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The single mom's life is not exactly one musical number shy of being an off-off-Broadway production of Les Miserable but it does certainly have its fair share of domestic enemies. This one is for all of the single moms...With sugar on top, but not a cherry because let’s face it, if you’re a mom that ship sailed a long time ago.  

The Marrieds – The number one Married offense to a single mom is a Married moaning about their epic journey into single motherhood when their spouse is out of town. Sorry ladies, you don’t earn a badge for your sash until you’ve done it for a year, and not just a regular year but a leap year. Oh, and you’re actually single. Really, it’s in the rule book, I don't make this stuff up. You mean well but we are going to need you to stop that. Listening to you complain while your husband is gone for a few days makes us want to sneak into your house at night and put Nair in your conditioner bottle. Military Marrieds are of course an exception to this. The rest of you have been warned.

Well intentioned Married offense number two is telling us how jealous you are of our alternating kid free weekends. Sure those are awesome from time to time but it’s kind of like telling a homeless person you are jealous of them because you hate having to clean house all the time. We know you mean well but we kind of want to slap the freedom fantasy out of you when you say this because you fail to realize that with alternating weekends come alternating holidays alone. And that stinks.

Next on deck, the evil Married who is threatened by our very presence and is a judgment filled B from the time you first meet her. She’s usually found at school functions and neighborhood block parties. She may smile and say hello but she secretly believes that the big S you wear on your chest is not for Super Woman, which it is, but instead for her much more sinister twin sister, Super Slut. The Scarlet Letter Marrieds will go out of their way to avoid you for fear that your singlemomness is contagious or that you may eat men, or more specifically, their men. I believe in making nice though so to win these particular Marrieds over just smile and sweetly mention how handsome their husband is. Just kidding. No I’m not. OK so it’s not nice but you totally catch more stuck up self righteous flies with honey. I was raised in the south so of this I am certain, we have manners.

Dating  – You know that amnesia you get after you give birth that magically erases the memory of the pain? Something similar happens after divorce as well. Combine that with the pressure you get from family, friends, and yes even the most shrewd and persuasive of the bunch, your own kid. Now get in your car and go buy the biggest bottle of Pepto you can find. Eventually you’ll return to the land you swore you’d never visit again, not sober at least. Dating.

Meet someone at the grocery store? This only happens in movies. Meet at work? No single mom should jeopardize the funding source of her mortgage and wine. Enter online dating, or as I now like to call it, Dysfunction Junction.  Here you get to spend time and money, neither of which you have enough of, looking through men online. This is not completely unlike buying shoes online. Sure, they look cute online but they never quite fit right once they arrive and you try them on.

I have found online there are far too many men looking for their lost youth in women too young, or women who don’t have children, or women who will take over the job of raising their children for them (so they can continue on with their own midlife crisis), or a sugar mama or men who repeatedly use the words “fun” and “friend” in their profile. I don’t need a magic decoder ring to crack the “fun” and “friend” code. Dating profiles should come with FBI background checks and psych evaluations. As a single mom finding someone is not the difficult part. The difficulty is finding someone who is not only good enough to be in my life but that is good enough to be in my child’s life. Cue Mission Impossible music.    

I’m sure there are nice single dads in the same boat on dating sites. Men who do want to date age appropriate women and don’t use bare-chested photos of their self standing next to their mid-life-crisis-mobile as their profile picture are a rare find though. I think I’d rather pray to God/Buddha/Dr. Phil that my family and friends just start buying me lotto tickets instead because honestly my odds are better with the lottery. 


Exhaustion – Exhaustion has either made me lazy or it’s made me a genius. I’m all about short cuts to sanity. I have no problem slapping dinner on a paper plate simply because I’m too exhausted to do dishes. I’ve bought and stashed packs of socks and underwear for my daughter just to avoid having to do that last load of whites. Lazy? Maybe. Green? Pfft. Economical? Doubtful. Genius? Abso-friggin-lutely!  
Exhaustion isn’t just physical but it’s mental and emotional as well. Do you know how many calories I must burn from worrying that because I’m a single mother I’ll have to pull my daughter off of a stripper pole someday because I won’t be able to afford college tuition? Exhaustion is never ending, even on a great day. 
This is her ACTUAL dog. Could you die?
My days are spent worrying about money, bills, my dead end job, losing my dead end job, parenting, keeping up with the Marrieds, mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, cleaning, oil changes, hair cuts, doctor appointments, dentist appointments, homework, dishes, laundry, more cleaning, shaving my legs for an occasional date, feeding the cat, feeding the dog, walking the dog, keeping the dog from eating the cat poop, keeping the cat from eating the dog, keeping the dog from eating my daughters ponytail, dealing with the ex, dealing with the ex’s wife, negotiating schedule swaps, packing and unpacking my kid from visitation, remembering to set the DVR to tape shows I’ll never have time to watch, taking out the garbage, beating my head against the wall because I fell asleep before getting the garbage out and missing the garbage truck, grocery shopping, cooking something healthy that will not be eaten, making a bowl of cereal twenty minutes later, finding theme clothing for a last minute never previously announced theme day at school, beating my head on the wall again because I'm out of Motrin, booze and ice cream. You get the idea. 
A lot of single mom’s get a bad rap for being bitter, especially the divorced ones like me. Here’s a little secret… We’re not bitter, we’re just exhausted.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

51 comments:

  1. What can I say, except YES! Totally! Nailed it. That last paragraph before the final sentence? So right on. Thank you so much for this one.

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  2. More power to you, single mama. I was raised by a single, too, and she totally rocked it. I remember her saying that the married ladies where she worked wouldn't speak to her for the longest time, and she felt it was as if they feared divorce was something that would rub off. And whenever I complain about my husband going out of town for a few days I kick myself for all the single moms and military moms. Because I know I am being whiny!

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  3. I might be a married, but I'll bring the T-box, the kids can wrestle and we can just laugh at the mess!!

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  4. I was raised by a single mama & while I'm a married, I have many single mama friends. I think your post was very, very on point. Well done!

    I think your daughter is lucky to have you as a mom - what a great, strong role model for her. Let's face it, single & married parents, we have to teach our children to be come self sufficient & strong little beings. I think you are well on the road to raising an independant, strong young woman (I see no stripper poles in her future!).

    PS - I am guilty of the "temporary single mom" thing when my hubby goes away for weeks. I'll stop that, promise!

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  5. I knew it! I am the married that complains when the husband travels! I'm so sorry! I do feel for you and all of my single mom/dad friends.

    I'm with Kim. I have two boys. Lets let the kids play, drink wine and laugh at the mess!

    Come on down to SOFL girlfriend! I'm not scared of the S on your chest! XOXO

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  6. I hereby promise to never ever ever ever EVER say "It's like being a single mom." EVER again when referring to my husband being gone for a week.

    I'm cheering for you. <3

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  7. OMG Her blog is awesome! I can only hope mine is as good as both of yours one day!!

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  8. That is damn awesome. DAMN AWESOME.

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  9. Bravo! I think the only thing you missed is that some of us don't even get the luxury of sending our kids out to the ex for a weekend once in while. Bad for us, but worse for the kids that have to figure out that their parent doesn't have time for them anymore.

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  10. Wow - this just perfectly described my life! LOVE it.

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  11. Of course, then there is running errands and trying to find some sort of time to get necessary things accomplished...oh, and trying to find some semblance of a social life with your friends. And school. You already mentioned the work part, so I will leave that out. And dealing with the ex is probably the biggest nightmare ever.

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  12. When I read the title of this post, I thought, "She wins." Military families and single families are LEGIT! All my troubles were just funny and inconvenient. Yours are real and you ARE a hero. Loves.
    Also, you are funny. I dig that in a girl I'm preparing to stalk online,

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  13. You nailed it. I sat here shaking my head "YES!" to every. single. point you made. I'm living it right now. Puppy included.

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  14. Kelly aka DivaMomMarch 22, 2011 at 9:43 AM

    Single moms are my hero! I often say it's hard job parenting even though I *have* help in the form of my spouse. I can't imagine doing all I do (and I do LOTS) on my own. Now, actually I can imagine it...your post so clearly illustrated your daily struggle. Kudos to you for wearing that S on your chest proudly!

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  15. YES! YES!! OH EVEN YESSER!! Thank you for this... Now, to get through the day without falling asleep at my desk.

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  16. I've been a single mother for 6 years. So glad to find you. You give voice to a lot of what I go through. Looking forward to reading more !!

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  17. Jamie, you are my hero, you do it all and I know you do. My Mom was a single Mom in the 60's and 70's raising us three kids on a shoestring, I still don't know how she did it. She cleaned houses for a couple bucks an hour and then came home to us squabbling kids.

    Now, my Mom is 79 and as strong as a steel support on a bridge. You are indeed a warrior and a hero.

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  18. Thank you for excluding Military Marrieds from your wrath. ;)

    That being said, I was (essentially) a single mama since my daughter's birth. Yes, biodad stuck around for the first 6 months, but I can count on one hand the number of times we've seen him since. Don't completely write off dating sites. I got a wild hair a couple of years ago, and decided to try out eHarmony (let's just say the local dating pool was on the shallow end). Not wanting to pay the obscene amount for a full 12 months, I did some googling and found myself a 3 month deal. I was pretty skeptical, at first, but now I take delight in telling my hubby that he is the best $30 I ever spent.

    Hubby is also in the Army. We've been married a little over a year, and we're expecting our baby boy next month. Oh, AND hubby is deployed, not going to be home until Fall. Good thing I had the first five years of my daughter's life to prepare me for what I'd be dealing with. Heh..

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  19. I like SSS!, but this post seemed toned down- As a divorced single mom, I can tell you that the 'domestic enemies' in my life are Much scarier than married people...

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  20. Loved this post! My mom raised five of us as a single mom and to this day, I don't know how she didn't lose her mind! I'm so proud of her. I'm also proud to say that I'm a Married who is very often solo because my Hubby works crazy restaurant hours, but I have never once compared myself to a single mom, because both my mom and my sister were single moms so I definitely know the difference. Doesn't mean I don't b**** and moan about my hubby's schedule to him, though! I can't let him off that easy! Can't wait to read more of your blog!

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  21. Jamie,

    You freaking rock. Hard. I've been a single mom for almost 7 years and every word of this is SO damn true. I'm printing this out and using it as a handout every time I meet someone new.

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  22. Thank you! I am a single mom of three kids, but forget to think that maybe it should be hard. It has been 5 years since my (now-ex)husband left, so to me it is just the life I have. But yes, I agree that the mom's who would complain to me when their husband is out of town for two days would make me look at them like - seriously, you are going to tell me how hard it is! But then I would also stop and think, it is hard for them. They are used to having that extra set of hands helping out.
    Like you I have people tell me how nice it is to get a break from my kids, and I tell them that no not really, since it means my kids are leading a life that I am not a part of. And that I did not have kids too ship them off once a week!
    I am so checking out your blog!

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  23. My sister just sent this to me, saying "Uh. I think you'd better read this article. Totally applies."

    Um, Damn Right Sistah!

    Thank you for totally nailing my life. Like, totally. Except, I had to give the dog away, because of the job. Oh, and ex said "No, I won't be able to help taking care of the dog, either". That was last year. Now he and The Replacements (New Wife, New Son and New Daughter) have a house and the park and YOU GOT IT, they're buying a dog. ;)

    Bitter? Nope, just exhausted.

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  24. I am a single mom to an awesome 19 month old. Going it alone, the father is not in our lives in any way/shape/form. What is hard about being Mom Solo for me isn't the logistics or the exhaustion or the loneliness -- each one of those has a flip side that is sometimes preferable (I get to do what I want when I want it without having to worry about anybody's wellbeing but ours). What is hard is knowing that no one else on this earth loves my amazing little boy as much as I do. We have friends and family who love and adore us, but no one else thinks of him first thing in the morning and last thing at night. If there is another terrorist attack (we live less than 2 miles from the Pentagon), no one else would risk their life to get to him. If I die in the middle of the night, who will rescue and comfort him? THESE are the things that keep me up at night, and THESE are things I want to say when I read ANOTHER Facebook post saying "Doing the Single Mom thing, Husband on a golf weekend!" But I don't.
    I have been guilty of envying divorced moms' free weekends, but I will stop that.
    Thanks for the post.

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  25. Thank you for this post.
    I was a single mom for 1 year. Full time working mom, kids almost 100% of the time (one or two weekends a month their dad would have them) and living away from family. Friends are great, but were busy with own lives. It is SO HARD. I am extremely lucky to have sat down on a plane and met the man of my dreams on a cross-atlantic flight. I have more respect for single moms than I do for anyone else. They are up there with Service Men and Women, and teachers.

    xoxoxo
    www.6degreeslove.com

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  26. All of you, every single one of you, yes even you... you're more awesome than a red velvet cupcake. And let me tell you, I love me some red velvet cupcakes. I'd post a picture of my ass to prove it but I don't want to break the interwebz. Thank you ladies. Really.

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  27. Amen.

    One of the things that was so hurtful during my divorce were the Marrieds who were friends who became Evil Marrieds, and acted as though I was suddenly eyeing up their husbands. Women are mean.

    My boyfriend and I moved in together last October - and I'm no longer a true single mama. The one thing I'm so proud of? I CAN do it all by myself. And I can do it well, too.

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  28. OMG. I so get this, even though I'm married now. I wish I could hug you. This is perfect and even though I'm no longer a single mom, I still have to deal with much of the above. Except I have someone (adult size) to complain about it to at the end of my day.

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  29. I'm so guilty of "single-mom for a week". In fact, I just said it 10 minutes ago because I am, in fact, on my own this week. But I guess I'd better stop! I was raised by a single mom (with three kids!!!), so I certainly know the difference. But, man, a week with hubby gone always makes me a little more willing to put up with his crap :-)

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  30. As a divorced mom of one, I applaud you. Especially regarding the mentioning of the nasty Married shunning that goes on. No one believes it until they've experienced it. It's as if divorce is a virus they might catch, and the cure for your divorce virus is their hapless husband wearing the backpack and getting bossed around by their kids. Now, that's appealing! Thanks for writing about it.

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  31. Liz - single mom of twinsMarch 22, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    Thank you! Perfectly well said -- and someone ought to set your second-to-last paragraph to music and put it on Youtube.

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  32. Oh my. Amen. Amen. Amen...and, oh yeah, that part, too...AMEN!
    This.Is.My.Life.
    Evil Marrieds: when a single mom reaches out to you for friendship, please do not say what was said to me, "I wish you would get back together with Ex- so we could be friends and do things as couples."
    She never knew my Ex.
    And, apparently, she figured he could just bring along his new wife whom he had been dating for the last year of our marriage, too.
    But I'm not bitter, dammit.
    Just exhausted from having to be both Mommy and Daddy to the most amazing 10yo girl I have ever known. It's his loss, even if he does have her for two nights every week.
    He has no idea what he is missing, and I pity him for that.
    Mommyhood is the hardest job and the best job. Ever.

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  33. @Liz: I couldn't agree more. That paragraph is poetry.

    My ex lives 2,148.51 miles away (but who's counting?), so it's just me -- with help from my fabulous family, who I can truly never thank enough for their support. At choir practice tonight, one of the other mamas mentioned that her husband is gone for two days and that she is exhausted doing the 'single mom thing.' I smiled thinly (but politely!). At which point she said, "You're on your own, right? You probably want to poke me in the eye right about now." I responded, "Not anymore." :^) It feels good to have those moments where you are SEEN, you know? I like to think Choir Mama might have read this post, because we were able to laugh and really see each other in that moment. Plus, nobody lost an eye. Winning!

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  34. @ Advanced maternal age.....I have a 19 month old too...I was very glad to put her to bed tonight! it was a hard evening.

    I laughed out loud at some of these, the writing was great....I don't completely relate as not a single parent through divorce....just a choice mom and wouldn't have it any other way.

    I poke fun and roll at the marrieds when they say "I'm a single mom this weekend"...LOL great post!

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  35. This is about DIVORCED moms. Post a blog about single moms. Who have NO help from the "dad". Every other weekend? Yea, right. My kids are mine 24/7.

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  36. This is about the domestic enemies of the DIVORCED mom. Please, post something for us single moms who don't get to drop the kids off every other weekend & are 100% raising their children alone.

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  37. LOL and Amen! I don't get my every other weekend anymore, but at least I get two weeks in the summer to try to catch up on the other 50 weeks I let things slide. I haven't even made it to the dating arena yet! Ugh. At least in my 20s a bad date was just a waste of time. Now it'll be a waste of good babysitter money, makeup & shaved legs.

    @Joie - Every single mom's situation is different & it's impossible to cover every single one. We're all still single moms doing our best w/what we've got. Enjoy the post for the humor it provides rather than getting annoyed it doesn't match your life exactly.

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  38. oh my lord i havent laughed like that in awhile, and every word was bang on! as a single mom myself not to mention teen single mom, this relates to my life exactly! One big a$$ thanks for putting in words how it really is.

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  39. I'm a single mom of a 10 year old boy with ADHD and have been doing it single mom style since my boy was a week old and his sperm donor decided he couldn't deal with a baby who cried 24/7 (my son had issues from an exceedingly difficult birth and he literally cried almost non-stop for the first four months of his life). I thankfully have a wonderful family who was right there for us or neither of us would have survived the first months of his life. His father was the poster dad for deadbeats; he didn't see his child for 7 years and refused to pay child support. His father unfortunately (I say unfortunally because my son lost both the ability to confront his father and the chance to develop a relationship with him later if he so chose) died last summer, which somehow after not even so much as hearing from this man for 7 years his death managed to make me feel even more alone in the whole raising my boy alone.
    So I am working full time is a crappy factory that requires back breaking work, and makes you change shifts every six weeks, taking care of my amazingly awesome "baby" boy who has serious ADHD, going back to school online, running the household, taking care of the house, perpetually looking for a new job that pays as well but doesn't require me to feel like I'm 80 years old and all the fun dog stuff times 2. I don't even have time to think about dating.
    But that's OK because we are totally content with it being just the two of us (wait, four if your counting the dogs) for the time being.
    My son is well adjusted and happy and will one day be an amazing man. Single parenting is difficult at best, but worth every second of the struggle.
    Single mom and proud.

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  40. I'm a married mom. Last time hubby went out of town for a week was while I was in grad school. I recall saying "OMG, how the f* do single moms do this 24/7?"

    Are you kidding me? Divorced or not ... I don't know if I could do it and maintain my sanity.

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  41. Loved, loved, loved it! So completely describes life.

    Although I also agree - we need to have different terms/words for the single/solo/always-alone moms and the singe/co-parenting moms. Some parts are quite different and its disappointing when I go to a single parenting site/blog and find that its really for the co-parenting (dad's still involved at some level) mom.

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  42. I agree that we need to have a term for us single/solo/always-alone Moms..its a special kind of hell/heaven ..btw love this post and everyones comments..you ladies ROCK!! keep on keepin' on!

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  43. I was a "co-parenting" mom (let's face it--all that means is Mom does all the work but has to share credit with Dad) for five years before we got our acts together... Now we've been married for three, and after reading your post I realize I had forgotten how hard it is when it's ALL YOU--if you don't do it, it doesn't get done. Great post!

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  44. You totally forgot the judgers - the ones that say "Don't you think it would have been better for your kid...?" No, actually, I think having a STRONG, INDEPENDENT, HAPPY mom rather than a beat down, controlled, miserable mother. And the ones that say, "Well, maybe if you had tried harder..." Yeah, refer to the above comments and you could see what I was living with. If not, I can give you more intimate, juicy details, but I would rather play with my kid and teach him how to be a good man...

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  45. **Thank you** everybody for hitting the nail on the head, in this post and in the comments. Thank you for saying that, yes, we do get a break every other weekend, but it means that we spend every other holiday alone. And it means that our kids have a totally separate life that we're not a part of.

    I'm a Divorced Mom. To the moms who are parenting completely solo-- you have my undying respect and admiration. You're dong 100% of the parenting, providing 100% of the financial support, and, in all ways, The Buck Stops Here. You are truly superwomen.

    All of this said, I wouldn't trade my little boy for a billion dollars :-)

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  46. Twin girls and 3 yr. old girlAugust 2, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    L O V E this. Thank you. I have been a single mother from the beginning (7 years); no alternating weekends and I get all the holidays with my girls. I am working very part time and homeschooling all 3 of my daughters. Partnered people around me, complaining about how busy they are and how difficult it is to cope, drive me absolutely nuts! On a bad PMS day, it is so difficult to nod and smile when it would just take one swipe to stop the needless chatter!! LOL!

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  47. My 2 cents, my daughter didn't get to know her dad until she was 14 (he has 20 kids, no he isn't a polygamist) and her first opinion in private about him is 'My dad is an assmonkey.' Some of us get the luxury of $9.69 a month in child-support because we were stupid impressionable teenagers once upon a time. AND we get judged by all kindsa people too, BONUS.
    Please be nice to teen moms, they didn't know what they were getting into. And they thought they were being treated like an adult by someone who cared, until the rabbit died.

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  48. There is no such thing as a "single mom". There are unwed moms, divorced moms, married moms, and widowed moms. Period.

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  49. Sorry jimevans_2000, I am a single mom. Since I am the single mom, I get to decide how I identify myself. And the circumstances for why and how I became a single mom are none of anyone's business unless I choose to tell them. Separating us into 'unwed moms', 'divorced moms', 'married moms', and 'widowed moms' is stupid and divisive in the very least.

    Also, my kids who don't say 'half-sister' they just say 'sister' no 'half' needed. They are the siblings they will ever have and it doesn't matter that they don't have the same (nowhere to be found) dad.

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