Monday, August 12, 2013

Domestic Enemies of the Single Mom by Choice

Photo credit: Stock Image
This is a really good one, you guys! Here's a little snippet about the lady who write it for us:

I'm a single mom by choice. Because facing forty, being single and unemployed wasn't enough, I opted to also become a single mom. Best.Decision.Ever.  I've got my own mini-me and have learned that sassy wit and sarcastic comebacks do come packaged in the body of an 8-1/2 year old girl. We live in the desert where try to juggle the perils of single parenting, working full-time, and home maintenance (seriously, I just installed a door lock all.by.myself!!). In my spare time (HA!), I am a dog walker, cat litter scooper, fish feeder, lifeguard, craft queen and have been known to shovel horseshit (literally).  My family and friends keep me sane or at least join me in the crazy and usually bring the booze.  I love my friends so much, I wrote a blog about it. http://whoisyourbigsusan.blogspot.com/
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I’m a single mom by choice.  I’ve been flying solo through the world of parenting since my daughter’s inception.  I’m lucky to have great friends – single and married – who help me laugh long and loud at the pitfalls of parenthood.
Now that my daughter is almost 9, most folks assume I’m divorced but when she was a newbie, infant and toddling – most didn’t know what to think. But many have made assumptions…and you know what that means.

People who tsk-tsk at the unfortunate single mom holding the newborn – certain that I’m either a.) a lesbian and/or b.) unable to provide for my child because I’m not married.
I am not a lesbian but some of my best friends are .  Single parenthood is not a reflection of someone’s sexual orientation. It just shows they forged ahead and are making their own dreams come true in their own way.  And, to the delightful social worker that was required to visit my room before I was released from the hospital after giving birth:  my marital status should not make you assume I need either financial or psychological help (I actually had to take the paperwork for WIC and other programs and write “decline” on it – was a single mother policy.)  Err…thanks but no thanks. In reality, I was way less polite and probably dropped the f-bomb. 

The medical office staff, preschools and public school districts that get that stupid look on their face when I leave the “father’s info” blank.
It’s really simple folks, there is no dad.  I know you’re telling me I can just write it in and they won’t share it with anyone. That is when I say, “There were so many, I just don’t know,” and smile real nice.  Really? It’s not on her birth certificate. And yes, leaving it blank is legally okay.  

The moms who complain that they are just like a single parent because – wait, wait - their spouse works all day and/or travels.
Kapow!  That was my head exploding.  It’s so not worth explaining because when I do, they get that glazed look in their eyes. They will never understand.  They forget that will touch base multiple times a day with the one person who is just as committed as they are to raising their children to be the best possible people ever…or at least not in need of massive amounts of therapy.  They forget that at some point, their spouse will be home to commiserate, help, support and if none of those – perhaps help pay the bills. Ultimately, I shake my head and utter “Yeah, just like it,” and walk away. I never really worried what these moms think. We never had any chance of being friends.  Note:  the only married parents who can say this and truly mean it are military spouses – totally different scenario.

The mom who works part-time solely to pay her daughters’ riding, dance, or gymnastics so it’s “just like being a single parent and shouldering the entire financial burden of the family.” Yep, actually had someone say this to me.  Uh, that spouse that works his ass off, pays the mortgage on your large home, makes the car payments, pays health insurance, and tuition for three at the pricey private school not to mention food and clothing – yeah, well, he’s a parent, too and might not share your perspective.

The mom that told me I never had the right to complain since I knew going into this I would be a single parent.  Really? Well, you planned your marriage and pregnancies and that doesn’t cut back on your bitching and whining.  This was told to me by someone who was divorced for the second time but felt she could complain because she didn’t plan to be a single parent. The sheer volume of crap I could hoist at that statement was so overwhelming that I was speechless (hasn’t happened since.) I blamed my non-reaction on the pregnancy hormones (and likely my need to pee) at the time. I dare her to say that to me today.

To those that don’t include single parents (or single friends) to their social gathering because “it’s mostly couples.”  I’ve actually heard this from a good friend. Trust me, I don’t want your husband, boyfriend, baby-daddy, etc. Really, I don’t.  This also applies to the male spouses who don’t accompany their wives to a party, gathering or just hang out at my house because they are afraid they won’t have anyone to talk to.  You, my friend are why I choose to be single.

And finally, to the mom who tilts her head and says in the most condescending voice possible, “I just don’t know how you do it.”  Well, I don’t know how you do it either. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine having to compromise on everything from the name of my child to discipline styles, bedtime routines, the religion that will be observed, where we spend the holidays, the right ear piercing age or what we have for dinner. We do what we know. I’ve never parented with someone else – you’ve never parented alone. Having watched so many friends parent with their partners – there are many nights I come home grateful to be the only grown up in my house. At least I know what to expect and who to blame.  

But for all the people I want to punch in the throat – there are some awesome ones with whom I’ve built amazing relationships because I’m single. My good friends who are my “In case of emergency” and help me with everything from home repair to child care. Those who ask me drop my mini off so I can run to the market, Wal-Mart, pedicure place, etc in relative peace and quiet. Those who include me in their holiday invites, evenings in or evenings out, in their Mother’s Day celebration or vacation.  Those fellow single moms who listen to me vent, who I get to listen to – who get it when “being a single mom is so hard” is all I want to say. Those who just treat me like another mom.
(c)Herding Turtles 2009 - 2013

34 comments:

  1. This was great, thanks for sharing. I'm thankful women have so many more choices now than our mothers' generation did. While obviously being a single mom is not easy and still comes with judgement, I'm so glad moms ( and dads) like you are just one of the many "normal" kinds of families out there.

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  2. No lie, I would have kick "the mom that told me I never had the right to complain since I knew going into this I would be a single parent" in the twat then punched her in the throat... Because EVERYONE plans on how their life is going to turn out... ::shaking head:: Rock on Mama! I'm sure you're doing fabulous!

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  3. I relate to every single point.

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  4. You are my hero, truly, because I am married, medicated and we have 3. Shine on crazy diamond. Aaaand, just the other day I had to tell my 8 year old girl that singing 'Get a life!' from Pitch Perfect to my husband was inappropriate though I was secretly laughing.

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  5. I am a single mom too. I was riding the solo train when I was pregnant. It is wonderful to see someone else who feels the same way I do!! I do need to add one more enemy to the list. The ones who look at me and tell me I am the cause of the family unit disintegrating. Yep. Because I am a single mom, of the most angelic heathen princess out there (my daughter is 4), I am causing the downfall of society & raising a daughter who will most likely become a drug addicted hooker/stripper. Now, how did those people know that I'm saving up for her pole dancing lessons? Just because she doesn't have a father, does not mean she is going to grow up to become a felon or a porn star. I am raising her to know right from wrong. To have a *crossing fingers* strong self-esteem, to have morals & values. I don't need some smelly, bossy man in my life to do those things & be successful at it. She is my joy & I don't have to share her. I wouldn't want it any other way. Oh, and FYI, I don't have the kind of power to single handily bring down an entire society.

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    1. Excellent one! I've heard that one, too. I've been called many names - even by those in my own family so I totally get it.

      You just keep on lovin' your heathen princess - you rock!

      And, if anyone can figure out how to single handily bring down an entire society - it will be moms, single or otherwise.

      So glad I've got good company on this solo train.

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    2. Hey sweetmosey, just to let you know that my Mom was single when she raised me and my two sisters. My Aunt used to look down on her, "What are those girls going to come to?" and my Mom was even excluded in the church she went to at the time. Long story short, my oldest sister is a pastor (Pentecostal church), my middle sister is a registered nurse and I'm a registered social worker :)
      As the saying goes, "only time will tell".

      My two cents!

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  6. Thanks Mamas! This is a great way to start the week - despite the one negative on FB (I'm sure it won't be the only one.) I know there will always be folks that don't get it and that's okay. I may not get their choices either. This is just one ranting mom's point of view.

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  7. I had 3 kids in 3 years, and I'm a full time grad student complete with an assistant-ship. I have said that I feel like a single parent despite being married. That happens when it is 11 pm and you are just starting your take home midterm which is due at midnight, and your spouse still is not home to respond to the child who had a nightmare. My spouse is a workaholic, currently has 9 weeks of vacation built up and cannot accumulate any more. He may go in for a "half day" on the weekends, 8 being half of 16. I have noticed that most of my divorced friends get at least every other weekend off. He is supporting us financially, sure, but the same thing would be accomplished with his life insurance policy. Not that I'm bitter or anything!

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  8. I'm a single mom, not by choice, and I agree with a lot of these. Especially about filling in father information. Their father is in their lives, but he does not live close by and can not really be contacted in case of emergency. And I don't like getting mail to "Mr. and Mrs." when there is no Mr. here.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  9. I have heard every single one of these plus some. Thanks for sharing. Nice to know I"m not alone.

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  10. I was raised by a single mom. And when my husband complains to me that he "feels like a single parent" if I so much as go take a nap, I truly want to punch him in the throat. OMG. No idea.

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  11. Can we agree to retire and NEVER use again the phrase "I don't know how you do it!". It is used with some subtle tone of judgment that "it" isn't how we would do things. We hear if we are SAHM, Working away from home mom, homeschooling mom, kids go to private school mom, one child only mom, multiples mom, boys only, girls only, etc., etc., etc. Parenting is hard no matter how you choose to do it and if you think it is easy you probably shouldn't be doing it or haven't done it.

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  12. Let's agree to retire and NEVER say the phrase "I don't know how you do it!". It is rarely said in true admiration or astonishment but usually has some subtle judgmental tone. We have all heard it whether we are a SAHM, working away from home, mom of all boys, mom of all girls, single child mom, multiple mom, homeschooling mom, private school mom, etc., etc., etc. Parenting is hard no matter how you do it and if someone doesn't think it is either they shouldn't be doing it or hasn't done it.

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  13. Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband to help with my three little angels. I am even fortunate to (mostly) stay at home with them. Every time my husband comes home from a business trip (and there are not many), I thank my lucky stars that I don't do this job alone. I would never pretend to understand what a single parent deals with on a daily basis. Single Moms are badass, whether or not you chose to be one is irrelevant!

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  14. Thanks for sharing and staying kind in the comments - rock on all of you!

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  15. I'm so happy you shared this rant! Single mums are the bravest women on the planet. I am married with a toddler, and spend most of my time reminding BOTH of them how to use the laundry hamper, or to wipe the toilet if they miss...

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  16. Single, married, divorced, gay or straight, parenting is HARD for everyone, because it's hard. If anything parenting should unite us ALL closer together, why? Because we ALL know how freaking hard it is! I have 4 beautiful kids & a bun in the oven, people look at me like I have 2 heads & here's my favourite; "are ALL these children yours", followed by; "are they all from the same father?" So married or single, we all face a world of judgement! It has taught me to be way less judgy & critical of others. Love this post, thanks for the rant! ❤

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    1. I couldn't agree more! Love to all the moms out there!

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  17. "Let's agree to retire and NEVER say the phrase "I don't know how you do it!". It is rarely said in true admiration or astonishment but usually has some subtle judgmental tone."

    this makes me sad -- i say it and i actually mean it! there is no judgment at all (except possibly of myself). i have ONE child, ONE very flexible job, enough money, and a supportive spouse, yet i feel most of the time like i'm failing at everything. so when i see someone juggling more than that -- multiple kids, multiple jobs, staying at home, parenting without a partner, whatever, i really honestly mean that i don't know how they do it because i can hardly hold my relatively cushy sh*t together. i'm sorry people think of that as a judgment...i really, honestly, mean it in admiration.

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    1. Thanks Kerri! I was trying to figure out how to say this. I very much understand that when the excrement hits the oscillating blade most people just square up and deal with it. I know I have had to do so and at the time I didn't think - couldn't think in fact or then I would freeze up. However, I know parents who just make me stop and say, "wow." Good on you mate? I'm impressed? Or I don't know how you do it? Because right now I am thinking if it were me I would be crying in the corner right now.

      I love that people who want to have a family and making it happen. I love the choices people are making to own parenthood and their decisions.

      But I am saying that I would think every so often there would be a time said parents HAVE to think. And have to be aware something is beyond the usual difficult, and there isn't an end in sight. That is when I don't know how you do it. And I don't know how I can help or if I can. And I want to say I admire you but maybe we just met and I am not known for having boundaries but still; I'd like not to be known as the emo stalking parent of our school. Oh wait, I already am....

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  18. This post is so defensive; I mean, I know all the "enemies" posts are to some degree, but I had a much harder time believing that you are truly happy about the "single" part of parenting, unless its for the selfish reasons of being always in control and not having to compromise. Granted, some of the comments you field may be insensitive and/or innapropriate, but who doesn't have to deal with stupid comments from someone. Anyway, I wish you well and I'm glad you have a great support system in place!

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    1. Oh Jessica. I am reasonably certain the writer has many, many more reasons for choosing single parenthood beyond not having to share decisionmaking. Maybe those reasons are too personal to spill to a bunch of strangers, many of whom won't get it. And if she sounds defensive at some point - isn't that the point of the "Domestic Enemies" series? The writers are reacting to ENEMIES. Don't know about you, I tend to get a little defensive when, you know, defending myself.

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    2. So are you trying to imply that its impossible for a single mom to be happy???? I am HAPPILY divorced from my pedophile ex husband and would be suicidal if I were still married. My kids are the source of my happiness- and I love every SINGLE moment of it.

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  19. This: "That is when I say, “There were so many, I just don’t know,” and smile real nice." Made me laugh at my desk and now others are wondering what I am doing. Awesome!

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  20. Some have it harder/easier, single/married. A woman may be married but husband never helped instead of giving more work, & their combined income may not be as much as a single parent, so such married woman could be struggling more. It's worse if they've special need child. So, you really can't compare an apple with an orange. As long as the person is a good parent & the child is healthy & happy, that's good enough.

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  21. I wish we Moms and Moms to be (I'm 33 weeks with our first) could support each other no matter what. Single, married, gay, straight, divorced, military spouse, etc...There are easier and harder aspects to all the types of parenting choices. I wish our first instinct was to support each other. I know my own personal judgements are usually my first reaction and I'm really working on that. I feel I have come to be less judgemental of parents/pregnant women since becoming one myself. I have been on the stabby end of the judgement stick from my own family because I am actively and consciously choosing to formula feed from day one. There is good and bad in every parenting style. I think if you can raise a child who becomes a productive member of society who the heck cares if he/she had three parents or one? No one way of parenting is better or worse than the others. As long as the child/children are loved, that is the only thing that matters.

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  22. I'm a single mother by choice to two kids through AI, and I see alot of this too! It's always so awkward when people ask you about it. Even totally inoccent questions from people such as the other soccer mom at a game casually asking me what my husband does for a living as small talk. How do you answer that in a way that isn't totally embarassing for either you or her? If I don't explain the whole thing then I'm judged as "Oh, she just slept around!" and if I do explain the whole thing (to virtual strangers, mind you) I'm judged as "What's wrong with her that she couldn't get a husband and do it the normal way?"

    I do tend to take the "How do you do it?!" questions as a compliment rather than an insult. What I do is tough, and I really don't think everyone could handle it, so when I get an acknowledgment of that it makes me proud of what I've accomplished by myself. ^_^

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  23. I also am a single mother by choice and have heard all of these. I guess I've always taken the "I don't know how you do it" as a benign comment. Of course, I had 12 years of practice walking 2 huge black dogs around the neighborhood. If I had a nickel for every time back then I was told "boy, you really have your hands full" or "I don't know how you do it" I'd have a lot of nickels.

    I also am not sure how to answer the father question as there is none. Almost any response leads to more questioning. I'm not embarrased to discuss it, it's just none of anyone's business. I have twins, so I also get the full set of ridiculous twin questions. In a way, I'm lucky, because usually the stupid twin questions overpower the stupid single mother questions.

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  24. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.I have learned a lot from you.

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  26. Great list!! Bang on for everything. I would also like to add long time friends who are also single women approaching 40 but have had to "distance themselves" from people with kids since they aren't likely to have any of their own. Really? Cause I can't fit into the single life despite being single because I have child care responsibilities. The couples don't want the choice mom's around much without the kids because we are single and therefore pose some kind of man stealing threat. Other single mom's are extremely busy and exhausted. And you old friend and goto person who understands how I came to be a choice mom, is supposed to understand all this, and who has the time to offer support and/or a sympathetic ear and was the biggest cheerleader throughout conception has "distanced yourself". Wonderful. Now go be miserable someplace else!

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  27. Thank you for this honest and refreshing article, I applaud you! I am 25 years old, will be graduating as a nurse soon and hope to start a family on my own within the next couple of years. I am strong, independent, financially stable and have a strong support system. I loved what you said about not having to parent with someone else, I couldn't imagine having to compromise on every little thing. To each his own, but for me, I will confidently enter into motherhood on my own. Thanks for being who you are and for writing this, it gives me strength knowing that this can be done and that it can be the right decision for me.

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  28. Omg I LOVE you for writing this. I'm a single mother by way of meeting a total asshat. I envy you, because unlike me you don't have to be in custody court, arguing over petty stuff with some brainless twit. I WISH I had the nuts to have a second and do things my way. You're pretty much my hero and god BLESS you for writing this. Keep up the good work. I'm facing graduate school and am 37 and single and thinking, WTF, why shouldn't I have the pleasure of having my OWN child. No compromise, all on me. There is NOTHING wrong with your choices and screw any and every one who judges others choices. Not their business!

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