“I’m practically a single mom”. I cringe when I hear these words being expressed from a married or even co-habitating mom. I instantaneously lose a very large sum of respect that I may have even had for the individual prior to this sentiment being expressed. “Practically a single mom” could never even compare to an actual single mom. Let’s delve into this.
My experience in life has been that I have always been a single mom. I had my daughter shortly after high school and made the decision to end the relationship I had with her father as it wasn’t built on a lasting foundation and we were so young and differing individuals. At the young age of 18 I clearly didn’t use enough discernment to make long lasting relationship choices. Ten years later, while I had wisdom and discernment I stupidly threw caution to the wind and demeaned myself by falling for a narcissist that would eventually be my downfall and cause trauma in my life. (More about this subject in a previous post) I became a two time single mother as he abused and abandoned me and my son a week short of my son’s first birthday. To be honest even when he was around he truly wasn’t the man or father figure my son or daughter needed. He was never a stable and consistent man nor father/ father figure in their lives. I was and still am the single mom carrying the load. I keep the home. Meaning I do all the cooking, cleaning, purchases, laundry, housework. I pay the bills. I pay the rent, all the utilities, the car insurance, credit cards, sports, activities, childcare, camp, clothing, educational and medical needs, groceries and everything else you can think of. I make the decisions. I decide the faith we will follow, how we will live out the faith. I decide what time is bedtime, what tv shows, books and movies are appropriate. I decide when enough is enough and when more is needed. I do the driving, the play dates, the school conferences, the call out from work sick days, the late night showers from stomach bugs. I do the reading, the library trips, the vacations, the discipline and the guidance. I mean I do it all. I’m a single mother and I’m single in all aspects. Child support is never consistent. Ask any single mom. Child support is never enough. My entire monthly support would not even cover a month of Summer camp nor a month of daycare when I was in that stage. I figure it out. My mind is constantly doing numbers, even for the simple things. “Should I buy the jar of our favorite almond butter or should I skip the expense and just consume the generic peanut butter we have at home?” “Should I rsvp to the birthday party or should I politely decline? The money on gas for the car and a gift could set me back on paying for school lunch.” This is the life of a single mom. This is the life of a decently paid full time employed single mom. Money is never enough. Time is never enough.
A woman who is “practically a single mom” will never understand the bittersweet moments of celebrating birthdays or milestones and having no one to share that with. A woman who is “practically a single mom” can never understand how anxious a real single mom gets when rent is due and the bank account may overdraft. A woman who is “practically a single mom” could never understand the hole in her heart that a real single mom experiences when their child is the only fatherless child at sporting events or school events or who feels left out or less then because their father didn’t stick around to raise them day in and day out from day one. A woman who is “practically a single mom” will never understand nor even compare to the being and lifestyle of a real single mom. It just will never equal the other. It is not the same. It will never be the same.
I absolutely cringe when I hear “I’m practically a single mom when…”. Please stop before you utter this words and consider for a moment that your momentary comparison is that woman’s everyday existence. Consider how challenging and overwhelming her life is. Consider the condition of her heart and finances and emotional and mental state and stop.
“I’m practically a single mom when…. you know what, I’m sorry, my words here hold no merit. I’m not a single mom, I don’t know what it’s like to be a single mom but you do and I admire and respect you. How are you doing?”
Imagine that. I sure hope one day I can hear those words instead.