Where’s that damn soapbox? Oh yeah, there it is. Now… Ahem.
Pardon me while I go off on a tangent for 300 (or 1,200) words about something that irks me to no end. There’s not one reason in particular why today’s topic burns my biscuits as much as it does; nonetheless, my bum is aflame and I feel compelled to rant; or, if you prefer, to pontificate in the least pompous way possible. It is what it is, I s’pose.
Here are my picks for the top three offenders, in no particular order or level of goat-getting ability:
If you’re formerly known as Mrs. Surname Here, a single Mama Bear you are not.
Yeah, I said it. But read my explanation before you prepare a roast in my honor.
When I decided to browse the WordPress tag “single moms” it was in an effort to connect with women floating along in the same boat as myself. What I discovered was blog after blog by women who are divorced and claiming single mom status. They weren’t simply attesting to their residence in singlemomdom. No, they are “true” single moms; down in the same trenches as every other single mom and facing the same issues.
What?!? I heard myself asking myself.
How are these women “single moms” when they: (a) have an ex-husband to hand the kids off to every other weekend and sometimes throughout the week; (b) have financial and/or emotional support from the other half of their kids’ DNA; and/or (c), have the often overlooked, and severely underrated, advantage of not having to play every major role in their kids’ lives? The majority of the internal struggles I face as a single parent stem from the latter.
If you’re a MOM (mother outside of marriage) and you (a) live with your parents or (b) live with your significant other, you don’t make the cut either.
Please see my reasoning in the above “Mrs. Surname Here” section.
If you have someone living in the home with you, who offers financial and/or emotional support, then you don’t know the enormous pressure single moms are under. Before you go to bed at night and are able to talk about the difficult day you had to another adult who shared in that day’s events, you get to unload some of that pressure and feel some sort of relief before sleepy time.
My fears, doubts, and questions remain stored inside until I am able to address them one by one. That is not a complaint, just a statement of fact: I am the sole caregiver with 100% of the parental responsibilities and rewards.
If you live with a significant other then you get to offer your child the most coveted asset of all: a positive male role model to help fill the void left by the child’s absent father. And single moms, don’t be fooled, no matter how great we are at our “jobs,” the void is canyon-sized and always will be. That’s just a fact of life.
We can do our best to shovel in as much good times, moral support, positive reinforcement, and self-esteem boosters as possible. Alas, in the end, your child will still yearn for a “daddy.” It took me years to accept that and it’s taken me years to figure out how to eliminate the guilt associated with it. But there are coping skills for you and your child, so if you haven’t started, please learn those skills and teach them to your child as soon as you can.
What? You chose to go it alone? Close, but “no soup for you.”
Yes, you are definitely a helluva lot closer to my definition of a single mom than any of these other ladies. I actually have a great deal of respect for women (and men) who decide their desire (and ability) to be a parent outweighs society’s (and a child’s) necessity for a two-parent family unit.
However, if you chose to go the artificial insemination route, I might have a rant brewed just for you. Or if your choice to fly solo leaves you in a situation similar to that of the divorced woman and/or MOM, then please see their respective sections above.
But if you’re one of those special people who gave an orphaned child a loving, supportive, and much-needed home, then kudos to you! Just please don’t post on your blog about how great you are or whine incessantly about how hard single parenting is or how much you deserve this or that. Praise and rewards are bestowed on those who are truly deserving — those who sacrifice without expectations.
How do I define a “true” single mom?
Simple: A mother who provides more than 60% of her child’s – or children’s – financial and emotional support, whose father abandoned her during or directly after pregnancy, and the father is not involved at all – or on very rare occasions (less than once a year) – in her child’s life. And she does all of that while living alone without the in-house support of another adult.
So what’s the big deal? Who cares if someone labels themselves as a single mom?
With each subsequent blog written by ladies in the above situations, my blood boiled. Not because I think these women don’t deserve the respect, empathy, and compassion normally earned by dropping the phrase “single mom.” But because their blogs had an air of entitlement.
I’m sorry but no one, not even single moms as defined by yours truly, is entitled to automatic respect or outs just because they say five words: “I am a single mom.” And they’re also not immediately deserving of every financial gain there is to be had.
So don’t expect me to respect you or empathize with your hardships or give you my hard-earned money simply because you’re a single mom by your own loose interpretation of the word. I would award all three of those things to any parent who toils daily with minimal complaints, let’s slip an occasional “Life is hard,” but more often rambles on with “Man am I lucky to have this kid!”
Okay, I’m off the soapbox and it’s once again tucked under my bed.
Single Mothers Online: For Single Moms by Choice or Chance – The official site of the National Organization of Single Mothers.
Single Mom Financial Help – The budgeting tips and blog posts are particularly useful.
Single Mommyhood – An uber blog co-authored by two single moms – maybe not by my definition – with great advice on dating and sex.
SingleMom.com: Resources for Single Moms – This site is jam-packed with information, so if you can wade through the crowded pages, there’s gold in them there hills.
DISCLAIMER: The above rant is not meant to dismiss or diminish the difficulties faced by any woman who deems herself a “single mother.” It is merely my response to the, uh, fluid use of said term. I also acknowledge that not every situation is as black and white as I’ve described.
Yes, I realize this entire debate may be rendered moot after the above disclaimer but it’s my blog and I can rant if I want to, rant if I want to. You would rant to if it happened to you. Sorry, I guess I had Lesley Gore’s song in my head just then. 60s music is cool, no matter what you say.
And, as always, you’re welcome to retort via the wee comment box at the bottom of this page, but remember to play nice* or else I’ll be forced to exert my immense blogly powers and hit the “delete” key on your meanness.
*Play nice is defined as not resorting to name calling, hair pulling, rock throwing, or any other forms of idiocy. Responses written in an intelligent voice with evidence to support your viewpoint are much appreciated.