Single Mother vs. Single Woman

Because the world creates a debate out of anything of course there’s a debate on who really deserves to call themselves a “single” mother or parent. The rule I’m seeing is that you can’t be a single mother if your husband, partner, or child’s father is temporarily away, working, or constantly busy. You also can’t be a single mother if the child’s father is emotionally, physically, or financially available to their child. In that case you are not a single mother you are a single woman. Now, I didn’t make these rules, these are just what I’ve come across.

So is this true? I obviously agree with the fact that you’re not a single mother if you’re married or in a relationship with the child’s father and they are temporarily away. But things start to get tricky when a mother is now in a relationship with someone other than the child’s father and lets say the father isn’t around or giving less than 50%, is she a single mother now or primary parent (this is probably a post within itself but it’s interesting to think about). Or what if mom does not live with the child’s father and he’s around emotionally, physically, and financially but mom is pulling the weight in the parenting or in any of those three categories? Mother’s who don’t have any of those three elements would consider themselves the true or real single moms and by all means that’s correct but there’s no such thing as a “real” or “true” single mother. If you have no support whatsoever from the child’s father then you are a single mother.

What happens often is women misconstrue being a single woman and single mother. If you are no longer in a relationship with the child’s father and he is not involved = single mother, but a single mother does not always equate to deadbeat dad or a dad who isn’t involved. Just because the relationship failed doesn’t mean you have to put someone on child support but that’s where we get into the bitter baby mama club discussion. By default if someone asked I’d refer to myself as a single mother because I wouldn’t think twice about what a single mother really is because why should I? If that’s what I identify as then I shouldn’t have to defend why. My child’s father is involved in his life and does what he can, when he can so I could never and would never bash him just because we aren’t together; but I am his primary parent because he lives with me so in turn I end up doing the bulk of the footwork that comes with parenting. I don’t go around asking for a trophy because of it or boasting because that’s what a mother does. Mothers make the biggest sacrifices. When I chose to become a mother I signed up for sacrificing my body, sleep, work, energy, and the list goes on. I have endless support within my family but the point is when you decide to become a parent you take on the responsibilities of what comes with parenting. No one wants to do all of the work because it takes two to make a baby but sometimes that’s just how things play out, the load doesn’t always get to be 50/50. There are single fathers just as there as single mothers. So when it comes to who deserves to call themselves single mothers or parents? It’s those who identify and does more than 50% of the parenting. The ideal picture perfect situation would be being married and having a loving and supportive husband who gives 100% just as I do because let’s be real, there’s no such thing as giving 50% in motherhood, you either give your all or you don’t. In most situations a father’s role has become providing financially but these kids need a father physically and emotionally too.

The takeaway is this, a single mother doesn’t equate to an absent father or struggling alone all the time. And just because someone identifies as such doesn’t mean that they’re struggling at all. There’s so many negative connotations towards single mothers and people thinking that babies change everything in a relationship. Yes, they do but it’s not always bad. Often times relationships were already ended or nearing an end and a pregnancy just so happened to be introduced. I found out I was pregnant literally the day after me and my child’s father ended our relationship so my child had nothing to do with the demise of our partnership. A lot of things play a role in relationships ending. It doesn’t matter what happened or what led to both parties choosing to go their separate ways but just because someone ends up single doesn’t mean that they are unhappy with their life or circumstances. A single mother or parent comes in all forms.

Comparing the daily, weekly, yearly and forever duties of a single mother to a single woman is comparing apples to oranges. Comparing the actual job of being a single mom to that of a relationship status is an unfair attack on single motherhood. Being a mother is a thankless job — one of the hardest jobs that one could ever sign up for, whether it be alone or not. The attempt to downplay those that are doing a majority of the work is slanderous and almost presents the idea of one crying wolf. Every situation is different, therefore it will never be black and white. However, if a woman defines HERSELF as a single mother, one should be respectful and identify her as such. These interpretations of what a single mom is should be left for self identity, not those on the outside looking in. -@itsjoitomyworld

What prompted this blog post to begin with was a post on Instagram I resonated with by @erynamelism which said,

“Today was hard. And so have been the days before it. Single is how I entered this world. & I entered into single motherhood what seemed to be at least 4 years ago. But I’m still not use to feeling so “alone” in the struggle. The stronger I grow into my own womanhood, the more I realize that single and isolated- are two different levels of loneliness in mothering. I have amazing friends, who step in where they can- I have my sons father who does what he can- but somehow I still feel selfish for demanding that “what everyone can do” is frankly, not enough. Because people doing what they “can do” doesn’t negate the fact I still HAVE to provide for my child, my mind, and for tomorrow. And realizing you have no one to turn to in those moments is extremely isolating. I knew I was single, as in one kind, but isolated- sinking under the pressure of living a life I didn’t ask for, and having to do so alone is the hardest most frustrating truth for me to swallow. Growing older has shown me quality is better than quantity- and having bodies laying around only makes for a booming cemetery if those bodies aren’t carrying life in them. And by life, I mean sense. And by sense, I mean- something in common between us.

Truth is. There are single mothers in marriages. Single mothers going back and forth with their co parents- single mothers who have not one friend outside of their children. There are single mothers who have their families support- and then there are mothers like me, never really alone but unable to depend on anyone when I need it. I broke down crying today in the pediatricians office- the nurses were so sweet to me, called in my sons Dr explained. To them that I was sitting there alone and she just sat with me. Explained that it was “ok” to feel this overwhelmed and in control at the same time- she told me that this isolation doesn’t last forever, but its been forever since I felt like that could be true. I know its true- but knowing whats good for you and actually believing in it- is where the true work comes in. The feelings of isolation, self doubt and over working are not only reserved for unwed mothers, because i know many mothers in isolating marriages – who believe that was their destiny. we came into this world alone, yes – but with all these eyes looking back at me i refuse to believe this feeling is destiny. i guess i still have more accepting to do. or poking for more treasure. #SingleMotherhood #isolation #Findtheothers #sheneedsmoresupport #respectItsjustthemininmum #dowhatyouhaveto #notjustwhatyoucan”

It doesn’t matter if you’re a single parent or not. The goal and what matters is providing examples of healthy relationships for your kids. If you’re co-parenting,  married, whatever, don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Kids only know what they see, and what you tell them, how their parents interact sets the boundaries for the people they will choose to date and how they treat those people. Parental relationships means a lot when it comes to the development of children. Healthy relationships only!!

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Thanks for reading, Be Blessed & Stay Humble. As always Choose You Always!

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