Technically Mother’s Day was yesterday, but… it is still a relevant subject. If you have been single for your child’s entire life, just a few years of it, if your child is older, younger, understands or maybe doesn’t understand; this is for you because we are all in the same boat. My boats seem to be accruing fast these days.
When I was younger, and thought about having my own kids, no where in those thoughts did it occur to me, that being a single parent was a thing. My parents were married before they had me, and are still married today. Having been raised in the eighties and nineties we saw the percentage of single mother homes recorded at 18% of the American single parent population, only growing to 24% by 2012. That’s 32 years with a small growth of only 6%. For some perspective on the situation, in 2017 there were a total of 11,667 single parent families in the United States, 81.4% of those households had single mothers. In a mere 5 year time frame, the percentage of American homes with single mother’s grew 57.4%. This is a staggering number, and the first statistic that I was lumped into as a woman.
Getting back to my younger thoughts; I had it all planned out, I would graduate from high school, go to college and graduate, start in my perfect job, meet the man of my dreams, get married, and by the time we were 30, we would own a house with the white picket fence, a dog and 3.5 kids. In reality, I graduated from high school and college, got an okay job, met a decent guy, and had a baby at 24 while still living at home with my parents. The guy turned out to suck, left, and for the most part, hasn’t been back, leaving me in the single mother household category for my entire adult life.
Mother’s day is one of those Hallmark holidays where we are meant to celebrate, the women who have sacrificed the integrity of their bodies, minds and hearts for the little peanuts who grow into tiny humans in their abdomens. The women who, to no fault of their own, can not or don’t want to, biologically have children, but have adopted them into their hearts, homes, and lives. The women who have taken in and raised, for one reason or another, their grandchildren. The foster mom’s, the step-moms, and the honorary moms. To all of you, I say Happy Mother’s Day, but understandably, I can sympathize, empathize and identify, with other women in my similar situation as a single mom, and the reasons why Mothers Day is awesome, but breaks your heart a little at the same time.
Raising one child on my own was hard enough, I don’t know what would have happened to me if I had, had more. When they say it takes a village, they definitely mean it. Without my village, my mom, dad, and brother, I would have never made it to daycare on-time, on more than one occasion, to pick T up, let alone pay for it; the daycare expense is like a mortgage payment without the house. When I went into labor, I wouldn’t have known what to do or how to get to the hospital. I wouldn’t have had a clean mattress to come home to. That second month when I was laid up for six weeks with a blood clot, we both would have been lost. The sleepless nights when I needed a break from the 2am feeding, and the 3am one too. All of the school and extra curricular functions they went to with me, because I didn’t want to be there alone. All of the diaper changes, bottle cleaning, meals fed while I was at work. All of those nights I worked until 11:30pm, and homework, bath time, and dinner got taken care of. Soccer practice runs, last-minute things forgotten by me before she got on the bus. Being home when she got off the bus. All of the past mothers day’s, Christmases, and birthdays when they made sure she had gifts to give me. All of those nights I wanted some adult time out with friends. Throwing my baby shower, housing birthday parties, sleepovers, and the endless other things in-between. Doing it alone would not have been impossible, but infinitely harder.
As mothers who co-parent under the same roof enjoy the spoils that Mothers day offers, I find myself, and image that other single moms do as well, thinking about the things that I have, and have not, been able to give my child throughout her life. Not just because I am a single mom, but because I am just that, a mom; I am not a dad.
Mothers and fathers offer two different perspectives when it comes to being a parent. A child from a single mother household, only receives that one perspective, and has to rely on other sources; mom, a relative, friends, in order to get the other side. Of course the same is true for single father households. Depending on the gender of the child, receiving only a moms perspective can, while proving to be effective, be detrimental or not helpful. For instance, if my child was a boy, I would have no idea where to begin when it comes to masturbation. Lucky for me, I have a father and brother, who would be able to help, but without that benefit, I would be floundering around in space without my helmet.
Households with two parents means that there are two people to share the decision-making, two people to share the rule setting, two people to share the handing out of punishments, two people to share the carpool duties, snack runs, diaper changing, middle of the night feedings, parent teacher conferences, two people, in most cases, to earn the household income, two people to support each other when times get frustrating, two people to share the household management, and two people to field the questions. Simple math says, 2-1=1; One parent doing all of that, and hopefully managing to beat the statistics: suicide, homelessness, education, criminal activity, abuse, addiction, teen pregnancy, behavioral problems, and runaways.
So far, I think I’m doing pretty good. T is almost eighteen and headed to college once she graduates from high school, she hasn’t made me a grandmother yet (knock on wood), isn’t a convict, addict, and has beat all of the other statists, but by far the most amazing thing she has done, was to make me a mother; her mother.
I said it once before, and I will say it again; being a single mom is hard work, everyday, but at the end of everyday, we have the amazing knowledge that we have created someone beautiful, who is ours and ours alone. Wether you share custody or not, you are responsible for putting the best impression of yourself out into society for others to see and know. Congratulations on surviving, and don’t give up, it is hard, but it is worth it no matter what the trials that got you here.
Happy Mother’s Day and Until next time…