The Great “Single Mom” Debate


The other day I was checking Facebook and I came across a status on a message board from a mom (whom I didn’t know) that was single (no husband). It basically said that she was really bothered when she see’s posts on her feed about women referring to themselves as being a single parent for a few days or a week when their husbands are out-of-town. She said that if you have a husband, you are not a single parent and that it is not the same thing. She even went as far as to say that it was insulting and belittling to her. Of course, this made me raise an eyebrow because I am the wife of a fabulous husband who unfortunately travels a lot for work. It got me thinking that maybe I need to re-examine my own situation. I will admit that I am guilty of using the term “single parent” on occasion when I have had a particularly tough couple of weeks on my own or if I am really stressed out. But, after reading the woman’s status it made me open my eyes a little that maybe I shouldn’t be using that term. Maybe I should find a better way of expressing how tired I am and how exhausting it can be with no support network, other than a long distance phone call from my husband when he is gone. (My parents are elderly so they are of no help when it comes to watching my kids).

This girls argument was that just because our husbands are away we still stay at home, we still have money coming to us, we still have emotional support, and so on and so on. As the thread progressed this girls anger increased ten fold. She was getting more and more furious the more people responded. She had bitterness oozing from her pores and I began to feel really bad for her. It made me realize that maybe referring to myself as a “single parent” on occasion also isn’t fair to my husband because he works really hard to provide for us and allow me to stay at home with my kids.

With that being said, I also feel that if that is how I am feeling at that moment then why should it matter to anyone what I call myself?? It has no direct impact on their life right? I am not saying that I have it harder than anyone else or that someone else’s struggles are less than mine. Isn’t it all just semantics when you really break it down?

I have many single mom friends and I see that they have no one else to depend on but themselves when it comes to income, taking care of the house, meals, bedtime routines, discipline, paying bills, insurance, car maintenance, taking the trash out, chauffeuring kids around…the list is endless. And constant. On the flip side, I also see that some of my friends send their kids to their dad’s every other weekend and are kid free for a week. Some of them have tons of help with their parents and some have none. Some get child support AND alimony and some get neither. So who’s more single?

When I think of all the things my husband does to contribute to our family (even when he’s traveling) and then try to imagine not having any of it ever, I get a little anxiety. Yes, it would be disappointing to not get that phone call from my husband at the end of the day or feel the excitement of picking him up from the airport & feeling relieved because I know I will be getting a break. But what about these moms who are technically married but married to an emotionally absent husband? A “single mom” might have it easier than someone married to an emotionally absent man. Maybe we all just get too caught up in titles.

We all have our own struggles, and as moms and women we should empower one another instead of trying to win the who has it worse game. I have the utmost respect for truly single moms and I always amazed at how strong they are as women. Too many times people look at the negatives instead of positives.  It seems like there are positives to all sides.:

  • Married and your husband is gone, you feel like you’re doing it alone. But there is an end in sight and you have the support of your spouse.
  • Single momma around family, you might not have a partner, but it takes a village.
  • Single momma completely on your own, at least you have the strength to survive that your children will admire one day.

We all have our path in this lifetime and we should be looking at the blessings we have and not take things for granted.

So the question is: Do I start referring to myself as “flying solo” or saying I am “married single parenting”. Or am I just Pseudo single? What about calling myself a work widow? Wouldn’t I be offending a real live widow who may have just lost their spouse? Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

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22 thoughts on “The Great “Single Mom” Debate”

  1. I think your bullets toward the end show exactly WHY she was so upset. Many of us do believe it takes a village. If you have no support — emotionally, financially, what-have-you — raising a family from your own family or partner, it’s so much harder. It just is. You never get an hour off, let alone a day. There is no one there to pick up any sort of the slack. You don’t get to consider changing jobs or moving or anything else on whimsy. There’s no safety net. I’m not even a parent and this sounds TERRIFYING.

  2. It bothers me when people ask me if I feel like I single parent. As a financial advisor, my husband is always gone. I find it very offensive for people to ask. I get the joy of being able to stay at home with my child. Although we rarely get to see my husband, he is financially providing for us. We do get to spend at least one whole day with him a week. He will also answer the phone if I’m having a particularly stressful day.
    If I were a single parent, my son would be in daycare, I would be working a lot of jobs, and stressing about paying bills.

  3. I feel that single moms have it very hard. I know people who will not work certain jobs even though they need it to support their kids.. i would be doing whatever it took to make sure my kids had what they needed.

  4. My situation is actually very similar to yours. My husband had only been home about two months all together in the last two years. I sometimes say pseudo single or I say I “play a single mom.”

    I can see her anger. But like you, I have every other weekend friends. I am married so I do have that underlying support. However, it can be harder because I still take his feelings and beliefs into account. I don’t have 100% control of the parenting whereas some of my single paren friends do.

    • And until the end of December I was working full time outside of the home and dealing with a chronically ill child at the same time. The grass is always greener…but the fact is that parenting is hard. Some have it harder than others but does it make someone a better parent because they have it harder?

  5. “We all have our own struggles, and as moms and women we should empower one another instead of trying to win the who has it worse game.”

    You said it perfectly. Sometimes I feel emotionally single, and I have actually single moms who make it work without complaint! We should be empowering each other instead of feeling sorry for ourselves and encouraging other to do the same. Mom power!

  6. I often feel very overwelmed in parenting where I feel like a “single parent”. Although I’m not, i do have an overworked husband who doesn’t help much with the kids due to his own work load and like you mentioned one elderly grandmother who really isn’t much help. I do agree with you though, we shouldn’t be so concerned with titles. We should encourage each other in parenting and less concerned about what is going on in the other person’s household.

  7. It’s a hard subject! I understand the frustration of women who stay home, but marriage is compromise, we all make sacrifices to be together. My husband used to work 7 days a week, I was never bitter, upset, I was grateful he was making a sacrifice for us!

  8. Honestly, I am going to upset people by this, but what does it matter what you call yourself. People tend to be too sensitive. I understand how hard it is for a truly single mom, but it doesn’t mean that me, being married, with a hubby who works 6 days a week, 12 hours shifts overnight, can’t say I am a married single parent. It is hard for everyone, and there shouldn’t be judgement either way.

  9. I give a lot of credit to single mothers who are raising children on their own. It’s a full time job and most are working a full time job on top of that, just to support their children.

  10. I see a lot of comments about “still being at home with the kids”… I live in Canada, my husbands travels all over the world for work, and I work full time… With two daughters in competitive sports, and family in another province, YES, IT’S TOUGH! I don’t get to stay home with my kids… I get to have the whole gang ready to leave at 7h15 am… and it’s back and forth between dinner, packing tomorrow’s lunches, homework and my own planning and corrections (I’m a teacher). What I don’t get are moms of school age kids who are SAHM who’s husbands travel, yet, they are exhausted and can’t make it work. I get being lonely, and missing your spouse… but really? We all have tough situations and we all deal with them differently. My good friend who really is a single mom with no dad in the picture told me once that they have a routine and it can’t change versus mine does, every week… and that means different challenges. I just don’t understand why we all have to pick who has it worse… How about we all support each other!


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