I often refer to myself as a single mom, but I use this term loosely. Yes, I may be a single mother as in I am not married and do not have a spouse that lives with me to help with the daily routine of taking care of my son. But I am not in this alone.
The term single mother has such a bad connotation these days. Sorta leaves a bad after taste in my mouth when I say it. Single mother seems like yet another term to shame women. A single mom whose man left you. A baby mama who wasn’t good enough to marry. A divorced woman who couldn’t keep your man. Why do all of these terms seem to put the pressure on a woman to keep her family afloat?
I don’t care so much about that though because I wouldn’t let any of those things define me. I just don’t want to offend any of the people who support me and parent my child on a regular basis. On any given day you can find many people in and out of my house or those who are simply just reaching out in some sort of way to ask how we are doing. In fact, for over a year now I have lived with my sister because we spent so much time helping each other out from two households that we decided it would be easier to just live together. So everyday my son has at least two parents. (I hope he doesn’t go to school and make it seem like we are lesbians!) He regularly spends time with his dad or Facetimes him several times a day when he is away. Then there are many other parents in his life. His grandparents–my mom who he adores more than me most days and my dad who he is closer with than I have ever been. There are many friends, aunts, uncles, cousins….you get the point.
When I was a teenager one of my sisters worked overnight and had an infant. My parents said they would take care of the baby while she was at work. The lie detector determined that was a lie! After she would leave my mom would hand the baby over to me. And at 14 years old, I fed and slept with a baby many nights. Even then I would feel offended when my sister would say she was a single mother and she was doing this all alone and nobody understood how hard this was. Well I understood that when I wanted to stay up all night talking on the phone with my latest crush I couldn’t because I was putting a baby to sleep. Many mornings I was tired as hell from barely sleeping all night as if I was a teenage mother. But I didn’t mind. I loved my niece and I loved my sister. That is what family does. But she wasn’t a single parent in my eyes. We all pitched in to help. I would argue that there are probably married women who have less help.
As women we have to be less hard on ourselves and give ourselves more credit. If we don’t allow ourselves to assume these negative views of us then it can’t happen. Who started all of this BS anyway?