1. Your words hurt. Every single parent is fully aware that there’s a stigma attached to our position — that we arrived at our status through stupidity or immoral actions. To begin with, you never know someone’s story, you can do everything “right” in life and still end up a single parent. Or, you can have an unplanned pregnancy or get divorced, life happens and the thing to remember is that every single parent is doing the best they can for their kid. Putting them down doesn’t give the kid a better life, but encouraging and supporting the parent might.
2. We will freak out if you ever refer to our kids as “baggage” — but we kind of also get not wanting to date a single parent. It’s not for everyone and honestly, if you’re not sure you’re ready for a kid please self-select yourself out of our dating pool. Kids are a big deal, mine is the most important part of my life and it’s imperative that anyone I date be willing to respect that.
3. We’re not rich. If you’re a single mother people assume you are covered through child support, but in most cases this is not true. Not every non-primary parent pays child support and when they do, it’s usually not enough to cover most or all of the child-related expenses. It’s estimated that raising a kid costs $250,000 — very few people can go that alone.
4. There will always be some “drama” with our kid’s other parent, if they’re around. We try as hard as we can to be reasonable adults but everyone gets emotional where their kids are concerned. There ARE going to be conflicts, and that’s natural and a lot healthier than pretending you will never have a difference of opinion with someone about raising your kid.
5. We feel isolated and lonely. We don’t belong with the other moms who have their husbands financial and emotional support — but we don’t belong with our other single friends either, they have no idea what having a kid is like. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a few great single parents in your life, it’s really hard to connect with others.
6. We worry constantly that we aren’t doing a good enough job. Every parent worries this but they don’t have the societal voices telling them they actually might be. “Kids need a mom and a dad.” Right? But that’s out of our control at the moment, and all we can do is channel those worries into doing the best job we can.
7. We aren’t very much fun. Being the only person in the world responsible for another person’s life can run you ragged. I’m tired all the time. When my parents volunteer to babysit for the night I’d love to meet up with my friends and go dancing at the bar like they want me to… but all I can find the energy to do is fall asleep on the couch at 8pm. I feel like I’m letting those friends down every time this happens, but I can’t help myself.
8. We don’t have a strong sense of “self”. Of all our friends — married friends, single friends, we are the ones who get the least amount of time to care for ourselves. When I hear people talking about reading or new fitness goals I’m always very jealous. All my time is spent working, cooking, taking care of my house and being with my kid through it all. I can take him to new lessons or to try a new sport, but that doesn’t free up time for me to do the same. I stick around to watch because I think that’s what he wants.
9. Long before our kids could understand adult conversation, we talked to them like they could. Nothing inappropriate, but when you’re alone most of the time with a baby, you’ve got to talk to someone.
10. Someone complimenting our kid means the world to us. This isn’t surprising, but it is surprising how infrequently single parents can hear this — most people have a co-parent to lean on and gain support from. When you go it alone, you need to be your own support system, and it can be so, so rewarding — it just comes with it’s own challenges.