What is the definition of a single mom? I read an article recently that was posted on a local moms website that I’m still thinking about today. (I actually started writing this the night I read it but decided to wait a day or two to see if I felt the same way.) The article tries to address the definition of a single mom and tell some segment of people to stop calling themselves that.
Although I don’t feel as annoyed by the article as I did when I read it a few days ago, there is still something that bothers me about it.
Is there a definition of a “single mom”?
The article I’m referring to can be read HERE. It was actually posted in 2018 and reposted recently. I remember reading it when it posted – but I sure don’t remember having the same reaction to it then that I did this time.
Maybe I was tired this week and it just struck a chord. Whatever nerve it hit brought me out here to my website to write some words about it.
Fortunately, I’ve had a few days to think about it and really consider my thoughts on it – and on calling myself a single mom.
Who is a single mom and who is not?
So – let me start with the article I’m referring to – I get what she’s saying.
When a married person claims to be a single mom because their spouse is out of town, deployed, whatever – I understand the eye-rolls that could come from moms without a spouse at all.
You know, since I am one of those.
At the same time, is a divorced mom (the author of that article) who receives financial support and shares some sort of custody arrangement with the ex-husband the same as someone without those things (me)?
What “qualifies” someone as a “single” mom?
When I started writing this the night I read the other article, I was Fired. Up. Indignant, even. I mean – I don’t receive financial support from an Ex for my children, nor do I share custody or co-parenting responsibilities with the father of my children.
I used an anonymous donor to have my boys!
I am a single mom on purpose!
A single mom by choice. (Not because I *wanted* to be a single mom, mind you. But I wanted children and didn’t have a husband – so I chose to have them using an anonymous donor. If interested you can read a very brief backstory here.)
So *I* am a SINGLE. MOM. Not her. SHE is a divorced mom receiving child support and a break via custody arrangement! Does she not realize that she is devaluing those of us who actually are single mothers?! Honestly. Girl, please.
Are you still a single mom if you have any help from family or friends?
When the boys were smaller, the whole village helped with my sweet babies. And my mom, in particular, still helps us quite a bit.
For a while, mom took them every Thursday overnight so I could take a class, and then after that was over, occasionally see friends. Then for a long time, she took them every weekend for an overnight and the following day so I could have a break (usually consisting of grocery shopping, folding laundry, showering, sleeping, and maybe binging Netflix.)
Now that they’re in school and have some activities, she still helps with those. At least once a week she picks the boys up from school, brings them home, gets a snack, helps with homework, gets them dressed – and takes – them to karate. Recently she’s started grabbing them dinner on the way home, and staying through that dinnertime too.
Hm. Does my mom helping me negate my being able to call myself a single mom? Just to be clear, I’m very aware that I have more help available than many other moms. I know people who don’t have any help at all.
Maybe I’m not a single mom either.
What about all the other mom scenarios?
…unmarried moms who have never been with the father and never had their support, financial or otherwise?
… divorced moms not receiving any support or sharing any custody?
…moms with spouses deployed or a road warrior for work?
…moms in terrible marriages without any support, and/or moms whose husbands are not at all present – emotionally, financially, physically, whatever?
… All. The. Other. Many. Variations?
I guess could make a case both for and against, each of these scenarios being “qualified” to “claim” a single mom title. If I were inclined to make a case for anything.
What does the Google say?
Because I’m me (if you know me, you know this is coming)…I had to research this some. I typed “definition of a single mother” into my search engine just to see what came up.
I found several related articles and searches (I only part read one of the articles. It pissed me off so I didn’t read any others):
- Who deserves to call themselves a single mother?
- What’s your definition of “Single Mom”?
- Who qualifies as a single mom?
- What counts as a single parent?
- Are you a single mom if you have a boyfriend?
- Are you a single mom if you have shared custody?
Dictionary.com has a definition:
1 a mother who brings up a child or children alone, without a partner
So what’s the answer?
No doubt there are plenty of opinions, feelings, and perspectives on this topic.
Admittedly, my initial reaction was “what right does this divorced mom have to claim MY single mom title?” (Yup, actually just laughed out loud at this crazy – LOL!)
I wondered why it bothered ME that the author of the article I read called herself a single mother?
Where I came down on that question was that it was actually less about calling herself a single mother, in general. It was more about her position that she could claim the title when others couldn’t. So then *I* felt defensive about it and wondered where SHE got off claiming it.
These things are apples and oranges
This question brings to mind one of the most frequent complaints I hear from moms of multiples about comments we receive – and that is when well-meaning people like to equate having children close in age to having multiples.
“I had my kids 11 months apart, so it was like I had twins.”
It’s not the same thing. At all. But I’m sure it had its own challenges.
And in the case of single moms who hear, “My husband travels all the time for work, so it’s like I’m a single mom.”
Or worse (to me) is, “my husband is no help at all, so I’m basically a single mom.”
Nope. Not the same. But again, that no doubt has its own challenges.
Moms. Ladies. HUMANS. Just STOP IT!
After a few days, a few searches, and some self-examination, I have come to this.
Cut. The. Shit.
Moms. Quit claiming you struggle more than other moms. It’s not a struggle competition. Your struggles are just different than mine.
Yo, moms. Quit competing. It’s a non-existent competition that nobody can win.
Hey, while you’re at it, stop complaining about other moms because of your own insecurities. Yep. I said it. If you are someone who likes to bitch about Pinterest Moms, or how stay-at-home moms spend their days and “don’t work”, or how much work-outside-the-home moms work and “don’t parent”, or about how anyone else lives their lives – those complaints are about YOU. Not them.
Seriously. Quit being offended by other moms’ definitions of themselves. So much goes into how we come to define ourselves and what we think about ourselves.
How other moms define themselves has LITERALLY NOTHING to do with YOU.
My path is mine. Your path is yours.
Of course, I slip down these slippery slopes from time to time myself. I am human, after all.
But I always get back to the same place.
Everyone’s life experience is their own. Allow people to feel how they feel about their own life experiences without judgment and criticism.
Show others the compassion you would like shown to you. You have no idea what it is like to be another person, living in their skin, living their life, seeing their perspective, thinking their thoughts, with the outside forces they have endured since birth.
If you feel the need to define yourself with a title, define yourself with the title of:
Kind mom doing the best I can, like everyone else.