There is a conversation I had with a woman a few years ago that I’ll never forget. She is a friend of my friend, and we were all together having wine and chatting one evening. “It’s hard being a single mom,” she said. She went on to complain about how her husband travels for work all the time, never helping with her son or chores around the house, and how she “hates it.” At the time, I was shocked and immediately thought this woman was a complete asshole. Not only was she “happily married” to someone, she had what looked like a nice life and a healthy, happy son. I couldn’t believe she would complain about her life (or her husband) to a group of people she didn’t know, and to top it off- in front of people who she knew were trying to get pregnant and some who were actively dating to find a partner in life. She had both, yet she was ungrateful.
Fast forward to now, and I think about that woman all of the time. I think about her because I get it now. I judged her without knowing her life or her struggles, and after having Lily, I found myself having the same selfish thoughts. I felt like a single mom as well. With my husband working long hours without a set schedule, and my own full time job shaping our lives, not only do we rarely see each other, but he rarely is able to spend time with his daughter. And forget consistent contribution to the household upkeep. During the last year and a half I have probably thought 100 + times how hard it is to be a “single mom.”
Now that I have some experience under my belt, I of course see how unfair it is to coin that term as my own when true single parents are out there doing it with even less support. I can’t imagine where I would be without help from my parents, friends, and relatives. I am lucky.
What I’ve come to realize is that no, I am not a single parent. I am both a full time working mom AND a full time stay-at-home mom. I am both, at the same time. So, every joy and blessing PLUS every hardship that comes along with those roles, I embody them all. I get the exhaustion from trying to be a devoted and hard-working employee PLUS the exhaustion from trying to run an entire household and make sure my daughter has fun, balanced, and fulfilling days at home with me. I have to make sure I’m getting in enough hours to provide my family with health insurance PLUS I have to make sure the bills are paid, the jammies are washed, the food is prepared, and the house is cleaned. I am all the hats, all of the time.
Some will read this and think I’m an asshole- the same kind of asshole I assumed the “single mom” woman to be. It’s fine. I know it sounds like I’m showboating or complaining (and I am complaining,) or something- and that’s also fine. This post is for me, as a reminder of what I am and what I am not. I am not a victim. I am not a martyr. I am not the wife of the year. I have not made sure I’m getting enough sleep or exercise. I am devoted to my child. I am committed to providing her with the best life possible. I am giving everything I can and the hours I am able to at my place of employment. Sometimes I can give 39.25 hours of my week. Sometimes I can only give 37 and then I get yelled at. I am doing the best I can. I am a full-time working mom. I am a stay-at-home mom. I am far from perfect, but I am pretty fucking incredible.