Normally, being a single mother doesn’t phase me. I’m so used to it, it’s my normal. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy just because I’m used to it. This past week has been hard. Ill kids, ill mommy, technological failures… the list goes on. You name it, we’ve experienced it this week.
Admittedly, I’m ill and exhausted but I don’t think even that excuses my attitude this week. I have to confess, I’ve been a little less than tolerant when I’ve been asked yet another crazy question about my life as a single mom. Probably for the thirteenth time in a row until I can’t take it anymore. Hence why I compiled a guide for the things not to say to a single mom, unless you want her to scream.
“How do you do it?”
If I had a pound for every time I’ve been asked this over the past two years, I’d be ‘doing it’ with a nanny, personal chef and cleaner in tow. I get asked this a lot. Truthfully, I don’t know how I do it. I’m sorry to say that there is no big secret or a master plan. I just know that I have to do it. There is literally no other option. My kids need to be housed, clothed and fed. It’s that simple. Either I do it or it doesn’t get done. Failing my kids is not an option.
“Do you feel guilty for working?”
No. Not at all. I’m not going to lie, I used to. And if I’m brutally honest, I occasionally get the odd twinge of guilt when I miss my kids’ things. But that usually stops when my rational self reminds me that it’s either attend every sports day or have dinner on the table every night. Contrary to what my children’s father believes, I don’t work full-time for a life of luxuries, I work full-time for gas, electricity, food and the occasionally self-bought luxury. So if you’re trying to make me feel guilty, whilst my kids have food in their bellies, a warm home and clothes on their back, it isn’t going to happen. I work for them.
“Do you want more kids?”
My youngest is crazy. What is it with second kids by the way? So the answer is always ‘absolutely no chance’ or ‘never in a million years’. As much as I love my kids, I am counting down to the days of no childcare costs and not being accompanied to the toilet. Can. Not. Wait.
“Can we meet up tomorrow night for dinner at 7:30pm?”
Er no… I’m a single parent. If you want to meet up with me during an evening and have an adult conversation, military precision is required. I’m talking about 3/4 weeks notice to organise a reliable babysitter (otherwise known as Grandad) and ideally make it not a school night, assuming you want me to be awake after 8p.m.
Please note: the same approach applies to spa weekends, hen dos and adult only birthday parties. Unless it’s on the midweek 14-hour overnight slot that my children go their father’s but even then you’ll find me cleaning or editing blog posts.
“I feel like a single mom when my husband is on a stag weekend…”
This comment sends me absolutely insane! Lots of mothers, even happily married ones tend to do the bulk of the childcare. Don’t quote me on this, it isn’t a scientifically proven experiment. Instead, it’s anecdotal evidence gathered during mother and baby groups and chats at soft play centres. But the fact remains that married, single or everything in between, mothers tend to do the most day-to-day stuff.
The thing is, being a single parent is about more than just being solely responsible for the childcare. It’s about being solely responsible for everything. Every bill, every sleepless night, every single thing that your children need. As well as often dealing with custody battles, absent fathers and the joys of the Child Maintenance Service.
So yes, you may be having a weekend of having to do everything whilst your partner is living it up on a beach, beer in hand. But unless he has taken all of his financial contributions to Costa Del Sol with him or you have weeks where you worry about making ends meet, please don’t compare your life with mine. Especially as you know that at the end of the weekend your live-in support system will be back to allow you to have an uninterrupted toilet trip. I’m suspecting mine will come in 2032.
“I bet it’s great to get a weekend to yourself every weekend!”
Firstly, I want my kids with me every weekend almost as much as their father avoids seeing them on a weekend or any day that ends in a y, I like spending time with them. But seriously, as I work full-time, the weekend is the only time that I get to spend quality time with my babies. I enjoy our routine of action packed Saturdays and lazy Sundays. They work for us.
The down side is occasionally, I’d like an evening out or weekend day to myself (makeup shopping is a million times harder with a toddler) and this is when I have to rely on my aunt or my dad for help. I don’t like to ask them too often as to be honest, they’ve had their kids, they should be relaxing and enjoying their weekends! That’s definitely what I’m planning for my 50s truth be told.
“Do you miss being married?”
Only when I have to put the rubbish out or a spider appears in my flat. And my dad is out and The Boy is busy. Otherwise, no. Not at all.
“Is it hard being a single mom?”
Imagine doing your job everyday for a week without a break. Even during the night, without pay. That is parenting for you. But imagine now doing your job without all of your colleagues. This is single parenting. Is it hard? Incredibly so. Is it rewarding? Yes. When I see how amazing my girls are and knowing that I take all the credit. It’s worth giving up precious hours of sleep.
“Do they both have the same dad?”
Like it or not, there is still an air of judgement about single mothers. It gets to me, because obviously we all made these babies by ourselves… Most people seem to assume that single mothers intentionally get pregnant by a string of unsuitable men in order to get benefits. Not true. I get asked a lot if my two have the same dad. To be fair, they do look different so that might be a factor. My reply remains the same… ‘do you think I’d be stupid enough to make the same mistake twice?’
“Is that Mom? It’s your daughter’s school…”
To be fair, this phrases strikes fear into the heart of any parent. But on the rare occasion that I get this call, I panic because there is only me. Which means I have a logistical nightmare trying to arrange childcare and/or time off work. It’s stressful.
This week, my youngest broke her leg at school and I have to say I cried more than she did. I cried because I was worried about her but also because I was panicked. She is currently unable to walk and as she’s too little for crutches, I am having to carry her everywhere. And honestly, right now, I don’t know what the plan for her is now that she can’t go to nursery. It’s tough.
The nurse in the hospital made me cry when she explained that she couldn’t do my daughter’s much needed x-ray until I could get my eldest supervised. Couldn’t I call someone? My mum? Her dad? I tearfully explained that my mum had passed away and despite the calls and texts, her dad had refused to come. It was my day after all, I had to deal with it.
Luckily, a lovely receptionist came to my rescue but that didn’t mean that my heart wasn’t racing at the fact that I had just had to leave my daughter with a stranger. She’s 5. All sorts went through my mind.
But sat at home by myself after putting the girls to bed after their extra long visit to A&E, I realised I will cope because I always have and always will. Being a single mom isn’t easy but it isn’t impossible. My girls are happy. My girls know who is there for them and know what’s important. So, I don’t make it to the majority of school events, I’m not the only parent that misses things. My girls know that I’m absent because I’m working hard for them and their opinion of my mothering skills is all that matters. No one else’s.
Which annoying questions do you get asked?