When things are tough on the single-mom front, this is what I tell myself:
I may sometimes be an overwhelmed single mom, but at least I’m not a married overwhelmed single mom. Because anecdotally, most married moms I know often feel like they’re often without a spouse. I know this because a) I was a married mom for a minute, b) I look around and see all these married, stay-at-home moms getting through the days by the skin on their teeth while their husbands build their careers, and they look as though they’re about to lose their minds (many have, frankly), and c) when you’re a single mom, women (and men) complain to you about their spouses. A LOT. And they tell me they feel like they’re single parents.
Oh, and there are some facts to back this up.
While about half of mothers will spend at least a year as sole custodian of a child (according to University of North Carolina researchers), kids are being raised by one parent in many other circumstances, even if the mother and father are technically married. These include:
- The 2 million military kids who have had at least one parent deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty.
- The 1.7million children who have at least one parent in jail, according to the nonprofit Justice Strategies.
- All those husbands with jobs requiring long hours and travel, resulting in them hardly seeing their kids.
And then there are the all those millions of kids I mentioned in an earlier post who are being raised in households where parents are addicted, depressed, abusive or chronically ill. Of course, lots of these situations can and do overlap – kids whose parents are addicted, depressed and in the can, those who are divorced and in the military, etc. The point is, statistics about moms raising children without a husband to whom they are legally married are misleading – there are far, far more women who identify – even if secretly, you know who you are! – as married single moms.
- 70 percent of working moms and 68 percent of stay-at-home moms resent their partner because of the unbalanced load of household and parenting responsibilities.
- 84 percent of stay-at-home moms don’t get a break from parenting after their partner walks in the door at night, and, 50 percent of stay-at-home moms say they never—NEVER!– receive a time-out from parenting.
- Not surprisingly, 24 percent of working mothers and 28 percent of stay-at-home moms say they sometimes they feel like a “married single mom.”
And in a lot of ways, they are: Married moms take on the majority of childcare and housekeeping regardless of whether they work outside of the home. Which is just like a real single mom. Except for the money part, of course. Because in most cases, the economic research on raising children alone will inspire you to stick your head in the toilet after your toddler poops on that little shelf in there that makes it impossible to flush. But much, much more on that later.
Because, really, nothing has to be that bad.