SAHM No More: Sorry, I’m A Single Working Mother And I Can’t Take It Back

single working mothersSAHM No More explores the the ups-and-downs of navigating a new world of parenting, transitioning from married stay-at-home motherhood to a full-time working, divorced motherhood. And there are a lot of adjustments being made—a lot of adjustments and not a lot of sleep.

We are a society that loves to label. Everybody uses labels as shorthand. I know that I do. I mean, here in New York, it sometimes seems like you can tell almost everything there is to know about a person based on whether or not they live in Manhattan or Brooklyn, or whether or not they are a Mets fan or a Yankees fan. And during this 2012 election cycle, it sure seems like you can tell a whole lot about a person based on whether they are a Democrat or Republican. And while it might not seem necessary that labels double as value judgments, that is usually exactly what happens.

Sometimes that can be acceptable. I mean, if someone wants to judge me because of the political party that I associate with or the sports team I worship, so be it. These are my choices, and I will accept the positive and negative things attributed to my chosen allegiances. But lately, I’ve been confronted with labels that have been applied to women in my position—namely, single working mothers—and I’ve found that the connotations are incredibly disparaging and personally hurtful, but, even worse than that, ignorant of systemic problems.

I guess that the original trigger for me was when Mitt Romney correlated the prevalence of gun violence with single motherhood. My immediate reaction was outrage, on behalf of myself and on behalf of all the single mothers out there who do the absolute best that they can and don’t need to be told that what we’re doing is not good enough—and never will be—simply because of the fact that we are doing it alone.

The reality is that I struggle daily with things that I wouldn’t have to struggle with if I had a parenting partner who lived with me. Things like racing from work to pick up one kid from his after-school program and the other kid from his music lesson would be stress-free if I had a partner to share the burden. But I don’t.

Maybe I’d be able to make it to a PTA meeting once in awhile if I didn’t get home from work right after the meetings end. Maybe I would have the time to roast my own chicken instead of just picking up a pre-cooked rotisserie bird from the grocery store. Maybe, just maybe, I could be the perfect mom if I weren’t alone and busy all the time. But I am alone. And I am working all the time. So not only is there no way that I can be the perfect mom, I am—at least according to Mitt Romney—raising my sons to become mass murderers.

Mass murderers! Funny, really, because I always thought that I was trying to raise them to be healthy, caring, intelligent young men who will contribute to our society in a meaningful way. But maybe I should throw those plans out the window because I’m a single mom? Because it’s hopeless no matter what I do? I know that the statistics—which are really just numbers that allow us to most easily label one another—are pretty dire when it comes to the drawbacks of single motherhood. But I also know that the days where the majority of American homes are filled with perfectly traditional nuclear families like the Romneys are numbered.

You can reach this post's author, Kristin Iversen, on twitter.
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    • C.J.

      I have friends that are single working mothers. I have a lot of respect for these women. Not only do they have to juggle work and kids alone, when there is something to worry about, wether it be about money, something with the child(ren) or something about themselves they have no one to share the burden with. There is no such thing as a perfect mom. Having a spouse doesn’t make someone a perfect mom because they can share the duties so they have more time. I know single mom’s who are better mom’s than some married mom’s and vice versa. I don’t think someone’s marital status should be used to determine how good a mom they are. Being a single working mom has got to be very stressful and all of these mom’s deserve respect for everything they do.

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    • AugustW

      I’m a single mom and I think I’m doing pretty good, although the “alone and always busy” party can really get you down sometimes.
      Yes, it drives me crazy that I’m searching for a second job while my daughter’s father doesn’t even have one.
      Yes, it drives me crazy that he thinks picking up 12 free diapers from the food bank once a month makes him the best father in the world.
      And yes, it drives me crazy sometimes when I lay in bed at night and realize I’ll probably be single for the next 10 years because I don’t have the time, attention, or energy for another person in my life.
      But….this is just the other side of “pro-choice” in my mind. I may not have chosen to get pregnant (used many forms of protection), but I did choose to keep her, and so I suppose I’m choosing to be a single mom.
      So I’m okay with it.
      Mostly. ;)

    • jh

      As a single mom … it is the hardest thing. Sometimes I realize time is just passing, and all I’ve done is worry, fret, and stare off into space… or doing endless chores around the house and childcare tasks. I work a lot, and go through periods where I struggle with all that’s expected at work as well… But on a day to day, we have our routines, our daily giggles, reading, songs, outdoor time, playtime, bedtime, bathtime… I am so alone but it is so worth it.