Single Parenting

by adustyframe ~ May 30th, 2013

Photo credit: hotblack from
I mentioned this in the past, but I wanted to say this again and maybe express it a little more clearly.

While Lee was “gone”, I’d often hear people say, “Oh I’m single parenting this weekend.” Or, “I’m just like a single parent because my husband works late.” Or whatever…..

I wanted to say “No you’re not just like a single mom.” but I felt at the time perhaps it wouldn’t come across right.

People really do think they’re like a single mom if their husband works til 10 pm. (or whatever situation they think makes them a single mom.)

The problem here is that they are NOT and personally, I feel that sentiment downplays the real in the trenches bone numbing exhaustion and pressure of truly being a single mother. In their mind it’s so hard but they get through it and survive just fine so what’s the big deal? “Lots of people are like single moms”.

They overlook a few things.

1. Their husband DOES come home.

2. They get a paycheck while their husband is working late.

3. If there was an emergency, Dad would find a way to get home as soon as possible.

4. Dad contributes to the family.

5. All parenting decisions don’t have to be made by this “single mom”.

The other day, I was talking with a friend of the family and she mentioned the tendency for women to claim they’re single moms because their husbands worked a lot of hours. She said, “In our day, that was called providing for your family and being a man.” She said her dad worked long hard hours and her mother never complained or claimed to be a single mom.

Here’s the deal–I feel I’m qualified to say this now–I was in essence a single mom for many years. I have stated and do realize that my husband contributed to decisions if he could, but the brunt of parenting, income earning, and maintaining our home and family was on me.

Now, he travels for work–A LOT. Sometimes he’s gone up to 3 1/2 weeks per month. Having a husband who works late or travels a lot for work is absolutely NOTHING like being a single mother.

I’ve been on both sides and ladies believe me–your husband working late or working a lot bears little resemblance to being a single mother. You can choose to not believe me but that doesn’t change the facts.

Is it easy? No it’s not easy and maybe that’s what people could say, “It’s not easy having a husband who works late or travels a lot.” It’s not easy.

I still have to juggle a lot. Projects around the house take a loooooong time to get done. We always have to adjust when he comes home and sometimes we fight while we adjust!

I’m still the only one getting the boy to activities. I’m still the one doing most of the work around the house. I’m still the one sleeping alone most nights.

But it is just nothing nothing nothing like being a single mother.

I spoke with a single mother awhile ago and she said how married moms with hard working husbands saying they’re a single mom too is the most frustrating thing she encounters. I told her that I know it’s not the same and told her how I know. She just said, “Thank you for saying that.”


If your husband travels a lot or works late, instead of saying you’re  a single mother (you are most definitely NOT) maybe you could thank God he has a job that provides for you.

Thank God that he does come home.

Thank God that you get a paycheck due to his absence.

Ask God to help you see the positives.

**Yes, I know military moms are much like single moms during deployment. I think they still get dad’s income while he’s gone if I’m correct.

**I do NOT mean to downplay anyone’s life or situation–just perhaps showing you there are other ways to express it and just maybe one way would be to consider your blessings in the siutation.

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7 Thoughts Shared to Single Parenting

  1. Tina

    I will humbly submit that even your time with your husband incarcerated was not = to being a single mother for a number of reasons. 1) you did not have a breaking of your marriage covenant and the betrayal etc that comes with it 2) you had the hope/likelihood that the 2 of you would be together one day etc.

    I realize you had your own painful (very painful issues), I just wanted to caution that we not compare our pain in such a way that either minimizes someone else’s pain nor our own. Ultimately God gives the grace for what our individual lives include.

    Again, I have seen God’s grace in your life as you walked your excruciating path. I know God will give the specific grace that is needed whether others are “real” single parents or not. And would just encourage us all to look to Him, rather than comparing. I hope that makes sense.

    All God’s best.

    I mentioned that in my post~ that my husband was involved as much as he could and I’ve said on other posts that I wasn’t even “truly” a single mother. So, if I wasn’t truly a single mother even though for more than 6 years I was literally the ONLY parent in the home–ever–moms with husbands who work a lot certainly aren’t and that was the point of my post. Now that I’m on the other side and my husband works a lot I can honestly say it is nothing like when I was alone. I think what I meant to convey and perhaps did poorly is that if your husband comes home regularly and his check supports your family, you’re not a single mom even if he works a lot and perhaps encouraging people to think of a different way to describe themselves because it belittles how hard single parents truly have to work to hold it all together. And I am so thankful that we had the hope that we’d be reunited. I have friends who have lost their husband at a young age while they have little ones at home and I cannot even imagine the pain they deal with as well as the fact that it will never be over. We’re blessed (and know we’re blessed!) that we had a hope Daddy was coming home.

  2. Lisa

    I want to scream when I hear married women with husbands working and at home say “I might as well be a single parent.” I once exploded at one–sorry, but I did. They live in a McMansion that his hefty paycheck provides, she drives a new all-bells and whistles vehicle, kids do every sport etc. I asked her how much she earns? And how would she compel an Ex-husband to pay support (many, many just don’t pay) and where would she find a job? How would she pay for after school and before school care for her 2 youngest (I told her the price). She shut up. It was unbelievably rude of me, but I just couldn’t deal with it any more. You aren’t a single parent until you really ARE one.

    So, I’m guessing you understood my point? 😉

  3. Tina

    I just wanted to clarify and say that I do not at all feel you conveyed your point poorly which was “if your husband comes home regularly and his check supports your family, you’re not a single mom even if he works a lot and perhaps encouraging people to think of a different way to describe themselves because it belittles how hard single parents truly have to work to hold it all together” I whole-heartedly agree and thank you for your compassion for these amazing women!

    I appreciate your blog and the heart with which you reach out!

  4. Ame

    this is tough, really tough. being a real single mom for four years after divorce with a special needs child nearly killed me.

    i would agree there is a difference between being married to a man who is gone a lot, and being the only parent in the home. however, i think there is a place for us to accept a “Married-Single-Mom” and a “Military-Single-Mom.”

    i think that the breadth and width of the married-single-mom encompasses an emotional distance as well as a physical distance – an uninterested husband who is either emotionally unavailable or emotionally abusive, or both. my first husband traveled a lot internationally when my babies were little. it wasn’t that he was physically gone (although that was difficult) as much as it was that it didn’t matter if he were there or not – all of the burden fell on me … and if he didn’t like how i did things, i ‘paid’ for it; big time. yes, i was getting his paycheck, but there was a negative price for that.

    i really do totally get your point. and it’s just not the same. but i really do think these women often need a place of understanding, too. so many of them, and i have known many, who have husbands who work tons and make lots of money, also have husbands who are found sneaking out of bed after the wife is asleep to look at porn for hours in the middle of the night.

    there are just so very many dynamics, and it’s all so very sad to me.

    the one area i struggle a lot with is not being bitter toward the affection and attention and help that widowed single moms receive. a divorced single mom is treated much differently – looked down upon in many ways, but a widowed single mom is elevated, helped, brought meals, offered childcare, offered yard and automotive care and help, etc. watching and experiencing this has hurt me deeply, and i’ve had to pray about it a lot – still do.

    i also struggle with people not understanding how exhaustingly difficult it is to parent a special needs kid compared to a neuro-typical kid. i have one of each, and the difference is night and day. a sped kid changes every single dynamic and limits the whole family in many challenging ways. and due to the nature of my daughter’s special needs, i cannot leave her with many people, so i’m it. the mental exhaustion is also difficult to express. parents with multiple ‘normal’ children think it’s the same, but it’s not anything close.

    i think life is just so very hard, and often if a person is saying things that directly or indirectly elude to something difficult, whatever that difficulty is they are experiencing has grown so huge that it’s now spilling out of their private life into their public life, and they’re crying out for help.

    absolutely there are some drama queens out there who complain over everything anyway, but i would guess they are the minority. when i was married to my first husband, we had a good amount of money, lived in a very nice home, and had flexible income … but i was a lonely wife married to a cruel, abusive, addict. it wasn’t worth it.

    i think we all want to scream, “But you don’t understand ME! MY situation is *different*! You just do NOT get it!!!” and you know what … that’s true. we need compassion, encouragement, acceptance, and a lot of help.

    I’m definitely NOT saying that many women don’t carry huge burdens or have huge difficulties. I feel for a lot of women who are in horrible marriages and I know they carry heavy burdens. I get you on the widowed single moms or military moms with tons of support–it’s so awesome that they are supported OF COURSE! But speaking from my own experience, there’s no honor in being the wife of an incarcerated man. Most people didn’t want to get near us with a 10 foot pole.

  5. Ame

    i quickly learned there was no honor in being a divorced, single mom. there WAS honor in being separated from him, in staying with him, despite his multiple indiscretions. there was lots of sympathy. but once the divorce was filed, i was suddenly outcast. it was, shocking. even by those who knew everything he did.

  6. may

    Thank you so much for this. I am a single mom and hear this all the time. It’s good to know I am not alone in feeling that maybe they don’t know what being a single mom is really like. I too have been in a unhealthy marriage to an addict and felt very lonely, lonelier than I feel now. I’ve learned there is a difference between feeling lonely and feeling alone. When I was married I felt lonely. Now I feel alone because I bare the burden of parenting, finances, and big decisions alone. And I often think it would be nice to know there was someone there to go through it with me and rooting for me at the end of an especially hard day.

    And I just want to say God bless those women whose husbands are in the military and the amazing mother of the special needs child. Everyone carries their own burden, for sure.

  7. Katherine

    I remember feeling like a single mom again while my husband worked away from home. It was a combination of having all of the responsibilities of both parents, tight finances–tighter than when I was a single mom, and loneliness. It brought up the old feelings of desperation, and I was very unhappy. Towards the end, I was having thoughts of ending the marriage–if I felt like a single mom again, what was the point? It was a time of upheaval, but the solution came to me through prayer that I had to do something drastic before giving up, so I did–and got my family back into one house. My feelings of being a single mother were quite valid–it was the only way I felt, unlike any

    When I hear anyone commenting about feeling like a single mother–and I heard plenty from married women while I was teaching as a single mom–I have compassion for what they are trying to say–they feel desperate, lonely, stressed out. The statement is equivalent to a cry for help–let’s all give them the benefit of a doubt that it’s authentic!

    I do not doubt that a lot of women have really really difficult situations and this post wasn’t meant to make light of that. I do not think that all married women have a rosey path :). As a wife of a man who is gone literally 3/4ths of the time, I know how it’s no fun to hold down the fort alone all the time.

    But “feeling” like a single mom–especially for those who’ve never ever had to carry that load is not the same as “Being” a single mom. Do they need help? I’m sure they do :).

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