Almost daily, mothers come up to me and say, “I just don’t know how you do it. I don’t know what I would do if I were a single mother.”
I never know what to say. I usually make some sort of comment about how “good my daughter is,” or how “yes, it is a daily struggle but it is so worth it.” But on the inside, I am usually thinking, “I don’t know any different!”
I am what I call “an old-fashioned single mother,” and I have spent most of my life single. Unlike single mothers who are divorced or widowed, I have never known what it is like to have that other person to help me raise my child and run the household. To me, this is a blessing. Isn’t it harder to have something and have it taken away than to not have it at all?
It’s true that most days I am constantly thinking about everything I need to get done, but in the end, I just figure it out. I have a flexible work schedule and wonderful daycare, and these things are very important. My parents, my sister, and my brother-in-law are my constant support. I am very grateful to have a family and loves me for who I am and for all my choices. I can’t imagine what Peanut and I would do with out them.
My other answer to the constant question, “How do you do it?” is: you adjust. Just like all changes in life, you adjust to what you need to do to meet the needs of your child.
Yes, this does mean that my needs get pushed back. Tonight I ate a frozen waffle with peanut butter and a handful of tortilla chips for dinner. 🙂 But while by stomach was growling, I was rocking my sweet two-year-old to sleep, and I know those days are numbered. Soon she will be a sassy six-year-old and then an awkward preteen.
So what can you do to relate to your single parent friends?
- Don’t assume we are super heroes.
- Offer to come take us (mother and child/ren) out, not just to watch our children so we can go out.
- Offer to go shopping with us. The grocery store can be a struggle!
- When we seem stressed, ask what you can do to help, and it may have nothing to do with our children!
- Don’t judge how we became single parents, but instead talk to us about it.
- Finally, don’t assume that it’s horrible to be a single parent. It can actually be rewarding and wonderful! It is for me.
T. Hammel is a 39-year-old single mother by choice. Her daughter was born in September of 2010. You can read her blog here for a full bio. She hosts an online community for single parenting stories called Parenting One by One on Facebook. Follow her at @parenting1by1 on Twitter.