Girl, please.You are NOT a single mom: when married women think they’re single parents.

“Oh, I just can’t do it! My hubby’s away on a boys’ fishing trip this weekend and I’m a single mom. It’s just too much work.”
When I hear a married woman say this, it makes me want to kick her in the baby maker.
You see, I am a single mom. I am divorced. My kids are with me 70% of the time and I have neither hired help nor family nearby. I am a single mom. You, my dear, are not. Being a single mom is twice the work, twice the stress & twice the tears. And there’s just one of me.
True story: a friend once sent around an email to several moms asking for help with childcare on a weekend when her husband was away. It started “Help a poor single mom this weekend? I’m committed to a 30 day yoga challenge and can’t miss a day, so can anyone take care of my kids for 2 hours this Saturday?” Needless to say, this did not go over well with the actual single moms on her distribution list.

When your husband goes to Vegas with the boys and you are on deck for the weekend, you are NOT a single mom. He will arrive home Sunday evening, hungover as hell, contrite and willing to do your bidding for weeks to come. Ninety percent of the time, he is there to help you with picking up the kids from school, meal preparation, taking out the garbage, unplugging the toilet, coaching soccer, burying dead pets, changing lightbulbs, reading bedtime stories, paying bills, letting you sleep in when you are hungover as hell because book club turned into wine club, bringing you breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day, holding you close after a long day.

I’m not looking for your pity, but please realize that when you “jokingly” refer to yourself as a single mom, you belittle those of us who are truly on our own every day. No one is going to walk through the door at the end of the work day, pour us a glass of wine, help with the dinner/bathing/bedtime. We have the cat to snuggle with after the kids have *finally* gone to bed. And there is no one there to hold us when the day has knocked us on our ass.
I have a great ex-husband who is devoted to our children. He supports us and never shirks his commitment to our children. If I need him in an emergency, he is 20 minutes away. But the day-to-day parenting duties and night time bullshit that exasperates all mothers from time to time? All me. And being a Single Dad is equally difficult. My ex recently took the kids on a vacation to Mexico and ended up suffering from Montezuma’s Revenge. Luckily they were travelling with other families that could lend a hand with the kids, but that’s not always the case.
I should say that the only time a married woman may claim single mom status is when she is a military wife. My best friend is married to a man in the military and has endured more than her share of parenting hardships while her husband was away for 3-6 month tours. I tip my single mom hat to her and all Military Wives.
But for the rest of you faux single moms? Suck it up. He’ll be home soon.

About Pamela

I’m a Vancouver-based divorced mother of two awesome boys embarking on a respectful, amicable and often humorous co-parenting adventure with their father. By day, I'm a publicist for good causes + companies at

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15 Responses to Girl, please.You are NOT a single mom: when married women think they’re single parents.

  1. Dionne April 8, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

    Go Pam! Single mothers everywhere (or those of us who have been) salute you.

  2. Liz April 8, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    THANK YOU!!Not only a single Mom but my child is also autistic. Been doing it on my own for 12 years now. The longest we’ve been apart is a long weekend. I love my kids to death but I do need a vacation. Thanks for pointing out the difference when you really DON”T have ANYONE to help you out.

    • Pamela April 11, 2013 at 4:26 am #

      Yes, Liz! You SO deserve a vacation! Thanks for reading & commenting. Thinking of you & white, sandy beaches!

  3. Honoree Corder April 8, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    Right on! Married moms with busy working husbands are not the same as single moms. Period. It’s tough to be a mom, but single moms are super heroes of a special kind.

  4. Ceilidh April 8, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

    Question… As a mom who is occasionally on my own for a week or two at a time, is it equally is obnoxious to whine about it while tipping a hat to single moms for how they do this every day. I do that all the time and now I am thinking maybe I am coming across as a belittling ass. Same goes for SAHM’s.

    • Pamela April 8, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

      Hahaha Ceildh! You’re NOT a belittling ass! I wasn’t trying to make you or any mom feel bad, but this is a major pet peeve that I needed to get off my chest.

  5. Suzanne May 14, 2013 at 1:55 am #

    I was married to a man that works in film for 6 years and people joked all the time that I was a single mom. Well, when we separated the truth was I had been!! The amount of time I spent alone taking care of my child didn’t change and he spends the weekend with his dad and at least now I actually do get a break on those weekends! Probably why so many of those marriages break up.

    • Pamela May 15, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

      Thanks for the comment Suzanne! My ex used to travel quite often when we were married but single parenting is so much different from solo parenting. Glad to hear you’re at least getting a break now!

  6. C.K. Bradley June 25, 2013 at 2:27 am #

    Just wrote this as I can’t explain to my well meaning friends what it truly means to be a single parent. Thank you for saying it so well.

  7. Michele June 26, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    I agree that your situation isn’t the best BUT 30% of the time you get a break and most likely know it’s coming. I assume you are receiving child support and when making decisions about your child(ren), you most likely talk with your ex. I raised my 18 year old daughter 100% alone. No child support EVER! No breaks, not even an occasional weekend. I had to reassure my daughter that her dad loved her and console her in her many moments of sadness over the years. I made EVERY decision concerning, her, her well being, schooling, medical issues etc ALONE. I paid for every thing throughout the years and sometimes she had to go without because I couldn’t do it alone. Unfortunately her died last July of a drug overdose. This last year (17 years – 18 years) has been most difficult helping her deal with his loss and not ever being there when he was alive, counseling, prom, an 18th birhday, graduation and college decisions and I am proud to say I did it alone. Your child(ren) still have an active parent that takes them on occasion and supports them financially and emotionally.

    • Pamela June 29, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

      Thank you for reading & taking the time to write. You sound like an amazing mother & your daughter is so fortunate to have such a committed loving parent. I am grateful every day that my ex is a loving, active and supportive father to our two boys and hope that we will continue to have a mutually respectful relationship as they grow into young men. All the best to you & your daughter.

  8. jeanie August 24, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    The other side of the coin, also, is there is no-one to share the joy, the “guess what she/he did today”, the shared memories of your children growing.

    I was a solo mum – no breaks, no child support – and it really is all grist for the competition. There are no badges of honour in any field of the motherhood sports.

    Some bits that are made easier by having a spouse or someone there are definitely missing – but there are blessings too. With my older daughter, I never had to consult or compromise the way that I do with my younger now that I have married. I knew exactly who was influencing and what I could do to control that influence.

  9. Becklist August 24, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    You had me at “take out the trash.” Seriously, Can someone come over and just do that one little thing??? It would make my year!!!

    Thanks for this post – it cracked me up and fired me up!

  10. Chrissy August 24, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    Yeah, I have married friends that “joke” or call themselves single moms when their husbands are at work. I’m not mad at any of them, but it does tug at my heart a little. I’ve never said it out loud before, but I always think that they may take for granted how important it is to have a partner who is just as invested in your child as you are. Sometimes, I just want to share my child’s milestones (and tantrums) with another vested parent. A hug at the end of the day or someone who actually cares how my day went, would be really great. Those things are a bigger deal than some married understand. Also, I think knowing that you are not truly alone – even when your husband is away is huge. As an actual single mom, I don’t have that security. No matter how many friends I have, at the end of the day when it comes to being a parent, I’m in this by myself. I wish they would think about that before they jokingly called themselves single moms. I know that they don’t do it out of callousness, they just haven’t thought of it from a real single mom perspective. Thanks for writing this! At least I know I’m not alone with this opinion. lol! :)

    • Pamela September 10, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

      Thanks for the great perspective, Chrissy! All the best to you as well xo

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