According to the internet I'm not a "real" single mom
Haters gonna hate. And I knew that when I entered the blogging biz a little over a year ago. And on nearly every blog I write, there's a negative or accusatory comment. I take most of them in stride, laugh them off, tell my friends, and then ignore them. But there's one that gets my blood boiling every time:
You're not a real single mom.
The commenter claims this for one of a few reasons: 1. My children's father is alive and has visitation rights (which he practices when and however long he chooses). 2. Child support has been ordered by the courts (which he pays when and if he wants). 3. I have surrounded myself with loving and supporting family and friends who help me when I just can't juggle it all or physically cannot be in two places at one time.
You're not a real single mom.
I've thought about that phrase so much over the past few weeks as back-to-school season was in full force. This is the first year that my children would be attending school and riding a school bus. My daughter is in preschool, and my son is a kindergartener. This mama has been experiencing a lot of emotions! And I've been thinking about how I'm not a "real" single mom.
I thought about it when I registered my kids for school.
I thought about it when I took my son to kindergarten screening.
I thought about it when I attended two open houses with both children in tow.
I thought about it when I took my son to a six-week kindergarten readiness program that his school recommended (with my preschooler in tow).
I thought about it when I went school shopping for backpacks and clothes and shoes.
And I thought about it this morning when I placed my beautiful redheaded boy who was just a baby yesterday on a big, yellow school bus and tears rolled down my face as it drove away. I grabbed my daughter's hand because she was the only one there to comfort me. Don't ask me what I will do next Monday when she gets on the bus, too!
You see, I happily prepared my children to the best of my ability to enter the academic world, and I loved doing it. I hope they love school as much as I did (and still do)! And while I saw fathers present at all of the back-to-school events and obligatory meetings, my children's father was not among them -- just their (not a "real") single mom.
The thing is: I hate women tearing down other women. I can't stand mommy wars. I don't care if you breastfeed or bottle feed. I don't care if you use cloth diapers or Pampers. I don't care if your kids get more than one hour of screen time a day (gasp!). What I do care about: is your child loved? Is your family (however you define it) happy?
It doesn't matter to me if you call yourself a single mom, even if you and your ex have "consciously uncoupled," split custody down the middle, and take vacations together. I don't care if you call yourself a single parent even though you've remarried. I'm pretty sure my ex refers to himself as a single dad (because he's single and a dad), and that's fine by me, too.
Because I don't want to be in the business of judging. I don't want to hide behind my keyboard and spew nastiness at others. Instead, I want to cheer other parents on, empathize when necessary, and let you all know that you're not alone. Parenting is NOT an easy job -- single or otherwise. We all need some help sometimes.
And, if it is okay with you, people of the internet, I will keep my title.
A Single Mama