Parenting

55 Personal Photos That Capture Both The Challenges And The Joy Of Single Motherhood

01/27/2015 06:18pm ET | Updated February 24, 2015

According to a recent Pew Research Center report, 34 percent of kids today live with an unmarried parent, up from 9 percent in 1960. Single parenting, whether by choice or not, is increasingly common, but it doesn't come without its challenges.

Single mom Tara Nash told us about some of the obstacles, and how she overcomes them. "Overcompensating by coaching sports you have never played, going on every field trip, taking them to endless activities, saving up for a year so they can have a birthday party and attempting to make it all look natural to them. Understanding that you don't have the choice to give up regardless of the daunting void you feel, or the immeasurable odds seemingly against you."

At the same time, single parenting brings unparalleled joy. "It means the privilege of being the one who always gets to hold her hand," says mom Bethany Gibson. "All her love belongs to me," adds Christina Mattheis.

We asked the HuffPost Parents Facebook community to share images that represent single parenting, and to tell us what the experience means to them. Most of the responses we received were from moms. Read their responses below, and then tell all of the single dads you know to send their photos to parents@huffingtonpost.com.

These captions have been edited and condensed.

1
Traci Roberti
Being a single parent means never being in the picture ... because usually you're the one taking it.
2
Jess Derksen
Single mom means getting stuff done with your kid, even if it's nap time!
3
Katherine Rueda
Single parenting is juggling school, work and young children with as much grace as one person can.
4
Erin Moore
It's defying the odds and graduating college in order to be a good example for your child.
5
Kaitlyn Marchand
Most days you feel like you don't do a good enough job, then there are the days you get notes like this and you realize you are doing something right.
6
Carrie Carpenter Van Sickle
Being a single mother of three means walking a tightrope between sanity and madness, so when the kids ask if they can have a pillow fight in the middle of nowhere, it sounds like a fantastic idea!
7
Christina Mattheis
All her love belongs to me. I am the lucky one! Being a single mom has only made me stronger.
8
Lacy Rice
It means the occasional family bed. (Notice I have 3 inches of space and a toddler leg across my face.)
9
Jennifer A Leighnor
At the end of the day, when you're exhausted and just feel like crying, it's moments like this that get you by. The love of your children.
10
Chelsea Beebe
To me, single parenthood looks like family filling in where there would have been an empty space.
11
Rachel Everheart Hull
This is what single parenting looks like to me: Copious amounts of espresso, extra caramel and green straw therapy are paramount. But at the end of the day ... they rock my world. :)
12
Melanie Whelchel
Being the single most important person in each other's lives. I fight for him and he fights for life. This is my son Jessen Whelchel, diagnosed with Stage IV High Risk Neuroblastoma in March of 2013. He went through over a year of treatments (6 rounds of chemo, 5 surgeries, stem cell transplant, radiation, and antibody treatments).
13
Lesha
Single parents take advantage of smiles in the park.
14
Karen Ross
Reality right here. After working 60+ hour weeks. While she is at her dad's, I chose to sit and watch TV and let this mess be. That's my single parent picture. I have a cute little perfect one too, of my daughter and I cuddling and laughing, but this is more my reality.
15
Andrea Scullin
This picture, the fear on my face and the joy on his face, sums up our life perfectly.
16
Cherose Walker
This is what single parenthood means to me.
17
Tara Nash
An unconditional love that words can't express. An unwavering drive to improve your circumstances. The realization that looking outwardly is necessary, and doing good for others is paramount to changing the world they will be living in. Embracing your strong points, and accepting your weaknesses as a parent.
18
Maggie Fifer
19
Maria Rivera
It means making each moment count with love. Never taking yourself too seriously and finding ways to be silly with your child.
20
Mandy Kowalski
21
Kerri Napolitano Burns
Making sure your kiddos are successful.
22
Melissa Drake
I've done my job, now it's time for him to go out in the world. This is the day he moved from my house in Iowa to his dad's house in Florida to go to college.
23
Brittni Tritchler
The love of my life.
24
Dawn Marie
Tea for two.
25
Bethany Gibson
It means the privilege of being the one who always gets to hold her hand.
26
Jessica Filbey
Family yoga: Partnering with three people instead of the normal two. Love my little family. We are a team.
27
Cinders Drury
Doing everything yourself!!
28
Shallan Daly
One income. Lotsa sharing.
29
Jasmine Woodson
How we usually end up after work/school.
30
Jennifer Davis
It means that I fought extra hard to beat cancer five times to be here to watch my son grow up.
31
Ana Beatriz Bersano
Single parenting. Even in deep depression you pretend to be fabulously happy.
32
Amanda Elizabeth
Being a single parent means spending Christmas morning with these three adorable boys and then having to "share" them (for the first time) that same day with their father. Bittersweet.
33
Jody Morgan
This. My ex-husband of 13 years and I coming together to be a part of our daughter's life. We are single parents, but we love our daughter.
34
Tara T. Carroll
I have to tape paper to the floor and let her color just so I can clean the apartment. It works, but then I have to clean the marker off of her!
35
Jennifer Terhune
It means life isn't always a beach but sometimes you need to play in the sand. Taking time out of that 70-hour work week and fill in those holes with sand, castles, and fun. Praying you are doing enough, if you have enough, if your time with them is enough. Just taking them every chance you get and go on an adventure you don't have to spend money, the most precious gift you could ever give your child is time. So go play in the sand!
36
Ashley Staples
Impromptu photoshoots and working day in and day out to make sure your mini-me keeps that carefree smile at all times.
37
Jessica Marie Danishefsky
Being a single parent to me means I have to share my child and go without seeing him for a day or two. It's hard. I hate it but I know it's what's right. He loves his dad and I love that he has his dad in his life. When I get him back though it's all hugs, kisses, "Mommy you're the best and can you rub my back to sleep?" He is my world and I don't feel complete unless he's home.
38
Hilda Martinez Kirchmaier
Creating new traditions and adjusting the old ones!
39
Wendy Constantine
Even when he destroys the kitchen with a brand new box of Cheerios right after it was spotless, these are the moments I thoroughly enjoy as a single parent because as mad as I was, it still made me giggle with a joyful smile!
40
Paula Munoz Guzman
I'm a widow with three boys. Being a single parent is extremely difficult for me but it's also extremely rewarding watching my boys turn into amazing men. It's isn't easy but it's so worth it.
41
Kristy McClure Gifford
They look up to me (or down if you're talking about my nearly 6-foot-tall son)! They trust me and they know momma is always going to be there! And there is no where else I'd rather be.
42
Holly Harmon
It means letting your child do your makeup and learning how to rock it even if it might be a mess.
43
Tanya Morgan
It looks like this. Those little moments when he steals your heart away... Just when you thought he was getting too old to be a momma's boy. He reaches his little bitty 10-year-old hand over and holds yours. For a moment, the world stands still and you know everything will be OK. You're not alone.
44
Charee Waugh
It means making funny faces just because it makes him smile.
45
Ashly Mickelson
Single mom means sacrificing your happiness for their joy. Spending most of your free time doing what they want to do. Shamelessly living with your parents so you can work three jobs to build your career with the added bonus of three times the love and support under one roof!
46
Julia Spencer
Being a single parent is always having your own personal partner in crime double the love, snuggles, and kisses! This one little person counts on you as much as you count on them!
47
Abigail Worden
Single parenting looks exhausting, financially and emotionally draining, and hard. Single parenting means having to force myself to extend my arms out when I hold my baby, because I read in a magazine once that this is what fathers do. It looks like I'm trying to fit inside of a role I wasn't designed to fill. It always looks like the odds are stacked against me. But the little face I get to put to bed every night negates the lie that says it is impossible. Being a single parent means that I came out a winner because I chose to see the value of what stared right up at me the first time we laid eyes on each other.
48
Jaimee Hillman
It's hard to enjoy every moment of them growing, while you're running around trying to balance your life for the sake of theirs. But you always find a way.
49
Hope Gonzalez
It means this is how my 6-year-old draws our family. We don't live together but everyone is extra involved.
50
Kayla Morgan
No space is yours!
51
Alicia Aragon
Sometimes I just let them suck their thumbs after all day of trying to get them to stop! Mommy needs a little peace! My 4-year-old always tells me I'm the best mommy ever!
52
Angie Swepston
Sometimes it's picking your sleeping child up off the living room floor after she fell asleep doing homework, while mommy tries to get massive tangles out of twin sister's hair.
53
Kelley Westerman Edwards
This wonderful piece of art sums up being a single mom to two pre-teens. Love my girls!
54
Megan Spiller
Squeezing together on the couch, to cuddle, watch TV, talk or take a selfie. With three under 4 I have no idea how it gets done but we're a team. Every moment, even the difficult ones, are priceless to me.
55
Amy Bradshaw
Single parenthood...is stealing moments to share crazy games...like MAKE UP IN THE DARK.....and NOT caring who sees the pic cause it's a precious time!
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