How to be a Single Mom When You’re Actually Married

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*author’s note:
“I would like to preface this post with a few thoughts. When these words originally went live on Orlando Mom’s Blog, I received a good amount of push back from single moms and those advocating for single moms, telling me I was giving myself a badge of honor I was not worthy of. I absolutely agree that I am NOT a true single parent. I do have a husband who provides for our family and I don’t have to work outside of the home to pay our bills. As someone so eloquently put it, I’m not a single mom, I’m a stay at home mom with a husband.

When I wrote this post, I spoke to many women in the same position I’m in and they agreed with my feelings of loneliness and overwhelming responsibility. After this was published and I received negative feedback, I went straight to some of my single mom, formerly single mom and military spouse mom friends and asked for honest and open criticisms. They lovingly told me they saw no reason to be personally offended. They know me, they know my heart, and they completely understood my point of view. These are some of my very dear friends whom I love and respect. All that being said, I would like to say, before you even start reading this post, that I in no way believe I am a true single mother who has to deal with parenting alone like so many amazing women do. I don’t actually think of myself as someone who is doing this alone. But there is a real and valid feeling of aloneness that comes with being in a marriage with someone who is gone more than they are home. The only point I am trying to convey in this blog post is that there are many many women who are left to parent, cook, clean, and teach without the physical help of a husband, who exists but is mostly away working. It is not the same burden that a single parent has, but a burden none the less. A pain is a pain, even if someone’s is greater. I know this will pass for us but for many, it is their whole life. Please read this with an open mind to the terminology and know that I come from a place of love for all mothers. I only wish to share in and relate to any pain that may come with parenting.
 
How to be a single mom when you're actually married

I never thought I’d be a single mom when I got married nearly eight years ago. We vowed to remain married for the rest of our lives. Hell or high water, we always say. And we tested that vow. We tried really hard and we messed up and we had days that we just knew we would fail. But alas, married we stay. But I’m still a single mom.

About three years ago, when we moved to Orlando together as a family of four, I became a single mom. My husband started medical school and I have barely seen him since! No that’s not true. He’s around most nights about the time we all hop into bed. And always on Sundays. But there have been many nights, weekends, even some weeks, when my husband is MIA. He is working so hard for us. I’m so grateful for the time and effort that he is making for us, for a better life for his family. I am able to stay home and be with our children. We’ve even added one to the bunch. It’s hard but it’s worth it.

So how do I do it? How do I remain married whilst still doing all the parent things alone? I’ll tell you.

  1. My husband is still the head of our home and the ultimate say-so when it comes to our kids, finances, and travel plans. I don’t exclude him from any planning or decisions. He is aware of all our events and purchases. This keeps us on the same page and up to speed when it comes to basic and general life happenings.
  2. We are a team. (I know that sounds like my first point, but it’s different!) As a team, we stand united. We have each others backs. So if I had a bad day, he’s there to listen to me vent. If the kids were unruly, he’s on my side no matter what. Even if he thinks I’m wrong, he never shoots me down in front of the kiddos – he knows I need them to know I’m the boss when he’s not there, and that won’t happen if he belittles me.
  3. It takes a village, kind of. I like to ask my friends to help out if I need them. But I don’t want to abuse that. I want my kiddos to know that mom has got this. I’m capable to being there for them, even when, and especially when dad cannot. But still, don’t be afraid to ask for help! We’re moms, not super heroes.
  4. Take the easy way out when you need to. That means having meals in the freezer for when you literally can’t even. Also using paper plates and disposable cutlery so I have just a few less dishes to clean.
  5. Don’t forget about you. Sometimes I am slightly happy when my husband calls me to say he won’t be home until 9 or 10 that night. I can get the kids to bed, shower, put on a facial mask, and watch something mindless on TV for a couple of hours. I will browse Pinterest, or fill a fake shopping cart with a new wardrobe, or send silly Snaps to unsuspecting gal pals. I enjoy having the down time when I’m not being touched or yelled at constantly.

So there you have it. You now have a little peak inside the life of a married single mother. It’s definitely not as demanding as being the actual single moms out there – I don’t have to go to work everyday, I don’t have to be the only support system in our home constantly. There are many perks to my life style, I don’t want to downplay the rigor that is actual single-parentdom. I get that. But, none the less, I struggle alone to be there for my kids most of the time and my kids have often gone days without seeing their dad. And I have gone days without seeing my husband.

Do you know any married single moms out there? Reach out and offer to help them if you do. Watch their kids while they go to the grocery store or to the post office. Ask them how long it’s been since they’ve gotten a hair cut! Reach out and offer babysitting when her husband is around – they certainly need a date night!

44 COMMENTS

  1. As a mom who has done it single, married, and married but may as well be single…I take no offense. Just remember when you get that “push back” – you’re doing it right!

    Thanks for sharing. Found you via #HappyNowLinkUp

  2. I think the term they’re looking for is “default parent”. The long winded explanation at the start of the article makes it even more awkward and inappropriate . Default parenting while married is a totally different challenge. Just call it what it is.

  3. No one ever tells you how lonely and overwhelming it is to be a SAHM. Then you start feeling guilty for everything. You’re too much. You’re not enough. You’re doing it so perfectly {in a demeaning tone}. You’re such a mess. It’s so hard and I get choked up reading the post over and over again. Thank you for validating my feelings and affirming that many feel this way.

  4. Thank you for this article. I feel the same way … Like a single Mom. I am lonelier now then when I was single. My husband is gone more then he’s home and when he is home is on the computer. Thank you for sharing, I always felt like I was the only one who feels like a single mom while married. Prayers for the years to fly by for you until your hubby is done with medical school.

  5. Samantha,

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I’m sorry you are experiencing a lot of kickback for your wording. Although in a different line of work, my husband has been gone nearly 90% over the last three years, usually for weeks at a time. It’s exhausting, lonely, and very few people can relate.

    As moms, we each have our unique story and it can be difficult to step into each other’s shoes. But to be known and understood is so important – especially in this situation – and it’s in telling of these stories that brings our heart struggles into the light.

    I will also be the first to admit that I am NOT a single mom. I am married. I don’t work outside the home. The financial responsibility does not fall on my shoulders alone. But I am a solo mom. We have no family nearby, and I am all my boys have, 24/7, for weeks on end. I have to find the strength to care for the children and take care of the house all hours of the day and night. It’s exhausting. It’s lonely. It’s isolating.

    A friend suggested a while back that I call myself a solo mom, that it is more true to my situation. Maybe, if you choose to share your story again (which I sincerely hope you do!), a simple word change could help other people look past your title in order to fully engage in your story. Because your struggle is real and valid. And whether people can directly relate to you in this way or not, many women can.

    Thank you again for sharing your heart. It was a good reminder for me that even though I feel lonely and isolated, I am not alone. Because we, and so many more, share this story as our own.

  6. This is so typical of women. Catty, nit-picky and attacking. Ladies please! At 53 years of age, I’ve seen my share of this nonsense. Shame on you women who can’t just read a blog, take from it what is relevant to your life, if anything, and be gracious enough to leave it at that. Women have enough trouble as it is, without being bashed/criticized/attacked by other women. Oh and don’t dare call that corrective criticism. There is no such thing! Grow up and realize that the time you spent responding, because you took offense, could have been better spent elsewhere; i.e. praying for your prideful, self-centeredness over being offended. It is not necessary to react, respond or voice ones opinion on everything you disagree with or even agree with. If you actually know who you are; a wretched sinner, unworthy of your next breath without Jesus, you wouldn’t dare! Jesus, the perfect, spotless lamb, never defended his position for the sake of his own offense. What makes you think you should? If your offense is for the sake of the holy name of God, which none of this is, then by all means speak up, but if not, go do some laundry, cook dinner, read your bible or volunteer your services to the needy.

  7. As a former “Single Mom”, current “Single mom who’s actually married”, woman, mother and daughter, I am very distressed by the comments seen here. Whether her man has completely left her on her own, or has left her on her own to go “support the family”, the fact is, that quite often it is the women of this culture who are left to deal with everyday family life. And that is a burden! A burden we should be supporting each other to bear, not bashing each other! It is our responsibility to change the destiny of motherhood- put the anger aside and teach your sons how to be responsible for their choices. Teach your daughters how to be respected by being respectful.
    I will honestly say, that there are days that I long to be a single parent again. My life was what I wanted it to be and I was answerable to myself and my child. Now I have to coordinate everything, make sure my schedule works with his, etc. I’m not saying, being a single mom is easier, but I think we forget there are two sides to every coin!
    Samantha, thank you for sharing. It’s nice to know that someone else can relate to my struggles at least a little bit. Keep sharing and encouraging!

  8. I agree but would only add one thing. There are some married Dads out here who are in the same position of raising kids essentially alone. I know it’s not acknowledged, spoken or written about much but we do exist. Perhaps it’s why I understand and agree with what is being said in the post because I can relate to it in various ways. Not a criticism or hopefully the comment of agreement by a male won’t be dismissed. I just wanted to raise my ha d for the married-single dads out there. Good Post 👍🏾

  9. So. What do you do when your husbands job is demanding and doesn’t do vacations. His job allows vacations, he doesn’t put effort or presence into them. My kids are already 8 and 13, I feel hopeless and honestly depressed about it. What would you do? How do I communicate to my husband without sounding ungrateful about his work?

  10. I am a solo mom with two children (2,4 years) and one on the way and I never see my husband either. It is a big struggle and I always feel like I come up short of being a better wife or a better mom. I live away from family too and don’t have that family support as I would have liked for my children my husbands family is here but his parents are up there in their 70’s and I don’t want to burden them and all his family is already grown up and doing their own thing whether it be school, work, etc. so I try not to depend on anyone but myself, I am grateful that I read this because I have had these feelings for a long time and felt like not a lot of people can understand. My husband is a peace officer and so he is always gone trying help our family financially make ends meet and trying to get any over time he can to provide, as I am grateful for his hard work, I miss him and sometimes just wish he could have a chance of being a father and husband. Thank you for bringing this to attention for those solo moms and dads out there

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