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. I’m amazed at the lack of graciousness from other moms in the comments. I mean, I shouldn’t be, but I am.

    Can’t we acknowledge that parenting is hard for everyone and try and support each other through those challenges? Yes, it’s harder for some than others. But that doesn’t make it okay to belittle another mom’s struggles or hardships because yours are clearly worse than hers.

    And guess what ladies–no one is gong to give you a badge, single mom or married mom. It’s a selfless job that rarely gets appreciation from anyone. Which is why we should support other women (and men) who have even a glimpse of how difficult raising a family can be.

  2. Hi BB,

    We’ll stated. I read the comments above and also the ones on the blog’s facebook page. I don’t see any negative remarks regarding the writing expressing her frustrating or giving tips to other moms who share her frustrations.

    It appears that some moms including myself are offended with the writer calling herself a single mom. I am all for supporting moms, women etc.

    I do see however how the mislabeling can and did create an uproar and how the subsequent responses from the writer did too.

    I see it as a matter of respect on both sides and I love the comparison to calling oneself a vet without having served in the military.

    I’ve been married, divorced, SAHM, working mom and raised a husband! Lol. They are each unique positions and honestly I couldn’t understand the position or truly relate to being a single working mom before I was one.

    Sorry Tiffany (presumed friend of Samantha) but raising a husband with the joys and support that comes from it is a disproportionate comparison. But we don’t need to go there. And yes the joys of raising children are beyond compare and I gladly do what I do.

    It looks like the readers simple wanted some acknowledgement that the title was inappropriate and a SAHM calling herself a single mom is disrespectful to single moms.

  3. Oh BB,

    Like Tia I give myself a badge, you a badge and Samantha a badge for doing what we do as mom’s, partners etc.

    But they have different names 🙂

  4. I’m glad she feels content; however, nowadays women should not be so depedant of husbands financially. If relationships fails they find themselves helpless because they sacrificed their careers for the families. It is also not fair for the kids to have an absent parent. I understand is a choice, but risky in the long run. Best wishes to her and her kids!

  5. I was a single mom for many years before I got married this past august. My husband works 60-70 hour work weeks and I stay home with my two boys and am about to have boy #3 any day now. It’s worse for me now than it was then. I can say with 100% certainty I’d rather be a single mom again than be home alone all the time with all these kids and see my husband for (maybe) an hour every night. As a single mom, I was regarded as a super woman who worked and balanced child rearing. As a stay at home Mom with a husband whom I never see I’m told to just suck it up and be happy that I don’t have to leave my house for a 9-5 every day, even though I’m doing nearly every thing I did as a single mom minus supplying all the money for bills. Both worlds are amazingly lonely and hard and I wish everyone would stop trying to quantify your pain in doing everything alone in the day to day because on a technicality you aren’t actually alone alone.

  6. You are not a single mom. You are a married mom whose husband is gone a lot. Neither one is great but there’s a big difference.

  7. I am so sorry you are getting negative feedback. This is not constructive.

    Your title actually stated that you acknowledge that you are “NOT” actually a single mom.

    I get you. I call myself a “corporate widow”, but my dad died when I was 7. I KNOW that I am not a true widow.

    I get you. Don’t listen to haters. Focus on what is good, lovely, pure, noble…you know. 😊

  8. I’m a single mom, and I get where you are coming from… when I was married I felt lonlier than I do as a single person.

    I think it is the expectations.

    I expected that we would spend a lot of time together. I expected life to allow for that.

    When it didn’t I felt worse than being single, because as a single person I had some expectations that were still on the horizon.

    I get what you mean, but it is starkly different financially and timewise there is no one paying for anything.

    You will get push back on this issue, since doctor or medical school sounds like a bright and beautiful future… I don’t know what my future holds yet.

    Also, a lot of women will experience being alone at some point, like if their spouse passes away before them, learning to live alone is not a bad skill to have… married or not…

    Thanks for the article. Worth the read.

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