Being a single mom is hard. It is, without a doubt, the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I am so lucky to be surrounded by amazing friends and family members who want to help me, encourage me, and say the right things to let me know that I’m doing a good job. However, every once in awhile, someone says something to me that makes me want to facepalm.
In talking to some other single mom friends, I’ve found some commonalities…a couple of common phrases that need to be eliminated from the daily banter we all go through. They are said with good intentions, without a doubt, but they make us cringe more than smile!
1. “I could never be a single mom” or “I could never do what you do.”
Why say it like that? Let’s get something straight…I never intended on being a single mom. This was not in my five-year plan. But you know what? It works. If I can do it, so can you. Hey, this year, I learned to change a toilet seat and put up my own Christmas tree. So you could too. Instead of putting it like there’s some odd feat that we are trying to accomplish, maybe rephrase with a, “Wow, you’re really doing a great job.” I’m guessing that’s pretty much what you meant to say anyway to your single mom friend, so say it.
2. “Are you dating anyone?”
This is usually followed by, “You should totally put a profile up on ___” (insert annoying dating website name here). If I don’t say, “Hey, I met this great guy,” assume I haven’t and don’t ask. Or at least don’t ask in that way. Most people may not realize that it is twice as hard for a single mom to date. You have to think of yourself, your kids, set up a babysitter way in advance, figure out how to talk to your kids about a new guy, etc. Please, don’t ask. If you’re really dying to know, try a less invasive, “Hey, what’s new?” Not to mention that this loaded question brings up a little negative subconscious feeling that if you are not dating, there’s something wrong.
3. “When you get married again, will you have more kids?”
Is round two a given? Who said I’m getting married again if I don’t even want to talk about dating again?! I don’t know! Should I know? Isn’t that something I should talk about with that elusive guy you are dying for me to start dating and not just make the decision myself? Move on!
4. “Can’t you just get a sitter?”
That’s another one of my favorites. Those last-minute offers to go out followed by the notion that I can pick up the bat phone and have a responsible substitute for myself at my doorstep. I’ll let you in on a secret. Babysitters are expensive. You also need to book them in advance. Going out for drinks with you means I pay for the sitter, drinks and then still have to go home and be sober and responsible for my kids. Please, don’t stop asking single mamas to go out; we need to have fun too! Just please give us a little time. (For more of my ranting on the last-minute invite out, see my other post here.
5. “I know how you feel. My husband is out of town/away for the weekend/working late, etc.”
While it may very well be a hard transition for you to deal with your spouse out of town for a while, and you may think you can now empathize, it’s different. Yours will be back. Your situation is temporary. This is abnormal for you. For me, solitude is the norm. It’s always just me, so it’s different. I don’t ever have that partner to turn to when I want to say, “Give the kids a bath. I have a headache.” I’m not saying this for pity or empathy but to instead get the idea across that your day or four without the hubs is my everyday.
6. “Man, sometimes I wish I was single” or “I want to get rid of (divorce) mine too.” “You are so lucky you left your man when you did!”
If you are serious about wanting a divorce, then, of course, let’s talk. However, if you say any of these because you had a little tiff over taking out the garbage, then nope…uh, don’t want to hear it. Basically, you’re making light of a serious situation. Many divorces are emotional and brutal so maybe just express your frustration in your current situation in a different way?!
There are many things I love hearing when it comes to my single mom status. When people give me a little compliment or lift me up with a “You’re doing a great job,” it makes my day. At the end of it all, it boils down to the fact that all of us moms need to stick together and lift each other up. Motherhood is a tough job. We can be there for each other and commiserate and learn from each other in a way that no other group can…so let’s make sure to be the sunshine in everyone’s day!