Maybe I’ve been lurking around the Facebook groups for too long but there’s a trend among military spouses (and many others) that bothers me to no end. Using the term “single mom” to describe me and other military spouses who hold down the fort while their service member is away.
I realize most people don’t mean to offend but to me, a woman who was raised by an actual single mother, it physically hurts when someone calls me a single mom. Because I know what being a single mom really means.
I vividly remember how hard it was for my mom to raise me on her own. To be my end all and be all for 17 years. A single mom who took odd jobs to make ends meet. A single mom who swallowed her pride to put food on the table and heat for our house. A single mom who did her best to make my childhood a happy one despite other people’s opinions of us.
In comparison, my nine months to a year of solo-mothering pales. Yes, my husband is away and I’m the main parent at the moment. And yes, sometimes the days are hard and all I want to do is curl up in bed and wait the days away. But while our struggles might be similar, my experience is far, far easier than that of a true single parent.
Military spouses don’t have the monopoly on the hard knocks of like, you guys.
The reality is other people move across the country without a spouse to take care of the details. Other people are going through a pregnancy or caring for a newborn without a partner to help. Other people have pipes that freeze or dishwashers that break and are left to mop floors and pick up the pieces all by their lonesome. We are not the only people who “Murphy” visits. But we might be the most vocal group to complain when he does.
And no, I’m not saying it’s fun to take care of everything by yourself while your husband is halfway across the globe. I’m not even saying you shouldn’t throw a pity party every once in a while. But we have an end in sight, friends. Single parenting will not be my forever but it is the stark reality for many many others.
The women (and men) who are truly single parents deserve so so much praise. Through my own time as a solo parent (the term I like to use for what we military spouses do), I’ve learned things about myself I never knew. I’ve realized how strong I am as an individual. It’s made me incredibly grateful for my husband and for all the little things he does that make life easier and that are so easy to take for granted.
Solo parenting has made me a stronger person but it’s not my forever. And I don’t want it to be. So, please, don’t call me a single mom because that means my husband is never coming home and that’s a possibility I never want to be reminded of.