It is normal for women to compare themselves to others. Single mums and married mums may appear to be very different and in many ways we are. But, we all have that crazy 4pm time-slot where our children turn into werewolves. And, we all worry about which high school our two-year-old will go to.
Despite our similarities, often as single mums we have to endure maddening single mum comments and feel like we are being judged by our married sisters. To even the playing field, here is a list of 10 things single mums want married mums to know.
1. I’m not going to steal your husband
I’m really not. If you think I lay awake at night plotting an elaborate scheme to woo your man, think again. I’m not saying he isn’t a catch, but just because I’m single doesn’t mean I am a man-eater and looking to make him my new baby daddy. And, if I’m laying awake at night it is probably because I am trying to work out how to pay my bills, or trying to remember if I washed my son’s soccer gear. In all honesty, I just love my kids being invited to play with yours, and a coffee with Mum company is fun for me too.
2. There’s nothing wrong with me
Please don’t judge me. And please don’t attach me to popular misconception about single mums. The reason I am a single mum doesn’t really matter, and there is actually nothing wrong with me! Life is a funny thing and can be unpredictable. If I happen to be single it doesn’t define who I am. We are all individuals and our worth shouldn’t be defined by our marital status. Please take the time to get to know me as a whole person, not just as a “single” person.
3. I’m not a party animal .. or an alcoholic
But sometimes, I need some adult company and a night out with friends is a chance to let my hair down and have some “me” time. Being a single mum means my babysitting passes are limited and when an occasion arises I’m going to put on my high heels and party like it’s 1999 .. and probably still fall asleep before midnight.
4. I have to be a Mum, and a Dad and the buck ends with me
I have to find unique ways to discipline my children, I can’t scare them by simply saying “wait until your father gets home”. It’s more of a begging, pleading kind of scenario, which starts with the good cop and ends with the bad cop. If you see me yelling at my children in the supermarket, please don’t raise your eyebrow as if I have lost all sense of embarrassment and control of my offspring. As a side-note, I recently sat down on the floor in Toys R Us and loudly stated “I’m bored, I’m bored.” This was in response to my children doing the exact same thing to me minutes before at Jeans West. They weren’t impressed. With no “I’m telling your father” to fall back on, we do what works!
5. How many single mums does it take to change a lightbulb?
Just one. When your husband works late or is out with his mates, you may feel alone and even declare “I feel like a single mum”. While I don’t doubt your absolute dedication and how much you actually do (because ALL mums do a LOT) it isn’t quite the same thing. Because, when your husband owes you for that night out you can demand he change the light globe. A single mum has no such luxury. Instead, she is precariously balancing on the table so her children don’t have to eat by candlelight.
6. I value your friendship
You have no idea how much. We do get lonely. Friends mean everything to a single mum, we don’t have a husband to confide in so we need our friends. Having children means we have similar interests, we want to talk about toilet training and how little sleep we got last night. We want to talk about makeup and the latest cat video and go for walks with our pushchairs. It is so easy to feel isolated with life on repeat like the lead character in Ground Hog Day. Some girly gossip gives us much needed adult conversation and we adore you for it.
Things single mums want married mums to know (cont.)
7. I’m not a superhero, but I’ll get it done
It’s called improvisation. We only have limited favours to call upon, such as the summoning of one’s brother to move a television or a grandmother who offers the occasional babysitting service. I made a conscious decision to not buy any ridiculously heavy furniture and most of the time I can awkwardly drag things around myself as needed. A hex key can be your best friend or your worst enemy, and until you have made a bed out of a flat pack you don’t know what you’re capable of. So when you’re helping your husband assemble furniture with his electric drill – spare a thought for the single mum whose hands are blistered from the dreaded hex key.
8. My values are the same as yours
I want the same for my children, and just like you I am willing to make sacrifices to make their life great. It may feel like a circus act but while I’m organising a costume for book week, making a homemade cake (it’s not always pretty) for my child’s birthday and listening to them read .. I realise you are probably doing the same things. We are all good parents. We share the same values, the unconditional love for our children and the hope they grow up to be kind, responsible and happy humans.
9. I don’t mind being single
Unless I ask, please don’t try set me up with Harry from your brother’s, friend’s, uncle’s workplace. Just because I’m single doesn’t mean I am desperate, and when I’m ready to date .. I will! Right now I am content having the TV remote to myself and dancing to Queen in my PJs without judgemental eyes upon me. Being a single mum doesn’t necessarily mean I am unhappy, just as being married doesn’t necessarily mean you are happy. When the time comes and I want to meet this Harry, I will let you know.
10. Life is a juggling act for all of us and we really aren’t that different
Mums come in all shapes, sizes and relationship statuses, but one thing is for sure – raising children is one of the hardest (yet fulfilling) roles we have to play in life. It is a juggle for all of us, and you and I .. really aren’t that different!
As a single mum, I just want you - dear married mum - to know that I can be a great friend, if not the best. I want to belong like I should in the sacred and beautiful circle of mums. In a world that is still judgmental towards single mums, I hope that you are someone I can count on as an ally. Great mum friends and better-quality sleep (and deeper pockets!) are what I need.
It's high time we stop this narrative of single and married mums being divided by this wall of distrust and stigma. We are all mums who need support and reassurance in this challenging but joyous world of motherhood. I hope for empathy and understanding when you see us struggling with things that you find ordinary. To stay sane, I will go out and have fun every once in a while, reconnect with the world, hopefully without being judged. If you could join me, that would be fantastic.
Being a single mum does not mean I am the town temptress; it means my hands are always full and I often feel swallowed and isolated by my responsibilities. Your friendship and compassion can feel like a cool balm to the feverish pace of my life. Some days do feel lonely, but know that I am a grown woman who knows when's the right time for me to find the right man.
I am a mum who is trying her best to raise her kids with the same values as every other good mum. Just like you, I hope to get some much-needed rest every night, recharge myself by enjoying my favourite things (like watching true crime docus in bed), and connect with a mum tribe who root for me in my journey as a parent and as a woman. And I hope you could be one of them.