Ugh just moved. I hate the dentist but I would take one of those appointments every day for a week for some else to do my move, especially as a single mom. #FML.
I started this blog with every intention on “owning” my single motherhood. I found it difficult (and still find it difficult) to label myself as a single mother because of all the social stigmas that say single mothers are women with the following attributes (some of which are based on credible and non-credible statistics, studies or outdated, but long-held beliefs):
- Divorced (because they couldn’t keep a man), single mother-by-choice (because they couldn’t find a man during their fertile years) or unmarried/never married (because they were poor decision makers or couldn’t get the father to marry them).
- Dependent on child support with other forms of government assistance.
- Dependent on welfare and/or other forms of government assistance.
- Lower socioeconomic status.
- Uneducated, with the highest education level as some high school, a high school diploma, GED or some college credit.
- At risk for chronic illnesses and diseases later in life.
- Poor judge of character and poor decision makers.
- Sufferers of mental illnesses, drug addictions or relationship addictions.
- Chronically exhausted and prone to drama and instability.
- Viewed as less desirable to date.
- Other character flaws that have led to their current circumstances.
- Contributors of the breakdown in traditional family values.
If you Google “single mother” and click on the news element, some of the headlines look like:
- Single Mothers at Risk for Poorer Health Later in Life
- After East Village Fire, Internet Helps Single Mom Of 3 Who Lost Everything
- 7 Invaluable Love Lessons From Single Moms
- Single Mother Who Worked For Brink’s Says She Was Fired for Participating in ‘Fight for 15′ Protests
- Terminally Ill Single Mother From Santa Clarita Sues for Right to Die in California
- Single Motherhood, in Decline Over All, Rises for Women 35 and Older
I noticed a few trends:
1.) The distinction of “single mom” headlines versus the “mom” without marital status in the headlines were meant to elicit sympathy, empathy, pity, a call to action or a similar emotion.
2.) Personal stories/anecdotes of single mother’s in the news had a overcoming adversity, positive, strength-building or character-building tone.
3.) Personal stories/anecdotes of single mothers who opted to parent by choice were older, highly educated and of higher socioeconomic class and the tone was more neutral or positive than articles of single mothers by circumstance.
4.) Studies on single mothers had a subtle, negative tone that seem to reinforce social stigma. Authors make assumptions in the first article: “Single motherhood is associated with poverty in most societies, but more so in the USA than in Europe,” the authors explain. “This may lead to different mechanisms of selection into lone motherhood between countries. Particularly in Southern European countries, strong social and family networks may offset some negative effects of single motherhood.”
So here’s my conflict: Should we be talking about “motherhood” or “parenting” rather than “single motherhood”? There are obvious differences from a married mother and a single mother, but when it comes to the basic foundations of child rearing and parenting, why do we need to assign marital status?
Playing the devil’s advocate: Is it still relevant to use the term “single mother” so that we can connect with other like-minded individuals with similar experiences?
I’m not suggesting that one term is better than the others, but rather hoping other bloggers have some insights to the question:
“Single Mom” Vocabulary: Harmful, Helpful Or Just Fact?
I heard this phrase “outcome independence” in reference to men and dating. This is one of the few times I won’t attribute the writer because at his core, he is a misogynist and I don’t make a habit of driving traffic to chauvinistic websites. To his credit, he is one of the milder offenders.
As a single mother, I think he has a stunningly good idea. His use of “outcome independence” reflects his ideals supporting open-relationships, which I disagree, however the term refers to a particular mindset. If single women, particularly single mothers, devote their time, energy and resources to one person without any type of ACTION-oriented commitment, chances are this arrangement will go badly for the time-strapped single mom. To be “outcome independent” is to carry a mindset of “whatever be will be” to any perceived commitment- it provides accountability towards ACTION rather than WORDS.
So what does that exactly mean? Living your life with a focused mission of happiness and getting rid of baggage that is a time waster or is inefficient. Some scenarios will illustrate:
- Single mom of two, Betty, has been talking online to a few guys. One she happens to like asks for her number. She obliges and he proceeds to text her plans for a date. They both agree to a location for Friday night. Betty has a birthday party to attend, but assures her prospective date that they can meet for drinks after. He agrees, promising to text her the time. Friday morning rolls around and her Prince #1 hasn’t texted her. Should she text him a reminder? Start conversation by asking about his day? Maybe he forgot because he isn’t a great scheduler?
Nope. To be outcome independent, Betty should go ahead with her original plans as if she never made date plans in the first place. She is letting the natural ebb and flow of dating take place. If he never follows up, chances are he had no intention of meeting her and is now an official TIME SUCK of her precious energy. She only commits energy to action, not promises.
- Recently divorced and working mom, Candace, met a man while grocery shopping. They exchange numbers and he promised to call. After three days, Prince #2 does call after work. They have one of the most engaging and interesting conversations she has ever had with the opposite sex. She feels that her faith in men is on its way to restoration! For the next week, Prince #2 calls to talk every day and they make plans to meet for coffee one weekend when her ex-husband has the kids. The fateful day arrives and as Candace is getting ready, she gets a phone call from Prince #2. His tire is flat and has to reschedule. Bummer! They make plans for lunch that following week. As the week drags on, they continue to talk like before, however Candace notices Prince #2 is exceedingly busy and can’t meet for lunch as promised, but asks for her to get a babysitter instead for a date night. Should Candace take initiative and get the babysitter? Her neighbor loves babysitting her kids and often does so in a pinch!
Absolutely NOT. As engaging as Prince #2 seems, he fails to realize or acknowledge that Candace is a very busy individual too. She is practically jumping hoops to see him. His first cancellation may have been genuine, however his failures to meet for lunch are telling. Prince #2 likes the “girlfriend experience” of talking to Candace in an intimate way, but when rubber meets the road, he isn’t committing energy to getting to know her as his glib pronouncements may indicate. To maintain “outcome independence,” Candace shrugs, stops participating in their two hour chat sessions and gets on a dating service post-haste!
- Single mom of three, Katie, is not that interested in dating. She is tired most of the time and her ex isn’t the most dependable person. After over a year of celibacy, Katie is finally persuaded by her friends to meet a single father for a blind date. She meets him and they have an initial spark. He mentions on the end of the date that he would like to see her the following weekend. She agrees and calls her mom to babysit the kids overnight. Her mom obliges because she can’t remember the last time her daughter went out on a date! Prince #3 meets her at a comedy club and they have a great time! She spends the night at his house. Before she leaves to go home, he begs to see her again when the kids are at her ex’s house. She agrees. The week goes by. She’s sure he’ll call. He doesn’t. At the end of the weekend, Prince #3 finally calls and acts like nothing is amiss. Should Katie demand what happened? After all, she cleared her schedule for the weekend!
At this point, you’re probably saying NO! If Katie was truly outcome independent, she would have called her girlfriends and planned a night out. If and when Prince #3 called, he would have to work himself into her busy schedule. Katie would have remained free to enjoy her weekend to the fullest and if Prince #3 was lucky, he’d have the opportunity to see her.
I write this post is after reading other sad stories of single mothers and dating- they are stood up, pushed to the back-burner, or jump through hoops to get a date. This should NOT be happening. Once you let go of dating expectations, that’s when a man worthy of dating will come around and respect your independence, autonomy, time, energy and limited resources.
Stay independent ladies!
Daycare drama again. Andrew had a slight fever and my sitter called for me to get off work and pick him up. Ahhhh the plights of the single working momma.
I couldn’t possibly leave my meeting that exact second, so I emailed my ex’s mother. My ex picked up Andrew within the hour.
For the first time in over a year, I am so GRATEFUL for his help.
Thank you, seriously.
And I still can’t stand looking at your face :-).
P.S. Andrew’s “fever” temperature was completely normal when he got home.
#daycare, #rip-off, #insearchofnewdaycare
For all interested in the issue of child support, I recommend reading this article the New York Times showcased “Forgiving $38,750 in Child Support, for My Kids’ Sake.”
There are many things that I agree and disagree with Ms. Aller’s article.
Things I Agree With:
- “We have too often reduced nonresidential fathers to being weighed and judged by a financial transaction. If you don’t pay, you’re a “dead beat.” End of one story, beginning of a new one, one that can mean suspended drivers’ licenses and professional licenses, seized bank deposits and tax refunds, and the very real risk of jail time.” I agree that financial support is one facet of the value of fathers, however the law does not deal in subjectivity and intangibles. This is a weakness of the legal system and social services.
- “Studies prove that school-age children of involved fathers have better academic success, higher grade point averages and go on to have higher levels of economic and educational achievement. We focus on money, when “child support” also means emotional support, academic support and the supportive power of a male influence in a child’s life. Negating that value is dangerous to our children. Regardless of what I think of him, my children love their father and doing my part to keep that feeling alive is priceless to me.” Again, I agree with this premise. Children do far better when they feel love and spend time with both parents. Plenty of visitation time between fathers and their children should be the norm, not the exception. Parents who engage in parental alienation by trying to circumvent visitation should be punished harshly.
- “In the seven years since my divorce, my ex-husband (or “wasband” as I like to call him) has always given our children his time, whether he had money or not. He currently makes payments to me directly when he is able.” I think that’s great, however this woman should have established a parenting plan with a low, base amount with direct payment to the mother and allowed the judge to sign it, rather than getting Child Support Enforcement (CSE) involved. CSE only gets involved when you submit a case. In many states, this is a viable option.
Things I Disagree With:
- “I’m financially stable now. I’m lucky to be able to forgive the arrears, but it is money I would likely never see anyway. Hanging onto that debt is like hanging onto other things that went wrong for us, and it gets in the way of what’s best for our children. It will have been three hours and $38,750 well spent.” This is the crux of my disagreement in Ms. Aller’s argument: that this woman is “lucky to be able to forgive arrears, but it is money I would likely never see anyway.” This money DOES NOT BELONG TO THE HER. By definition, child support is for the children, where the custodial parent acts as a responsible party to help pay for things that are in the best interest of the child. The woman who writes this article fails to realize that her spouse bilked almost $40,000 from his child, not his ex wife. That’s a pretty nice chunk of change that could go to a college education.
All other arguments were mostly concrete until I read that the judge actually agreed to forgiving her child’s much needed support. The decision is for her to make as the responsible party, however I don’t think she acted in the best interest of her child, even though her intentions sound honorable. She misunderstood the entire premise of child support- better named “the child’s support.”
I don’t believe criminalizing men who are unable to pay versus unwilling to pay is the answer, however the law deals with compliance and fairness, not emotions, for a reason. Asking the judge if they could create a parenting plan that includes setting a low amount for a college trust fund would have been a better, more responsible answer to this divisive issue.
At the end of the day, child support is the CHILD’S SUPPORT and not the parent’s support. When we acknowledge and educate individuals on the difference, I hope our legal and social services will create more supportive services to custodial and noncustodial parents to favor parenting plans over Child Support Enforcement and legal battles, provided an amicable divorce/child custody arrangement.
I previously wrote about this topic here: Recalibrating The Term “Child Custody Battle”:Lessons And Tips I’ve Learned
This is a serious question everybody.
Sometimes I feel as though I’m in the minority. After having Andrew, I’m pretty convinced I want to stick with one. My mom keeps reminding me, “When you find someone you want to marry, then you’ll change your mind.”
But will I?
I really value my freedom and put A LOT of importance on making my one life count to the fullest. I don’t get a second chance at life- I get one and I better make it the most productive/fun/happy life I can possibly create.
The cost of one child is astronomical. My biggest nightmare is to get married, have children, only to be divorced down the road and playing single mom to several more kids with no more energy to pursue my dreams.
So here’s another poll, since I’m really interested in the crowd’s opinion:
I was fifteen minutes late. The Uber driver was creeping on back roads at 10 miles per hour. The Hipster was waiting outside of the bar in his parking space. I had waited all week to wear my cute new mid-drift shirt with a long, body-hugging skirt and laced-up black pumps.
He saw me and walked across the highway wearing a dress jacket, T-shirt, thick black framed glasses and a scarf with yesterday’s gruff. He was the perfect display of San- Fran hippie and I loved his style.
He greeted me pleasantly with a hug and a quick “Nice to meet you.”
“Have you been waiting long?” I asked. I hate keeping people waiting.
“Only since 4:00 p.m.,” he joked. “I like to get a head start.”
We found a place at the bar and immediately I was struck by how gorgeous he was. His pictures definitely didn’t do him justice.
“So did I catfish you?” I asked. Our text messages that week were about his catfish experiences and since it’s hard to find me online, he was worried about a repeat.
“No,” he said. “You are absolutely stunning.”
I liked him instantly.
I was besotted by his intensely passionate energy. He was a smooth talker for sure, but not in a creepy, player kind of way. His eyes were authentic. His hand movements and gestures were excited.
We drank at the bar until I spied an open table and he pounced on it. To be honest, I wanted to have some space between us so he wouldn’t keep touching my leg- too intimate and sexual for a first meeting.
I always like to swap stories about online dating horrors- they’re always good ice breakers. He regaled me in his recent catfish story about a date with a women who was ten years older than her profile stated and with an ass the size of a “table.”
The Hipster kept asking me “what’s my story?” meaning he wanted the details of my ex-fiancee and so called “baby daddy.” I wasn’t too keen on getting into the particulars- it sounds crazy when I tell it aloud and it’s not really first date material. He backed off but told me he was divorced two years, co-parents well with his ex and is a very hands-on dad. He owns a catering company that allows him to work the hours he wants and spend ample time with his kid. I found it very refreshing. He’s also somewhat of a relator maverick, working his way to getting his real estate license and dabbling in selling property.
However, there were some potential red flags:
- He lives with a female roommate in a six bedroom home who once tried to date him (He swore he never slept with her, however I’m not so sure…)
- He seems to have few boundaries with his ex (they’re best friends…could she be the jealous type? We’ll see).
- He is a bit materialistic. He kept talking about his passion to manifest wealth and interest in personal style and having nice things. I’m not really of that mindset. I think modesty and balance is best.
- He’s somewhat of a cross between conservative and libertarian. I’m a moderate liberal, so we will probably disagree about most things political.
- He was exceptionally forthcoming about his manic-depressive traits. My ex is borderline, possibly anti-social and it was hell, so I date The Hipster with hesitation.
The night ended with him driving me home. I wouldn’t let him come up because I knew we might sleep together and that’s really not in my best interest right now. I’m not looking to hit-it-and-quit-it at this juncture in my life. But we did sit in his car for an hour just kissing, which was a nice departure for me because I’m not much of a make-out chick. He was an EXCELLENT kisser.
We have plans for lunch later this week since I have no free time for the ten days. Updates to come…
Dan meets me at a hip, modern Italian restaurant at the end of the bar. I later find out he’s strategically placed because he’s partially deaf in one ear.
He looks exactly like his picture: tall, thin, handsome and WASP-y. I arrive seven minutes late because my Uber driver was slow and fiddling with his GPS.
We make pleasant conversation, but nothing requiring rapt attention. I’m not sure there’s chemistry. He’s 36 but drinks like a someone ten years younger- his glass is always full. I have three glasses of wine and try to come up with interesting conversation topics. Inevitably, we talk about online dating and swap horror stories. It’s about two hours into the date and Dan suggests we check out a fashion show in the local mall. I’m game.
The fashion show is amateur hour, but I help Dan pick out ties from a local designer. To his credit, the ties are pretty crisp and artistic. I poo-poo the all the pink ties. I hate pink. We decide on a few purple and red ties. I’m pretty sure Dan over pays. The “models” are dawning Lady Gaga-like pink hair and bright pink lipstick. They are stoic in cotton candy patterns- they look gaunt and miserable. The male models are wearing suits cut a little too high in the leg.
The last designer sends his models in all black leather, midriffs exposed, with sheer skirts. It screams the latest trends from Elle magazine but with all the trappings of cheap material.
We leave the fashion show- I’m not interested in buying clothes for outrageous prices that might rip in the ass. We head to a tapas bar and I order some delicious margaritas. In my drunken stupor, I talk about the pink elephant in the room, something we haven’t touched: that I’m a single mom.
He is surprised, but it’s clearly in my profile. Had he not seen it?
I end the date because I feel queasy. I’m not used to the alcohol. Dan invites me to his place (down the street) for a nightcap. I can’t stomach another. I want to go home, so I say no. I call an Uber and struggle into bed. I think he was generally interested until he learned I was a parent. I haven’t heard from him since. I didn’t feel the chemistry, so it’s all a wash.
And another one bites the dust…