I have to rant. I may as well do it here because there is a 2 1/2% chance that someone who this applies to will see it, stop for a moment and smack themselves in the forehead and say, out loud to no one in particular, “I am a stupid fucker.”
When you ask me specific questions about how I’m doing being a single mom with zero support, please take some time to actually hear my answer. My answer will NOT be an invite for you to say things like, “Oh, I know that feeling” or compare your life to mine in ways that it doesn’t even begin to compare. I realize that’s vague. So, I will take a minute to give you examples about how your life may not compare.
I am a single mom. I have an 8-year-old son with ADHD and maybe some other as-of-yet undetermined issues. I work 40 hours a week, spend 10 hours a week total commute time. I go to school full-time. I have Multiple Sclerosis. I don’t complain about it very often, because it’s the life I’ve chosen to lead. However, it is fucking hard. If, in the off-chance, you are a single mom of a young child who cannot stay home alone, you can relate to this. Who cannot relate to this? Any single mom who has a child old enough to stay home alone; any mom who is still married with the husband living at home – regardless of how worthless he is. You know what the difference is? When it’s 10:00 at night and you realize that you’re out of tampons and have just started your period, and your child is asleep because he’s got to get up at 6am to get ready for school, you can’t send someone else to the store to get them for you or go yourself. You can go yourself if you are married and your spouse is home, because there is an adult (even if they are irresponsible) in your house who is there, just in case there’s a fire or someone tries to break in. Instead, you’re wadding up toilet paper, wearing two pairs of granny panties, a pair of shorts, and some sweatpants to bed and hopping you can suck up enough of the period slop to keep your sheets clean overnight. Sure, you might be the only person taking your kid(s) to the doctor or helping them with their homework, but you also have someone else who is there, just in case. Now yes, I realize that if you’re married to an irresponsible douchebag that you may not feel comfortable going. Trust me, I get this. I was married to an irresponsible douchebag, however, I knew that if push came to shove, I could leave my child with him and it would be ok in the end.
If you ask how I’m doing financially while not receiving child support, and I inform you that we’ve had to cut back on just about everything and that sometimes I worry about buying groceries, please do not tell me you can relate while you’re planning a trip to the Greek Isles or are trying to figure out just *how* to fuel the private jet so you can go to Martha’s Vineyard for the holidays. While I put little stock in money, how much people have and what they spend it on, it’s really difficult for me to hear about your troubles concerning having to replace the side mirror on your new Porsche, while I’m trying to figure out what to give up in order to buy a jar of jelly and a loaf of bread.
Do NOT tell me you wish you could spend more time with your sister, who lives in the next town over. Mine is 1,000 miles away, as is my entire family. When you can’t go spend a birthday with them because you can’t afford plane fare, and it never changes, then you may sympathize with me. But until that moment, my being unable to spend time with my family on the holidays and your being unwilling to drive for 2 hours to see yours are two completely different things.
I should add that I am not doubting that your problems are very real to you, but if you’re comparing your lack of comfort to my feelings about my inability to provide the basic needs to my son, you can just fuck right off. I say that with a smile and a head tilt – it has a more lady-like quality that way.
The reason I don’t generally mention these things, unless specifically asked, is because this was a choice I made. It was a choice to put my foot down and say, “I’d rather do this alone”. I’m ok with my choice. It’s not easy. It’s not always fun. It’s definitely not for everyone. There are several people I know who wouldn’t last a week in my shoes. They’d be curled up in the fetal position at the foot of the bed, begging for some sort of natural disaster to swoop in and save them from the shit they find themselves covered in. In coming to that realization, I’ve found a new appreciation for what I do, and I’m not afraid to pat myself on the back about it. I don’t expect anyone else to do so, in fact, it makes me a little uncomfortable when someone else does. I’m just asking for people to use their brains for a minute. You don’t have to have a story to match up to mine. “I’m really sorry” is more than enough. Sometimes, I just have to voice it and I’m not looking for anything from anyone. There’s nothing anyone else can do to make any of it better, it’s all on me; and even some of those things I can’t change no matter how much I may want to.
My point? If you know a single mom in a similar position to mine, please remember that she’s doing all she can with shitty circumstances surrounding her. If she’s mustered up the courage to admit her struggles to you, you should be just listening and not offering up “I understand that!”, because you probably truly don’t understand it – unless you’re a single mom with extremely similar circumstances. It’s insulting, it’s hurtful and it makes us not want to share with you when we’re struggling with something. The end.