life, parenting, single mom, single mother

Is There Still Stigma About Single Mothers ?

vSketchpadSingle parenting is hard. There is no way around it. Unless you have a tribe supporting you, there are more jobs that need to be done than there is time.

Life for single mothers is a balancing act, which often leaves us mentally drained and physically exhausted. There is still stigma about being a single mom and it comes at you when you are least expecting it.

You have spent your day off getting everything ready for the kids, so that they will be okay when you are at work. You buy extra frozen food that they know how to make. You organize the house in a way that they can easily understand. You spend any free time you have on your day off with the kids.

You check and double check that they either have someone with them, depending on their ages, or that they can reach someone if they run into a problem. You go over everything in your head, while you are laying in bed, trying to sleep. Will they be safe enough? Is there enough food?

Before you leave for work you check and recheck everything. The babysitter is there, if you need one. The older child has been instructed by you ( if they are the one babysitting), about the last minute things. They have your work number and a family member’s number.

Before you leave for work, you go over the last minute things in a frenzy, as the anxiety threatens to choke your throat. Is the battery charged in their cell phone? Do they know where their shoes are? Is the flashlight accessible in case the power goes out? Do they know where the first aide kit is?

Finally you drag yourself out the door feeling guilty for having to lose this time with them, You would rather not have to spend so many hours working. You feel guilty when you are at work, because you would rather have the luxury of being a stay at home mom.

But the bills must be paid, the kids have to eat and no one is helping you. You even text  the oldest from the parking lot at work. “Just checking that you guys are okay” You remind her that you will check your text messages on your break, so to text you if she needs anything.

I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. Some woman who hardly knows me at work will come up to me and say…”WHO is watching your kids, while you are at work?”

You hardly know what to say. You were already having enough anxiety about having to go to work. You would rather be home than to  be underemployed at this job.  This woman knows next to nothing about you.

“How did you know I have kids? Do you know how old my kids are?” you ask.

She says, “Well, Tiffany, told me you leave your kids at home when you go to work. Are you sure they are safe?”

Who in the hell do they think they are? They don’t even know how old my kids are. Why would they automatically assume they are small children, and that I have left them unattended?

I am 49 years old. How tiny could my kids be?

The woman is standing there, looking at me and waiting for an answer. I mean, what is the appropriate answer to “Are they safe at home, while I am at work?”

Should I say “OH ! My god ! You are right. They are not safe and the issue of leaving them alone never occurred to me, in relation to safety. I am so glad you reminded me. I will quit this job right now and go home. You don’t mind covering the rest of the shift do you ?”

To make it worse, the woman questioning me is only about 5 years older than my oldest daughter. She could be my daughter, by age.

My 18 year old is home with my 12 year old. I left the food and the instructions. I called from the parking lot to check and now I am trying to be at work.

Do I have to give this person a whole run down of my entire household situation? Come to think of it, she has kids too !

Who is watching her kids, while she is working the same shift I am?

Why does this question apply to me and not her? Because I am a single mother. There are still people that consider single mothers irresponsible.

Like we woke up one day and said to ourselves.“I don’t need any help. I am going to become a single mother and deal with working, childcare, finances, getting groceries, making dinner, homework and everything involved in parenting ..all by myself !…

I am going to have no social life and spend all of my time struggling to survive, just so someone half my age, who is married to a doctor can ask me “Have you thought about the safety of leaving your kids alone?”

So, I asked her “Do you know the ages of my kids? Did the person who told you that they think I leave my kids alone, tell you how old my kids are?

“No, she does not know,” she said.

So, now I am thinking to myself…Ok, so someone who doesn’t know me well enough to know the ages of my children,  told another person who does not know me…that  I leave my kids alone and unattended?

She said “well, we were discussing it and we were just concerned.”

Why were they discussing my childcare choices? They have never bothered to find out anything about me or socialize with me, in any way. They have never been friendly to me..but now, they are “concerned.”

So, I informed her that my oldest daughter is 18 and the youngest is 12. Technically 12 is old enough to be left alone.

But at the current moment the 12 year old is in a house with her 18 year old sister, her grandmother and her aunt and her cousins. And their father is stopping by to eat dinner with them, because it is his mother that I live with.  “Is that okay?”

I am not sure why some of the married women at my job, seem to think that they are more responsible than single mothers are, but it is really annoying.

I could ask her why she is leaving her kids to go to work, when her husband makes enough money that she could stay home…but i didn’t. Why? Because how she deals with her family situation is none of my business !