10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming A Single Parent…

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming A Single Parent…

Mom Jeanine
November 7, 2011

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Although I’ve admitted that there are some positives to being a single parent, it also comes with its obvious downsides. I feel like a lot of celebrity moms make it seem not-so-bad (I’m looking at you, Padma Lakshmi), but it definitely is not ideal.

I feel like I’ve found my footing as a single mom, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hiccups and growing pains. Here are just 10 of the things I never thought about–or thought through–when I decided to separate from my daughter’s father:

1. Dating. Part of me genuinely believed I would never date again because I had a child. And what man wants a woman with a child? But there are guys out there who don’t automatically rule out dating single moms–for real! The problem, of course, is coordinating these dates. Finding a babysitter, sometimes at the absolute last minute isn’t always easy. Answering panicked phone calls from said babysitter during your date is even harder.

2. Relationships. The complexities of getting into a relationship with someone other than your child’s father are the subject of a whole different blog post. Maybe even a book. But to sum things up, there is the question of when and how to explain the relationship to your kid; how much time your new boyfriend should spend around your child; balancing time with your boyfriend along with time with your child. It’s a never-ending juggling act and it is not easy.

3. Your relationship with the other parent. My ex and I initially separated on good terms, but that all went out the window when I (a) started dating something else and (b) took him to court for child support. We rarely speak now and when we do, I keep it as short as possible so that it won’t escalate. My daughter still obviously loves him very much, so having to lie to her about how “wonderful” he is is a real pain in my …

4. Milestones. I was watching an episode of Glee and Idina Menzel’s character nailed this one on the head. She was explaining how it’s obviously hard to deal with a crying baby when there are dishes to wash, laundry to be done and no one to help. But it’s even harder, however, when your child takes his/her first steps, or says his/her first words and there is no one there to look over and celebrate with. Word.

5. Stress. Feeling like your kid’s entire success in life rests solely on your shoulders is a quite a bit of pressure. Is she smart enough, will he get into that school, why can’t they stop sucking their thumbs? It helps to have someone who is equally invested in your kid talk you off the ledge when you feel like these little things signal total failure for your kid.

6. Alone time. Is basically non-existent. Fortunately, I really love spending time with my daughter and having her around me. But even so, there are times when I wish I just didn’t have to clean to the soundtrack of Yo Gabba Gabba in the background.

7. Money. Even millionaires complain about how expensive raising a child is, so the money factor affects all parents. But if, as single parent, you’re not receiving any financial help from the other parent, there’s even more of a strain.

8. Resentment. Full disclosure: I totally resent my daughter’s father for being able to hang out with his friends whenever, go on impromptu trips and buy whatever he wants because he isn’t responsible for the day-to-day care of our daughter. I would love to just go on vacay without tons of planning beforehand. That being said, I wouldn’t trade places with him in a heartbeat. He’s missed so much of her growing up–I just couldn’t live with myself if I wasn’t there for those firsts.

9. Guilt. When I see seemingly happy families with two parents strolling down the street when it’s just my daughter and me, I always feel self-conscious. My daughter deserves that, but I will never, under any circumstances, get back together with her dad. Because I’m so sure of that, I can’t help but feel really guilty.

10. Anger. When I put my daughter on time out, she’ll scream and cry at the top of her lungs, “I want my daddy.” It is literally like a knife through my heart. “If she only knew,” I think to myself. “At least I am here, trying to make you a better person. Where is he?”

Any other single moms feel my pain? What about married moms? Does being married and raising kids come with its own challenges? Share your opinion in the comments.

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Comments

  • Lela
    November 7, 2011

  • Even in a 2 parent household I sometimes feel this way (minus the dating part, lol.)

  • Hannah
    November 7, 2011

  • I think the hardest part for me would be the travel. Not just NOT being able to plan trips, but when you do, and you’re tired from being on a plane or a bus, and you just need five minutes for someone else to hold the kid while you take a breath? I think that would be the most overwhelming part to me. My mom was a single mother, and while I was (naturally!) an ANGEL, I think it must have been so staggeringly tough at times. But to be fair, when I got older and learned more about WHY my parents split up, and people told me I came from a “broken home,” I knew enough to respond, “No, it was broken before the divorce. Now, it’s fixed!” and your daughter will get there, too.

  • Shelly
    November 7, 2011

  • The article you quoted didn’t mention Padma saying that single parenting is easy. She just said that although she is a single parent, she doesn’t feel alone because she has extended family who helps her raise her kids.

  • Emma
    November 7, 2011

  • I agree with Shelly about Padma’s comments, and the reason why I bring it up is because I feel that her style of allowing the extended family to participate in the raising of her daughter makes a huge difference in her stress level. I think that too many women feel that we have to do it alone, and by “it” I mean EVERYTHING. And we have to do it all perfectly or our child will be warped forever. The amount of guilt we heap upon ourselves is insurmountable. And I’m right there with everyone else.
    But in your particular case, and having read many of your articles, I think that you have isolated yourself and in many instances your primary motivation is fear. This will lead anyone to feel overwhelmed and alone. I know that you have mentioned your parents at times, and I hope that you let them help you. I’m pulling for you and your daughter!

  • Marina
    November 8, 2011

  • I totally and completely agree with your reasons. I am a single parent myself and it is very difficult. What’s even more difficult is that my divorce is a 2 year ongoing battle and my 27 month old is beginning to pick up on things…but all my girlfriends are married but still go through same stress. It is truly a mother’s job to raise her kids and I wouldn’t change it for the world!