Friday, September 18, 2009

When are you no longer a single mom?

It's a question that's been asked a lot lately, on a lot of different blogs. Does it stop when you're no longer single? Do you have to be married? What if you're just living together? Does it depend on how much parenting help you're getting from you significant other, or does the mere existence of a significant other change your status? Or are you a single mother for life, simply by the fact that you are not in a relationship with your child's biological father?

Here's the tricky thing. We all know what "single" means. We all know what "mother" means. But the combination of those two words creates a whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts. Translation: you can't take the SingleMommy out of the Mommy just by handing her a boyfriend. At least not right away. There's more to single mommyhood than relationship status.


Last night I went to a PTA meeting from 7-8:30 pm. And I didn't have to arrange a sitter. All I had say was: "I have a PTA meeting on Thursday. Will you be home by 7 to watch The Kid while I'm gone?" The Man was happy to oblige. And I didn't have to pay him! And The Kid wasn't playing with matches when I got home! He was doing his homework. And he'd been fed. And there were leftovers for me staying warm in the oven. And the garbage cans had been drug in from the curb. And there were dishes in progress in the sink. And The Man was downstairs doing laundry.

And then we all lived happily ever after.

Seriously?! This is what it's like for you married people?! (Wait. Let me rephrase: for you happily married people?!) I can not, in good conscience, call myself a single mom after an experience like that.


The Man has only been here three weeks. And I don't mean here, living with me. I mean here, in the same state (and yes, living with me). So the transition from single mom to [whatever-the-hell-you-call-someone-who-used-to-be-a-single-mom-but-is-now-living-with-her-boyfriend-while-raising-her-son-from-a-previous-and-disastrous-marriage] was abrupt. More than that, actually. Not abrupt. Nonexistent.

I was a single mom for 6 years. I can't turn off that mentality at the drop of a hat. (Or at the drop of a bunch of moving boxes in my basement.) It will take some time, but I am looking forward to the day I no longer identify as a single mom.


There's a part of me that clings to single mommyhood; a part of me that takes a certain amount of pride in doing this by myself. It's been me and The Kid against the world for a long time now. And as much as I'm looking forward to the next stage in our growing family, I can't lie: I am mourning the loss of us as dynamic duo. Just a little.


Having a man around who, three weeks in, offers to help pay private school tuition for my kid? That's kind of fucking amazing. Not because of the financial aspect (though that's pretty amazing too), but because of his dedication to this family.

To our family.

I think I can get used to this.

(This family photo is missing his two girls, but this is the closest I have for now.)


Single Mom Seeking said...

This has left me in tears. Your words, the photos... I've got to come back and make a real comment after I find the tissues. Wow.

suddenly sahm said...

SMS said it best - in tears. Precious precious pictures that almost say more than the text of your post. I sincerely wish you all every happiness from the bottom of my heart.

Samantha said...

This is really exciting! Though I've just started reading this blog, I'm very happy for you.

Being a single mom, is just like you said, and identity. While we make the transition, we may need to hold one to it a bit longer. Just don't let it drive a wedge between you and The Man.

I was thinking the other day how hard of a time I would have in letting someone else join our big family of 2. Its a hard but good transitions! Congratulations!!!

Nicki said...

Wow. So funny, since this question is one that has plagued me recently, too. Sure, we're living together, a new big happy family of four. And he has taken on financial burdens that leave me both shocked and amazed. Guess we'll all answer that question in time.

Noodle said...

In the same situation here. Doesn't seem honest anymore to call myself a single mom. I've been telling people I'm 're-partnered', but, ick, sounds like I'm a robot who was missing a part before.

My daughter also struggles with how to introduce my boyfriend. She is unsure as whether to correct people who assume he is her dad. Usually she doesn't bother anymore, as I've told her to say whatever feels honest to her.

She has really put the pressure on for us to get married, though, because she feels 'stepfather' is a more legit title than 'mom's boyfriend.'

Wicked Bitch, Latina Fatale said...

Lovely isn't it? I'm always the eternal pessimist, so I'll just throw in my negative two cents. I'm of the view that it is great that another man comes along and assists women with their children from a previous relationship. What a man! There are men who can't even take care of their own damn kids.

HOWEVER, I still wouldn't forget that it isn't his children and he can wake up any day and remind you of that. I would still always keep it in the back of my mind, and that way you will be able to protect yourself emotionally and financially. Maybe that's a negative way to think, but I consider myself pragmatic.

The Grown-Up Child said...

As a grown kid of a one time single mom, I really like this question. I know in my experience, although my mom was only 'single' for 5 years, those years lent a dynamic to our relationship that has never gone away. Almost like accident victims who always have a connection although they are literal strangers.

When you're in the trenches together just trying to survive (emotionally, financially, mentally, etc), a special kind of bond is created. Luckily for my stepfather (and hopefully for your guy too), he was never intimidated or jealous of that. Even when they had their own children and that bond was still evident, he never showed any jealousy or resentment. Now that's a special thing.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that yes, the days of being a 'single mom' can end, but the scar (and in this case it is a beautiful scar indeed - just look at those pictures!) endures.

Thanks for a great topic!

Michele said...

Beautiful. You are right, "single motherhood" has very little to do with relationship status. When I was married I felt like a single mother. With the support that you have from the man, I can see where it would be difficult to identify as a single mom.

Tricia Moran said...

Beautiful post. Beautiful boy and beautiful mama. I am happy to know that some happiness can come out of a very tough situation. I am happy that someone is treating you like you and your son deserve. It's nice to have someone to share the burden of parenting with, even if you do miss that duo. I understand that. Thanks for inspiring me.
Tricia :)

MindyMom said...

Great question and GREAT post!

I've been a single mom for almost 8 years now and I think it would be difficult to think of myslef in a different way - even with a boyfriend around but you make excellent points.

There are so many shades of gray but I personally think marriage would make me *feel* less like a single mom but also somehow once we're in that club it will always be a part of us. Dontcha think?

So happy for you!

BigLittleWolf said...

This is a truly beautiful post. I can understand mourning the "dynamic duo" - but you will always have it. And now you have the opportunity to offer your child a "terrific trio."

This was lovely to read. Enjoy your transition, and the good things to come.

T said...

Yep. Exactly. LOVE this post!

And love the pics! Keep your dynamic duo time too! Balance is good, right?

hbomb said...

Very nice blog....enjoyed it and agree.

Kristen said...

I have such a hard time calling myself a single mom. My ex pays child support. He has visitation. I guess in my mind since I have help I have a hard time considering myself a single mom. Yep...I'm just that hard on myself. I'm slowly coming around.

Tatum said...

I was a single mama for nine years, almost to the day. See? I know how long it was just me and the kiddo almost to the day. And it was JUST me and the kiddo-no child support, no free weekends, no nothing. And some days I miss that freedom. Some days I forget to say, "Ask your Dad." (She calls him Dad.) Some days I don't want deal with the dynamic between everyone in my family. But I wouldn't trade the addition of my husband in for anything. Your post brought me to tears as well. Having a man love your child like you do is such a priceless gift on so many levels. Congrats Martini Mom and Kid.

Smiling, Beguiling said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Smiling, Beguiling said...

Oh how I loved this post.

Le sigh.

[this section was deleted by me to protect someone I do love & was unkind to in an exceedingly public place - apologies to him]

I'm grateful as HELL that there are single moms out there like you, whether you're officially "single" now or not, that write about these challenges, b/c frankly it makes me feel a lot less alone.

So THANKS mama!


Cher ~

Devilish Southern Belle said...

Hello! What a great post!

Just followed you over from your MSM post; can't wait to read more about you & your family!

Congrats on finding such a wonderful man to share your, and your son's, life with. I agree, I think once you *feel* like a family and share the familial responsibilities, you no longer necessarily have to qualify as a single mom. It's the love and help and support that makes a family, and shows you what your man is made of.

And I am actually married (for the second time) to a man who has very, very little to do with us anymore. I have raised my sons by myself, and done all the difficult, hard stuff by myself, even though I am married. I am still having to do it that way. I definitely relate more to a single mom than a married or partnered mom.

Nice to meet you :)

Anonymous said...

you oughta spread 'em wide for this guy. paying for private school -AND it's not even his spawn? you lucked out, grrrl. feed 'em n fuck 'em and he'll never leave you.

but ya, like wicked bitch says, one day he may wake up and realize he's educating someone else's kid.

just sayin'

Martini Mom said...

Dear Anonymous,

He's not paying for private school. I said he *offered*. My kid doesn't even attend a private school. He also doesn't support my child - I do that, with some help from my son's dad.

Yes. Someday The Man might leave. Or maybe *I'll* leave. Or he'll get hit by a bus. Whatever. The situation may change and we won't all be living together anymore. That will be a very sad day, and I hope it never happens. But if it DOES happen, don't assume I'm not capable of supporting my own child. I've done it for the 8 years he's been alive, and I'll do it for at least 10 more, REGARDLESS of my relationship status.

My point was merely that my current situation (living with a man who is willing to help - financially AND OTHERWISE) is VERY different from that of a single mom's situation. And so, at some point, I'll likely stop identifying as a single mom. But financially supporting my child was never and will never be an expectation or hope of anyone other than myself and my son's father.

As for spreading my legs? Sure. I'll keep doing that. Because I love him. And because he's hot. And because the sex is gooooood. And then I'll get up and go to work and earn my money to support my child just like I've always done.

And you? I suspect you'll continue bouncing from blog to blog leaving ridiculous judgmental comments, just like you've always done. Good luck with that. May it bring you much happiness.

Hugs and kisses,
Martini Mom

Wicked Bitch, Latina Fatale said...

Haha, you go!

Momma Sunshine said...

Enjoy this time. You deserve it. You have earned it! :-D

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