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.