I feel like I haven’t been up front about my “single mom” status. You see, I’ve always had this idea that a “single parent” was one that single-handedly raised a child without much help from the other parent. The reality of “single parenting” is much different.
Technically, any parent who is not married is a single parent. This means that even a couple who has been together for ten years and has chosen not to get married will go down on paper as single parents. Doesn’t seem fair.
Here’s where I feel I haven’t been up front: Chubbs’s dad just officially moved out. We haven’t been a couple for some time, but he was living with us. When I hurt my neck last December, he moved in to help out, and ended up staying longer than planned.
During that time, I felt some guilt calling myself a single parent. I knew that, by definition, I was, but I had such an image in my mind — a stereotype, I suppose — that I felt that I was lying if I said I was a single parent. Even though my ex and I have no romantic relationship, and he was dating while he was staying with me (which he probably doesn’t know that I know). On some level, I still felt like I had too much help to be a single parent.
I am relieved now that my situation matches up with my mental image, even if it is a stereotype. Not that Chubbs’s dad won’t be there for him; he just won’t be here to do things for me — like take out the trash — any more. We’ll stick to a more “traditional” single parenting style. And by “traditional,” I think I mean stereotypical. I’m a little disappointed in myself for that.
I’m nervous, but if I could go back to school full-time with a six-month-old baby while living alone with him, I think I can do it with an eighteen-month-old one. Still — please wish me luck!
What is your idea of a “single” parent? Do you think stereotypes like this one are damaging to families?