I’ve been apartment hunting for a while now. Taking my time, waiting for the right place to come along. In my search, I’ve been honest with potential landlords: I’m a single mom, professionally employed, and I have a little girl.
I found an amazing space that I could’ve seen Evelyn and me living in. A five minute walk to the daycare, an eight minute walk to work. I gave the landlord my references, information to do a credit check, and financial info. In the end, she told me she chose someone else because they were a couple, which for her meant more financial stability.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time this had happened to me. I had another landlord tell me via email that he saw a single mom as a “liability” and wouldn’t rent to me because of it.
Cue my rage face, boiling blood, and feelings of ire mixed with defeat.
I’ve never — not even once — been late on the rent in all my adult life. I have a stable job at a world-class University. I make a decent income. I’m not rich, but I can pay the bills and live comfortably. So why, then, am I seen as a “liability” to landlords?
Oh, right. The single mom stigma.
I wish I could tell the assholes (let’s call a spade a spade) who discriminate against me that I’m not a down-on-her-luck single mama. I’m a single mom by choice, which means I saved for years to become a mother. I’m a lesbian, which means I planned this, more than many people do. Any of my references would check out perfectly.
I’ve considered lying to landlords, by omission anyway, and not sharing the fact that I’m a mama. I know landlords love single, quiet women with no pets. But how could I lie about my little girl? It wouldn’t feel right to me.
This discrimination, and the stigma that cloaks the “single mom” label, is everywhere. I was on Reddit last night, cramming a PB&J sandwich into my mouth while reading all about the reasons why people (well, men in this case) would never date single moms. The stereotypes and assumptions astounded me. And then they made my heart wilt a little. “Do people really think this poorly of single mothers,” I wondered.
I’m tired of “single” being synonymous with “lesser.”
So what is a single mom who doesn’t fit under the “single mom” stereotype to do? Combat the stigma, one opinion at a time. And maybe give the discriminating landlords a piece of my mind, one scathing email at a time.
Any single parents out there facing this as well? How have you combatted the single mom stigma?