Single Mom vs Partnered Mom. Who Has it Harder?

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I can successfully say, “Yes, I am a single mom.” So I can shed some light into the world of parenting alone. I bring this up because several years ago, when I graduated with my bachelors, a friend came up to me and congratulated me for my success. He said, “I’m really proud of you. You were able to take care of your girls and finish school all by yourself. That must have been extremely hard.” “Thank you.” I said, and I really meant it. I really appreciated his kind words but I didn’t feel like my experience was much different than other moms. Yes, I’m raising my kids on my own but I really think being a parent whether you’re single or not comes with a whole set of challenges we all experience. However, I did miss having a partner help shuttle my kids around. Now that they’re older and self-sufficient, that’s not really a challenge anymore.

I can only share with you my experience of which mom has it harder and honestly, I think it’s pretty fair ground. Like I said, parenting in general can be challenging. And yes, people are right when they say its all so worth it because it really is.

The hardest thing for me as a single parent was not being able to share my kids accomplishments or milestones in life with a partner. Those moments are meant to be shared. I had to improvise and would share them with my friends but it’s really not the same as sharing it with a partner. Another challenge I found difficult as a single mom were moments when I needed support through hard times and needed to vent. In those moments, I ran to my friends but even then I didn’t feel they could support me emotionally like a partner could. And let’s talk about raising my girls on a single income. There were times it became super stressful. Trying to feed three mouths and keep the lights on was not an easy task. However, I must credit those experiences to pushing myself harder to earn more. 

One night, my sprinkler pipe broke around 10 at night in the middle of winter. My water was running for a good 2 hours until I noticed. I went to the front of the house and water was spraying everywhere. I tried my best to shut it off only to get drenched in ice cold water in the 50 degree weather. I was so cold, I literally lost my breath. I ran back in the house put on some daisy dukes, a tank, and some boots. I figured the less clothes to get drenched the less cold I would be. Wrong. However, I was determined to shut the water off. I probably looked like a mad woman trying to dodge the intrusive water works I was experiencing in front of my house. My whole front lawn was flooded. But to no avail, I could not find the valve to shut off the water. So I had to call the emergency after hour line to the water company and have them come out to shut it off. As I waited, I thought about how expensive it would be to have someone come so late in the night. I tried to find the shut off valve one last time. Finally, after my third water attack, I was able to shut off the front water system. I went to bed at 2am and needed to wake up at 4:30am for work. That night, I laid in bed and cried. I rarely feel that way, sorry for myself but that night was something else. I thought, “if I had a man, I bet I wouldn’t have to deal with such matters.”

The next morning, coming into work two hours late, I vented to my co-worker and gave her the whole damsel in distress story without the knight in shining armor. She informed me that having a man doesn’t necessarily guarantee he would have taken care of the situation properly. She later explained that although she’s married, her husband would rather fix things himself verses getting a professional. She had a similar experience to mine and her husband tried fixing their pipes which resulted in him making things worse. He ended up shutting off the main water system and leaving her the next day on a business trip. She was without water for a whole week. My other close girlfriend told me her fiance always waits on her to handle things around the house. Unlike my coworker’s husband, he expects my friend to make calls to professionals and deal with scheduling for estimates etc. I stopped feeling sorry for myself. There are certain challenges partnered moms face which single moms don’t have to experience and vice versa. 

Another coworker of mine who also has three kids, tells me about how tired she is all the time. I can relate. The only difference is, when I go home and feed the kids, I am able to do what I please with my time. This can range from picking up the house to taking a bath, talking to my kids or writing in my journal. When it’s time for me to hit the sack, I find pleasure in knowing I get to fall into a deep uninterrupted sleep. My coworker, not so much or my dear friend I mentioned earlier. They confide in me that although they love their partner, there are just days when they are not in the “mood”. As a wife (as my coworker mentions), she feels she still has an obligation to satisfy her husband’s needs. Of course, she doesn’t serve him hand and foot. She’s a smart independent woman. But she still has to pay him the attention that he needs as a husband. Sometimes I hear that having a partner can feel like having another kid. I am sure this is not the case for a lot of healthy relationships but I do get it. I’ve had long term relationships before and it takes a lot of work, along with raising kids. But at the end of the day, when I am beyond tired, all I have to do is sleep without a second thought or care in the world. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against relationships at all. In fact, if I meet the right partner, I would be all for being in a committed relationship. But my point is, we all have our difficulties/challenges whether we’re single or not. Being a parent in general is just a challenge and it really depends on your outlook on life. As a single mom, I am in love with my life. I am very proud and thankful for my girls and our family structure. This is the happiest and healthiest I have ever been. Just don’t look at me because of my relationship status and think that I have it worse off or that I am getting the short end of the stick because really I have it pretty good for being a “single mom”. 

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