15 Really Inconvenient Things About Being a Single Parent

Single parentI don’t know about your kids’ school, but the last day at St. Francis is always a half day. The staff make that announcement pretty much on the first day, probably as a little pick-me-up to get them through the months of tomfoolery gaping ahead.

Even though I had a 12:30 dismissal marked on my Hello Kitty calendar, saved with a reminder on my BlackBerry, and issued a pop-up alert on my laptop, a rescheduled interview cropped up at the last minute with a do-it-now-or-it’ll-never-happen time slot. And since interviews translate to bread and butter (and sometimes even a little meat!) for me and The Girl, I was scrambling at the last minute trying to make it all happen.

I’m used to it, the juggling and strategizing and infernal multitasking. But still I can’t help but think every once in a while, this single parent thing can kick rocks — for a number of reasons


15. Pick-ups and drop-offs are a one-woman show. If I don’t go get her, she don’t get got.

14. When she wants something — especially something pricey — there’s no one to defer to. Except maybe a grandparent. But they’re not in the house, so they don’t get the real heat when a commercial comes on or an idea pops into her head.

13. Potty training, poopy Pampers, and peed-up preschooler pants. Yeah, they were mine, all mine.

12. I have to sit through parent/teacher conferences all by my lonesome with no one to crack jokes with about Mrs. Winkler’s brown cotton wig or the lady in the too-tight pants who should’ve gotten the gong as soon as she stood up to speak. Instead, I have to do standup in my head.

11. There’s no one else to blame for bad Christmas or birthday gifts. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it sure would be nice to point to my left or right and say, “It was your father’s idea.”

10. At this point of my journey into mom-of-a-tween-dom, it would be a refreshing reprieve to hear somebody else’s lectures and scoldings for a change. Just to switch it up a bit because I gotta admit, I’m tired of hearing my own voice on repeat.

9. Dating is like a covert military operation. I don’t introduce The Girl to anybody unless I’m sure he’s going to be around, which means the only dudes she’s ever met have been actual boyfriends. But trying to get out of the house without her for dinner and a movie? Forget it. She is not afraid to be a third wheel. At all.

8. Bad behavior phone calls from teachers come straight to me and there’s no cool or handy threat to use as a cliffhanger like “wait until your father gets home!” Everybody who’s going to be there is there already.

7. Two words: math homework and no help. (I barely made it through when I was in school.)

6. Three more words: science fair projects and no help. (See #7.)

5. When the little one gets sick, work, plans, errands, everything in my world has to stop. Because there’s no one else to stay home with her while I work. Or run to the store. Or have a meeting. And while being Dr. Mom is warm and fuzzy canoodling time, I don’t get paid for it. Which leads me to ...

4. With only one working person in the household (unless you are in fact making your 5-year-old go out and earn their keep a la Oliver Twist), money doesn’t stretch very far. It just kind of frays and slumps.

3. When Girl Child is on punishment, I’m on punishment too. She ruins both of our fun because she has to stay in the house or can’t go to the movies. So unless I scrounge around for an impromptu babysitter, I’m stuck too. Boo hiss.

2. Childless folks or committed couples always tell you how much they respect you because “they don’t know how you do it.” I didn’t turn wine into water, guys. I’m raising a kid solo. Don’t hold for my next magic trick. 

1. She’s kind of outgrown this now, but it used to be so awkward and difficult to explain in kiddie terms why her father and I didn’t get married or why he doesn’t live with us. You just can’t say "because God was ever so merciful as to rescue me from my own foolishness and stupidity" in a way that a little girl would appreciate, ya know?

What else doesn’t rock about being a single parent?

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