15 Really Inconvenient Things About Being a Single Parent

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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?


Image via karindalziel/Flickr

family, tweens

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jaxmadre jaxmadre

You forgot: 16. Can't blame anyone else for my kid's behavior. (This could be positive or negative.) (It's nice and convenient to blame little one's bad temper on daddy)


Single parenthood does has its inconveniences at times, but I've had it both ways (with and without son's dad), and I have to say -- I prefer being a single parent. I'll take it, inconveniences and all.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

This is why life insurance is so important. My dad had his set up so my mother would receive a small lump sum upon his death and then payments every year till she died herself or remarried. It wasn't a huge amount but when he died it was enough to pay final expenses and keep a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs. My husband has enough insurance to pay off the house plus two years of his salary and I figure that should be enough to allow me to mostly stay home with the kid till he's in high school anyway, especially if we sold the house and downsized a bit.

nonmember avatar Anon

I don't mind most of that. It's balanced out by the fact that I don't need to argue over parenting, or deal with the fallout of insconsistent standards for behavior/performance. ... I've been stuck a few brief times as a result of #5. Why, just yesterday DD1 was sent home sick in the a.m., and while she was napping, a got a call to come pick up DD2. What's worse - waking up one sick kid and dragging her out to the car, or making the other kid wait with a fever and tummyache?? And how fun is it for DD1 to tag along when DD2 spends 6 nighttime hours at the ER after bumping her head? But these times are thankfully few and far between.

nonmember avatar Lisa Keller

I love being a single parent. I dont have to share my kids. I have done it alone from day one with both. My kids are 20 months apart. The one thing that does suck is that there is no one to help make decisions and bounce ideas off of. No one to tell me if I am doing the right thing or a good job. They are 16 and 18 now and have turned out to be great kids. It was the 14 to 16 years that were rough.

mommo... mommommamommyyy

Lol.  This has been my favorite article on The Stir thus far.   I'm a single mom of two girls and although most days, I wouldn't change it for the world.. there are some - like today, that I wish there was SOMEONE around to help carry the weight.

nonmember avatar Lisa

I am a married mom of 4 kids, and while I don't pretend to know what single parenthood is like, many of the issues on that list apply to all Moms. Unless the assumption is that the Dad is sitting around not working, he is not there to run errands, pick up a child at 12:30 dismissal, or any of those tasks. Unless I want to see a movie alone, going out requires a babysitter in our house too. I definitely take my hat off to single Moms... you face tons of challenges with grace and aplomb... but a lot of the things on that list are not the exclusive domain of single moms. They would not be alleviated by a husband, only by a full time nanny (who drives) or a helpful mother or mother-in-law. I don't have either one, and as a working mom of 4, I am constantly juggling as you describe (despite a husband).

guam_... guam_mama

i agree w/ non member lisa, most these things on the list are issues all parents deal with...single or not.

Jen Walls

while i agree that ALL moms face these problems, as a single mom i would like to add just one thing. at the end of one of these typical run you into the ground days, a married mom has warm arms and a supportive ear. single moms have a glass of rum and a good cry.

Deb Dennis

You forgot the all important "Mommy must stay sober and alert at all times" rule. While it does cut my wine expenses to almost zero, I means that after the little critters are all tucked in for the night, mommy really can't indulge in a nice glass or 2 of merlot, because the second she does, someone will fall out of bed, crack their blessed little skull open and require a late night trip to the ER! And since we have established in rule 15 that if "I don't don't get her, she don't get got" that means mommy can't afford to smell like a winery when she gets pulled over speeding to the ER trying to minimize the amount of blood soaking into the seats of her car!

Josie Madden

Sometimes, Jen, but not always. Sometimes instead of warm arms and a supportive ear, you have a critical voice and are expected to BE the warm arms when you just want to collapse. I have to agree with Lisa on this. 

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