The Lifestyle and Connotation of “Single Mom” or “Single Dad”

When MIke and I did the Kanan trade-off yesterday so common to parents who have split up, I began sharing with him about my shopping experience at the mall. As I had mentioned in a previous post, I used to be a very fashionable and self-absorbed person, but that has changed since I’ve had Kanan and found the Lord. I went on to tell Mike that there were so many cute clothes that I wanted but those clothes didn’t fit my lifestyle anymore. Its not like I’m running around in sweats or anything. I still wear cute clothes, just not clothes that are meant for a 23 year old woman without kids. Short shorts? Not when you have a toddler you are constantly chasing and are constantly bending over to pick him up or kiss his booboos. Satin, sliver-of-midriff baring peasant blouses for 80 bucks at BEBE? Not if you go out on the town like once every six months and don’t have anything scheduled in the short run. It felt wrong to spend 80 dollars on a shirt I’d wear like once this year when I could buy 4 shirts I could wear a dozen times each. I suppose if my income were greater that shirt would be different, but that goes back to being a “single” mom.

I said to Mike—“I’m a single mother. Those clothes don’t fit my lifestyle anymore.” Okay, fine, those clothes wouldn’t fit the lifestyle of many mothers regardless of her singledom or not, but that is what I said, and in the end, that is not the main point of this blog. The main point of this blog is Mike’s response. Mike then said, “you are not a single mom. Being a single mom implies Kanan has a dead-beat father who is not around.” To which I answered, “No. Single mother means Dad and Mom aren’t together anymore.” He thought about it a minute and said he never thought of himself as a single father and still doesn’t see it that way.  

So now I am wondering, when you, my beloved readers, hear the words “single mother” or “single father,” what do you automatically assume? Every word comes with the baggage of connotation associated with it. But do all “single moms” and “single dads” come with the same baggage? Do we live in a world with so many “deadbeat” mothers and fathers that they have tainted the very word “single parent?” In a world where divorce rates are at 50 percent and illegitimate children are prevalent, aren’t there more people like MIke and I—decent people who are not together anymore, but share equal custody of our children? Should there be a new word for folks like us? And finally, am I being too prude about the lifestyle of a single mom? Should I be buying sexy 80 dollar shirts I couldn’t wear for 6 months, or wear it anyway while I’m grocery shopping or at the park?

As much as it humbles me to even have to be writing this post given my values have changed, I am eager for an answer. Regardless, I am a walking contradiction to what I believe is the only way a family should be made and living proof that any other way increases the likelyhood of a broken family and broken hearts.To me, I am a single mother, for a lack of a more accurate word. I wish I weren’t. I never thought I would be. And if I could turn things around and have done things the right way, I would. But with God’s grace, I pray he turn lemons into lemonade and I won’t have to be one forever. And if I am one forever, that he change my heart so that I am content with it, regardless of the baggage that came with it.

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6 thoughts on “The Lifestyle and Connotation of “Single Mom” or “Single Dad”

  1. I always presumed that ‘single mom’ meant the mom and child(ren) live under a roof without the father or a father figure. The mother must juggle taking care of the children and working a job to provide for the household. Though, I think ‘single mom’ technically means the mother is unwed. In both cases, the father may or may not be involved in the child’s life. Mike seems to be a wonderful father and far from a dead-beat dad. 🙂

    I think a mom deserves an $80 Bebe top occasionally. It’s a splurge nowadays but sometimes its important to do something for ourselves. Though, I agree with you 100%. I find myself buying more economic clothes… I can’t even remember the last time I even walked into a Bebe store.

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  2. The term, “single parent” is a bit conflicting.
    When I hear someone say, I’m a single mom or I’m a single dad,
    I see them as not just single but alone as they endeavor to raise their child.
    This, in turn, conjures the image of a person who is doing the work of two parents, which may for the time slots of custody have an element of truth but in the broader picture may not be quite true. So, the response to the question, are you a single mom, might be tempered with, yes, single, but not alone. :-}

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  3. I immediately wonder if his parents are together…. but…speaking as a child of a divorce *while he was young*

    I accept it. I dont see it as a derogatory title…BUT. . .being a man and knowing the woes involved with manliness and ego I cant help but think that is what this is attatched to most.

    Especially at the risk of losing “masculine points” with a masculine baby.

    Just my two cents.

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  4. Hmmm… it was quite interesting to read your blog. I started to think about what would be the first thing that would come to my mind when I hear the words, “single mom.” It led me to many things and could not come to terms with that one description.

    As I continued to read your blog, I thought that there were interesting observations. Please understand that this is just an observation and it’s not meant to be anything but that. It was interesting that Mike would take your sharing of your feelings to how he would be viewed. We definitely view situations so different in life. Which is the right way? That’s not for me to guess.

    Secondly, as much as you would have liked to have done it different then the current outcome of being a single mom, by becoming one you received two of the greatest gifts anyone could receive which are your son and your love for God. God works in such a weird way some times that we might never fully understand. His goal is to bring us as close to him as possible even if that includes taking us through a journey that we might not want. In your case, it sounds like this is what happened to you. God first had to break you to help you to see the side of you that you might have missed had you not been broken. I guess it’s God’s way of smashing a lemon to start in making a lemonade.

    I think that you already know the answer to your own question. It’s just nice to get a confirmation that you are still doing the right things. If this is the case, then good job! Also, if God does turn lemon into lemonade, then you must be a lemonade by now because you now know that it’s not as important to buy an $80 shirt rather the time that you spend with your son and God.

    So, now if you asked me what I think of when I hear “single mom” then I have to say courageous.

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  5. Single parent to me means you’re not together anymore. I guess there is some implication there that there isn’t a lot of help on the other side, but, you ARE single. To me, the word “single” suggests not with anyone, and when you put it with parent, it means you are not romantically attached to anyone and also a parent. That’s it. I would say “single mom.”

    As far as the clothing issue, I agree with your choices. I still buy clothes, but they aren’t expensive and they go with my lifestyle, which includes running after a little guy all the time and never going out. I am willing to spend 80$ on, say, scrapbooking materials, but not on a shirt. Then again, I wouldn’t have done that before I had a child. I don’t think I did it before I got married. I’ve always been a bargain hunter and have never cared about labels, only how the clothes looked when I put them on.

    Moving on: you have a son. I think boys have a right to have mothers who look appropriate for their ages, social stations, roles, etc. I think it’s really embarassing for a lot of kids when their moms dress in sexually suggestive ways. This isn’t to imply, AT ALL, that moms shouldn’t be sexual, or even sexually suggestive, but not in a way that’s so visible — and visible to their children. After all, who wants their five-year-old to look at their boobs popping out of a too small shirt? Eww. I also think, in terms of your religious beliefs, that you are making the right choice. I think you already know these things, and I think you can look beautiful, attractive, put-to-together, even sexy, without being inappropriate (and you always do. I wonder sometimes what it would be like to go through life looking like you. :))

    Okay, that’s my five or fifteen cents. I’ll be done now.

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