This is a phrase I hear often from married women or women in committed relationships(live-in situation) that have children. “I don’t know what I’d do without John. He was on a business trip for three days, and I just about lost my mind! I had to do everything by myself. I gotta give you props, because now I understand what you single moms go through daily”.
STOP. RIGHT. THERE. Let’s clear a few things up, for all you well-meaning(side-eye) other moms out there. You may not see it this way, and maybe you truly do mean well, but this is what I hear. “Poor you. I don’t know what you do without a man. I’m so glad I have one!” You know what? You’re right! You don’t know how I do it! And you’re wrong. You do not understand anything. John’s weekend business trip is no comparison to the daily struggle of balancing career, family, community involvement, and “me time” single-handedly.
When John is away, you can still call him at the end of the day to talk about work, kids and how everyone’s day went. You have a partner in John that you can share your ups and downs with. You do not have to share this burden alone. Everything you do in the household in John’s absence (take out the trash, change the oil, clean the vehicles, carpooling on days when it’s normally his turn, etc.), is all done with the expectation that John is coming back home. You know how long he’s gonna be gone and when to expect him back. That changes your whole outlook on everything you do. You know your situation is temporary. As a single mother, we do these things day in and day out knowing that there is no help coming. If we don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. When Kennedi or J.J. gets sick at school and you have to stay home, the hours you’re getting docked from your paycheck isn’t as much of a concern, because John’s still at work. Or vice versa. Of course we have friends we can call and dump on, who will be understanding, encouraging, and maybe in the same position. It’s not the same as a having a partner who shares the ups and downs, in and out of everyday life with you. Someone you can lay your head on and complain to about how your boss piled on extra work today. Someone who can pick little J.J. up from practice while you get dinner started. Someone you can toss ideas at about the new project you’re working on.
Am I complaining or hating? Goodness no! I think it’s wonderful to have someone to share a life and family with. It’s awesome to have the support of your spouse/significant other in any form, whether it be family, personal, work-related, etc. I hope to someday have the same. All I am saying is be mindful of comparing yourself to others. Be thankful for John and the kids and all their awesomeness. But don’t presume to know what it is like to be single and parenting. And certainly do not tell a single mother that you do. It doesn’t help to remind her that she is a single parent and brag that you’re not. As a matter of fact, try offering encouraging words that do not make it about you at all.