Please Don’t Call Me a “Single Mom”

It triggers my gag reflex.  Call me a single parent or single mother, or what they call it in some European countries: a sole parent.

In 2000, I relocated from the Midwest to Washington, DC with my then 3-year-old son.  I moved to DC with about $1,500 in cash and no job.  I’m a single parent in the truest sense of the word.  I’ve never received a penny of child support from my son’s father.  My family and friends thought I was crazy and/or brave to move to a new place with no job…and a preschooler.   There was no guarantee things would work out. 

I guess single parents, especially those with young children, are not supposed to take risks?  I guess you are not supposed to risk greatness once you join the mommy club.  And worse than the mommy club, I was a “single mom.”  I loathe the term to this day.  The term single mom has a strong negative connotation in my mind.  Here are words that come to mind when I think of the term: pathetic, used, unwanted, washed up, rejected, undesirable, pitiful, sad, lonely, desperate and eternally hopeless.  The term “single mom” connotes a tragic occurrence, something outside the realm of regular human experience.  It’s a tragic juxtaposition of concepts. 

The fact that you were once married implies you were once youthful, pure, and desirable.  You were worthy of marriage.  Someone wanted to marry you.  Then you proceed to achieve the honorable status of mother (think mother’s day cards, brunch, and flowers…that sort of thing).  Getting divorced is like getting a (dis?)honorable discharge from the societal institution of marriage.  It’s a point of no return.  You lose the status of wife, but maintain the status of mother.  You can get married again, but it’s not the same.  You are considered lucky to have found someone who doesn’t view you as damaged goods.   You are perpetually stuck between a rock and a hard place: in the pergatory that is the Madonna/whore dichotomy.

In case you haven’t figured it out, I think all of that is nonsense and I don’t buy into it one bit.  When people feel sorry for me based on my “single parent” status, it totally irks me.  I generally provide as little information about my situation as possible when I first meet people to avoid any of these stupid notions being burned permanently into their poor heads.

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