Image © Alécio de Andrade.
Sometimes I Feel Like A Single Mother
Parenting can be a lonely gig. It can feel especially lonely if you know its something you’re supposed to be sharing with a partner and if that partner for whatever reason (by choice, or circumstance) becomes unavailable to you — or was never there in the first place. The burdens of parenting, from the mental load of it all to the financial, are so enormous, it is almost impossible to imagine one human having to carry them all. And yet, according to the Pew Research Center 2018 report, 1 in 5 children in the United States are living with a mother who is “raising at least one child with no spouse or partner in the home”. There is a distinction between solo parenting where there a partner in the picture at least part time is very different from single parenting (where there is no partner at all). But even those of us who do live, and coparent with a partner can have moments when it “feels like” being a solo parent. Even if the circumstance is not the same — the feelings are real, and worthy of sharing.
Here are the DM’s you didn’t get to read on Instagram:
I don’t know how to ask for more from him . . . you can’t force someone to be present.L.
Better Off Single?
I almost feel like [being single] would be better . . . The lack of support I get and the rolling eyes when I ask if he could find a sitter or do some extra work is just not worth it anymore. Feel constantly bitter. – F.
I think single parenting would relieve so much of my resentment. I am default parent and my mister has no desire to increase his participation. I spend so much energy being pissed at him for behaving like a selfish 19-year-old when he is around. -S.
I’ve had so many days recently where I’ve thought wtf why do I feel like a single mom even though I’m married? My husbands idea of “watching” our kids is also VERY different from mine. He’ll just sit there on his phone, without talking to our babies or playing with them. Whenever I ask him to watch them (which is NOT often), I often have 2 thoughts: 1) what is the impact of him sitting there on his phone and ignoring them for an hour? AND THEN I think 2) well if I’m asking him (or really anyone) to watch the babies, is it even fair for me to critique how they’re doing it?? UGH. — C.
I get so resentful when he starts talking about baby number 2 or even 3 . . . He’s not around for baby #1 because of work — and I’m barely holding it together as it is!! — R.
My friend and I work at the same company as her husband. She does the lions share of the child work in their relationship. I would be trading my husband in if he did that. My husband owns his own company and works very hard — but so do I. We make time for each other to have “off” time on the weekends and he does a lot of nights when I have stuff going on. I wish everyone could have a partner like that. But don’t worry it’s not all sunshine and roses because I still do too much emotional labor because I’m more organized. ? I’ll take it because physical labor exhausts me far more. — N.
Some co-parents need a wake up call. Mine did! We ALL want a spouse who will help without being asked, but because of lopsided parental leave and breastfeeding dynamics (to the extent that is part of your life), they need to be asked. It is hard to see work that other people do behind the scenes, especially when all of this work isn’t really moving anything anywhere it is just maintaining an even level of chaos. I get it, I HATE when I feel like I have to ask my husband to make a kid lunch, wash the pump parts, do the school enrollment papers, make a dentist appointment. But he really truly did not understand the level of work I was doing until we had a few frank conversations about it. – K.
Ugh I feel this so hard. Husband is currently enjoying his second bath this weekend. – C.
My husband seems to not even know how to be around our family when he’s home anymore. He’s so out of the routine of watching the children or caring for the house. Everything just seems to annoy him and in turn annoys me. Sometimes it’s easier to just do it on my own and be here on my own. It feels sometimes likes just one more responsibility to take care of.
I feel I have to beg my husband to be a parent, and the only times he actually delivers on anything is when I write out a painfully detailed list of every task, domestic and parental, that needs to be done that day. It’s beyond exhausting. The mental and emotional load is crippling. It makes me feel so trapped. I don’t see a way out because in reality I’m NOT a single mom, yet I’m suffering because I have to shoulder this entire load on my own. How could I ever survive if I was actually a single mom, instead of just solo parenting? This post hits me so hard. — L.
How could I ever survive if I was actually a single mom, instead of just solo parenting?L.
My parents took me somewhere different every weekend; it’s not about spending money just doing something as a family and exposing the child to different environments. I try to do the same with my family but it’s so hard. My husband would be happy never leaving the Upper East Side! He is only interested in going to his parents house. Super frustrating. — R.
I’ve accepted that the way my husband watches our son is different than the way I do, and if I want help I have to accept the help he’s willing to give. — L.
Family is 3+ hours away. I never imagined it being this lonely or so hard. — J.
“I’m a weekend warrior (a la the current convo) and it took me until this year not to resent her.”– C.
My husband is a musician and works every night and weekend while I work days. Our babe is 16 months and we have only spent like 5 days together as a family, that wasn’t filled with other family members visiting, or flights out of town. I feel like I don’t even know what “our little family” feels like. Right now it just feels lonely. Any small moments where we are all home together, he is overwhelmed or exhausted and completely checks out. I don’t know how to ask for more from him . . . you can’t force someone to be present. – L.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. My husband pulls his weight during the week, but on the weekends, it feels like I’m the one constantly engaging our toddler — teaching, playing, reading, coloring. My husband just plops him down in front of the iPad and calls the work done. And he wonders why our kiddo prefers me over him. — R.
When There’s More to It:
Sometimes [as a SAHM] I make myself feel better by thinking “now if I was a single mom I wouldn’t be hiking by myself in the mountains with the babe, I’d be working and my babe would be in daycare.” Not sure if that’s a healthy or helpful thought for everyone but it does help me when I’m done feeling frustrated with the hubs. I’ve recently learned that husband has some PTSD and severe anxiety, so leaving the house with us or just with the baby is clinically very difficult for him. — K.
Just caught up on the convo in stories and read the comments on this post – it sounds like fathers might be having an overlooked mental health crisis? Constant fatigue and disinterest might actually be signs of anxiety and/or depression. Don’t want to let them off the hook for not fully participating in family life, but it does reframe the issue in a new way that could help some of them . . . Just a though. — J.
When Partner Works Long Hours:
My husband works 16 hour days on the regular. It’s like our baby needs to fit around his existing life in whatever nooks he can, instead of his life changing to include our child. He’s so amazing when he’s fully engaged and energized with our kid, but it will only last at most 20 min. I try to adjust my language — not asking him to “help,” and asking him instead, to coparent. But it’s hard and there are def a lot of fights and snappy comments. — K.
The Mom Breadwinner Perspective:
It’s interesting reading all of these perspectives . . . because in our family, I’m the one to work every weekend, and pick up extra shifts to help pay for things. My husband and I haven’t had a weekend off together in over a year. This thread has made me truly think about his point of view in a different way. Unfortunately there isn’t much we can do to change our schedule, but it will definitely be something we discuss soon. – K.
Image: The Louvre and it’s Visitors, 1980s, © Alécio de Andrade.