Season 1: Episode 4- Parenting Alone

Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com

I came across a blog post the other day that brought up a term that I had never heard referenced before, Lone Parenting. The article, “I’m not a Single parent—I’m a Lone parent & it’s F*cking hard.” (Read here) really hit home for me. I was shocked, that I had never heard that term before. I think the problem is that we are so used to hearing the term Single Mom being a collective representation of all women who are raising their children more than 50% of the time. But what about the women who are raising their children 100%? What about those who are raising their children 100% with no child support payments coming in? What about those women who are raising their children 100% of the time, with no child support payments, and no family support system close by? After all, haven’t we been told a million times that it takes a village to raise a child?

What about those mothers who do not have a village? I am a lone mother. I do not have child support payments to help cover the needs of my child. I do not have a local family connection to help cover me when I have to be in two places at once. It is all me. School drop-offs and pickups? Me. Grocery shopping and the means to afford those groceries? Me. Sick child in need of a doctor’s appointment? Me. You get the idea. 

Think about how many times as a lone parent, you have heard your single mother friends complain about their exes being late for a pickup or drop off, or being a few days late on child support payments. But you see the difference between lone parents and single parents, is that those pickups and drop-offs will still happen, the child support payments will still get deposited. There are no pick-ups, drop-offs, and child support payments for lone parents.

As I normally do, let me assure you that I am not trying to downplay the stress of single parenting. Raising a child is hard, raising a child more than 50% of the time with little assistance and help is hard. But, raising a child completely alone, is a whole new level of stress and exhaustion, most of that exhaustion comes in the form of chronic and emotional fatigue.

Every morning, I battle my seven-year-old to wake up and get dressed for school. I feel like I am constantly rushing her. In fact, she asked me the other day why all I ever do is rush. I never wanted to be that parent that rushed every aspect of childhood, because I firmly believe raising a child in a constant state of urgency, is only going to lead to an anxious, impatient child who is incapable of slowing down and actually enjoying life. How I behave now, could very well have a lifelong impact on her ability to be happy and less stressed as an adult.

Every afternoon, after school, I battle with a child to complete her homework. She is an avid reader and smart kiddo, but she cannot understand why she has to complete homework after spending a day in a classroom learning the same material. I battle with her over her computer and iPad use in the evenings. I struggle to get her bathed and to bed at a decent time. She’s not a bad child, she’s a typical 7 year old who is figuring out she can test boundaries. This is completely healthy behavior in regards to child development, but I live in a constant state of mental warfare with a second-grade opponent.
Add the pandemic element to lone parenting, and I feel like I am in an apocalyptic situation. I recently came across the article, “America’s Mothers Are in Crisis. Is anyone listening to them?” (Read Here), and it was no shock to me that mothers are the ones stepping down from their jobs and ending their careers to be at home with their children. As a lone mother, I had no choice but to do the same.

As the article points out there are a number of aspects adding to the stress levels of mothers during this time. In fact, more than 1 million women have left the workforce during this pandemic, setting back women in the workforce and sadly, creating a situation where young girls now may be less willing to work outside of the home, or sadly yet, choose not to have children altogether.

One thing I found incredibly powerful in this article was the mention of how a mother’s stress can trickle down to the children and cause long-term stress and mental health issues in the children.

As I mentioned earlier, my daughter asked why I was always rushing around. The answer to my question was that we never give ourselves enough time to get places. But, that is not her fault. The “We” in that statement was completely inaccurate and even accusatory. She’s 7. She has no impact on the schedule and my inability to juggle time and commitments. Yet, I made her part of the problem, a burden I unfairly placed on her. Now, she will think the only way to not be embarrassed by showing up late to places, is to live in a constant state of quickness. The exact opposite of what I really want her to do.

I had a Masters’ degree. Multiple college degrees, a career spanning over a decade, healthcare, and a pension. Now, all I have are my degrees. Being a lone mother is hard. Making decisions during such a time of nothing but the unknown, is hard. There is little support typically for lone mothers that does not force the exchange of time or money. The two very things that lone mothers need more of and cannot afford to lose. We live in a time where lone parents are punished because of the situation they are in. We would rather make assumptions and belittle than collectively help each other out.

In December, I chose the word patience for my focus word of the year. I can honestly say that we are in March and my patience has not improved, in fact, it may have gotten a bit worse. While I do not know how to make the situations for all lone mothers any better, I am working on creating projects and resources that can help lone mothers gain access to much-needed supports and community. Right now, I am happy to announce a safe community for all of you Single Moms, a community of support, sharing, and ideas. Please feel free to check out the community at https://smartsingleandunscripted.ning.com/

This community will be a private community only for the Smart Single and Unscripted followers. A place where we can come together to encourage and celebrate one another, Discuss parenting and careers, give tips and guidance, and basically become resources and supports to our fellow moms. The community is free and I hope it grows to be a great, safe, and useful community. 

Published by Stephanie Poling

I am a "lone mother", educator, divorcee, dealing with lone parenting during a pandemic. I just resigned from my full-time teaching position after thirteen years in the classroom. I embrace the lifestyles of minimalism and frugality and am looking forward to moving back to small-town America. Self-care has taken a back burner to all things important to me right now and I am on a 365-day journey of self-discovery. My podcast Smart Single and Unscripted launched recently and I am working on providing the best information I can through my experience with a trauma-filled 2020 to offer hope to single women who are barely hanging on.

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