FAMILY & PARENTING

Woman Says Friend Isn’t ‘Really’ A Single Mother Since She Has A Live-In Partner. Is She Right?

by Karen Belz
Karen Belz has written for sites such as Bustle, HelloGiggles, Romper, and So Yummy. She's the mom of a sassy toddler and drinks an alarming amount of Sugar-Free Red Bull in order to keep up with her.

If anything, these stay-at-home orders are helping all of us appreciate the hardships that certain people face every day.

For one, teachers. Not everyone was born to be a teacher, but it’s a tough job that people haven’t fully recognized until now. And it’s also a tough job to be a single mother — especially with more than one child. Single moms rarely get a break. For all the single mothers out there who are trying to work from home, teach from home, and still parent, these situations have been really stressful.

That’s why it’s important to honor the single mothers in your life who may be in a tough spot.

Being at home with your child all day isn’t the easiest task for anyone, but it’s much more manageable with a partner or spouse at home. Single moms are often quick to mention they’re single moms since it can easily sum up their situation. And that is that they work hard and still have to hustle to pay bills.

But what happens if someone claims they’re a single mother, even with a lot of support? That’s when things get tricky. The definition makes it look like you’re doing all the work on your own. But if there’s someone else in the picture, is it still acceptable it to label yourself as such? One woman asked Reddit when she found herself in an awkward situation.

Redditor Coady417 states she’s a 60-year-old woman. To socialize under these conditions, she invited her friend over for a glass of wine on her porch. Her friend, Amy, is 50 and has a 10-year-old son. The father is out of the picture, and Amy has been raising her son all by herself.

“She’s a terrific parent,” the original poster (OP) said. “I’m very proud of her.” During the socially distant hangout, they were also joined by their mutual friend Eve. Eve is 57. While there, Eve started talking about a woman named Kate whom they know, who’s in her 40s. Kate is, according to the OP, a “nice lady, smart, hard worker.” So there’s no beef between them.

“Eve was talking about all the awful things this woman has been through and survived (all very admirable) and kept saying, ‘And she’s a single mother!’ This is how Kate represents herself, successful single mom,” the OP wrote. “Except… she’s not.”

According to the OP, Kate has had a partner for the last decade, named Eric. “She’s had her partner Eric for a decade. They live together,” she wrote. “He’s been in the boys lives since they were 7 & 9 (Their bio dad has not). That’s not a single mother.”

Eve said that Kate supported herself, but according to the OP, that also isn’t true. “Eric makes mid six figures and he’s generous and contributes to household expenses and he’s been there for those boys,” the OP said. “I said this not because I don’t like and admire this woman but, because I’m tired of women completely erasing the long term, cohabiting men in their lives who HAVE contributed to parenting and finances.”

Keep in mind, her best friend Amy was right there. And Amy truly is doing the job all by herself, without anyone else’s income, attention, or time. So it makes sense for the OP to want to clarify, especially since in her eyes, the two women’s parenting struggles don’t actually compare.

“It [expletive] me off that some women feel okay adding ‘single mom’ to the list of obstacles they’ve overcome like a badge of honor when they’ve had someone going through all this with them,” the OP wrote. “Someone who shuttles kids, contributes to expenses, helps with homework, comforts crying little boys, sits in the hospital when they’re sick.” She makes a good point. If there’s someone else to depend on, are you really parenting solo?

Unfortunately, the OP’s thoughts on the matter have damaged her friendship with Eve. “I told Eve: ‘Kate is terrific but, I think her claiming single mom-hood completely erases everything Eric has has done for ten years.’ Anyway, Eve got mad, a fight ensued and she’s not talking to me,” she said.

“I never raised my voice, but I did dig in,” she said. “Maybe I should have backed down but, my best friend Amy truly has NO ONE and NO FINANCIAL SUPPORT. She works 2-3 jobs at all times. That’s a single mom to me. Not someone who hasn’t married their long term, live-in, wealthy boyfriend.”

Luckily, most people seemed to be on her side. When you don’t have the type of support that Kate does, things become a lot more challenging. While Kate seems like a great woman, it seems like she hasn’t been doing this alone for a full decade. She has a partner she can lean back on. Many women don’t.

“I’m with you,” user freshtake2020 said. “A close relative calls herself a single mom. She’s single, and she’s a mom, but she’s not a ‘single mom.’ Her ex-husband supports her and the children. He’s there for the children – supports them emotionally, financially, and takes part in their daily lives. I pushed back on the term after having heard it too often. In my opinion, there’s a distinction [between] someone like my close relative and your friend who is truly on her own.”

The more people use a word incorrectly, the less meaning it really has. It’s almost like the difference between someone opening their own brick-and-mortar shop as a small business owner and those who claim they’re entrepreneurs for joining multilevel marketing companies. Both individuals are doing something to try to better their lives, but only one person is truly a small business owner.

And by mixing the distinction between the two, saying you’re a small business owner may end up losing all meaning. Owning an actual business where you’re in charge of everything from the inventory and prices to the logos and online presence is more than trying to get people to join a downline. While Kate is technically single and a mom, her partner may very well be common-law married to her by this point.

No matter what, it’s important to acknowledge the hard work that single mothers do. Many of them didn’t ask to be in this situation. But instead, they’re trying hard to be good mothers while balancing out the rest of life by themselves. If you have a good amount of support by your side, it’s a tough title to claim.