According to the U.S. Census, most families raising children under the age of 18 are two parent homes, but for a variety of reasons, many of us find ourselves doing this alone. So, while it’s true that two parent homes are in the majority, those numbers are dropping each year and these single parents, who get to be mom and dad, have their hands full. Considering all this, it’s no wonder that I have always thought that the term “working mom” an understatement, as no parent I know operates on an 8-hour clock.
Raising a healthy human is considerable work which is undertaken by millions of parents daily with commitment, dedication, and love. Yet each day, many of us find ourselves struggling to not only care for the needs of our families, but also the needs of our careers. From getting our children dressed in the morning and making sure they have a nutritious lunch, to the hectic morning drop off, only to then being on standby while they’re at school or daycare “just in case.” If that were not enough to manage, we then go off to the job that provides us the means to fund our existence, shifting gears to focus on the needs of the job, all while keeping an eye on the clock so that we can get our work wrapped up in time for pickup.
Then comes the second shift; Load up the child, head home, monitor homework, make dinner, followed by bath-time, maybe a story, and finally bedtime. Now that they are safely in bed, we need to go over any school communications received, pay our bills, collect laundry, tidy up and prep for the next day when it will all begin again. If we’re lucky, we’ll have a chance to breathe and find a precious few moments for ourselves, as we make sure to remember the day we are supposed to volunteer in class or attend that parent meeting.
It’s a big job, it’s exhausting, hugely underpaid, and quite frankly, really must be a labor of love. I chose to be a mom, and while I didn’t plan on doing it solo, I love my daughter dearly, and there is no reality where I would choose not to be her mother. My daughter drove me onward, she believed strongly that I had it all handled, and through her beliefs, despite the days I worried and stressed while keeping a poker face, I did. Now, in hindsight, I realize all of that was simply a moment.
As I look back and reflect, I realize that all that stress was a distraction. Yes, it was critical to make sure the rent was paid, taxes complete, school, insurance, utilities, clothing, food, and car payments were all made, but really, all of that was the work, and the true job perk was my daughter. That shining face that always believed I could do it, and for whom I chose to do it for. This life with her has been everything. I have never loved anyone the way I love my child, and I would not trade that life for anything.
For all the working single parents serving as mom, regardless of gender, those who take on these responsibilities, who worry and do double duty deserve enormous respect, and admiration. Let them know that you see them, that the work they do matters, and through their efforts, the world will be a better place for the humans they are raising. Happy Mother’s Day to us all.