The Married Single Mom

father and children

Michelle Obama had the misfortune of mistakenly referring to herself as a “married single mom.” To those of us who have been there, we get it. Believe me, we get it. But there are others who take offense and are greatly and egregiously insulted by the fact that any woman who is married would ever dare refer to herself as “single mom” married or otherwise. I should know, I got into a fairly large disagreement while I, myself, was going through a 2-year married-single stint, with another blogger on Twitter.

I was new to social media and blogging but while one day, innocuously discussing my situation with another follower, this woman chimed in. How dare I call myself a single mother? Didn’t I have a husband? It didn’t matter that he was on the east coast living for work and I was in the Midwest, alone with a toddler and a preschooler. It didn’t matter that I mothered alone 5 days a week. None of it mattered to her because she said, emotionally and financially, I was married. I had a partner.

When you are married you have a level of expectation, you expect your partner to be there to help with the children, to hand off to when you desperately need a moment of quiet, to hold you, or just listen when life becomes too overwhelming. Well, let me tell you, there are very few things that feel as depressing and isolating as knowing you have a partner somewhere in the world, yet you are completely and utterly alone. 

My husband would come home every weekend, like a whirlwind. The girls would live for Friday nights, they were like Christmas and how I hated the inevitable departures on Sunday evening and I, alone, to comfort defeated children. I was left with all the responsibility and to pick up all the pieces and he would waltz in and tear it all up. That’s the nature of the beast. He began to get angry about missing firsts and I was bitter about having to do it all alone and even though I was there, I wasn’t enjoying it very much. It was too much, for too long,and I was emotionally and physically exhausted.

Eventually, all the money in the world was not worth the separation and the toll it was taking on our children and our marriage. We had to make the decision that we would rather be poor and together than financially stable and apart. We hit our breaking point at two years and that was it.

I am not unique.

There are so many amazing strong couples who endure the separation; husbands who work long hours, those who travel constantly, those who are in the military and leave behind spouses who have to carry on as normal. Each scenario requires that the spouse left behind hold it all together, do the parenting of two parents and try to maintain a relationship not tainted by the bitterness that the situation can sometimes bring. Being a married single parent sucks, in my personal opinion, I know I certainly didn’t get married and have children to do it all alone. 

Have you experienced being a married-single parent? How do you make it work for your family?

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The Married Single Mom

Deborah Cruz, @TruthfulMommy, is the creator of The TRUTH about Motherhood, an often humorous and brutally honest look at motherhood. She's a writer, a wife, and a work-at-home Mommy who's trying to do it all well. She live in the Midwest with her 2 little girls and her husband. She has a lot of degrees from a bunch of schools but mostly spends her days shuttling people under the age of 7, while trying to maintain her sanity and she wouldn't have it any other way. She talks a lot. She ... More

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10 comments

  1. sayhola says:

    I feel like this often, too, as he works 12-hour shifts and has to be gone from the house for around 14 hours at a time. When he’s working nights, it’s not as bad, but when he’s gone well before the little one and I are awake and comes home just in time to tuck him in, it’s tough. I don’t think it would be as tough on me if I weren’t working, and thank God I am able to only work a few days/wk, but those days when I work AND do all the baby and home care – theyr’e difficult. OR, when he’s working nights, and I’ve had to be up frequently throughout the night, yet pull myself to go to work in the morning – those times are tough. But, we are blessed with him having a week off every month, so it’s give-and-take I guess. Thanks for the great post.

  2. Brandi924 says:

    I must admit, I thought I felt a divorce coming at the end of this piece. I was so thrilled that’s not what happened!!!

    My husband and I decided, without ever going through the separation part, that we would always take poor and together over any amount of money. When we were first married, I was in nursing school and the expense was getting to be too much. We weren’t planning on ever having children at the time and wanted to travel, so I suggested I join the Air Force to help pay for nursing school. An officer’s salary plus my hubby’s would be plenty for just the two of us, and we’d get to see the world like we planned – without having to pay for all of it! He adamantly refused, stating that he didn’t marry me to not see me. I pointed out that he’d move around with me, but he said Basic Training and Officer’s School (one summer total) would put us thousands of miles apart with little communication and he absolutely refused to agree. "I married you because I want to be with you always. I want to be with you every single day" he said.

    Needless to say, it’s been tight and stressful over the past few years, but we’ve both honestly been very satisfied and happy with life despite it all. Having your person there to support you means all the difference in the world to both of us. So much so that we changed our decision about children and we now have a 15-month-old son – and I’m due with #2, a daughter, in 8 weeks.

    I can’t imagine doing this alone and am beyond grateful every single day that I have my amazing husband. I most definitely don’t take him for granted! Mad props to you and all the mothers who give it a try to improve the family situation. That takes mettle!

  3. Jana says:

    I am so glad someone is talking about this. I get so bitter and angry toward my Mommy friends whose husbands are present and helpful. It’s so good to know I am not alone.

  4. I have been there done that… My husband worked 50+ hours a week and we had a then 8 year old and a 3 year old. For a couple of years before that I worked full time went to school full time and tended to the kids. I actually had my son in my junior year of college. My husband had never been very plugged in. After losing my job and taking on childcare in my home in order to make ends meet. He came in at 830-9 at night and went to sit in front of the tv. No help with kids, homework, house work or even adult conversation. I was living in a house with my husband and was completely alone. Unfortunatly after 2 years we decided that we were both unhappy and we ended the marriage but it is very possible to be a married single parent.. My exhusband can count on 1 hand how many baths he had given our 2 children combined during our 10 year marriage.. He had probably changed less than a case of diaper(for those of you that don’t know that is less than 150) He never went to one of their dr appts and had excuses as to why he couldn’t come to school functions, conferences and extra curricular activities. I dare anyone to tell me that I did not live the life of the singe mom the only difference is I did not get the luxury of getting to file my income taxes alone and claim all those lovely exemptions that would give me all that extra money back every year

  5. Katie says:

    I hear you… my husband has been working very long hours, meaning he left the house before the kids were up, and came home just before (or sometimes after) they were in bed. Thankfully, he is now in a job where he’s back to ‘normal’ hours, and it’s been so nice these last few days to have him there to play with the girls.

    While I do sympathize with couples who do much more alone than I did (and do) it still sucks to feel like you’re doing it ALL ALONE!

  6. LLand says:

    I have been in this situation with my late husband and am currently in it with my husband now. With late husband, he was a college student, worked part time and had projects to work on after work. His kids and our child were lucky to get 2 hours of his time a month. With my current husband, his boss transferred him to North Dakota for 2 months and now we are being told it will be for 2 years or more. Kids talk to him everyday on the phone for at least 10 minutes and on Sundays that he is off they get to video chat with him. I take lots of pictures and videos that I email to him. It is really hard for us as I am 21 weeks pregnant and our daughter together is just 16 months old so he has missed a couple firsts for her. I am flying up in a couple weeks to celebrate his birthday and bring back the birthday presents he has bought for my almost 7 year old. In August we are going to drive to visit him, will require a 3 day drive, stopping each night and several times each day but if all goes well, after new baby is a couple months old, we will definitely be doing it again. It is hard but our family is strong enough to make it through.

  7. I’ve been single all my life, but currently have a great friendship with my unborn child’s father.So I guess I’m not missing much.

  8. i’m not in the situation and i don’t think i could be. i would need my partner in life to be my partner with parenting. which involves everyday.

  9. LadyTitan says:

    Actually, I am currently legally married, but separated from my husband, so I can kinda relate. I am 17 weeks with my first child, but it’s his 3rd child. We are not together, but I look at it as if he were dead (not trying to be funny). But there are many parents who are dead and the other parent is left to raise the child alone. So if they can do it, then so can I. This is how I look at it, and this perspective helps keep me going.

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