A behind-the-scenes look into the life of a single mom
I recently ran into an acquaintance on the street. When she asked me what my plans were for the weekend, I told her that my children would spend their last week of summer vacationing with their father. Her immediate reaction was to tell me how “lucky” I was. Because my children were standing nearby and I’m appropriate in public, I changed the subject, but what I really wanted to do was list the millions of reasons I’m not exactly “lucky.”
The grass is always greener, right? I’m sure there are countless married moms who wish for a day in which no one asks for a snack every 20 minutes. But keep in mind that Solo Moms are responsible for feeding our children, but we also have to take them to the grocery store. A trip to the DMV during lunch hour can be more pleasurable.
They also might imagine us single moms spending both days of the weekend sleeping till noon, when, in actuality, we use this time to clean the house, pay the bills, and delete the 100 selfies our kids took when there was no adult to entertain them while we handled a work emergency.
Sure, when our former spouse has the children, we get to take a shower with the bathroom door closed, don’t have to eat candy in secret, and can get out of the house in under two minutes, but when the children are in our care, we are on duty 24/7. We can’t take an evening off and let someone else put the kids to bed when we’ve had a bad day. Instead, we have the pleasure of watching our ex peer into our homes every night thanks to FaceTime.
However, being the only adult in our home isn’t always terrible. As Solo Moms, we become stronger and successfully handle tasks that our married friends often save for their partners, only our toolbox is pink. We change every light bulb and can snake a drain. We can even replace the filter on our air-conditioning unit.
While our married friends fantasize about what it must be like to go on a first date again, we sadly know the truth. We’ve mastered the art of swiping right and are now immune to those all-too-common dick pics. (Please, we beg you to keep your pants on—it’s gross.) Our first dates are not like the romantic scenes in the movies, or even like what they were prior to having children. We’re exhausted before we even leave the house. We haven’t seen a movie in years, so our small talk involves topics such as the Disney Channel or Common Core math, and somehow our “first date” blouse has a mysterious stain or is hidden in our daughter’s closet. We keep our cell phone on the table in case there is an emergency, and we come with baggage—lots of baggage—that can’t be checked at the gate.
There are many Solo Moms who, like me, haven’t ventured very far into the dating world. We find it too overwhelming and time-consuming. Our female friends replace the companionship we’d find in a partner, and there’s at least one vibrator in our home (usually given to us by a married friend out of pity). Instead, we focus on ourselves. We’ve learned to enjoy our lives as Solo Moms because we get to do things our way, with no one watching.
After speaking with numerous Solo Mom friends, I’ve learned that many of the things we do are unspoken but universal. So although we may not be “lucky” that there is no partner to share our lives with, we do get to live them on our own terms. Here’s what they had to reveal about the life of a Solo Mom when nobody’s watching.
1. We throw our own dance parties. We blast our favorite music while perfecting our moves and feeling sexy in an old T-shirt and sweats that we would never wear out in public.
2. Our solo dinners become à la carte extravaganzas. Munching on a handful of almonds, some avocado slices, a cheese stick, a few crackers, and a bowl of blueberries while standing over the kitchen sink is a perfectly balanced meal.
3. Every magazine beauty treatment is fair game. A turmeric face mask that makes me look like an Oompa Loompa for a few hours? I’m in!
4. We enjoy a rockin’ good night’s sleep. We’ve thrown out all the earplugs (goodbye, snoring bedmate!), ditched the eye masks (no one turns on the light anymore after we’ve fallen asleep), and stuffed the sexy lingerie into the back of the junk drawer (no more satisfying someone else’s early-morning desires). Now, we sleep comfortably and peacefully . . . with as many pillows as we want.
5. We create the snoozing environment of our dreams. No one on the other half of the bed? No problem! It’s the perfect place for us to spread out books and magazines we want to read if we wake up in the middle of the night. And if we do wake up before dawn, we can turn on the light without worrying we might wake up someone else.
6. Lifetime-channel movie marathons run rampant. When things get tough, we need to know that other women have it worse than us, and we don’t need to be judged while doing so. Plus, we now have control of the remote!
7. We ditch our manners. Oh, pardon us! We’re not as ladylike as we once were. We burp, we fart, and we don’t do it quietly. Nor do we step into another room, and we’re not sorry.
8. Vocal cords, suit up. Since no one’s around, we sing our favorite songs at the top of our lungs. We don’t care if we are out of tune. We also don’t care if the words are wrong. In fact, that’s just how we like it.
9. Say goodbye to ladyscaping. We get to do whatever we want with our pubic hair.
10. Naked laundry—it’s a thing. The ultimate freedom! There’s nothing better than washing clothes in the nude because when we are done, we can honestly say that every piece of clothing in our house is clean.
Being a Solo Mom is hard—very hard. And although I wouldn’t call us “lucky,” I think we do a pretty good job of finding the silver lining.
ESME’s Gia Miller is a Solo Mom to a nine-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy. She writes about health and wellness, parenting, divorce, food, and general lifestyle. Her work has been featured in online publications including the Washington Post, Healthline, Paste, Headspace, and more.
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