I'm a parent now. I've been a parent for 1 year and 20 days. And in that 1 year and 20 days, Ben has been gone enough times with the Air Force that I've compiled an opinion based on my experience. And my opinion is... I'm not a single mom.
I feel absolutely unqualified to hold that label. I feel like calling myself a single mom is an insult to single parents. Don't get me wrong. I'm in no way telling all the Military Spouses they are bad or wrong for labeling themselves as single parents.
BUT I personally cannot do it, and these are some reasons why:
I don't have to hold 3 jobs to barely skim the poverty line.
I don't have to arrange visits between my child and their other parent.
I don't get lumped into a statistic.
I don't have society judging my parenting abilities based on my relationship status.
I don't have to go to parent teacher conferences or preschool orientation and feel nervous about explaining where Bennett's dad is.
I don't have to explain to Bennett why his friends have 2 parents and he has 1. Or why he only lives with one.
I don't have to be alone..
no matter how alone I may feel.... I'm not.
NO matter how long Ben is away, or how often we do or don't get to speak.... He is thinking of us. We are thinking of him. And calling myself a single parent isn't only an insult to those who really struggle with all the things that single parents struggle with every single day.... it is an insult to Ben.
I firmly believe that the relationship between a Military Spouse and their Military Member is either strengthened or broken down during time apart by one thing... Respect. In order for Ben and I to have a healthy relationship during time apart, I need to respect his role as a husband and a father while he is gone.
What does calling myself a single parent entail in relation to Ben? It suggests that he isn't lending any support or aid! And as his partner... it is my job to build him up, to help him become better, to be there for him while he is away, to reassure him of our love and respect for him as the patriarch of our little family. He needs to know that he still has a role even when he is thousands of miles away. He needs to know that we need him. He needs to know that I don't think of myself as a single parent, because he is valuable.
Being apart is hard. I would be lying if I said that being here alone with Bennett is easy while he is away. It is hard. I have laid in bed awake plenty of nights wishing and hoping I would wake up and he would be next to me. But no matter how many tears, or missed phone calls, or terrifying nights alone we have... I know its only temporary. And even though there is always a possibility that something horrible could happen... it is the exception..not the rule.
I have the greatest and utmost respect for single parents. I can't ever pretend to know their struggle, and I hope I never have to. You are incredible, you are strong, and you can do it!
As a military spouse, I am not among these soldiers of parents. So please don't call me a single mom, instead... let a real single mom know you support them. Because they deserve it.