It’s hard enough to be a parent these days: between worrying about your kids, your job, paying your bills, and maintaining the house, it's not easy to also find the mental space and time to just enjoy being with your children. Now imagine shouldering these responsibilities all by yourself. As Circle of Moms member and single mother-of-three Ashley L. laments, “The hardest thing is I have no one to ask for advice. There’s no one to lean on.”
She speaks for many Circle of Moms members who are parenting solo, and who mostly agree that the loneliness is hands down the toughest part of single motherhood. In the spirit of helping one another to feel less alone, here Circle of Moms members share the five toughest parts of single parenting. (Related: What's the Best Thing About Being a Single Mom?)
1. Being the Fall Guy
There’s no good cop/bad cop for single moms, Circle of Moms members are quick to point out. “The hardest thing for me is being the sole disciplinarian," says Shannon C. “You don't always want to be the bad guy.” With no one else around to take the fall (or credit) for everything that happens to your child, you "take the blame for anything that goes wrong," explains India B.
2. Stressing Over Money
The financial strain of raising kids on one income also ranks high on the list of stressors for single moms. Denae H., who has to work more than full time to support herself and her son, says that her daycare center doesn't cover her working hours. Finding good care for her son when daycare is closed “is sometimes tricky, and I always feel stressed.”
“Financially, it is hard,” echos April M. “Working all the time and then picking up my baby late gets to me and stresses me out.”
Ashley finds that it gets hard to explain the lack of discretionary money to her kids. “It’s so hard to answer my lovely daughters when they ask why mommy doesn’t have the money for Barbies, Christmas, and other things,” says Ashley.
3. Never Catching a Break
The round-the-clock responsibility tops Crystal W.'s list of single parent challenges. “I think my biggest challenge is getting a break,” she says. “I am very lucky that my son is a great baby. He rarely cries and has only had colds, but there are times when he is fussy and I just need some space for a few minutes and I don't have that option [of] someone [stepping in to] help me.”
Heidi B. agrees. With no backup team, being a single mom is exhausting: "Never having that second person to lean on when you are sick, or just t plain tired is tough. It is all on you all the time."
4. Dealing with Loneliness
Many single moms say they just plain miss having a partner by their side. When you're only one in the house, explains, Shannon C.,"You have to be both mom and dad." For Ashley, this underscores her loneliness. “If only there was someone around to whom [I] could occasionally say, “I can’t deal with this, can you take over?... Sometimes I just hate being alone. I do miss the companionship."
5. Dealing with Your Children's Sense of Loss
Finally, watching your children come to terms with the departure of your ex is one of the hardest things many single moms experience. Elizabeth H. laments “the pain that you watch your child go through when they are attached to someone and that person leaves."
That struggle can continue long after the breakup of your relationship, as Susan D. explains. Her children's father rarely comes to see them. “They miss him so much and he just has excuses,” she says.
What is the hardest thing for you about being a single mom?
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