What Teachers Don't Know About Single Parents
Dear Teacher, This Is What I Want You to Know About Kids From Single-Parent Homes
Last week, I wrote you a note requesting that my child be given one extra night to do the last section of her "Worldly Wise" assignment. She completed sections A, B, C, and D, but wasn't able to get to section E. You denied my request, stating that she had all week to finish the assignment and that you're teaching her time management. You wrote the homework slip, gave it to my daughter, then sent me an email stating this was your decision. But here's the thing: I can't let go of the resentment I feel about it. At first, I thought long and hard about what I did wrong and why something so small was making me so angry. But then I remembered that I'm a struggling, divorced mom of three doing the best I can with what I have.
There was no village, no husband, no nanny, and no friend down the road to jump in and help me. My child is doing the best she can with the mom she's got.
My daughter didn't have her homework done because, quite frankly, I failed her as a mother that week. There was no village, no husband, no nanny, and no friend down the road to jump in and help me. I can only guess that you're unaware of what life outside the classroom looks like for my child, so I would like to tell you. Try and take a look inside the home and life of a one-parent family. My child is doing the best she can with the mom she's got. Give her a break.
In my three kids' lives, they have two homes and one adult per home. There are frantic 6 a.m. phone calls looking for a blue shirt and yellow headband because today is spirit day, and my child thought it was at dad's house, but it's not there. There are 8:30 p.m. texts saying, "Is my math book at your house?" and tears and tantrums when the library book doesn't make it back in time to return it. It's a constant shuffle of belongings, one that even the most meticulous secretary could not keep up with.
Our nighttime routines can be chaotic. There are three kids who compete with one another to get mom's attention and a little help with their homework. One usually just gives up and stops asking. Bedtime is just the same. I usually run from room to room, giving back rubs, fetching glasses of water, and trying to make sure every kid gets the right amount of mom time. This usually leads to morning tiredness and sluggish preparation for the day ahead. There are doors slammed and lunches forgotten, only to be remembered long after school drop-off.
When child number one has a Spring recital or a late sports practice, children number two and three must come along because there's no one at home to stay with them. This means late nights, dinner on the run, and less down time in whichever family home they're stationed at for the night.
We all do the best we can, and we search for the lessons in every missed homework assignment or failed test. We're disorganized and late for almost everything; chaos is our norm. But we're us. We're a united family that has each other's backs. Our lives are full of laughter, honesty, and soul-searching. Each day, we try to be better than the last, and we've learned to roll with the punches. If we take it all too seriously, we will, indeed, crumble.
So, please, the next time I hand you a sloppy note on a ripped and ragged piece of paper asking for one more night to do section E of a homework assignment, please don't immediately turn me down. I know that we can't and shouldn't get a break every single time, but try and see it from our perspective. Sometimes it's my fault, because it's not easy being a kid in my home.
A Single Mom Whose Best Just Isn't Enough
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