Solitary Clarifications

I’m a strong believer in the notion of do unto others as you wish to be done unto you. I recently read a blog post talking about how some parents “feel” like a single parent. I skimmed through the 117 comments and my blood boiled. I vented on twitter a bit, re-centered, and will hopefully put how it feels to hear this as a single parent.

We all have feelings. I feel fulfilled, I feel lonely, I feel excited, I feel smothered, I feel loved, I feel unappreciated,  I feel taken advantage of, I feel stressed, I feel peaceful, etc.

CEO of MTV is not a feeling. Widow/widower is not a feeling. African American is not a feeling. Marriage is not a feeling.

Single parenthood is not a feeling.

The funny thing is, I don’t see our culture accepting anyone claiming to feel like a widow, or a CEO, or as someone of a different race/ethnicity than their own. However, “feeling” like a single parent seems to be perfectly acceptable to voice.

Let’s take a step back and break this down:

Being a single parent is not an emotion. What emotions are really being felt when someone may say they feel like a single parent? Perhaps unappreciated, loneliness, anger, resentment, exhaustion, helplessness, stress, unhappiness, depression, am I missing anything.

Read that list again.

I feel unappreciated.
I feel lonely.
I feel angry.
I feel resentful.
I feel exhausted.
I feel helpless.
I feel stressed.
I feel unhappy.
I feel depressed.

I cannot deny feeling those things in some degree at various moments. However, those negative emotions do not define my current role as a single parent.

When people interchange negative emotions with the title of single parenthood, they are calling me all of those things.

I am not all of those things.

I am happy.
I am content.
I am appreciated.
I am fulfilled.
I am excited.
I am confident.
I am strong.

I am loved.

When I am having an off day, having troubles with my child, or with co-parenting, or at work, with family, etc, I don’t exchange those emotions in those moments and announce that “I’m having a dysfunctional loveless marriage day.”

Call what you feel by it’s name, not my name.

I am a single parent. I am not your laundry list of negative emotions.

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16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. katarena
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 14:56:24

    THANK YOU! Thank you for saying this in a way that people will hopefully understand. It is so frustrating to hear “single mom” constantly used as a negative connotation. And that’s exactly what people who say they “feel like single moms” are doing. Being a single mom is incredibly challenging but it’s also the most fulfilling and rewarding thing I have ever experienced. It is who we are, not what we feel from day to day.

    Reply

    • msaimeeb
      Jun 16, 2011 @ 15:30:48

      Precisely how I feel. It’s not a competition of who job is easier, nor is our title a scapegoat to describe hardship. We just are who we are. Single parents are all different. The only thing that unites us is a lack of another legal spouse. We aren’t united by lots of negative emotions. We can be surprisingly happy and content :-)

      Reply

  2. wratwrds
    Jun 26, 2011 @ 23:28:29

    Wow. Very very well said.

    Reply

  3. Kelly
    Jun 27, 2011 @ 01:51:35

    I’m guilty of having said this to my hubby – in the sense that when he’s not present when he should be or not pulling his share of work, I feel alone and essentially “like a single mom.” But I’m still able to have that conversation with him.

    Thanks for this post for helping me see the error of my ways. It would be like saying “I feel like a black person” when you get passed up for some reason and I wouldn’t tolerate that (as I’m black), so it makes sense.

    Reply

  4. might be a tranny if
    Jul 03, 2011 @ 17:55:16

    you know what, i felt like more of a single parent when i was married. i felt a lack of understanding, a lack of support, i felt scared over $ (kept from me), violence, (directed at me and the kids) and i felt uncertainity about our future.

    now, i am single. and i feel FREE! no one is hurting us. no one is yelling at us. i have $ every month to buy whatever i want (woo-hoo! food, gas, hygine products w/o having to beg) because the court told him he would go to jail if another support payment was late.

    honestly, my life feels a lot more peaceful, calm, happy and focused. its SO much easier to be a single parent than it was to be a married parent.

    i didn’t know what it was really like to be a single parent (i could only dream). but now that i know; its a breeze! honestly i don’t know why single parents complain. i have 3 kids, one severely disabled and my life runs very smoothly :) big, big improvement.

    Reply

    • msaimeeb
      Jul 04, 2011 @ 13:24:10

      I’m glad you were able to escape a negative relationship. So many women have trouble doing that, so you are a great example.

      It’s interesting how you described how you were feeling married vs single. You kind of described exactly how I feel when I hear (or read) people saying they “feel like a single parent”. When you were married, that title was presumed to be negative. Now that you aren’t a single parent, you don’t feel those negative emotions.

      Single parents don’t necessarily feel like we’re wives of a miserable man. Many of us are happy, and even have great relationships with the other parent.

      Regardless, good for you for having the strength to take charge of your own life.

      Reply

  5. justmewith
    Jul 03, 2011 @ 20:44:59

    Well said. Especially the analogy to how it would be ludicrous to say that a person felt like a race/ethnicity different from their own. It’s always better to express the feelings accurately — that’s when the real discourse begins. A married parent who is getting no support from the spouse is entitled to feel overwhelmed, lonely, unappreciated, etc. Single parents may or may not relate to those emotions and may or may not relate to those emotions every day. It’s more complicated than that. Using the shorthand of “single parent” to describe a situation and the bundle of emotions and obligations that the situation has caused is just inaccurate and can be offensive. It’s good to talk about it, though, so it doesn’t become more of a battle and so people can support each other. Thanks for this, and again, well said.

    Reply

    • msaimeeb
      Jul 04, 2011 @ 13:28:34

      Yes, I have actually never been married, so I would never dream of making an assumption of how that feels. I just know single parenting. It has its ups and Downs like everyone else does, but J and I are both rocking our lives like it’s 1999 ;-)

      Reply

  6. Jacquelyn
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 07:47:14

    My view of this topic differs from yours. It is possible for a married person to “feel” like a single parent. And when someone does, unless it’s your own partner, it is absolutely no reflection on you and how you feel as a single parent. It absolutely does not disparage you. You are choosing to make another person’s feelings about you. You do not have to take that “burden upon” yourself. You say “When people interchange negative emotions with the title of single parenthood, they are calling me all of those things.” They are not calling you anything, merely expressing how THEY feel. You suggest some emotions that a person may be feeling, such as unappreciated, lonely and angry. Not necessarily. The FACT may be that they give all of the discipline, all of the homework checking, all of the PTA events, all of the carpooling, etc. This may lead to someone saying they feel like a single parent. The word “feel” isn’t limited to emotions. It can also reflect a state of being, such as “I feel sick”. We can allow people to feel the way they feel, and use the words they choose to use with regard to their own personal situation without it being a personal affront to anyone else’s parental status. Of course you are not someone else’s “laundry list of negative emotions” that you describe in your post, because when somone is speaking of themself, it absolutely has nothing to do with you. And remember, YOU made that list. No one assigned those things to you by simply uttering the words, “Sometimes I feel like a single parent.”

    Reply

    • msaimeeb
      Jul 06, 2011 @ 21:20:27

      Everyone is entitle to their own emotions, just as I am expressing my offense at hearing when others say they “feel” like single parents. When folks who are married mention feeling like a single parent, it is never in reference to a positive emotion. That’s the point I’m trying to make. A single parents emotions and lifestyle is not always hopeless, stressful, or negative. It’s a stereotype that needs to be broken, and having married parents label a difficult or stressful circumstance akin to feeling like a single parent perpetuates this negativity. It’s a seemingly easy comparison, but their struggles are not my struggles.

      Writing and reflecting on my own post is helping me realize we all do this for various things. Feeling like an old lady, an epileptic, a fag, a retard, etc. It can be offensive, and we all should stop and think about what we’re saying sometimes. Words do hurt. I can’t relate to a married parents problems with feeling stressed because a spouse isn’t pulling their weight, or is gone for a few days/weeks/months. My struggles aren’t the same. We all need to be more clear about defining our struggles with clear and honest emotions, rather than labels.

      Reply

  7. Lani
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 06:15:13

    Well put .

    Reply

  8. Lani
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 06:18:57

    Well put . I am in a happy marriage & have said i felt like a single parent….but it comes from spouse working long hours & not always being here & being too tired when he gets home after a long day.

    Reply

    • msaimeeb
      Jul 06, 2011 @ 21:26:50

      Thanks for reading and sharing Lani. Perhaps telling your spouse that you feel tired, exhausted, neglected, unappreciated, etc may help him understand more of what you’re actually feeling rather than a single parent. It may open up an exchange to allow him to express how he feels, and the two of you can work out how to help the other balance and get to a better place. I’m definitely not a marriage or relationship expert, and won’t even pretend to understand the complexities that go on in a marriage, but I’m a big believer of clear and honest communication. Good luck!

      Reply

  9. mamajoan
    Sep 20, 2011 @ 17:04:17

    I’m frankly perplexed by your analogy. You say that no one would ever say “I feel like a CEO of a large company.” Well no. But people do say, for example, “I feel like a taxi driver. I feel like a short-order cook. I feel like a punching bag.” Feel like is not the same as “I feel.” It means that I’m being expected/required to perform a function that I don’t want to perform. “I feel like a taxi driver” means “I feel resentful that I’m constantly driving people around.” No one claims that “taxi driver” is a feeling, but it’s a symbol that represents a role, a set of tasks, and yes, a set of feelings.

    By the same token, married women who say “I feel like a single mom” are saying “I seem to be doing all the parenting.” They aren’t saying that “single mom” is “a feeling.” They’re saying that “single mom” is a role, or job description, what have you, that they don’t want to perform.

    Granted, it’s still a negative comparison most of the time. As a single mom myself, I used to get really annoyed when women would say “I feel like a single mom” or “I’m single-parenting this weekend” if their husband had a business trip or what have you. After a while, thinking about it, I came to feel differently. I see that moms who expected to be equal partners in parenting are disappointed, frustrated, resentful when they find themselves “doing it all.” They aren’t dissing single moms; if anything quite the opposite; they gain more and more appreciation/respect for what we do.

    In general, when someone says “I feel like” and you interpret that as having to do with you, you are wrong. In general, another mom’s “I feel” statement has NOTHING to do with you. She isn’t judging you. She isn’t making a statement or implication about you. She isn’t thinking about you at all; she’s entirely thinking about herself. If you take offense at how someone else feels, you’re expending energy needlessly. That’s my personal opinion after spending a lot of time soul-searching on this subject.

    Reply

    • msaimeeb
      Sep 20, 2011 @ 17:31:51

      Well, I’m sorry you feel that way, but this post is how I feel. I have been a single mom for nearly 7 years, so I’ve had more than enough time to give this adequate perspective. Putting things in this scenario has actually helped me become more aware of any inappropriate comparisons I may still continue to voice. I simply believe that lumping ourselves within a label of any kind is a disservice to those owning that label as well as missing an opportunity to voice genuine emotions that can bring about genuine conversation and potential change.

      Additionally, I don’t spend an exorbitant amount of energy feeling offended and thinking about the offense, but I appreciate your judgement. Each time such a moment happens, I acknowledge it, and allow it to remind me to be sensitive in anything I may say in comparison to others.

      Reply

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