Dear Single Parents: You Are Seen

Dear Single Parent: You are Seen | The Champagne Supernova

I was annoyed when I received the text.

Hey Jen. I won’t be at the office this morning. Emma woke up with pink eye and I need to take her to the doctor. I’ll see if my babysitter can watch her this afternoon. I’ll be in as soon as I can.

I’ll admit I probably rolled my eyes.

I had an important hearing later that afternoon and I needed my assistant at the office to help gather the exhibits and case law to present to the judge and opposing counsel. I needed some scheduling matters attended to. I needed her there to answer the phones.

Not to mention this was the third time in several weeks I received a text like this. Earlier that month, her son had a tooth knocked out when he was accidentally elbowed playing basketball.

Before that, she missed work to attend child support hearings involving her former paramour.

Seemed like there was always something. While she was a good worker, I felt I couldn’t depend on her.

I tried to be understanding, really I did.

I knew she was a single mom of two, that her children’s fathers weren’t in the picture, and all financial responsibility for her family rested on her shoulders. Not to mention if something went wrong in terms of a child getting sick, in trouble, or generally needing to be somewhere, she was the only person who could do it. 

Money was always tight. She couldn’t afford to add her children on our firm’s health insurance plan and would become hysterical if they were hurt because of the high costs associated with a trip to the Emergency Room. (After the Affordable Care Act was implemented, the cost skyrocketed so much that the firm’s attorneys could barely afford to add their own families to the plans. It was $1,400 per month for a family of four, something out of reach for a legal assistant on one income.)

There were times I noticed her taking Coca-Colas out of the office refrigerator at the end of the day to bring home for her children as a treat.

She didn’t have the support of family to help with the children or any expenses. She was too busy working to cultivate meaningful friendships with people she could trust to help with the kids.

It was all on her. Everything was on her.

I always tried to understand and offer compassion, but I never understood more until I had kids of my own. Nobody who isn’t in the position of a single parent will ever fully understand.

After I had kids, I became in awe of single parents. How they didn’t have another “half” to count on for financial and emotional support. How everything was on them: drop off and pickup. Breakfast and dinner. Making school lunches. Getting dressed in the morning and out of the house. Keeping the kids entertained on weekends. Managing household bills. There is so much pressure on them to work hard to make money to provide for their children, but they are also criticized when they don’t spend enough time with their kids. It’s a difficult balance for single parents. Of course, one easy way of keeping children entertained is by putting the television on for them.

I don’t think being a single parent is as tough for some as it is for others, especially for those with a large support network who can step in and help. And trust me, I know most single parents are focusing on doing their best and raising successful children. They don’t want anybody’s sympathy.

So to all the single parents out there, you are seen.

You are both a mother and a father.

You are seen.

You are the maid, the landscaper, the cook, the chauffeur, the breadwinner, the beautician, the tutor, the school form filler-outer, the cheerleader, the coach, the tutor, the bookkeeper, the bank, the nurse, the tailor, the spiritual leader, and the therapist.

You are seen.

You are sometimes overlooked at dinner parties and social events because you are single when everyone else is coupled up.

You are seen.

You sometimes sit alone at little league games and dance recitals.

You are seen.

You are usually alone at parent-teacher conferences.

You are seen.

You are scrambling to find childcare when your kids are out of school for the summer but you still have to work.

You are seen.

You are alone in a busy restaurant dealing with a screaming child who is knocking condiments all over the floor.

You are seen.

You are by yourself at the playground with your children surrounded by traditional families with two parents.

You are seen.

You are a single parent because you walked out of an unhealthy relationship so you could provide a better environment for your children.

You are seen.

You are the divorced spouse feeling lonely on a Sunday night because you just dropped your children off at your ex’s house pursuant to a custody arrangement.

You are seen.

You are determined to give your children a good Christmas so you make sacrifices because your spouse can’t or won’t contribute.

You are seen.

You are frazzled at the grocery store with a handful of rambunctious youngsters because there’s nobody to leave them home with.

You are seen.

You are seen trying to set aside time for self-care, but it seems impossible.

You are seen.

You are seen.

You are seen.

Cheers to you.


    3 Comments on Dear Single Parents: You Are Seen

    1. Najia Haddock
      January 12, 2018 at 2:53 pm (5 years ago)

      I went through the same experience when I was in practice. I founded a law firm that was all female. As an employment lawyer, my colleagues gave me guff for “reverse discrimination” but it happened by accident- or perhaps because we were all female, fewer males applied when we had openings. Anyway, when two of our secretaries were both single moms, we often had to scramble when someone’s kid got sick-inevitably right before trial. I,too, was initially annoyed – until I saw everyone pitching in. My law partner, the receptionist, the bookkeeper and the paralegals all stayed late to finish pretrial motions, collate exhibits, prepare jury instructions, way into the night. We brought in pizza and wine. It was a bonding experience. Not a single person whined or resented the single mom employee. She, of course, felt guilty. But we all insisted it was part of OUR job to help each other. And don’t you know she bent over backwards – going home to get her kids then coming back to the office, pizza in hand, to feed the kids and the crew who stayed late to cover the other single mom in the firm.

      My law partner and I sought to break the mold of the typical, male oriented law firm by having precisely this sort of ‘corporate culture”. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of looking back on my career. The parenting job is hard enough, we need to avoid adding guilt to an already heavy load.

      So, yes, Cheers to the single parent!

    2. Lara Butera
      January 12, 2018 at 1:05 pm (5 years ago)

      tears. I cant imagine not havign my husband to help. I feel like i do it all most times, but I don’t. I’d literally break down every day if I had to it all EVERY DAY. You mommas (and some dads too) and SUPERHEROS

      January 12, 2018 at 11:36 am (5 years ago)

      This post made me cry! As a parent all that matters is that your child is happy and enjoys everything life has to offer. If I do not sleep, my dark rings do not matter. As long as my daughter has sweet dreams. I had to learn to stop with the “sorry”…I felt I was apologizing all the time. It is plain and simple my daughter comes first.