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The Single Parent vs. the ONLY Parent

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Hi, my name is Ashlee and I'm a "single mom." Ahhh yes, the single mom title.

only parent holding son while singe mom shops

Ashlee Holland: I cannot seem to say anything nowadays without wearing that stamp on my forehead! What does that even mean? "Single" as in ... I have no significant other? OR "single" as in I am the only parent -- and there is no other parent that would make me a ... um ... plural parent?!?

Anyway ... Lately I have been a bit bothered by that title being thrown around as if it is a way to gain sympathy or is deserving of applause. I have decided to write, just a little, about the "single mom" title vs. being an ONLY parent. There is a huge difference!

As I was sitting on a set recently, I noticed that the word "single mom" was being tossed about like it was the hottest new pair of Louboutin shoes. Is this title the new HOT, IN thing?!? As an ONLY parent, I have never been able to afford more than the sales rack or Payless, point blank.

I have been a single mom since I was pregnant with my now 8-year-old son. I always assumed that having the title of "single mom" meant that there is no father involved and you are taking this journey on your own. Boy was I SO wrong. Lately, I have witnessed the wealthy, the elite, the successful, and even the supported use this term and receive accolade and empathy. So now, I am confused. SO, SO CONFUSED.

I know plenty of moms that get child support every single month like clockwork, and ones that make a pretty penny on their own. I am not taking anything away from their accomplishments, but can they change the title to at least "wealthy single mom"??? Then there would be some clarity.

I know "single moms" that drive the nicest European cars and dress from head-to-toe in the most expensive designer wear every day -- YET, when the word "single mom" is brought into a conversation, cue the violins!

Are you kidding me?!

There is no way a single (by way of divorce) mom in Beverly Hills can relate to a single (by way of deadbeat father) mom in the projects of Detroit! The wealthy moms hire nannies, maids, chauffeurs. I am just trying to get my son in properly fitting pants because he is so tall for his age ... AND don't even ask me about basketball sign-ups ... $100.00 a pop! Yeesh.

Don't get me wrong, I know that being a single parent has its struggles. But, if you are doing WELL and still have the "luxury" of scheduling weekends, days, or months off, then I just don't feel THAT sorry for your situation. I am an ONLY parent. I have to hire a sitter for everything unless I have a willing friend to pitch in. I have no days off ... NONE, NADA, NICHE!!! I pay all of our bills and get NO help each month with anything -- not shoes, school supplies, or clothes -- and my son wears a 9.5 in men's!!!

So, single parent versus only parent, this could very well be a complete change in the words we choose to label this new parenting dynamic. "Single parent" seems to simply describe your relationship status, not your parenting status. Seeing a woman who (recently divorced) makes over a million dollars a year get an applause for simply stating she was a single mother made me write this. When she uttered the words "I'm a single parent now ..." and the audience applauded, I had an epiphany!!! I personally felt as if my battle scars were being removed by a knife!

I have NEVER blamed anyone for my situation, nor am I asking for sympathy. I never asked to be an ONLY PARENT either, but I am -- and I am trying to bring the attention to things we generalize. Not every "single mom" is going through rough times, and not every single mom is doing "just fine." The term should not be used so loosely. Trust me, I have met REAL single moms at the welfare office that truly deserve the title. It is a badge of honor to be worn by the truly deserving, not just the "relationship status" worthy.

I am proud of being an ONLY parent (formally known as a "single mom").

With all of that being said, I hereby deem the title "ONLY PARENT" as the new "single parent" status, IF and only IF you are truly parenting on your own. Best wishes -- HAPPY PARENTING!

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56 comments so far | Post a comment now
Ashlee Holland - Author October 21, 2009, 9:30 AM

This quote says it all…..
“Never explain — your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway.” :)

linda  October 21, 2009, 10:11 AM

As a single mom by choice, (i adopted), I am not sure how I feel being lumped in with divorced single moms or unmarried single moms with involved dads. Yes, we are all single moms doing for the most part everything alone but sometimes when the women who fall into those categories, tries to give me the “we single moms” routine have it rough, I am little flummoxed. I blatantly went this route so I am not whining nor have I ever but its is not the same if you are getting help from your ex husband/boyfriend.

That said, to Ashlee’s point when I hear the media paint someone like Kate Gosselin or Sherree Sheppard “single moms”, it does make me go a little wacky.

Ashlee Holland - Author October 21, 2009, 2:49 PM

Linda…. BRAVO! That was the point exactly!!!! You are one brave woman! :) Best Wishes and God Bless!

Miss Blondie October 22, 2009, 4:47 PM

Ummm….are we the same person?? I am an “Only Parent” and have been since I was pregnant with my now 8 year old son!! I couldn’t agree with you more about this post! I’ve always hated the “single mom” term, like I need to explain my situation every time i use it. I will now be known as an “Only Parent”, so thank you for that!

Kudos on this post!

Anonymous October 26, 2009, 6:46 PM

I totally agree but think you have to be an only parent to get it. A single mom by divorce usually still has the father involved in some way even if the mom isn’t happy about it. The knowing that there is no break in site and that it will be years before you can leave them home alone so you can take care of yourself isn’t something that anyone but an only parent canget

be2be October 27, 2009, 6:36 AM

In the UK, they use the title “lone parent”. That’s another choice - and it sounds so renegade.
There are so many situations where you find yourself alone with your children. I understand your point. I sometimes feel a twinge when I hear people around me who share parenting half time and consider themselves single parents - which I guess is true but is sooo different from those of us who have no one to take turns with. I also completely disagree with the poster who said “NO ONE” raises a child alone. I’m sure it’s easy to think people live just like you do, but there are plenty of people who NOT have grandparents, aunts and uncles and for that matter, even friends who step in to relieve some single parents. I found a place I could afford to start over and there is no-one here besides an occasional sleep-over who shares the care of my kid. You simply cannot assume to know what it is like to be in anothers’ shoes.

Alice October 27, 2009, 1:47 PM

I adopted as a single parent — which means no 2nd income, no stay at home parent, no one to go to one school play while you go to the other. I really think only parents who have no other parent (for whatever reason) really graps this. (There are lots of things in life that I think only someone who has gone through it can grasp.) When a woman at church, walking with her only child, a well-behaved 8 year old, said to me as I was struggling to carrying a vomiting 5 year old and a 2 year who could not yet walk out the the car the rain “My husbands away for the weeking — I’m a single mother JUST LIKE TO YOU and I didn’t know it was so hard I wanted to say rather than your sympathy, could you offer to get my car for me, or find something to wipe off my child’s face, or offer to carry the little one or something rather can go on about how hard it bad been to get church without him to help?

Sorry, your hushand away for a weekend just doesn’t cut it.

Tina O' October 28, 2009, 4:33 AM

What an intreasting debate. A piont of view l had never thought of before. Single parent or Only Parent, definatly thought provoking which seems to have touched a few nerve endings.

Black Iris October 29, 2009, 1:20 PM

I think you make an important point. However, we shouldn’t forget that some divorced moms are basically only moms. And most divorced moms aren’t rich, they’re struggling to get by on less.

Danielle November 14, 2009, 2:48 PM

I am a single mother who works and takes care of my 6 year old son. His father pays his child support and it’s actually very little. It’s no one’s fault that you’re in a situation that you obviously are pissed about. It’s great to see a single mother that has financial security. I’m not rich, but I makes ends meet (without the govt). You seem to hate on women who decide to do what they have to do to be successful. Come on now. If you don’t like your situation, do something about it.

kenny January 7, 2010, 8:30 AM

I’ve been an only parent for over 19 years. My son is in college and happily learning to be independent. I’ve had such freedom over the last 3 years as he’s been moving into his own life, but I remember the days of never going anywhere without him and missing tons of events because I couldn’t afford extra child care ( only while I was at work)
I think making a distinction between a single parent and only is important, not as a comparison of who had it harder but as a way to find only parents the help and support they/we need. I find that people in general will reach out to an only parent who is male but expect woman to make it work on their own. Most of the time I was the only, only parent while my son was in the school system and the married home room moms expected me to do as many things for the classroom as they did. Argh it was exhausting!

For me the hardest thing to have heard as my son grew up, was married moms in good relationships say when their husbands were away or needed to work a lot, that they felt like single parents or used the phrase ” I know how you feel, I’m just like a single parent sometimes”. Gosh if it were only that simple, being a single parent for a day!

Anyway I’m proud to say I did it without a partner and both my son and I not only came out whole but are soaring in life, but I watched other parents and children who didn’t have the education I had and it was tough. I’m glad you wrote this post as it helps educate people and I truly “get it”…thank you

Colleen February 26, 2010, 5:41 PM

I too am an only parent, does the fact that I was older and established when I got pregnant (not planned) make me any less an only parent. The fact that I don’t have to stress over paying my mortgage doesn’t give me more free time than you. I have to struggle with the same things you do, pay a babysitter so I can get my hair cut, cut the grass during nap time, stay up later after babies bed time to get housework done and more. The title Only parent doesn’t mean poor parent it means someone who doesn’t have support from family or friends. I have less sympathy for a single parent who has a strong support system in place in terms of family and friends who will look after their children for free at any time; that’s great for them but it’s not the same thing. In order to make decent money to support my child alone I had to move away from all my friends and my family has never been any help at all. An only parent is someone who is doing it alone and learning how to find ways to make that possible.

Melissa May 2, 2010, 8:05 PM

have u ever taken your children to see their dad at a cemetary?

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