Words are powerful tools that have differentiated humanity from the rest of the animal planet.
And while that statement is debatable, this one really isn’t: words have also differentiated us singles from the rest of humanity.
Single mom. That’s a powerful little package. I’m not entirely sure what it means. In its most powerful, when said with a grave face in low tones, such as when the principal at the school I worked at last year handed me the file on a struggling student, uttering those two little words single mom. I wanted to say, “Yes? Me?” or “Oh, are you calling me that now? Because I prefer my proper name but I guess that works.”
Instead I said, “Single moms rock it. Single moms make the world go round. Without single moms, there would be a whole shitload of orphans out there.” Well, not exactly that…but something close.
He looked at me with his bright cat-like eyes (they really were kittenish, so much that I sometimes expected him to start purring during his long pauses). “I get it,” he said. “I’m a single dad.” Okay.
But single dad isn’t the little word bomb single mom is.
Single dad doesn’t mean financially struggling, four children diagnosed with ADHD, hair washed with dry shampoo until it looks like a topiary, shuffling morosely through the grocery store aisle too blinded by the mountain of Hamburger Helper to see the snot covering her kids’ faces.
If anything, a single dad is hot. He’s a hero, really, raising that darling little girl on his own and adoring her like he does and who cares that her face is a little snotty? He always rises to the occasion. And he looks good with buffalo grass hair.
And in all fairness, when the kitten principal said single mom it was a judgment and he knew it. He thought he was telling me the reason, the root, of this poor child’s horrible school performance.
It took me a year of divorce to realize those words single mom applied to me. Ouch.
Can we just be a little more honest and say alone in the world mom? Or, mom adrift with her tiny children?
The reality of marriage in 2014 is there is less of it than there has been in the last, say, 300 years. But people still want their babies, as evidenced by the fact that they are having them.
Those terms, single mom and single dad are going to have to broaden. They are going to have to include people who choose single parenthood…and people who are financially just fine…and people who with their one or two or two dozen kids, as the lone head of house, create complete families.
So next time one of my friends expresses reluctance to let her child play at the home of a single mom, I hope I have the guts to say, “You mean complete parent.”
Or, even better, “You mean whole package mom.”
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Assistant Editor: Terri Tremblett/Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Stephen and Melanie/Flickr