Posted on | September 14, 2012 | 15 Comments
When I was newly single, I read a blog post by another single mother that discussed her disdain with the whole “I don’t know how you do it” comment that we get… well… ALL the time. When I read it, I was sort of taken aback because, why would you be upset that people recognize what you’re doing is difficult? Then a year went by and a friend of mine called me when her husband was out of town. She talked about how her house was dirtier than normal, her kids were eating more fast food, and she hadn’t showered in two days. And then she did it.
“I’m so glad Mr. X is coming back tomorrow. Honestly, I don’t know how you do it!”
And just like that, it all made sense.
Because here’s the thing… I do it because there is no Mr. X coming home tomorrow for me. I do it because if I don’t, it doesn’t get done. I do it because my child can’t eat fast food every meal, every day of the week. I do it because there are no reinforcements.
To be honest, I know that it’s said with love. It’s usually said with genuine admiration, genuine feeling, genuine respect for what I do every day. But you want to know what it starts to sound like after it’s been said a billion times by a billion different people? A little like this:
“The past two days without my husband have been hell for me. Then I remembered that you don’t have a husband so your life must suck all the time. I’m so thankful that I have a husband coming home tomorrow… I’m lucky not to be you.”
I know. You’re reading this as a married mom and thinking “Damn, Gina. Sensitive much?” But think about it. What if, instead of being a single mom, I was the mom to a really sick child. Would you call me every time your child got the sniffles to tell me how you struggled through a box of Kleenex and how you were so in awe of what I do? No. Because it would be pretty insensitive to even start to compare your otherwise healthy child to my sick one.
It is similarly slightly insensitive to remark on your two days of parenting without your husband and to compare it to my daily existence. Know what would be MORE helpful? If you just kept your words to yourself. If you thought about how fortunate you are to have a spouse who helps you with the parenting and you tell him or her how glad you are that they are there. Not me.
Because I’m kind of over hearing about how thankful you are to not be me.