Okay, I have a pet peeve and I hope I don't piss anyone off with this one but here goes.
If you have a spouse who travels (military, civilian, etc.), you are not a single parent.
I could talk about the economic factors of living on one income and maybe some child support, or the the co-parenting trials and tribulations of two people who, for whatever reason, are not living under the same roof. But, not enough coffee yet.
I was a military spouse for many years, and I really GET that deployments are hard. The absences is profound. And not just military families, but many families deal with extended travel. My SIL posted this morning on facebook that she'll be a "single mom" for the next three weeks while my brother, a paramedic, is off fighting wildfires in California. My heart goes out to her, and him, and my niece and nephew. Not an easy lifestyle.
I get that the separation is hard, and the added worry about his safety is grueling. But his paycheck is still being deposited to their joint account, both she AND the kids have some positive contact with him while he's gone, and there is a date on the calendar (albeit tentative) when the family will reunite. They are a family unit separated by space but not emotions. She'll take a little time off while he's gone, and her mom will come help a bit. There is definitely a difference in their lifestyle than of two people who are in the same bed every single night, but it is not the same as being a single parent.
The difference, I guess, is that in single parenting, there is no countdown to a homecoming.
You are absolutely right. One of the hardest aspects of single parenting is living on a single income, and child support is nothing in the face of a dual-income home. Right now my child support - which I went without for the first two years of the girls' lives, when it would have been much higher than it ever has been since - is almost nothing because the girls' father and I have nearly reached income parity, and he sees them 40% of the time. Another peeve: friends who said, when the girls' father moved here and started taking them overnight, "Oh, so I guess you're not REALLY a single parent anymore." I get that they may be envious of my nights off of childcare responsibility, but it doesn't change the fact that I'm the only person doing everything for the time that they're with me, and that I miss my kids terribly when they're gone and often wish their father had never shown up so I could have just kept running my own show, and that I cover a mortgage, and my bills, and all other life expenses on my one job. And have evenings when it'd be nice to have someone there, and that person isn't. Mind you, I chose this as my life, so it's fine, I guess, if people don't want to have sympathy for me when it's hard. I'm still allowed to admit, though, that it is hard, and not even necessarily harder than partnered parenting all or most or even half of the time, but that it is certainly an entirely different thing than being left alone with the children while one's partner is away.
I also need to acknowledge that since my single income is above the national household average, I am significantly more privileged than many parents, including partnered ones. What your post is about, though, is about having compassion and sympathy for other parents and their individual challenges. One thing I can say is that my friends who have partners who travel a lot generally do call me and tell me how much more respect they have for what I do now that they've realized how much work it is to do everything themselves. And not just child-rearing but all the other household stuff that non-parent adults have to do.
I can see how that would bother you. Although AlphaGeek isn't around much, his implied presence actually means a lot to our family. His long hours at work evoke a different response than when he is traveling. Yes, it's hard when he's gone but since I tend to make all the big decisions about our day-to-day stuff, it's no big deal. The thought of him coming back gets us through some tough spots.
I definitely respect my single parenting friends for being able to keep up with everything on their own, all the damn time. I certainly could not do it.
I call it solo parenting, myself. Logistically I'm 80% a single parent. Financially I'm not single at all. Emotionally... eh... that depends on the day/week/month.
I agree completely. Not always better or worse, but absolutely different. PF travels frequently, but I know if I don't get around to the dishes or the laundry that there will be time for me to catch up later...or watch him catch up for me!
In my anti-histamine induced haze, it occurred to me that calling a parent being out of town "single-parenting" is akin to comparing pets to kids.
Although we love our pets and they can be quite a bit of responsibility, I will not go to jail for locking the dog in his crate for several hours while I go to work. Finding a dog walker is not the same as scrambling for daycare. But up through potty-training, a good portion of the relationship between pet and person and parent and child does have to do with poop.
Agree. Agree. Agree. Currently my husband travels 80% of the time, like many others here. Also, as of today, he accepted a job offer in DC and will more than likely be moving there and come "home" occasionally. No, that does not make me a single parent, despite the fact that he is not here, I still won't see a mortgage bill.
Agree! My husband is a commercial fisherman and is gone all the time. It doesn't make me single.
Single parents do it all on their own.
Sometimes people think that they're being cute when they're just being slightly offensive. The one that really gets the Curmudge is when friends drop by once or twice a year and then refer to themselves as "aunty" or "uncle" in front of the kids. He feels that: a) this is confusing to our kids (who are still very young) and b) it is presumptuous, bordering on offensive.
But it's such a widespread thing among our friends, that some people must find it cute.
Having a spouse who travels isn't single parenthood, indeed. My husband traveled a lot late last year and for the first half of this year, and it was terrible on me and the kids. However, we still got to talk to him on the phone almost daily, knew when he was coming back, and had his income available.
Oh thank you thank you thank you thank you!! OMG when I see someone refer to themselves as a "single parent" because their spouse will be away on business for a week I want to fucking kill them. Seriously. Kill. And I've actually CALLED OUT someone who does this all the time and he pretty much just blows it off. That is NOT a single parent. Not in the least.
And really, even if your spouse travels a lot, I think that in almost all cases, that person is still *mentally* a partner (and if not, then, you know, that's a problem.) But there's NOTHING that isn't on MY plate. Aside from the financial hardship, I have to remember to pay every bill, remember to get the car inspected and maintained, deal with any home maintenance, and just freaking make every damn decision on my own, with no emotional support or input. And doing that for myself and 2 kids, one of whom has a significant developmental disability... Yeah, I'm not going to be amused if your spouse is gone for a week and you call yourself a single parent.
I might have done this before in the past, not thinking about it. Duly noted.
I think for some who are in a partnership where one partner is married to their work, that the emotional lack of a partner and the logistical lack of a partner really does make their experience more similar (but obviously not equivalent to, financially) single parenting.
So while I get how that is disprespectful to someone who actually has all three of those burdens to bear alone... I also think that there are some very stressful marriages that are trading extra emotional cost in exchange for financial stability.