Solo parenting in my opinion is solo parenting. Be it you’re a woman who’s been left by a partner, or if you’re a man who’s ex decided to disappear; The common denominator is, you’re both solo parenting. So, why is it that men who end up as solo parents are given some kind of unspoken award for raising their children, yet women get blame, disapproving eyes, and grief. Really where I’m going with this is, some men are given grace, and some women are given pity. As a solo mother myself, I’ve experienced first hand what it’s like to hear negative comments about myself for being a single mom, or being told I should be grateful that I’m able to do it all on my own, despite the fact that I have no one to help me raise my son. The fact remains that society has found a way to be sexist even in solo/co-parenting. (Some) Women are viewed as evil, or flawed when we are solo moms, and yet men are elevated into heroism when they do the same. In the end, what really makes us different, besides gender?
There is a man I know, we’ll call him “Cal”. Cal found himself in the situation years ago, that I’m currently in now. By that I mean Cal abruptly became a solo parent, against his own wants or desires. As he explains, his ex-wife left him and their 2 children alone when she decided that she no longer wanted to be a part of the family life. So Cal did exactly what I had done; moved closer to family for daily support and emotional help. As Cal went on with his life, his family stepped up in a major way, assisting him with the day-to-day task of raising his children. Time goes on, his children get older (teens), and now Cal has moved away again to pursue a better career option. This is the part in the story where Cal and I meet. Now this is not a love situation, this is a peer, co-worker, friend to friend situation. Cal works in my company, and we frequently used to have meetings together, where I learned he was new to town just as I was once again. As we began to hang out, he tells me his story, and I share mine and we bonded. I asked him how he dealt with relationships over the years, if he felt the guilt of society on him for not being in a relationship with his children’s mother while raising his kids? I just wanted to know what he already knew, and because I thought he was a friendly person, I just knew he would understand me. For a while there he seemed to understand, and was very helpful in my progress of being a solo mom.
We continued to work together, and things were good. I wanted a better position that would make more money, and put me in a leadership role, so being the outgoing ambitious woman I am, I applied and did it. At the time Cal seemed happy for me. This is something I would advocate for every solo/co-parent to do. Make more money, to do more amazing things with their children, and Cal agreed with me, since this is the main reason he moved to our city with his children in the first place. If we don’t have another party contributing to our financial situation, we need to do whatever we need to do, so that we can have the life we want without missing a beat. So one day Cal and I were talking about my new position at work, and Cal made a joke about single (solo) mothers, which let on how he really felt about women who are raising their children alone. He said once we have kids, and our men leave us, we get so focused on our careers that we don’t need a man, and become “bitter rats”. “You know, y’all start waving your hands, rolling your necks, and telling other people what to do at work, cause you ain’t got a man in your life at home.” I was enraged that he would refer to me in a colloquialism such as a ghetto, bitter, hood rat. Now if you don’t know by now, I am a woman of color, AKA BLACK (lol). But I am not by any means ghetto, or low-class, uneducated, or anything of that manner. So how could he say such a thing when he knows me, and we were friendly (well at least I thought we were). Apparently Cal was annoyed with me about something else, and yet he couldn’t be honest about it, so he created this sexist ideology of me to victimize himself. He said he didn’t see himself in my situation as a solo parent. He separated his struggle from my own, and demonized me and other women like me, in order to suggest that we were different. What it came down to was that he is a great man for being a solo dad, and I am a flawed woman for not being able to keep a man in my child’s life. More so, he let on that if I was ambitious enough to try to even the playing field financially for me and my family, that it was an indicator that I didn’t want a man in my life. Which could not be further from the truth. I want to give my son the best life possible, and I want abundance for myself. Therefore I should pursue that plight be there a man in my life or not. He created a division between us, when there wasn’t one before. As I see it, when I make progress, I pull others up with me; provided that is what you want to happen. Instead of being a financial burden to someone else, or teaching my son to wait on others, I chose to seek out the life and things I want. It was my understanding that by getting this promotion that I was doing something great for myself and my family, not trying to indicate to the world that I was somehow anti man.
I share this story because whether we think so or not, women who are solo/co-parents are expected to put up with harassment, public shame, or insults, and it’s acceptable. Where-as men, who are also solo parents, are often given concessions, breaks, a pat on the back, and told good job for raising your children alone, how can we make this journey easier for you. Society tells them that they are great, they are awesome, and they are doing a fantastic job. Yet in the exact same breath we tell women, you’ve done something wrong to end up in this predicament, you’ve made a mistake now you have to live with it, or figure out how to make your life better, without drawing too much attention to yourself. Cal, as a solo parent himself, saw and still sees his plight being different from that of mine. He saw his ex leave him with children, being selfish, callous, and hurtful. He saw my ex leave me with my son as normal, that I must’ve done something to anger him, or my favorite line to hear, how could a man leave you and his son if you didn’t do anything wrong? Why are we victimizing each other bro? When I tried to do better for myself, Cal saw it as a threat to him, or to other men, and all I’m trying to do is thrive! I guess it’s been bugging me since I no longer speak to Cal on that level because of the things he said. I want to get to a place where men and women who are solo/co-parents are supporting one another. We aren’t looking for another opportunity to tear the other person down, when we know first hand what the other is dealing with. Mentally and emotionally, I say it all the time, solo parents need support. Here was an opportunity for Cal to work with me, so that I could help him get a better role, or so that I could work with him to build his wealth in whatever way he saw valuable. Instead, he wanted to make my life more difficult, just as so many others have since I have gotten my promotion. I’m constantly in a state of proving myself, when I shouldn’t be. Friends and families don’t always recognize when they are doing this thing of shaming solo mothers for focusing on themselves and their children. We are told to silently go on with our lives raising our children, without a man, and without complaint. But, the second we try to improve on our own, we are challenged to prove that we are worthy of the blessings we worked hard for to begin with. Let’s be real… I’m not going to get involved in this ridiculous war of words and deeds, which has been aimed at making solo parents feel terrible about their situations, when I can spend my time and energy on the things that make me the happiest. So, if my success bothers you, you might want to close your eyes and ears, because the BEST is yet to come!
-Be the Best Version of YOU!-