About a year after I began my post-marriage life as a single mom, I was in a financial Facebook group and the topic was life insurance: how much you should have, what kind you should have, and what kinds you should avoid. Mundane, pretty cut and dry stuff. Or so I thought. Boy was I wrong.

The poster was a newly single mom who had never had to deal with budgeting or insurance. She was trying to navigate her way in this new realm. She had a couple of kids and she was coming to the board as a woman looking for wise counsel and advice. Asking for some help trying to seek answers based on her circumstances.

People started responding with the usual “term life” and “10x your annual salary” responses. The single mom poster innocently asked, “Should I factor in just my salary or should I factor in child support as well?” Little did she know that with 16 simple words, Pandora’s box would be open! One simple question sparked controversy. It happens so easily is when people hide behind a screen and openly vent unfiltered. What ensued hurt me in a personal way and has stuck with me over the last year and a half.

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Whether single parents have financial backing or are solely supporting their kids, parenting single can be hard!

The poster was looking for answers. She was trying to get all of her finances in order to protect her kids should anything happen to her. But another woman- another mother- was about to give her more than she bargained for. The response she got was anything but advice and anything but kind. The female responder was also a mom to 2 kids but was doing so without the financial support or physical presence of the kids’ father.

She was quick to point out that the poster- the woman who was still trying to pave her way and learn how to navigate as a single parent- may be a divorced mother but she was NOT (in her words) a “legit single parent.” She said that no person is a legit single parent if they have financial backing or support of any kind from the other parent. This parent made it abundantly clear that she didn’t think that a non-married parent could call themselves a single parent under these circumstances. Circumstances she was quick to point out were the ones she was living under. SHE was the real deal, the legit single parent.

As a mere observer, I was stunned reading what she wrote. Stunned and silently stewing! Thankfully others started making simple comments of “what’s that have to do with life insurance” and the like. A bit later her comment was hit with the magical admin delete button, but not before I read and reread her long comment half a dozen times. I let her harsh words and the pain pierce me. I tried to walk in her shoes. The shoes of a mom clearly struggling. A mom having been hurt amidst her time of trying to be the best mom she could be without financial support.

I tried hard through my anger to see where she was coming from. I didn’t respond on the thread because my words would not have been kind. Usually it’s better to stew a bit then to spew out of raw emotion before processing things. Rarely do I regret not saying something that could be hurtful. While trying to wear the responder’s shoes, I could feel for her and her frustrations. Struggling sucks! Life is tough! But that’s where my walking shoes came off and my own single mama shoes came on.

Yes, I am a divorced mom to 3.
Yes, it’s me that’s here doing their laundry, making their meals, helping nightly with homework, taking them to doctor’s appointments, and trying to teach them to be good humans without killing each other in the process the majority of the time.
Yes, I have my emotional, parenting, and financial struggles at times.
Yes, I’m tired. ALOT. I get far less sleep and worry way more than I did before my divorce.
Yes, I get overwhelmed.
Sometimes I feel I can walk on water. Sometimes I’m drowning.
Yes, my kids have a dad that’s as active in their lives as he can be and helps support us.
And, yes, I AM a single parent (just as any dad in the same situation is).
None of these things makes me less or more of a single parent.
That goes for the Facebook poster AND the responder, as well.

Dear single mothers (and fathers)~
I see you.
We may not all have the same struggles, but I know it’s not always easy for you.
You deserve to be happy and have happy children.
Don’t let others steal your joy or invalidate your experiences.
Remember that another person’s difficulties don’t invalidate yours nor does yours invalidate theirs.
And for the love of all things holy, stop listening to all the voices in this world that are trying to live rent-free in your head, working so hard to extinguish your flames. They have no claim on your mind!

Let’s focus on building each other up and being stepping stones instead of stumbling blocks for our follow humanity. We have children to raise, and they are looking to us to be the example.
Let’s do all that we can to live better and be better, giving grace to ourselves and others.

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