When you look at the bottom line of it all, there is no competition between single mothers and married mothers. Good mothers, no matter what their marital status, want to raise children who are happy, productive adults.
A few days ago while on Facebook, I saw a photo of a woman with a caption that read, “No one hustles harder than a single mother.” As a married mother, the photo caught my attention, so I scanned the comments. In sum, the opinion of a majority of the commenters seemed to be that single are better mothers because they have to do so much without spouses to help. The comments made me chuckle.
The idea that single mothers are better mothers simply because they are doing two jobs is not a new concept to me. It is one I hear often from single mothers. By way of comparison, in my circle of married mothers, I never hear about comparisons to or competition with single mothers. The first thing I did after chuckling over the caption was look up the definition of the word hustle. I looked at both traditional and modern definitions. Merriam Webster defined hustle as:
a: to obtain by energetic activity
b: to sell something to or obtain something from by energetic and especially underhanded activity
c: to sell or promote energetically and aggressively
According to Urban Dictionary to hustle is to do “Anythin you need to do to make money… be it sellin cars, drugs, ya body. If you makin money, you hustlin.” I found both definitions interesting, but not applicable to what I do as a mother.
The Merriam Webster definition did not appeal to me for several reasons. First, while it requires energy and stamina to do what I do as a mother, I would not describe raising my children in a loving, caring home as something to be obtained simply by energetic activity. Secondly, motherhood is not something I sell. Thirdly, mothering is not some underhanded activity in which I engage. I also found the Urban Dictionary definition distasteful. It made hustling seem like something unseemly risqué or shameful. Of course, like most people, I work for a living. I must make money to contribute to the financial well-being of my family. However, I do not provide that financial support in an unsavory or illegal manner.
I have been a happily married woman for 29 years. I have been a happily parenting mother for 19 years. I think the best way for me to be a parent in my home is to raise my children is in a home with two loving, happily married parents. Before getting upset, and starting a social media campaign, re-read that sentence. I am talking about a specific set of facts:
I fully acknowledge that single mothers whether they are single by choice or circumstance are making the best parenting choices they can for themselves, for their children and in their homes. I don’t question their choice or circumstance and I do not question their commitment to be the best mothers they can be for their children. I do say that merely being a single mother does not make you a better mother than I simply because I am married and have a loving, caring, spouse in my home.
Some people argue that it is harder to be a single mother because single mothers must be mothers and fathers. I reject that premise. A single mother may have to do more things because there is no one else in the home to help with parenting duties, whatever they may be. However, a mother, even a single mother, is not a father. As a married mother, my parenting decisions indeed my life must always take into account the thoughts, ideas, opinions, and desires of my husband. This means decisions are not unilateral, but often the result of consensus-building and compromise. So while it is true that it is hard to be the only one available to make the decisions, it is also hard to have to make decisions that a spouse will agree with and support.
Being a mother is hard. It doesn’t matter if you are a single mother, or a married mother, being a mother is hard work. That fact does not seem to be debatable. The debate over who does a better job single mothers or married mothers seems like an argument created to cause disengagement and discord rather than something productive. Instead of debating who does a better job, wouldn’t it be better if all mothers spent that time taking a long, luxurious bubble bath and reading a good book?
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