People who know me refer to me as a single parent.

I don’t really like that distinction because while I AM single and I AM a parent, the stigma attached to “single parent” is not a good one.

My Gigi is 5. She and I left her dad almost exactly five years ago when she was seven months old.  He was mean and emotionally abusive.  He seems to have changed a bit – or at least he loves his little girl more than he ever loved me.

He is involved.  He sees her one evening a week, every other weekend and every other week he gets another shorter evening.  It tears my heart out every single time she goes.  Sometimes she cries and sometimes she runs away. Sometimes I tell her if she does either of those things she won’t be able to play with her friends in the neighborhood the next day because those things “hurt her daddy’s feelings.”

I’m sick of him and his feelings.  My little girl wants to stay HOME.  My house.  Not his.

The other day a friend was talking about public schools in our area.  She mentioned a school that is not particularly good and said, “well you know, all those poor kids have single moms and their test scores are horrendous.”  Now, are there test scores horrendous because they have a single mom?  Or what?  The demographics of the school are not desirable due to the number of one parent homes.

Hmmmm…I’m a one-parent home.  Does that mean my child will not be as smart?  Or not do well on tests?  Or will be a behavior issue or somehow not succeed because she lives in a single parent home?  I choose not to believe that.  You see, my daughter is MUCH better off with living in a single parent home.  Her Mama may be messy and scatterbrained but she does not cry every day anymore or do things like look at her little girl and make the promise every single day that no one will ever hurt her.

I am a single parent.  I did not choose this path, but I live this path.  Would I like to have someone around to help pay the bills, cook the meals, clean up the kitchen and do a load of laundry?  Yes. But I also would want to be in love with this person.  And have that person love me back.

Another friend on Facebook had a status that said, “K is happy she doesn’t have to be a single parent anymore.  Hubby will be home in three hours.”

You are not a single parent.  You have a husband.  Who works and makes money.  He may be traveling for work or away from home but you are not a single parent.  You don’t understand how much coordination it takes to figure out when and who will go to school conferences.  Or what your child will be for Halloween or give her the choice of just having two Halloween costumes.  You do not have to put a screaming, fighting, kicking child to bed when she has been up too late so she can have quality time with daddy.  You don’t have to worry about your little girl looking at you and saying, “Mama, I love you the best.  So much more than my daddy.”

I choose to not let the stigma of being a “single parent” define me.  I try to wear the badge proudly and let my daughter know that we can do it ourselves.  We are strong…Mama and Gigi against the world.  I am raising her to be a strong woman who knows that her Mama can fix the sink or mount the shower head without the help of a man.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not a man hater.  I would love for Prince Charming to come in and sweep me off my feet.  But at this point it would be a distraction from my most important job.  My daughter.  I can’t imagine having to share her with anyone else.  I miss her when she’s gone.  We have been apart so much I should be used to it.  But sometimes I still cry because I miss her when she is gone for a weekend.

I am a single parent and I’m not ashamed.