I’ve known Jill Scott for more than a decade and shot multiple covers with her from the Jilly from Philly days to this gorgeous portrait of her with her son, Jett. We’ve always been cool, but it was only recently that we truly connected when we realized that we are both single mothers of young boys. You see, we single moms share a common bond: We’re kindred spirits because we immediately recognize and respect one another’s fierce love and loyalty for our children and our struggle to raise our kids while still working and having a life. And we also share being collectively maligned in the media and in our community for our supposed poor choices, which is ironic, because most singles moms I know are the hardest-working sisters around!
When Jill and I first chatted about our sons, we began by comparing their activities and sharing resources, then we segued into the challenges of working and dating with kids which, of course, led to the inevitable topic of mommy guilt over leaving our babies yet realizing that we had to in order to have a career and a life. As Jill told me during our interview, “The mother’s guilt is probably the worst thing I’ve ever felt … .”
I still remember the first day I truly understood how challenging it was to be a single mom. It was the morning of an important presentation I had to make at my company’s annual sales conference. My son, Max, had gone to sleep with a slight fever the night before. He’s typically a trouper and rarely gets sick, so I figured he’d feel better in the morning. No such luck. He woke with a runny nose and an upset stomach. There was no way he could go to school, so I called his babysitter, only to find that she was in bed with the same flu Max had. My son’s dad is a terrific co-parent and would have been happy to pitch in even though it wasn’t his week to have Max, but he was out of town that day. As I scrambled to keep Max comfortable, do my hair, practice my presentation and call around for emergency backup, I had a moment of scary clarity: This was all my responsibility. I had to figure something out and had a hard choice to make. I would have loved to have stayed home to nurse my child back to health, but I had a major work commitment that day. Sales team members had gathered from across the country for the conference, so rescheduling was not an option. In the end, a fellow single-mom friend came through with a reliable babysitter, and I went to my office.
These are the types of situations we single moms (and dads!) find ourselves in every day. We struggle to balance raising our kids with the responsibilities of running our homes and the need to pay our bills. It ain’t easy! But as we look into our kids’ eyes each night when we tuck them into their beds, we see the love and trust, and we know all of the sacrifices are worthwhile. Being a parent—single or not—is the most important job we’ll ever have. Email me or hit me on Twitter to share your single-parenthood stories and how you’re making it work.