If you have a single mom friend in your life, have you considered inviting her to your next dinner party even if she’s a “fifth wheel?” You should and I’ll tell you why.
I’ve written from time to time about my years as a single mom. The financial strain impacted us greatly, in ways many people can’t understand. But there were other strains, as well. Thankfully, I became more financially secure with a new job at the same time Baby Girl went to college, and then I met Sweetums and we married in 2016. For me, things are much more stable.
I read a meme yesterday posted on a friend’s Facebook timeline about the changes that impact widows. They are doubly devastating because the widow has lost her spouse and life partner. I’ll share the meme below. These are things we should consider about our friends who now feel more alone than most people imagine.
But what struck me is that many of these things apply to single parents, as well, albeit without the added weight of grieving a death. I’m not trying to whine or complain or compare divorce with widowhood. In a way, I experienced both. Baby Girl’s father died when she was 2, but we had divorced when she was 1. I did grieve the loss and I also no longer had a co-parent with whom to share child-rearing. I had already purchased a tiny house for Baby Girl and me, thinking I would likely remarry since I was only 30 years old and, of course, had the most adorable baby on the planet. But as Baby Girl grew, I focused on her and, for a time, owning a business (a toy shop and birthday party venue) and then on my journalism career. I didn’t date much because Baby Girl was so young and I didn’t like the idea of introducing her to a string of casual dates. So years went by and, just like that, it was time for Baby Girl to go off on her own.
The worst effects of being a single mom came in the early days when the couples my husband and I spent time with stopped inviting me over. I understood. People often think it might be awkward for someone to be the single person in a room filled with couples. The thing is, my life changed in ALL the ways listed in this meme.
I didn’t get invited on group vacations or trips to football games or to dinner parties. Or even book clubs and game nights, perhaps because I was the “odd one out” and my life issues and priorities were different from those of the married women I knew. Of course, I worked a lot and sometimes didn’t have time for such things. I also often very rarely had money for such things so even if I’d been invited, I may not have been able to go. But I always had time for phone calls or lunches and it would have been nice to be included (Note: I do have a few very amazing, very dear friends who included me when I was single but they lived in different cities so it was difficult to get together often).
I was also worried. All. The. Time. Every minute of every day. Maybe some friends thought I was a downer. I often felt like a terrible parent because Baby Girl’s friends lived in big houses and wore designer clothing I couldn’t afford. I do know the emotions and challenges are different for everyone in this situation.
Don’t get me wrong. Baby Girl’s childhood was a happy one, despite my stress and feelings of guilt. Whenever I could scrape up a few bucks, I’d drive her and a friend or two to some quirky little place for the weekend. She was never deprived of seeing a World’s Largest anything, or waterfalls or amusement parks. On most other weekends, we had slumber parties that filled our small house with giggles.
I’m just making the point that we shouldn’t forget the partner-less people of the world. If you have a friend in this situation, whether widowed or divorced or never married, try to include him or her. Let the friend decide if he or she minds being the “fifth wheel.” To be honest, it’s nice just to know someone thought of you.
I wouldn’t change the years Baby Girl and I spent on our own for anything. But life is less stressful now. I feel cared for and included and supported and I have another adult to share problems with. Be that for someone you love.