Not Single, But Alone


We are not single.

We are married or in committed relationships. We are not single parents navigating the challenges of raising a child entirely on our own without financial or emotional support from the other parent.

No, we are not single, but we are too often doing it all by ourselves.

We are military spouses whose serviceperson is deployed or stationed elsewhere. We are the wives of first responders who work days on, days off, and who often are “on-call” ready to run into work at a moment’s notice. We are the partners of seasonal workers – the fishermen, the oil rigs – who spend months away from us to earn the bulk of that year’s income. We are the silent ones trying to compensate for partners who are physically present but are succumbing to addiction, leaving us emotionally bereft. We are every other type of mom who has a significant other who works odd hours or spends days, weeks, or months away. We are not single, but the daily grind of domestic life falls squarely on our exhausted shoulders most of the time.

We are not single.

We are the ones who can never meet for an impromptu drink with girlfriends because we don’t have another adult at home to stay with our kids. Social outings take more notice than our friends who have only to wait for their husbands to come home from work at a reasonable time. We are the ones who shell out a small fortune every month on babysitting because we need to get out for obligatory work activities, appointments, or just a bit of social relaxation. We are the ones often awkwardly flying solo at couple’s activities ready to answer to the inevitable question, “Where is [Insert Spouse’s Name]”?

We are not single.

We are trying hard to be both mom and dad. We are the solo parent sitting next to other kids’ parents at the dance recitals, T-ball games, kids’ birthday parties, Christmas programs, and other special activities in the lives of our children. We answer heart-breaking questions from our little ones about why Daddy isn’t home/can’t be here/isn’t available. We try to swallow down the bitter pill that comes when we inevitably fail at being both Mom and Dad, and our three-nager screams, “I want Daddy, not you!” We think it, but don’t say our swallowed down response, “There is only me, and I’m doing the best I can!”

We are not single.

We try not to be resentful, and usually, we’re not. Most of us knew what we were getting into when we entered these relationships, but then sometimes like a silent ghost, the anger and resentment sneaks up behind us and penetrates our soul. We can go days without speaking to another adult, weeks without anyone asking us how our day went, months without getting a break to recharge and feel like ourselves again. Or maybe we didn’t sign up for this situation. We knew they were heavy drinkers, but we didn’t realize it would escalate into a full-blown, debilitating addiction. We knew that they planned to open a service-oriented business, but didn’t know that they planned to do it all. We love how they look in their uniforms, but we didn’t look out to see war looming on the horizon, ready to muddy those boots. We love them, but sometimes we are so exhausted, we can hardly breathe.

We are not single.

Our friends may give us a lot of credit – “I don’t know how you do it” – for the times when our partners are away, but they don’t realize that families are living organisms and the time when our spouse is home maybe even more challenging. Our service spouse comes home exhausted from a deployment where they couldn’t tell us where they were or what they did, and they lost people who were like brothers to them that we have never even met. The normalcy of family life is jarring, disorienting, and they don’t know how to relate to their babies who aren’t babies anymore because they missed the birthdays, the holidays, the first words, the first steps, and so many other milestones.  They want to make up for lost time, but they don’t know the routine of the family anymore.  They need time – and so do we – to reintegrate.

No, we are not single.

But we are often alone trying to be two parents for our children when being one can be hard enough. We are stalwarts in our domestic world, but at night, when the silence finally descends upon our home, and we’re lying in bed with our thoughts and fears crowding in, we can’t help but sometimes feel empty because while we may not be single, we are usually alone.

Not Single, But Alone Charleston MomsI want to hear from you! Share your experience.