It seems like some people always have an opinion about single parents. Single dads are usually considered heroes, while single moms are called names and subject to speculation about everything from their sexual habits to the quality of their parenting. And while I’m not talking about that double standard today, let me warn all of you – if you’re here to insult me, my child, or my parenting skills, click away because I don’t want to deal with your crap.
Ah, the joys of single parenthood. While I’ve always basically been a single mom, even when I was still married, nothing could have prepared me for the difficulties I would face raising my son on my own. The discussions about puberty and sex (which I firmly believe should be father/son topics). The hilarity of trying to teach him to play sports. Trying to prevent him from becoming a total computer nerd like his mother.
One thing I was definitely unprepared for was the financial impact of being a single mom. No, I’m not talking about all those statistics about how single moms end up broke. Clearly two incomes are better than one; I don’t need anyone to tell me about that. No, I’m talking about those little things, the ones that add up to big things. Here are some examples of what I mean.
3 Things That Suck (Financially) About Being a Single Parent
1. School Expenses
All the talk about a free public education in the US is a load of crap. School supplies alone set me back an average of $100 each year. Then there are school clothes, shoes, book rental fees, locker fees, club fees, field trips, lunch money, bake sales, and those stupid fundraisers where I’m supposed to spend $20 a roll for wrapping paper. And I won’t even get started on the twice-a-year crappy school photos that I feel obligated to buy.
Sure, I could go tell the school all my financial business and save on some of those things. But in the small town where I live, it would take about an hour for everyone else to know every detail and judge me (and my son) as a result. No thanks. I’ll just quietly complain until 2016 when he finally graduates.
2. Buying Food
This may not be too bad for parents of girls. But all the stuff you hear about teenage boys’ appetites is totally true. In the past few months, Jayden has morphed from a bottomless pit to a black hole when it comes to food. The child literally eats 6-7 times a day. And just when I feel pretty good about all the food I brought into the house (you know, because I’ve been cooking lately), I hear him screaming, “I’M STARVING AND THERE’S NOTHING TO EAT!” Yes, it really is that bad.
I don’t know how to solve this problem other than convincing the insurance company to cover a feeding tube. (I asked his doctor. She looked at me like I was nuts.) And not only do I have to pay for all this food, but I also have to be the one who drives to go get it. I bet I spend more on food in a year than most people spend on housing.
3. Worrying About the Future
Sometimes I think about Jayden’s future and just curl into a fetal position. If he decides to go to college, who’s going to help pay for it? Mom. When he moves out on his own and needs help getting started, who’s going to take him grocery shopping and teach him what Mean Green is for? Mom. If he takes after me and makes a bunch of financial mistakes, who’s going to pull him out of the hole? Mom. I’ve considered changing my name to Dad just so I can get out of all these fun future experiences.
I’d like to think that my son will always make good adult decisions and that he won’t need to lean on me for help, but let’s face the facts – he IS my child. Something tells me he’ll be just as stubborn about learning to be responsible as I was. So I’ve been stockpiling money since the day he was born in preparation for his future failures. (Don’t send mean emails. I’m just being realistic.)
So, Single Parenthood. Worth It?
It’s fun to gripe every now and then, but I wouldn’t trade my role as a single mom for anything in the world. Despite the swirling, sucking sound I hear in my wallet every time Jayden comes near me, he’s a damn good kid and I’m proud of the young man he’s becoming. I’d much rather him be exposed to my influence than certain other individuals’ influences. I just wish he didn’t cost so much!
I’m aware that two-parent households face the same challenges when it comes to raising kids – it’s not like single parents are given a more expensive model. However, it’s tough to be the only person your child can turn to on an emotional AND financial basis. By being aware of the things that suck, I’m learning to be more appreciative of the things that don’t suck. And I’m able to prepare for future sucktastic financial drains, because if his appetite is any indication, the costs are going to be epic.