I realize that television producers will put anything on tv as long as it will get ratings and make money. I also work mainly with teenagers answering their questions about sex. Since this started, there have been so many more questions about how to get pregnant, how to get on that show, and why they shouldn’t have a baby to show their boyfriend that they love them. Even if the intentions of the show were pure, they have given teens an edited, glamorized version of what single parenthood is. It’s hard enough for me and I didn’t become a parent until I was 24. So, I would like to take a minute to explain what single parenting means. Or just parenting in general, either way. Here’s a day in the life of the typical single mom.
You always hear about late night feedings. What you don’t hear about is when the baby will not go back to sleep. When you’re awake for hours on end in the middle of the night. There is nobody to take turns with, because you’re single, remember? Trust me, your parents had their turn! As soon as you drift back off into dreamland the alarm goes off to get ready for work (or school, if you’re 16). Good morning, you got 2 hours of sleep.
You finally made it through the day. Yay, work is over (or school is out). Your friends are all going to run errands, grab some food, or hang out. You are going to go pick up your kid. After that you could possibly go to a second job (or a first one, if you were just at school not work) or go home and start working. Yes, that’s right, kids. There is no time to rest when you have kids. Let’s say you go home.
While you were gone, your laundry has multiplied in the basket. You realize you only have one clean pair of underwear and your child only has that one weird outfit left from your great aunt. Time to wash clothes! So, you sort it and put it in the washer. Now you have half an hour to yourself, right? Not even close. While you were putting the clothes in the washer, your baby either threw up, pooped all over everything, or threw toys all over the house. You clean that up. Then you realize that you’re starving. There’s no food in the house. You can’t afford to just get a pizza because you have to buy diapers and formula. So, off you go to the store.
One of two things will happen at the store. Everyone will ooh and ahh over your child and you will have to stop every 10 seconds so that old ladies can tell you about their precious adorable babies. That’s the good option. The other option is that your child will scream their head off the entire time you are there. You can’t just leave, you have no food. You can’t very well tell every woman in the store giving you the, ‘control your child or leave’ look the exact situation. So you hurry and rush and get out of the store either way. You get home and realize you got everything but what you went there for.
Once you start dinner, your child will inevitably have a meltdown of some sort. If you’re going to be a single parent, get used to eating burnt food. Children somehow sense that you turned on the stove and immediately need all of your attention that second! You finally have your burnt dinner all prepared. You go to take a bite and there’s another massive crisis that needs your attention. 45 minutes later you get to eat. Your cold, burnt dinner tastes wonderful and you scarf it all down.
By this point it’s 7 pm. People are calling you to chit chat. Or texting. Or tweeting. You get your kid wrestled into the bathtub, wash them and get out. You’re exhausted because you got 2 hours of sleep the night before. You still haven’t done your homework (you are still in high school, remember?). You decide it’s time for your baby to go to bed. They have a tantrum. Two hours later they fall asleep. You rush through the homework and throw yourself in the shower. You get out and don’t bother drying your hair. You go to get dressed and realize that you never finished doing the laundry. You also haven’t cleaned up whatever mess your kid made yet. All you want to do is sleep. You unfortunately want to wear clothes the next day, too. So, instead of sleeping you stay up and do the laundry. Just when you’ve finished all of that and get snuggled into bed, you hear the sound mothers fear the most. The sound of your baby waking up in the middle of the night.
This is what single parenting is, kids. There is nobody to help. All of the people who say they will watch your kid for you? They are not serious. If you think your parents are going to raise your child while you have the rest of your childhood, I hope you discuss that with them before you get pregnant. They have already gone through the baby stages. If you think that your child’s father will drop everything to help you out, you are wrong. If you want child support, they will have to work and go to school, too.
Motherhood is not glamorous.
Motherhood is not easy.
Motherhood is fun sometimes, but not usually.
Usually nobody will tell you this, but I felt it was about time someone said it. Enjoy your own childhood before you start being responsible for someone else’s. Live your own life before you start someone else’s life. Be 21 and be able to go out with your friends. Be 23 and live on your own so you know you can take care of yourself if nobody else will. Learn to be by yourself. Embrace your time as just you before you tie yourself to anyone for life. Having a baby is for life. Your life will never ever be the same.
If you are a teen and you need help finding somewhere to go to get birth control in your area, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I will do everything in my power to help you find what you need, but you should try talking to your parents. They aren’t as evil as you think.