Don’t Call Me A Single Mom Just Because My Husband Is Deployed

krystal-spell-web Deployments are hard for the service members and they are hard for us spouses here back at home. Yes we deal with a lot and many times it can be very lonely and in some cases the comparisons to feeling like a single parent are there.

I myself was guilty of being a little Academy Award winning actress like and comparing my struggles of no husband around to being like a single parent and thinking life was so tough.

It wasn’t until a friend gave me a reality check that I stopped saying that I feel like a single parent.

Sure our spouses deploy and we are left to take care of the house , kids , be mom and dad and do all the tasks of a two parent household. Yet the one thing I personally didn’t have to worry about was an income. There is a big difference in having to handle all those stresses and worrying about how you are going to pay the rent or mortgage verses playing that role and having the comforts of living on post or receiving BAH.

To many times during the day I found myself browsing through Tarjay (Target) on a whim or taking in a matinee before the kids got out of school. The reality is many single parents trying to make ends meet don’t get to do that.

Single parents don’t have access to some of the free resources we military folks do. There is no “Mom’s Day Out” programs or free lawn care from maintenance at the housing office. Lastly once the other parent comes home things go back to normal (for the most part).

I think about the single parent soldiers who don’t have a spouse right there on base or post with them to leave the kids with and just focus on actually deploying. Instead one extra step is added to their deployment prep because they now have to make arrangements for their kids to be with a family member who the child may not be used to being around. (if the other parent isn’t involved).

Most of all my husband may be deployed sometimes but he does his best to parent the best he can from overseas, saying that I am single parent almost makes it seem like he doesn’t exist.

It was after that “check” as me and my friend call it, that I stopped using that analogy to define my life during deployments.

While it may seem like an innocent contrast we really have it pretty good and some years later I now find it a little insulting to “real single parents” to even use that term anymore in relation to military spouses.

Do you find it offensive to be considered a single parent during deployments?

 

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  1. Michelle L.

    VERY good reality check! One of my best friends suddenly passed away 10 months ago. Her widow and children still live across the street from me. Sometimes I think about the various challenges that came up during deployment and try to relate to his sorrow and everyday difficulties. Nope, I can’t. There is no comparison. My confidant was still accessible to me and I knew all I had to do was write down a few lines and drop it in the mail. I knew in my heart there’d be a reunion. My friend across the street, he doesn’t have a date on the calendar to look forward to celebrating. I haven’t been referred to as a single parent, I think I’m too tenacious for anyone to say that to me. Anyway, they probably know they’d get a hard reality check from me!

  2. Kathi

    This is why I love you Krystel! My daughter is one of those single soldier moms, stationed at Schofield. She was living on Wheeler and struggling to keep her backyard mowed, while her next door neighbor who doesn’t work outside the home and whose husband was deployed had free weekly yard service. Not that anyone is begrudging that woman the yard service. But you have two women living side by side and one deserves support from the community and the other one doesn’t? Thank you for the reality check.

  3. Well, this is kind of funny bc I had the OPPOSITE check. Unfortunately, in the area I am from, most are single parents. While some do a great job of co-parenting, you still have the stereotypical single parent situations. So I NEVER considered myself a single parent. During my husband’s deployment in ’10, I was in nursing school with a 10 month old and 3 year old, 600 miles from home, and these “Mom’s Days Out” and such did not exist. We did get 16 hours respite care at the CDC, but once again, I was a nursing student, so that didn’t apply to me. I had my moments over being overwhelmed; who doesn’t? One day in my clinical course, the girls talking about my situation and I said something to the effect of “Don’t pity me, most of you girls are single parents and I know that is tough too”. Then I got a little enlightenment. While, no, I am was not a single parent, there I was with a husband that was gone. The problem was I had a husband who was 100% the model husband and father. We co-parented 100%. He was not a lazy husband, I didn’t ever feel like I was doing it all, we were a team. Then he’s gone. You can’t prepare for that. When that’s what you know for almost 8 years, that’s hard to get used to. They also pointed out that while I did have some friends that would help me out no problem, single parents have that too and most of the time live around family as well. Hell, one of my dearest friends told me that she wasn’t the one who had to think about whether or not their husband was going to come home. What the hell would I tell my kids? That was the gist of it, but I definitely felt a little more connected to them afterwards. I was able to open up and talk to them more. They became an outlet to rely on through much of my husbands’ deployment. So while, I don’t think the two are the same, both have the SIMILAR, not the same, struggles. For one to feel like throwing themselves a pity party and act like “Woe is Me” is pretty ridiculous now, in my opinion. There are terrible aspects to both and both have similar effects on our children. To any single parent that thinks my husband’s deployment is inconsequential compared to their “single parenting” can pretty much kiss my ass and remove the stick from theirs. And that’s not just coming from a soldier’s wife.

  4. Jen

    I have never compared myself to a single parent while my husband was away. My sister is a single parent and, like you said, I have never had to worry about the bills being paid as well as parenting. I don’t think being a single parent is neccessarily easier than being a spouse to a deployed solider though. I also never said I was a single parent beacause it would have hurt my husband. He was sad and felt guilty enough to leave our son for a year of his life.

  5. Sometimes we do need a reality check, need help putting our daily struggles into perspective, but, I think the comparison between single parents and spouses during deployment is a valid one. I cannot agree that the major struggle of a single parent is a monetary one. Are there some single parents that struggle under the burden of the cost of parenthood? Yes, of course. But there are many married couples who also feel that struggle. There are plenty of single parents who make it work, who care for the child, but receive child support or who can afford to support themselves and a child. There are plenty of military spouses who must also work to support their family, despite a spouse’s income, despite a deployment. To make the blanket call that military spouses aren’t like a single parent, at least for a time, based on the safety of a spouse’s paycheck is unfair.

    The cost of a raising a child is growing, and there are few who have not struggled, at some point of another, under the cost of diapers and new shoes or soccer uniforms and graphing calculators. There are times when we had to solely rely on my husband’s income when our children were young and I could not find employment. We struggled as a “single-income” family, so I cannot buy into the idea that money is what makes single parenting so difficult. The greatest challenge in parenthood, in my opinion has nothing to do with money. Being a parent means you are on call 24/7, no holidays, no days off. The benefit of having two parents is that you are a team. Your children benefit from having two loving, caring, capable adults in their life to guide, teach and protect them. A parent hugs away a nightmare and puts ice on a bruise. A parent sets boundaries and must stay up late to make sure a head-strong teenager knows where those boundaries lay. Those kinds of things are a bit hard for a service member to do while half a world away. It does not mean they don’t still love their children, it doesn’t mean they are not a parent, but they sacrifice their participation in the daily parenting of their children to protect us all. A sacrifice that leaves these responsibilities for their spouse, with the added burden of worrying about a loved one in harm’s way and a lifestyle that offers little stability and demands we go where ever we are sent, regardless if it makes the best financial decision for us.

    And I am struck by the sense that somehow being a single parent is a bad thing, that all single parents are destined for a life of struggles over money, suffering alone and with no support. We all have our own struggles in this life, and plenty of folks struggle with money, married or not, with children or not. I will concede that the advantage we have as military spouses, is the knowledge that as soon as the deployment is over, we know our time alone is over. Calling a military spouse during a deployment a single parent in no way diminishes the struggle of a “real” single parent. I am not usually one who looks for ways to separate military families from civilian families…we are more alike than we are different. But in this case, “single” parenting is one of those things we are often called upon to do that does make our life different from most.

  6. Shannon Brell

    I refer to myself as a married single mom when my hubby is deployed. When my husband deploys I have only his financial support and the support of my military family. It isn’t that he chooses to leave or be unsupportive, but that his job requires the utmost of secrecy. He is moved from location to location, has very littles access to unsecured email and telephone lines, and has a very unpredictable work schedule. When deployed I am lucky to receive a weekly phone call or email from my husband letting me know he is alive. There is no time for him to parent our daughter, or listen to me complain about whatever drama I think is going on. When my husband is deployed I have a deployed soldier, not a husband. When he arrives home I have a recovering deployed soldier and it takes time for me to get my husband back. When he is present (physically and mentally) he is a wonderful, loving husband and father. I am lucky that I have a husband more often than I have a soldier.
    I also think we live in a society where single mom’s have been given hero status. I am not saying single mom’s don’t have very difficult job, and I understand that not all single mom’s are single mom’s by choice. Sometimes divorce is better than marriage, sometimes horrible things happen to good people and we lose the ones we love, but sometimes a woman makes a bad decision to have unprotected sex with a man she hardly knows, or a man who she knows wouldn’t be a good father. Those woman are not heroes, they are woman who are living with the consequences of their actions, just like me. I am not a hero. I chose to marry a soldier. I knew his job before we married, and I knew his job prior to choosing to have a child with him. I am just another woman choosing the life I live, and sometimes that life means I am a married single Mom.

  7. You don’t want to get me started on the military wives who call themselves single moms when their husbands are away. Sends me into a ranting rampage.

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