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Single Mom at Work

with Karli Larson

The transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced-and-working-full-time mom can be challenging, and sometimes very lonely. Throw in a few cats, an ancient dog and one very brave boyfriend, and life gets downright crazy. Join me as I talk through my thoughts and struggles, my miscalculations and my triumphs. We're in this together, you and I.

When I'm not writing here you can find me over at work on the TisBest Philanthropy blog.

Judgment and the Single Mom

Categories: Best Practices, Fighting the Stereotype


Like half the dedicated blogosphere, I am at the BlogHer Conference this week — though unlike most of the attendees, I am here for work.

It’s a strange phenomenon for an introverted extrovert like me, and unlike most of my business trips, it’s four days rather than a single day trip, and each time my Blackberry buzzes with a new email, I check eagerly in anticipation of a potential update from my Mom, who is looking after my son. The morning I left, he’d awoke with a grotesquely swollen left eye: a mosquito bite gone very wrong.

“It’s OK, Mommy,” he assured me with his normal glass-is-half-full optimism,”It would get better soon.”

But the guilt almost killed me as I drove to the airport and thought about him and his swollen eye and my Mom saving my life once again. She sends little snippets every day, starting with “Hi Sweetpea”, and assuring me, though Nolan misses me, he is fine.

Last night, I was standing in the corridor of a hallway of the BlogHer hotel, thinking about bed and my son and the fact that my feet were about to walk themselves off my feet in protest of my abuse of them. I was chatting with one blogger when another sidled up. We made small talk, I thought again how many amazing opportunities the blogosphere had opened for me.

Suddenly, the conversation took a veer to the right.

“What are you doing having a man over at your house when your son is there?”

“What?”I was taken aback for a moment, until I realized I’d written on my personal blog about navigating the very difficult course of dating as a single Mom.

“What are you doing?” she repeated, referencing my blog post. She had an edge to her voice, it was obvious she did not approve of what I was “doing” and wanted to discuss rectification of the matter.

I said the first thing that came into my mind.

“Don’t judge me,”I replied bluntly,”You have no idea how hard the last few years have been and I am trying to find my way here.”

But I ruminated on the conversation all night. As a single Mom, I’ve felt judged more than I ever have previously. Silent judgments: why did your husband leave you? How did you fail him? How will you bring up a decent human being in a one-parent household.

We all make judgments as parents: of each other and of ourselves. My opinion is that, outside of the blogs and in real life, those judgments need to be kept to themselves. We are all doing the best that we can.

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17 comments so far...

  • I too am a single mom back in the workforce, but i guess i choose not to see or let them hand me any stereotypes. When they say “oh i’m so sorry” to the news of my divorce I say “Oh I’m not I now have the world as a buffet and I’m trying not to take one of everything” followed by a laugh at myself. They fall into the laughter and the topic turns to my career choices and goals. My Advice would be, don’t apologize for Life, it happens. We can’t rewrite it only learn from it and use that knowledge to make better outstanding choices in the future. Use that knowledge to educate others. Brag on mom, she is wonderful in supporting you in your career choices Kudos to her! and the Best advice I’ve ever gotten from my best friend ” You may not be doing it other peoples way but you aren’t in their heads. Do it YOUR way it’s the only way you’ll ever be happy.

    BJ C  |  July 18th, 2008 at 10:06 am

  • I have never commented before but have of course been lurking. Your post and the comment made to you by someone who does not obviously know you made me angry enough to speak up. What a rude person. I could say more but not without becoming a rude person myself.

    Michelle  |  July 18th, 2008 at 10:20 am

  • The nerve! Don’t let those fruitcakes get you down.

    metro mama  |  July 18th, 2008 at 10:41 am

  • Hearing that story made my heart hurt a little. I’m sorry you were judged…I feel judged as a single mom too, and it’s not fun or fair. You’re doing an awesome job as a mother! Thanks for sharing!

    Miz  |  July 18th, 2008 at 11:31 am

  • Oh my GAWD. See, that’s what cream pies are for. And wedgies and pokes in the eye. For when there’s simply nothing else that can be said in response, choose one of the above.

    I’m still completely aghast that someone you’d expect to be moderately socially savvy–making the effort to show up at Blogher, after all–would do such a thing. Good for you for finding the words.

    sweetsalty kate  |  July 18th, 2008 at 12:23 pm

  • I’m astounded that someone would confront you that way at a conference that’s supposed to be supportive of women bloggers. Kind of sickens me, actually. What a judgmental bitch that particular harpy was. I think your reply was perfect.

    Groovymarlin  |  July 18th, 2008 at 12:25 pm

  • Don’t you love it when that filter on your mouth fails and you end up saying EXACTLY THE RIGHT THING? Because you should. Because you did.

    Mandee  |  July 18th, 2008 at 12:29 pm

  • I think you did the right thing. She had no reason to judge you. You’ve been so careful about this whole thing and not getting Nolan involved. I hope you let it roll off your back and not think about it anymore. You’re a great Mom and sometimes people’s shortcomings cause them to put down other people to make themselves feel better.

    BA  |  July 18th, 2008 at 2:41 pm

  • holy crap. is this the kind of thing that newbie bloghers are referring to? kudos to you for defending yourself. i think my brain would have frozen and i would have stood their in dumbfounded shock.

    that’s really amazing to me that someone would be so rude as to make an accusatory comment like that instead of maybe trying for more of a dialog.

    Yolanda  |  July 18th, 2008 at 4:31 pm

  • Wow, this happens to me a lot too. I get a double whammy though because not only am I a single mom, I’m young. I was 21 when I had my son and most people automatically assume I’m a bad mom because I’m young AND single.
    It’s been 4 years and if anything, I’ve learned that calling people out on their rude comments is the best way to handle things. They’re usually so taken aback that they shut up. I’m sorry you had to deal with that, but you handled it very well! Good for you!

    Erin  |  July 18th, 2008 at 6:40 pm

  • What a terrible thing to say! No one can judge your decisions. How rude of her! Good for you, defending yourself and pointing out her lack of knowledge in the same breath.

    Daisy  |  July 18th, 2008 at 8:19 pm

  • Who the heck does she think she is ? I am proud that you went off on her. Such stupidity ! Tell her be a single mother for a week and ask her to judge then.

    Kim  |  July 19th, 2008 at 10:50 am

  • I would have replied, “We were doing heavy drugs, having a seance, and hanging the kid off the balcony. Why do you ask?”

    In all seriousness, I have a history of trying to say or ask something, and it comes out TOTALLY wrong, and my foot is hard to remove from my mouth. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, and I wonder if her question wasn’t aaaaaactually as rude as it sounded…? Maybe it was.

    Simon  |  July 20th, 2008 at 2:40 am

  • Yea, some people need to walk a day in your shoes before they open their stupid traps. How ignorant.

    Miranda  |  July 21st, 2008 at 1:01 pm

  • I’m a single mom of 4, and I have to say this, without having read your posts… while I think it’s unspeakably rude and presumptious (is that a word?) to say that to you, I also agree with the sentiment. Top job is raising those kids and making them feel secure and loved. No need to integrate them in with men that are not a permanent fixture. You make trade-offs for things you MUST do, like work trips. Not for things you wish for, like dating, not for a few years (except if kids are staying with ex or grandma or something)… the payoff is in more stable kids - priceless. I realize everyone has their own perception of what’s a MUST, so don’t judge, but will put my thoughts out there.

    Masher  |  July 21st, 2008 at 11:46 pm

  • So rude of that woman! Poor you, I’m sure you felt like you were punched in the gut..

    Marcie  |  July 23rd, 2008 at 1:47 pm

  • [...] moms get flak about their social lives. Step moms are looked down upon for not being “a real parent.” Breast-feeding mamas get [...]

    Shrapnel from another “Mommy Drive-By” - The 36-Hour Day - Work It, Mom!  |  July 30th, 2008 at 11:04 pm

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