What in the world is a single mom, and am I one?

I never meant to be a single mom.

My mom was a single mom... still is, in fact. She raised us on her own, without the every-other-weekend break and oftentimes, without any financial support at all. My dad wasn't a bad man by any means, he just wasn't a "dad" and by the time he realized it, I was grown. My mom never remarried. She's a single woman and a mother, and there's no confusion over her title. She is a single mother, through and through. Am I one, though?

I remember my first love. Do you?
His name was Justin and he was an odd duck. He was my first real, mom-sanctioned boyfriend. We went on dates and I'd ride the bus home with him sometimes, a huge responsibility my mom told me... and one I took very seriously. She was very protective but she liked Justin... everyone did! He was funny and unpredictable and complimented my spontaneous Leo spirit quite well. He dyed his hair and listened to Radiohead. He lived with his mom in a trailer park and didn't know his dad.

I remember laying in his bed after school, making out and listening to music when we heard the front door open. I nervously jumped out of bed. He stayed laying there, totally relaxed, and asked me what was wrong. I began listing all of the things that were "wrong" and at the age of 15, laying in bed with a boy was pretty high on that list. "Wouldn't your mom get mad?" I asked, and he laughed. "She doesn't care, come lay back down" and I did. Laying there I couldn't wrap my mind around it... she didn't mind us laying in bed together? The concept blew my young mind. My mom wasn't terribly strict, but Jesus! That would never fly.

As I got to know his mom over the months that we dated, I realized he was right... she didn't care if we laid in bed together, or if we stayed out too late, or if we didn't come home at all. In fact, there wasn't much she did care about. His mom worked at a factory and drank vodka straight from the plastic bottle. She kept her dildo in the dish drainer and took the Lord's name in vain. Her skin had no softness left, she always smelled like smoke and sex.

Justin and I had been anxiously waiting for the opening night of Fight Club and we begged my mom to take us to the theater. She couldn't, so we asked his mom. She said she'd be glad to as long as we'd buy her a ticket. I smelled the vodka on her and knew she had her little bottle tucked away in her purse. He begrudgingly agreed, but only if she'd sit somewhere else. We sat on the very last row, holding hands and watching the movie intently until suddenly she stood up and started screaming at me. Yelling names that even to this day make me blush, accusing us of having sex in the theater. As she ran towards me I looked at him and burst into tears. We were both confused, as we'd been so intent in watching the movie we hadn't even kissed! She grabbed us by our arms and pulled us into the lobby, scolding us loudly the whole way. I was shocked and humiliated.

It was then that I realized just as my dad never was a "dad" his mom was definitely not a "mom". Single or not, there was no "mother" to her aside from the fact that she at one point birthed a child. There's such an enormous difference in the title and the job, and though his situation was much more explosive than mine, he had no control over that relationship, just as I didn't. It became clear what our bond was from the start.

My mom took on the role of both parents not because she wanted to, but because it was her job. I'm very lucky in that I have Marshall's help raising our daughter... I don't have to be a dad, I just have to be a really good mama. Its a mentality, an active effort every day to be just... more.

At what point though, am I no longer a "single" mama? I mean, technically... I'm not "single" since I have a boyfriend, but I am still a single mom through and through. The numerous classifications within the title are what have me confused. Am I single, partnered/coupled, formerly-single? What if my boyfriend has virtually nothing to do with how I raise my daughter? Does it come down to his impact on decision making and his literal presence in her life? Do I decide or do other people?

My boyfriend, though a fantastic father himself, has very little to do with how I raise Miss Bean. He suggests an earlier bedtime for her and could color with her for hours, but all decisions relating to her are between her dad and I. He doesn't do my dishes or watch my daughter... not because I don't trust him to do so, and hell- I'd take help with the dishes anyday, but he just doesn't. And its not even that we don't have that kind of relationship... he's just an incredibly busy guy. Between 3 kids & work, he's pretty much not up for doing anyone's dishes but his own and that's fine by me. I'm capable and responsible for those aspects of my life.

He does support me though... and I don't mean he's paying my rent (though if need be, he'd gladly do it I have a feeling) I mean he listens to me cry and reassures me when I need it. He makes things better, and he strives to make me smile. Yesterday was an incredibly tough day because of a miscommunication with Bean girl's dad which ruined our plans of spending the day hanging out all together. I was downright sad, feeling sorry for myself, and he was wholly supportive through every bit of it. That's a huge advantage in my opinion.

If he did do my dishes and watch my kid would I be less of a single mom?

If at some point this road leads us to living together and/or marriage, will I still be a single mom?

What if I'm still doing my own dishes and watching my kid more than his?

A couple of my favorite bloggers have already discussed this (Martini Mom | One Smarmy Mama), but I want to hear your thoughts as well...

At what point am I no longer a "single" mom, or if since I am no longer with the father of my daughter, will I always be one?

Some opinions from my Facebook:

Heather Kendrick Gerlaugh is a single mama with a boyfriend. Does that mean I'm still a ''single mom'' ? Blog in the works...
2 hours ago via Mobile Web · ·
Melissa Belden Werner
My first inclination is "yes"... Until you are married again or living together as a married couple then you are a single mom (with a boyfriend)... Now you just have a longer title!
2 hours ago · Delete
Danielle Post-Pickle
technically...pretty much. Then again, it all kind of plays into how much of the child rearing is the boyfriend doing also. I'm in the same boat. I am still technically a "single mom" but we have been working as a unit lately but at this point the major decisions are still mine to make...until we're in a position where we aren't living separately and such I guess I have that position...though we do discuss a lot of things and his input is greatly considered and we pretty much work everything out as if we were all living as a family at this point. It's going to be there soon and we're just in transition phases now.
2 hours ago · Delete
Jamie Lynne Gerlaugh
Yep, until you are married again can you be classified as anything but single, on paperwork boyfriends dont count for much except maybe emergency contacts.
2 hours ago · Delete
Travis Williams
that's a tough call. maybe it depends on how many decisions he is involved in about the kiddo.
2 hours ago · Delete
Erin Myers Cohen
Yes, you are a single Mom, in my opinion. The main care-taking for kiddo comes from you -- the "single" refers to parenting by yourself (in partnership with you ex, I know, but still)! My hat goes off to you -- it's tough work!
2 hours ago · Delete
Lauran Elam
Single until you file joint tax returns and/or you share insurance.
2 hours ago · Delete
Ronald B. Dilbert
You most certainly are! You are just getting more help now!
2 minutes ago · Delete

All we needed was matching pajamas.

The boyfriend and I have been in a funk.

I don't know if its growing pains, or if perhaps we're just finally settling in with one another and becoming comfortable with our place in each other's lives, but there's been a lull in the lovins.

This is a very different relationship than any I've ever been in though... for the first time, I feel as if I am with an absolute equal. Instead of chasing or being chased, I'm just enjoying his company, and reveling in the fact that I am so very much in love with someone who is so perfectly suited for me. Emotionally, mentally, physically (hubba hubba) I've found my match. Its passion and love and mutual support and understanding... pretty much everything I could ask for.

So why the funk? Well, I just don't know.

I don't mean that I don't very much love him, because I really do. And I know he's very much in love with me too, but we're both very busy and that's started to take its toll. He's a dad to 3 kids who take up a majority of his time and I'm a mama that spends a majority of hers with Miss Bean and work. When we're not working and being parents... we're doing laundry and you know, bathing, sleeping, eating, etc. There's just not much time for he and I to just enjoy being a couple. I could easily count on two hands the amount of times we've been out on dates, and its really not that we don't want to go out, we just can't ever get motivated at the same time.

"we're in love, everybody knows about it, now what?"

We're no longer a "new" couple. We've met each other's friends and families, our Facebook relationship status tells the internet that we are officially in a relationship, and our kids are spending lots of time together. We're fully invested and we're both thrilled about it, but what happens now? We share the fear of growing bored, both being through a divorce, we can't afford to assume that we know what we're doing is the right thing... Luckily, I think it gives us the advantage of knowing what we want and need and being comfortable communicating it. I can easily say this is the happiest I've ever been, but how do I keep it this way?

My grandparents are a lovely couple that have been married for nearly 60 years. That's an amazing amount of years already, but after spending a holiday with them I assure you... you'd be completely boggled as to how they haven't killed each other by now. They don't fight or yell or get angry, but they easily spend half their day bickering. Over everything and nothing at the same time, they are the two most stubborn people I've ever met. My grandmother will tell you the secret to a long marriage is finding someone you can argue with and I don't know that she's not completely right. She tells the story of being engaged prior to meeting my grandfather, to an absolutely boring man with loads of money. She would've been set for a life of luxury, but she left him for a one-armed preacher with a wild streak who absolutely irritated the crap out of her.

I used to think they were such unhappy people, what with all the little tiffs they'd get into over every little thing... but when my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer his love and passion for her was undeniable. He'd burst into tears at the drop of a hat, telling us how unbearable life would be without her. They live to bicker with each other.

My grandmother said she's never gone to bed mad at him, and I believe it. I don't know that she actually does ever get really, truly mad at him, but she sure does act like it. They are equal in their relationship... both playing antagonist or protagonist, depending on the moment. They constantly bicker about nothing because they're so damn passionate about loving each other... and good for them! At 75 my grandparents are madly in love with each other. So many couples can't say that at 25, 35, 45... much less after 4 kids! Its absolutely wonderful.

After a particularly rough week and long weekend apart, Mat and I found ourselves grumpy and doubting ourselves. I was upset with him for never wanting to get out of the house and do anything and he was upset with me for not just enjoying our time together, sans-kids, just hanging out. It was silly but after dealing with lots of stress all week, we let it elevate to a point where we were both even grumpier and more unhappy.

That was, until he brought out the matching pajamas.

Somehow he ended up with 2 pair of pajama pants. They're Christmas-y: red with green dots, and they're pretty darn big on me, but when he offered me some comfy pants and I saw there were 2 pair, I knew we were gonna be alright. Yes, that's right kids- I found a boy who willingly put on matching pajama pants and allowed pictures to be taken. This boy, he loves me a whole lot.

Sometimes all I need is the realization that I am loved and appreciated more than I've ever expected. I need a spontaneous expression of affection every now and again, and he's really good about providing that.

I don't know if bickering is the secret to a happy relationship, but I know that even though we've faced a tremendous amount of challenging situations since we've been together, I love this boy more than I ever dreamed I would. Obviously, he feels the same way. These things are tricky... especially when you add extremely time-consuming careers and kids. And who knows... i'll probably always have to work hard to convince him to go out and have fun after a long day, but this is going to work. We're just good together.

If it's good to complicate than both of us are doing fine
Just keep your eyes on your part and leave me alone to mine
If it's good to instigate than we're a fast horse, bet on us
I'm not calling you an animal
I think we just fight too much

Come on, in spite of this we're doing just fine
Even diamonds start as coal
Give us time to shine
Even diamonds start as coal

We're both aligned in framed of mind but circumstance has got us good
And now you're seeing a side of me I wished no one ever would
Yeah, if it's right to pick a fight, we're fingers in a sugar bowl
Love isn't perfect
Even diamonds start out as coal

Hey now, in spite of this we're doing just fine
Even diamonds start as coal
Give us time to shine
Even diamonds start as coal
Even diamonds start as coal
We're incomplete and infantine
Even diamonds start as coal

Give it time girl, the fire feels divine
The sweetest things
They burn before they shine
We think way too much
Look at us losing touch
A promise is a promise until...

Yeah, in spite of this we're doing just fine
Even diamonds start as coal
Give us time to shine
Even diamonds start as coal
Even diamonds start as cpaö
We're incomplete and infantine
Even diamonds start as coal

Let's blow this popsicle stand!

My Twitter-friend @sarahfortune posted a bunch of pictures from her weekend girl's trip and I have got the bug!!! (BTW, are these not the cutest girls you've ever seen in your whole life!? I mean really!?!?! And Eureka Springs is fantastic-such a fun and unique little town.)

I see pictures of friend's amazing girls getaways to far away places and I think "sigh... that looks so nice" but as a single mama and a freelancer (who frankly, at the moment, is pretty "buh" about all things work-related because of a severe lack of funds) I just can't dream that big!

I saw Sarah's pictures from her close-to-home weekend away and I immediately started dreaming up some time away.

My girls and I used to take trips... never all together, but once a month we made a point to get out of town for a while, even if it was only to go sleep in a different place and explore some other town for a weekend.

Usually I could even work it out to where I could meet with clients and call it a "business trip" so i didn't feel quite as guilty leaving the bean and spending money on myself.

The last trip we took was to Eureka Springs in August for Jacey & I's birthday, and it was such a good time!!

At a club in Tulsa - Winter 2008

Ashley & I - Little Rock, 2009

Downtown Little Rock - Spring 2009

Driving to Memphis - October 2008

Nachos, 3:45am - Little Rock, January 2009

Nachos, 3:45am - Little Rock, January 2009

Meeting Elvis - Little Rock, Spring 2009

Jamey and I - Little Rock, January 2009

With Chris & Zach - Little Rock, October 2008

At the Miss Gay Arkansas Pageant - Little Rock, Spring 2009

Marti Pearl and I with the 'sisters' in Eureka Springs - August 2009

So what do you say, girls? Let's skeedaddle for a couple of days!!