What NOT To Say To a Single Mom: How Do You Do It All?


While exiting my city bus years ago with a sleeping toddler an older woman came over, gently placed her hand on my arm, looked into my eyes and said I was an inspiration. I was confused, because I was just trying to get my baby to daycare and get to work. She was a woman I’d often see on the bus in the morning though we never spoke. She told me she didn’t know how I did it, how I got the stroller on and off the bus every day and how I kept my daughter entertained on the bumpy ride. All by myself.

That wasn’t the first or last time friends (and strangers) would gasp with amazement and ask how I did it all. How I could handle being a single mom. That picture above is how I feel every.single.time someone tells me this. So stop it…seriously.

Let me explain.

So I’m a woman, right? I got all my womanly parts. I have two arms and two hands. No cape (I checked), no Maleficent wings, and even though I am desperate for Thor-like super-powers I do not hold any magical powers within my 5’5 frame. I swear too much, I talk to myself at work, and I like drinking white wine. I lied. I LOVE drinking white wine. I would wear my faded converse, a T shirt, leggings and NO bra all day everyday if I could. I’m self-conscious about my weight, think my face favors a chipmunk and I’ve got too many rolls to count. In my past I had to be royalty – I mean my name is Alexaaaaaandra. I cry at commercials, I like to watch action thrillers before I go to bed and people annoy me all the time.

Oh and I happen to be a single mom. But, let me be clear, running a household alone doesn’t mean I am any different from anyone else. Single motherhood arrived at my doorstep when my kiddo was 2 years old and I think if I paid more attention to what was going on in my life I would have realized it was going to be in my future. It wasn’t something I wanted, but guess what – shit happens.

How does she do it? Her daughter is sooo well behaved! How did she go back to school and graduate? How did she get a job right out of college? How DOES she DO it?! How is she succeeding, how isn’t she failing?

How? I work my ass off. Every. Single Day. The SAME as a lot of mothers and parents out there. I ensure my daughter is happy, fed and loved. The only difference is that I am raising my daughter without a partner in the home. I co-parent (which is super stressful), but at the end of the day it’s just ME. I’m responsible for her well-being, for ensuring she is growing up to be respectful and kind. I work hard every single day to provide a life for her. The SAME as a lot of mothers and parents. There is nothing unique or special about being my situation – I hold no special powers and I’m actually pretty upset I’m so damn ordinary.

So when I get told “Alex, how DO you do it all?” I roll my eyes. Twice. I do what I can – which is never enough, but that’s quite OK with me. I make mistakes, I slip up, I fall, and I’ve even crashed and burned. It’s life. I’m learning through my accomplishments and failures. When I became a single mother, there wasn’t any other choice but to get up and kick ass. There was no way I was going to let someone else raise my daughter, so I had to muster up the strength and find a way to make it all work. Single mothers can and DO thrive and succeed. Our success and our children’s happiness shouldn’t be unusual. Because they’re not. And I am proud to know so many single parents working their asses off every single day for their kids, knowing there isn’t someone they can fall back on, wanting the best for their children.

So the next time you feel the urge to tell a single mom “how do you do it all?” I encourage you to find another way to compliment her in a way she’ll appreciate. I promise, she’ll appreciate it.

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6 Responses to “What NOT To Say To a Single Mom: How Do You Do It All?”

Hey Alex,

First of all, I LOVE the candid quirkiness of this post.

Secondly, I can definitely relate.

As a fellow single mommy, I find myself nearly dumbfounded when someone wonders, aloud, how I do what I do. Mostly, I’m unaware of the hardwork I’m doing or how much I’m accomplishing as this statistical single mom box others put me in. I just do what needs to be done. I take pleasure in strategizing.

A compliment is nice. I do take pleasure in compliments. I hold them dear and find them satisfying. Still yet, I don’t NEED them. I don’t need anyone to “reward” me for doing what needs to be done, doing what I want, for validation.

What’s better is the RESULT of my creation – the person I’m raising reflecting all the blood, sweat, and tears I put into her upbringing.

Ariel says:

Let me tell you that I agree with this! All of it! An ex co-worker (who’s my age, with a same aged child, but married) used to say things like this to me ALL the time. I know she meant well, but one day I just had to tell her “LOOK! I’m a mom like you…and I do what I have to. Period!” Lol. I enjoyed this.

Yep! I get annoyed with this too. Just because I am a single mom, doesn’t mean I am doing something crazy. I be a parent, the same way others do. I’ve got a son with special needs. One thing is he has a feeding tube and used to be solely tube fed. People would ask how I do it and my response was to give them a “Are you serious?” look.. I would often respond “Don’t you feed your kids too?” Just because I do it a different way, doesn’t mean that I am any different than the millions of other mothers out there raising children.

Adrienne Wright says:

I love it!!! I totally agree with what you are saying…I was single mom before I actually became a single mom(yes..it makes sense…he didn’t help before the divorce! LOL). My daughter is 22 now…But as a youngster. She played soccer(high school & club), lacrosse, marching band and cheerleading. Everyone asked how WE did it…We just did..It was a struggle…But it was worth it!

Bernetta says:

I enjoyed your post as well. I understand where you are coming from. People sometimes are not sure how their words effect people. Keep doing what you are doing too! And your blog is too cute!

Kathy T says:

All i can say is thank you for these words…… we do it because we have to

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